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The mind reels - again

Another discussion about guns in the courthouse at Tuesday's meeting of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors showed again why the Iowa Legislature needs to revisit the package of gun-related proposals passed by lawmakers last year.

During the discussion, Sheriff Dave Drew said enforcement of a plan by which guns will be allowed in the parts of the courthouse not controlled by the judicial system but prohibited in parts with court functions will cost between $560,641 and $945,951. Drew's four options also include addition of security to parts of two more county buildings where court functions happen.

As we have said before, the Legislature needs to clean up the mess its new law created for Woodbury County and, likely, for other counties. Again today, we call on state legislators to pass a bill that gives local government bodies the legal right under state law to adopt a ban on weapons in public buildings.

Watchdog criticizes VA secretary

In a report, the Veterans Administration's internal watchdog said VA Secretary David Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and his staff falsely said he was receiving an award in order to justify his wife accompanying him on an 11-day European trip involving business and sightseeing last summer, according to an Associated Press story in Thursday's Journal.

According to the report, "The investigation revealed serious derelictions” by Shulkin and his staff. Shulkin should reimburse the government more than $4,000, the report said.

An 11-member VA delegation, including Shulkin's wife and six members of Shulkin’s security detail, traveled to England and Denmark in July, at a total VA cost of at least $122,334, according to the report.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, called on Shulkin to resign.

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Community Health Centers receive funding

The federal budget agreement reached by Congress last Friday provided funding for two years for more than 1,400 community health centers across the nation, including the Siouxland Community Health Center in Sioux City, according to a Saturday Journal story.

Community Health Centers were in limbo since the Community Health Center Fund, which was established in 2010 by the Affordable Care Act and which provides 70 percent of funding for these facilities, expired on Sept. 30, The Journal reported.

PlyWood route identified

Momentum continues for creation of PlyWood, a proposed 16-mile, inter-county trail connecting Sioux City and Le Mars.

Last week, PlyWood organizers unveiled the preferred trail route during public meetings in Hinton and Le Mars. One of three choices shared with the public last fall, the Central Route travels along Highway 75 and passes through Hinton and Merrill.

Of the three choices, the Central Route is the shortest and will have the least impact on landowners, according to trail proponents.

Even casual readers of Our Opinion know the premium we place on quality of life and its impact on economic growth and prosperity and how important we believe a connected system of trails for the enjoyment of walkers, runners and bikers is to local qualify of life. We believe PlyWood holds great potential for our metro region and believe the case for building it grows more compelling every time another metro trail link is finished.

Again today, we commend members of the PlyWood planning committee, whose goal is to raise enough private money to build PlyWood and establish an endowment for its maintenance, for their dogged commitment to making this dream a reality.

An idea worth more discussion

Although no action is imminent, we are pleased conversion of downtown Sioux City one-way streets to two-way traffic at least remains under discussion ("Proceed with caution," Feb. 12 Journal).

In a 2011 editorial, we advocated for returning Fifth and Sixth streets to two-way traffic from Floyd Boulevard to Wesley Parkway for reasons of improved traffic flow into, within and out of downtown in all directions. The plan under discussion in the city at the time was to convert the three one-way traffic lanes to one lane in each direction, with a central turn lane.

If the work can be performed at a reasonable cost (a $9.8 million pricetag prepared by Olsson Associates of Lincoln, Neb., in 2014 was then and is today unreasonable and a $5.8 million estimate prepared by city staff strikes us too high, as well), we remain supportive of this idea.

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