Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias Newspapers try to fill a variety of roles with each publication.

They try to inform. They serve as a historical record of the happenings in their community.

They try to entertain. And with their editorial page, they make people think.

An element of every good opinion page is an editorial cartoon.

It is a graphic statement that often stabs at our intellect. Sometimes they make us chuckle.

Sometimes, they do the opposite. They make us angry.

Our editorial cartoonist penned the work that appears on this page long before Clay County began experiencing tragedy on its highways.

He drew it weeks before Rep. William Janklow drove through a stop sign near Flandreau last Saturday, killing a motorcyclist.

There's nothing personal about the notion he's expressing.

One of the characters in the cartoon is describing his fear of the growing number of older drivers that are destined to be on our highways in the future. A suggested (tongue-in cheek) solution, offered by an older character in the cartoon? Raise the driving age.

That is the artist's opinion. Some may believe it dovetails nicely with what's been happening in Clay County lately.

There have been seven traffic fatalities in six accidents in the county since June 16.

At first blush, it appears these incidents primarily have involved young people.

Take a closer look at the details, however, and it's more difficult to find a common thread.

Three of the fatalities involved people younger than 25 who lost control of their vehicles. A fourth fatality was a teen-aged passenger in Aug. 12's fatal rollover accident.

A local man was killed this summer while riding his motorcycle west of Vermillion. A trailer being pulled on a highway broke loose and drifted into his path.

Other recent fatalities involve experienced drivers. A Centerville woman died in a collision on Highway 46 in Clay County July 20.

The county's most recent fatality is a 50-year-old Iowa man who lost control of his automobile Sunday. His wife survived the crash.

We're aware that publishing an editorial cartoon of this nature at such a delicate time may be upsetting to some people.

Some may argue it serves as a painful reminder of what's happened in the county this summer, without actually addressing the problem. That doesn't diminish the meaning of the cartoon's message.

It's timing, in fact, makes it more important. We're hoping it will make our readers stop.

And think.

People of all ages, in a variety of circumstances, have lost their lives in recent weeks on our county's roads.

We wish there was a foolproof solution to this problem, but there isn't.

All we can do is ask people � of all ages � to use common sense when they get behind the wheel of their automobiles.

In other words, think.

HEAD: Some like it hot � not!

We recently threw our support behind the notion of scheduling the South Dakota State Fair back to its more traditional time � close to Labor Day.

We can�t help but feel the same way about the scheduling of public school years in the state.

Summer is still going strong, for crying out loud. But school has started in many, if not most of the state�s public school districts this week.

Today (Wednesday) is the first day of the 2003-04 year in the Vermillion School District.

The forecast? A high of 93 degrees. It looks like there won�t be much change in the weather the rest of the week. By Sunday, we could be experiencing highs nearing 100 degrees.

It won�t be surprising if some districts end school days early in the next couple weeks because of the heat.

Fifteen years ago state legislators approved a law that required schools to begin after Labor Day. It was repealed in 1996.

We�d like to see lawmakers take another look at allowing districts the flexibility of starting school at a time when our weather has cooled down a bit.

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