THUMBS UP: Northern Utah’s health departments, private care providers and other institutions continue to do a thorough job of making sure that as many people as possible get flu shots each year. This community-wide effort saves lives and reduces levels of sickness, especially in the most vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, still more needs to be done. After two local students died of influenza complications last week, the Standard-Examiner’s Megan Olsen reported that most charter schools apparently do not hold fall flu shot clinics — something nearly all public schools do. We urge health agencies and charter schools to make the clinics a standard procedure.
THUMBS UP: Local elected officials often are criticized for failing to be as accessible and responsive as some constituents may like. But at least four times in the past two weeks, politicians and other officials have hosted public town hall-style events to let residents sound off on vital issues. Two town hall meetings put on by local state legislators, plus a special public meeting via telephone by the Weber County Commission, and a Roy City meeting to gather public feedback on plane crash dangers, give credit to the efforts toward openness by the officials involved.
THUMBS DOWN: Speaking of democracy, some Utah lawmakers never seem to get comfortable with the reality that state residents can and do resort to the initiative and referenda process to enact or challenge legislation. Case in point: House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, complained this week that “Legislation by referendum, while part of the political process, can be divisive, and at many times, be short of facts.” Threat of a citizen-driven ballot showdown had just caused lawmakers to kill their recently passed tax reform package. The burden’s rightfully now back on Wilson and his colleagues to pass reforms the public can stomach.
THUMBS DOWN: Traumatic brain injuries are not a trifling matter. They’re a little more serious than headaches. The Pentagon said last week that 34 U.S. troops suffered traumatic brain injuries in the Jan. 8 Iranian strike on an Iraqi air base. After the first reports that some soldiers had been hurt, President Donald Trump referred to them as “headaches” and said the cases were not as serious as injuries involving the loss of limbs. But TBI can have lifelong consequences. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center reported nearly 350,000 diagnoses of TBI in the U.S. military since 2000. TBI during military service can be related to higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, back pain and suicidal ideation.
THUMBS UP: Ogden High School senior Philip Jimenez overcame significant home and family challenges earlier in his life to excel academically and win a $25,000 Horatio Alger National Scholarship. Jimenez credited his mother and his teachers for helping him along the way to this prestigious honor, which was received by only 106 students nationwide, out of 40,000 applicants. Way to go, Philip.
THUMBS UP: North Ogden’s Jennie Taylor stepped forward yet again to help her community. The wife of the late U.S. Army Maj. and North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor has been named to serve as civilian liaison in Utah to the Army. It’s a volunteer post meant to connect, at the grassroots level, soldiers and their families with leaders at the Pentagon. We appreciate all that Taylor has accomplished since the tragic loss of her husband in Afghanistan in 2018.