GOOD: Brittney Papike and her two young children have a new lease on life thanks to the Uplifting Parents Program, which was created by Catholic Social Services with the assistance of 20 nonprofits in Rapid City. The program aims to help single-parent families get out of poverty. So far, 23 single mothers who participated in the program have earned college degrees, including Papike who now works as a nurse in Rapid City after graduating from South Dakota State University’s School of Nursing. The mother of an 11-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son said she could not have graduated without help from the program, which included a financial stipend from Catholic Social Services and her Program Up mentor. As a result of the program’s success, the John T. Vucurevich Foundation has donated $1.4 million to study how and why it works. The evaluation will be conducted by the University of Notre Dame's Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities. It's programs like these that make a real difference in people's lives and deserve the support of the community.
BAD: Whether it was the alcohol-infused spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, coping with another wintry weekend or just plain bad decision-making, it was a busy weekend for the Rapid City Police Department. In a 60-hour period that started on noon Friday and went until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, police reported arresting 18 people for drunken driving. On the same weekend in 2017, 11 people had their holiday party spirit dashed by a drunken driving arrest. This year’s total, a 65 percent increase from last year, literally ended with a bang Sunday night when a speeding car ran a stoplight on Haines Avenue and crashed into a pickup under the I-190 bridge. The driver of the car was arrested for his third DUI. Fortunately, no one died in the accident. Nonetheless, the crash pointed out the real dangers and threats posed by those who choose to drive while intoxicated. Let's hope they have learned their lesson.
UGLY: It’s no secret that the Human Services Center in Yankton has been a source of concern with its high turnover rate and lack of accreditation. Now, the death of a 37-year-old woman has brought a renewed focus on the state’s only mental hospital and where West River patients are transported to on a regular basis. Anne Elizabeth White died of alcohol withdrawal and chronic alcohol abuse at the hospital, which does not have a detox facility. Even though her care team included 10 different administrators and nurses, she was never transferred to a facility with expertise in treating alcoholics. The news of the death comes as the hospital lists 43 job openings as of March 5, including the top job of hospital administrator that has been open since June 2017 while being filled by an interim director. The questionable oversight of a state hospital could have played a role in the death of White, which should concern all South Dakotans since the state has few other options for mental health care.