A few things of note this week:
TEXTING AND DRIVING: The Aberdeen City Council Monday took a great step toward making our streets safer by outlawing texting while driving. The ban begins July 24.
If you don't think this is an important change, next time you are driving down Sixth Avenue, glance over at the drivers in the other lane. You will see people dividing their attention between the traffic and the texts.
Enforcement will be part of it — anything from $120 fines to $500 fines and 30 days in jail — but just creating the law will be a deterrent. Getting the message out is critical to letting drivers know that this is not safe behavior. That should cut down on some of the risk.
Aberdeen joins Sioux Falls, Mitchell, Watertown, Brookings, Vermillion and Huron in banning texting while driving.
Now that so many of the state's biggest cities are covered, we encourage our state legislators to look at what is happening and knock out a statewide texting-while-driving ban. The foundation is there locally, and there really is no reason to not have a state law.
Let's get this done in January. There is no downside to this law.
SPEAKING OF NEW LAWS: New South Dakota laws took effect Monday, including the state's controversial "school sentinels" law allowing school districts to arm teachers, staff and volunteers, if they choose.
It will be fascinating to see which districts in the state actually follow through on this permission.
We encourage our area school districts to find other solutions to keeping students and employees safe in our schools. Adding armed sentinels is adding a layer of danger to an already complex security situation for most schools. Which is more likely: that an armed guard will thwart a potential tragedy — a very rare occurrence — or that a gun will be mishandled, or left in a restroom or found by a student?
The Legislature made South Dakota schools less safe in 2013. We hope that the schools don't take the bait.
WHEAT GROWERS: Congratulations to our friends at Wheat Growers, who celebrated the co-op's 90th anniversary last week.
It is an amazing feat, especially when considering all the changes in agriculture since 1923. The Depression. The Dirty Thirties and the Dust Bowl. War. Advancements in technology, both in the fields and in the labs. Changing customer tastes and demands.
Through it all, Wheat Growers has been there for farmers, and by the farmers, of South Dakota and North Dakota.
We wish them many more years of growth and success.
— American News editorial board