Editorial Ups and Downs: Highs and lows from last week's headlines

The Daily Times

UP — We'll have plenty of coverage on the Fourth of July celebrations this weekend and we're particularly proud of the options available to San Juan County residents. Farmington's Freedom Days activities are so numerous it took four pages in Thursday's A&E (our lead story) to explain them all. That celebration started Thursday and lasts through Sunday. Thanks to Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Tonya Stinson and the approximately two dozen volunteers who spent months working with all the others who will be on the ground at the events to make this happen. And, if you love fireworks, we also have an embarrassment of riches. The first fireworks display, today, is part of Freedom Days and will be at Sullivan Hill in Farmington. The second is Tommy Bolack's show, which will originate from his B-Square Ranch in south Farmington off U.S. Highway 64. And the finale will be in Bloomington as part of that city's Olde Tyme Family Fourth. Each of these organizers is rightfully proud of their offering and we don't think you can go wrong by attending any one — or all. We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July.

DOWN — To pick up where we left off, please don't drink and drive during the holiday. Drinking and driving can be a fatally irresponsible act, putting your life and the lives of passengers and innocent bystanders at risk. There is cause for concern. In 2014, as we reported on Thursday, law enforcement agencies arrested 66 people for drunken driving between June 20 and Sept. 30. Of those 12 were arrested by the Farmington Police Department, which was the highest number of any agency in the state. And, of 56 people cited for reckless driving in the summer of 2014, 24, nearly half, were issued by Farmington police officers or San Juan County Sheriff's deputies. As has been said, if you're going to drive, don't drink, and if you're going to drink don't drive.

DOWN — Talk about no good deed going unpunished. The Farmington Municipal School District's maintenance department has won the Ben Luján Gold Award four of the last five years for using some of the best practices in the field. Apparently, they're so good they managed to massage the aging McCormick Elementary School to the point that New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority representatives who toured the school found it was in better condition than they anticipated. After the visit, the authority removed the school's planned $22.5 million renovation project from their list of projects that qualify for state funding. So, some McCormick Elementary students will continue to do their work in a 65-year-old building. The council's approach provides all the wrong incentives. Providing good maintenance is punished, while leaving the building in a crumbling state of disrepair is rewarded. We understand the need for efficient use of taxpayer dollars, but this decision is a travesty. We support district Director of Operations Ted Lasiewicz in asking the council to reconsider it's process for making such assessments. Districts with effective maintenance departments should not be punished for doing good work and neither should the students.