GOOD: The vacant Black Hills Energy building is on its way to being put to a new use with an eye to the future. On Tuesday, the YMCA announced it had purchased the building and plan to use the first four floors to expand its popular child care and preschool program. It was also announced at the press conference that the Rapid City school district plans to move its administrative offices to the upper four floors of the same building. Supt. Lori Simon said she sees a great opportunity for a partnership that will benefit young children. “Our missions align,” she said. “We are both in the business of serving kids.” The YMCA says it is working to raise $2.1 million for a two-phase remodeling project that would increase the number of children in the preschool program from 205 to 385. As Mayor Steve Allender said: "Early childhood education is the probably the best thing we can do, dollar-for-dollar, to invest in tomorrow's economy and the quality of life in our city."
BAD: It was somewhat surprising that the majority of Rapid City council members turned a deaf ear to a plea from Alderman John Roberts to award $5,000 in Human Services grant funds to the Front Porch Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families cope with suicide while providing suicide prevention services. Roberts, who lost a son to suicide, praised the group at the city council meeting and said 28 people in the county had committed suicide this year, which is a record pace. The awards, recommended by a citizens' committee, comes as the Rapid City school district begins work on its own suicide prevention program after three students took their lives recently. Nationally, a spike in teen suicides has raised concerns, as well. While the organizations that received the grant funds are worthy recipients, it is disappointing the council was unmoved by Roberts’ appeal, especially at a time when suicides appear to be on the rise in our community. If you would like to learn more about the nonprofit, visit frontporchcoalition.org.
UGLY: Al Scovel is a lawyer, former lawmaker and an advocate for the mentally ill, which includes members of the military and veterans who after serving in war zones can find themselves suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Scovel and his wife also have been foster parents for 15 years, so he does more than just talk about his concerns. He takes action. Now, he is hoping to convince the state to bring a mental-health facility to western South Dakota. The state’s only facility is in Yankton, which is around 365 miles from Rapid City. In a recent interview, however, Scovel voiced his concerns with a Legislature that has done little to address the problem. “They all give lip service to mental health but nothing seems to get done,” he told the Journal. “Our state is in a crisis … . It’s an insult that our state has handled this mental-health problem with abject neglect.” Perhaps, our lawmakers will listen and do more than debate whether they can carry guns in the capitol, fret about the non-existent transgender bathroom problem or try to discourage ballot measures that hold them more accountable.