Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The Daily News of Bowling Green on officers helping sexual assault victims:
In a lot of situations where sexual assaults occur, police officers can be vital by not only being there for victims during their time of crisis, but also in helping them by trying to get them to prosecute those who committed heinous crimes against them.
We hear of sexual assault cases all too often, and in many cases victims decide not to prosecute those who sexually assaulted them. No one can blame those who decide not to prosecute because in many cases they don't want to re-live their experiences during a trial or face the person who assaulted them ever again. They simply want to move on with their lives.
There is no right or wrong in this.
But either way, victims interact with police officers, and in many cases police officers are the first person a victim reaches out to. How that officer responds to the victim can influence the victim's decision on whether to proceed with prosecution.
We are fortunate to have a city police department that educates victims on the criminal justice process, which helps victims make more informed decisions on how their cases would proceed in the courts.
Officers who work closely with victims on a yearly basis deserve to be recognized, and we are glad Hope Harbor does that.
Hope Harbor, a local sexual trauma recovery center, held its 10-Star Award and Recognition Luncheon last week and recognized 10 police officers from several counties, with one officer, Bowling Green Police Department Officer Ryan Dillon, receiving the Lighthouse Award for exemplary service.
This is quite an honor for Dillon as the Lighthouse Award winner is said to be an exceptional individual with whom to work. The award truly shows his dedication to working closely with victims of sexual assault, providing them comfort and counseling them on how to proceed with prosecuting those who took advantage of them.
This would by no means be an easy task for any officer.
We congratulate Dillon on his dedication to working with victims and on this esteemed award. The other officers recognized for the award deserve to be congratulated as well for helping victims in their time of need.
While we are on the subject of police officers and all of the good they do, we would like to take this chance to honor five officers who were killed in the line of duty in Kentucky in 2015.
Richmond Police Department Officer Daniel Neil Ellis was shot and died Nov. 6. Kentucky State Police Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was shot and died Sept. 13. KSP Trooper Eric Keith Chrisman died June 23 after an automobile wreck while working. Nicholasville Police Department Officer Jevon Rhoads died March 11 after an automobile wreck while working. Bullitt County Detention Center Lt. Clifford Scott Travis died March 5 of a heart attack while on duty. Warren and Simpson counties had ceremonies last week to honor their officers killed in the line of duty. Our hearts go out to them and their families for their losses.
Police officers are unfortunately becoming more and more portrayed by some as bad guys, but nothing could be further from the truth. They protect us, they provide us help when needed, they put their lives on the line every day for us and for that we should be eternally thankful to them.
The Lexington Herald-Leader on free meals for all at high-poverty schools:
Republicans in the U.S. House are taking aim at a child-nutrition program that reduces both paperwork for schools and public humiliation for children.
Disappointingly, Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, was among the House Education Committee members voting last week in favor of legislation that would exclude 343 high-poverty schools in Kentucky from providing free meals to all their students, while granting a favor to baby-food makers that could put more profits on multinational corporation Nestle's bottom line.
The reauthorization of child-nutrition programs that the panel approved 20-14 contains a provision that would discourage WIC programs — which serve women, infants and children — from using competitive bidding to select suppliers of infant foods. Before the states that administer WIC could seek bids for infant foods, they would be required to study the effects on retail prices and product availability for non-WIC consumers.
Competitive bidding is a well-established practice for lowering prices. Rather than pay for these studies, though, WIC programs would probably just skip the competitive bidding and pay higher prices for baby food, boosting income for Nestle-owned Gerber, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which reports that Gerber Foods has been lobbying for limits on competitive bidding.
Surely, such a brazen waste of public dollars won't withstand scrutiny by the Senate or even the full House. What the bill does to a nutrition option for high-poverty schools is equally a false economy.
The community eligibility program, which was launched in Kentucky five years ago, is available to schools where 40 percent of students automatically qualify for free meals because they are in foster care, homeless or their families are eligible for food stamps.
Studies show that in schools meeting the 40 percent threshold, two-thirds or more of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals once parents send in income information. In schools that opt in, all students eat free, which spares youngsters the stigma of being identified as poor. Older students in particular often go hungry rather than tag themselves as "free lunch."
The bill sponsored by Rep. Todd Rokita, a Republican from Indianapolis, would restrict the option to schools where 60 percent of students automatically qualify. In Kentucky, that would eliminate 343 schools feeding 191,000 students. An additional 171 Kentucky schools would be precluded from opting in in the future.
Rokita says the change would save about $100 million a year in the $21 billion child-nutrition program that could be plowed into school breakfasts or feeding children during the summer — good causes that this country can afford without cutting another program that's helping kids.
Educators obviously value being able to feed all the students in a high-poverty school. Participating schools must absorb the costs of students who would not ordinarily qualify for free meals. These costs are offset by savings in administration and from economies of scale from serving more meals — and also by gains in learning when children are not hungry.
In Fayette County, 36 schools feed 19,501 students breakfast and lunch under this program. If this bill became law, more than 10,000 students would lose free meals while 17 schools in Lexington would have to reinstate applications.
It's likely that some parents who can easily afford to pay for their kids' lunches are benefiting. But such concerns are far outweighed by the advantages to schools, children and families. Kentuckians in Congress should support schools by opposing changes in the community eligibility program.
The Kentucky New Era on Interstate 169 designation:
Although the development of Interstate 69 through Kentucky runs well north of Hopkinsville — starting at Henderson on the Ohio River and continuing south, then southwest to Fulton at the Tennessee border — there is still room to include Christian County in the path of an interstate upgrade connected to I-69.
That possibility is included in an amendment Sen. Rand Paul has filed to a 2017 appropriations bill. It would designate the southern leg of the Pennyrile Parkway from the Western Kentucky Parkway to I-24 just south of Hopkinsville as Interstate 169.
If the amendment is adopted in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill, it will eventually provide significant economic and infrastructure benefits to Hopkinsville.
An interstate designation would give Christian County a boost. Paul's efforts could ensure that Hopkinsville is not bypassed by the economic opportunities that flow from an Interstate Highway System designation.
When the I-69 corridor is finished, it will run approximately 155 miles from Henderson to Fulton. It incorporates sections of the Pennyrile Parkway, the Western Kentucky Parkway, I-25 and the Purchase Parkway. The I-169 leg could be a crucial piece of the overall system.
Numerous upgrades on the parkways have been made to ensure the roads meet interstate standards. This has included new pavement, raised overpass bridges, additional lighting and ramp reconstruction. When the parkways were created, the ramps were tight cloverleaf designed to slow traffic feeding to toll booths. Also, many overpasses were too low for interstate designation.
As the development of I-69 has shown, patience is required to see these projects to completion. That will be true as well for the I-169 leg running through Christian County.
Paul's work on this project is important for our community. The Chamber of Commerce, elected officials and local planners have long endorsed the benefits of an interstate designation for the Pennyrile Parkway passing through Hopkinsville.
It's going to take some time to see this develop, but Paul's amendment to the appropriations bill is another piece of the puzzle that gets the community closer to the goal.