Letters to the editor May 30

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Students who persevere

As graduation nears, it is always interesting to read the profiles of a few select seniors. However, I would like to suggest that the Inter Lake staff broaden the scope to feature students who have struggled to get through school. Having worked in schools for several years, I am very aware of the high number of kids who struggle to merely attend. Many do not even know where they will spend the night, yet manage to get themselves to school every day. Many have had to assume the parental role in their families, often because of parental neglect. Others have lost parents or siblings due to causes ranging from accidents to suicide. They still find the strength and commitment to attend and complete school.

Others face challenges in the school environment. Maybe they don’t learn in the traditional way. ADHD, depression, anxiety and many other diagnoses can make seven hours of class miserable. For those who don’t feel a sense of belonging, seeing others laughing with friends or talking about their after-school plans is extremely painful.

Lack of transportation, financial resources, time, support and confidence can all contribute to not participating in extracurricular activities, such as athletics. For many who do not feel a sense of belonging, it will be a long-awaited relief to graduate.

There is yet another large group that is worried about leaving school. Not everyone has a plan for after graduation. College may not be feasible or desirable. The safety, structure and support that a school staff provides will be ending.

I would like us to all be more aware of not only those who graduate at the top of their class and have scholarships, opportunities and support, but those who have faced their many battles with strength, commitment, courage and persistence.

— Mary McRae, Kalispell

[Editor’s Note: Thank you for writing, Mary. Each year the theme changes for the Daily Inter lake senior profiles. In the past we have highlighted students who have overcome significant challenges and persevered to make it to graduation. Thank you for your suggestion and we will certainly consider taking on this theme again.]

First-class first responders

I would like to share a large thank you to the fine medic responders with the Kalispell Fire Department. On May 6, I needed emergency care with my breathing. 911 stayed on the line, trying to keep me calm. The men from the fire department entered our home and I was receiving medical care within seconds. An EKG unit connected leads to check for heart attack; each employee listened to my lungs and made their report to lead medic. Bottom line, I had fluid in both lungs.

The calmness and patience in their voices gave me such peace. Just want them to have a large “shout out” for their line of work that showed their dedication to helping. Guys, thank you very much!

—Catherine Mikkola, Kalispell

Failed DUI legislation

The 2019 Montana Legislature failed to pass legislation addressing several key impaired driving issues that affect your safety.

One is that 70% of first-time Montana DUI suspects, or twice the national average, refuse to take a breathalyzer test and then demand costly and unnecessary trials hoping the state will not have adequate evidence to prove their guilt without breathalyzer evidence. Why do we allow this and needlessly tie the hands of our courts and law enforcement that are trying to protect us from impaired drivers? Senate Bill 65 would have allowed law enforcement officers to seek a warrant allowing blood to be drawn to determine blood alcohol levels from first time offenders refusing a breathalyzer test. They can already do this for second or more time DUI suspects. Why not for first time DUI suspects?

Impaired drivers annually cost the citizens of Montana about $230 million for the more than 100 people killed and 900 injured and 2000 plus vehicles involved in these crashes. In Yellowstone County alone about 19 people are killed and nearly 200 people injured every year in crashes involving impaired drivers.

Ask your state legislators to support and fund bills to reduce DUI-involved crashes. Ask them to correct for inflation our beer and wine taxes that have not changed since 1997 and 1985, respectively.

—Ronald Yates, Great Falls

A strong, independent voice

The Montana Legislature passed HB 658, finally bringing to a welcome end the fight to continue Medicaid expansion. The bill is the product of months of debate and compromise, colored by fervent activism and moving testimony from Montanans across the state.

Our Sen. Dan Salomon deserves special recognition for being a key part of the working majority that made this achievement possible, and one of the few remaining Republican senators willing to work across the aisle in order to do what’s right and necessary for his constituents.

Further, Sen. Salomon had the courage to stand up on the Senate floor and defend his vote, speaking truth to his party leadership and setting the record straight on Medicaid expansion after sitting through a barrage of misleading talking points cascading from his side of the aisle.

Thank you, Senator, for being a strong, independent voice in the legislature. Montana is a better state for having you.

—John Fleming, St. Ignatius

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