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Flood-ravaged schools show resolve

The hardship and complications wrought by this year's catastrophic flooding are continuing for many families into the new school year. It's encouraging to see school districts strive to provide support during these difficult times, even as the districts themselves cope with major change.

In many communities, the restoration of road connections is vital. State and county crews have done admirable work reopening roads, but some remain closed, leading to longer bus routes. One much-appreciated accomplishment was the temporary road around the collapsed Nebraska 39 bridge between Genoa and Silver Creek.

One of the most impressive and creative efforts to cope with the flood this spring was the Twin River district's use of laptop-enabled teleconferencing to continue classes for students in those towns. The project required great flexibility by teachers and staff, plus technical improvising that restored a vital telecom connection.

Terrible flooding has brought frustration and pain to many Midlands families. But the situation also has allowed Nebraskans and Iowans to demonstrate admirable solidarity and generosity. That, in itself, can be a positive lesson for young people about the strength of their communities in the midst of hardship.

- Omaha World-Herald


Pine Ridge embodies health care shortage

Health officials say years of alcohol abuse on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Whiteclay requires more doctors, psychologists and counselors to deal with the aftereffects.

It's a shortage that we're reading about in all sorts of places.

Even local law enforcement is feeling the shortage, as drug, alcohol and domestic violence sentences usually come with a required counseling component. The wait to meet with counselors can sometimes be long.

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Ultimately, the state will need to work to recruit and train more mental health professionals. We may need to appropriate additional money for scholarships and incentives to bring new people into the field or provide additional compensation for working in underserved areas or in specialized fields.

We know this will all be expensive, but it is a critical field that needs attention. Our public safety depends on it.

- Madison (S.D.) Daily Leader


Restoring voting rights has positive impact

A new report shows just how steep the hill is for people who have felony convictions to get their voting rights restored.

The report, issued by the Campaign Legal Center and the Civil Rights Clinic at Georgetown Law, found that 30 states condition a person's voting rights on their ability to pay fines, fees or restitution that resulted from criminal convictions.

In 2016, an estimated 6 million people in the United States had been disenfranchised because of felony convictions, while 10 million people owe more than $50 billion in fines and fees related to criminal convictions.

In 16 states, people convicted of crimes have their voting rights restored once their incarceration ends. Restoring voting rights to a person trying to re-enter society is no small matter. Some studies say that people leaving prison find immense satisfaction in getting their voting rights back — and that they are less prone to recidivism as a result.

- Quad-City (Iowa) Times

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