An impressive 40 years for preschool

December 3, 2012 

THUMBS UP: COOPERATIVE PRESCHOOL

Forty years is a long time for parents to continuously operate a nonprofit preschool. But that’s just what the moms and dads of young children have done with the Steamboat Island Cooperative Preschool.

The pioneering parents of the preschool recognized that early childhood learning is critical to a child’s development. They started with a school enrollment of 27 kids in 1972, and 40 years later are still going strong.

Credit the many parent volunteers who work with the school’s only paid employee, a teacher who keeps the focus on education through play activities.

The school celebrated its 40th anniversary Saturday night with a dinner, silent auction, raffle, music and children’s activities. Parents of past and present preschoolers should be proud of what they have accomplished through cooperation and a can-do spirit.

THUMBS DOWN: EATING CONTESTS

Contests to see who can eat the most hot dogs, pickles, pies — you name it — have gotten out of hand. They’ve even turned lethal. A South Florida man recently choked to death after winning a roach-eating contest where the grand prize was a rare snake.

Eating roaches to win a rare snake? Enough said.

THUMBS DOWN: CLAIM DELAYS

Veterans who qualify for disability benefits are waiting longer for their claims to be processed despite attempts for years by federal officials to streamline the process.

The 262 days it took on average to process a claim in 2012 is up 40 percent from the previous year, and nowhere near the goal of 90 days set by the Department of Veteran Affairs. In fact, it was the longest wait since numbers were first tracked 20 years ago.

The federal government must overhaul and modernize the disability benefits application process. Talk is cheap. It’s time for action.

THUMBS DOWN: BOUNCE HOUSES

Those inflatable bounce houses that are a big hit at children’s parties aren’t as safe as one might think. There’s been a 15-fold increase in injuries associated with bounce houses from 1995 to 2010. Broken bones, sprains and cuts are keeping emergency rooms hopping. The statistics are alarming and beg for better adult supervision, stronger guidelines for safe use of bounce houses and improved design.

THUMBS DOWN: STRANGE CONFETTI

Shredded records that appeared to come from the Nassau Police Department rained down on the Macy’s parade in Manhattan on Thanksgiving Day. Sensitive documents that included Social Security and license-plate numbers were turned into not-so-secret confetti. Someone has some explaining to do.

THUMBS UP: TOUGHER GUN LAWS

Watch for a bill in the upcoming state legislative session to toughen the state laws for kids who illegally possess firearms. The current law is far too lenient: It takes five firearms convictions before a juvenile is required to serve 15 weeks in juvenile detention. The revised law would require detention of 10 days after the first offense and 15-to-36 weeks after the second.

The bill has the support of gun-control activists and gun-rights advocates in what’s an unusual alliance. The goal here is to get guns out of the hands of youth before they do something with them that they’ll regret for life.

It’s time to send a clear message: Illegal possession of firearms is serious business.

THUMBS UP:LASTING MEMORIAL

A bill is moving through Congress to name the Eatonville post office after Mount Rainier National Park ranger Margaret Anderson, who was shot to death by a gunman she confronted after he bolted through a checkpoint near the park’s entrance. She was well-respected in the community as a devoted wife, mother and volunteer at the Eatonville Fire Department.

Congress shouldn’t hesitate to approve House Resolution 5788 in Anderson’s memory.

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