HIT: Losing a loved one in war is a shattering experience, but perhaps just as upsetting is a friend or family member who ends up missing in action. They’re gone, but without the sense of resolution that comes with definitive evidence that they have died. All told, there are still close to 1,600 servicemen missing from the Vietnam War, with more than 500 of that cohort hailing from Pennsylvania. One of them is due to be honored in Peters Township. Last week, the township council voted to approve a memorial street sign for Capt. Paul Urquhart, whose plane went down near the border of Vietnam and Laos in 1971. The dead from that war have been honored; the missing deserve similar commendation.
HIT: Electronic voting machines gained a foothold in Washington County in 2006, but they have left some voters uncomfortable because they do not leave a paper trail. Next year, though, the concerns of county voters should be assuaged thanks to a decision Monday by the Washington County Election Board to purchase a new system at a cost of $2.8 million from Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Neb., that will provide a paper record. They will first be used in Washington County in the primary scheduled for April 28, 2020. Greene County used machines from Election Systems and Software in the May primary, and reported few problems. Tina Kiger, Greene’s elections director, said “the machines did great” and “our people had very few issues, and I think the majority of our voters felt very comfortable with it.” Let’s hope that is also the case with Washington County voters.
HIT: Roundabouts have been put in place on various state routes throughout Pennsylvania in recent years, including a few in Washington County. They have generated some grousing from drivers – they can be a little intimidating if you are not used to them. But they seem to be reducing crashes, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The agency has reviewed data for 19 roundabouts that were once stop or signal controlled, and the numbers showed that serious injuries in accidents fell, as did fatalities, minor injuries and property damage. The overall number of crashes decreased by 34%. PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said, “The facts speak for themselves. Roundabouts save lives and reduce crash severity over standard stop or signal-controlled intersections.” More roundabouts are coming across the commonwealth. Judging by what PennDOT has reported, we should embrace them, not grumble about them.
HIT: Part of the reason that college and university students across the country are being saddled with onerous debt is states have not been funding higher education the way they once did. Right now, in fact, Pennsylvania ranks 48th in the nation when it comes to state funding for higher education. There are some hopeful signs, though, that the pendulum is starting to swing the other way. This week, officials in New Mexico announced a plan that would make its public universities and colleges tuition-free for state residents. Tuition would be free regardless of family income, and would be financed through oil revenues. There are still a a lot of questions surrounding the proposal – namely, if students from well-to-do households should get an entirely free ride in paying for their education – but officials in other states should pay careful attention to its success or failure if it becomes law.