UP -- We heard some good news in the ongoing battle to slow the flow of methamphetamine into San Juan County. A Phoenix woman accused of carrying 2 pounds of the drug sewn into pillows that children in her van were sleeping on was busted this week. She is charged with three counts of trafficking meth -- first degree felonies that each carry a sentence of up to 18 years in prison. Region II Narcotics Task Force Lt. Neil Haws said officers had been tracking her movements. She made two or three trips a month over the last six months, according to officers investigating the case. Meth is a particularly destructive drug that is causing untold misery in this county. Haws said the woman regularly travels with her 14-year-old daughter. A mother and daughter traveling in a van attracts less suspicion. She was also charged with child abuse. Her bail was set at a hefty half-million dollars. If she is found guilty, she deserves a tough sentence.
DOWN -- We understand the need to balance a budget after a long trend of lagging revenues from oil and gas taxes (which is showing hopeful signs of reversing), but it's always a bad sign when the cost of an education goes up. When the San Juan College board approved it's $55.9 million budget earlier this week, it included changes to student fees and increases in the non-resident tuition rate. The budget also included staff raises and money to pay for an increase in the cost of health insurance, which are good and necessary, in that order, expenses. And we appreciate that the board kept the tuition rate for residents the same at $41 a credit hour. Non-resident tuition, however, may be prohibitive. That rate went from $105 to $123 per credit hour. Fees went up for everyone. An education at San Juan College is still an excellent value for residents, but, as the rates inexorably rise, graduates end up carrying debt into a job market with few opportunities, much less good jobs that pay enough to retire the debt in a timely manner. As Congress continues to squabble and accomplish little, the Obama administration has promoted loan-forgiveness programs. An April 29 Wall Street Journal article says enrollment in these programs is soaring. That's a backdoor solution and the inability of this Congress to accomplish anything of note is damaging the nation's future.
UP -- We love the idea of "Discovery Day." The event last week gave innovators a chance to pitch their ideas to business people with proven track records and investors who, if their imagination was piqued, could help move the ideas into production. One man used recycled material to produce a lightweight golf bag. He came up with the idea to help his daughter, who is a Special Olympics golfer, and couldn't carry the weight of a regular golf bag. Another inventor came up with the idea to harness the pressure created by exhaust gases from pumps that push natural gas from well heads to refineries. The process harnesses Environmental Protection Agency regulated emissions, which can be filtered out at the refinery, and aids in pumping the natural gas. If the process proves to be effective (and cost effective), it's the kind of invetive solution will contribute to an energy secure future that doesn't destroy our environment. Keep the ideas coming.
UP -- Devon Energy Employees Herman "Punch" Buck and Jake Nossaman literally went the extra mile in mid-March to help a woman who had gotten lost after relying on a malfunctioning GPS system. She was stuck on a finger of land jutting into Navajo Lake and beginning to go into diabetic shock. Police got a call from the woman and asked the two to help out. Buck and Nossaman searched for her on roads they regularly drove to keep an eye on oil field operations in the area. Buck, with Nossaman's help found the woman and fed her an apple and some other food that helped her out of the situation. That's what we call good neighbors.