Mountains & Valley

MOUNTAIN – We are grateful for the recent allotment of a grant to make it safer for Saranac Lake kids to walk or bike to school. We’re also grateful to the local people who did the planning and paperwork to make it happen. Now let’s make that money count by not busing all the local kids who can easily and safely walk or bike.

Safe Routes to School is an important idea. It’s silly that we complain about kids being obese and yet don’t have them walk a few blocks to school. Busing is expensive, and besides, with bus routes being what they are, for many kids within a village it’s much faster to walk or bike than to ride a bus. If there are a few danger spots, let’s have youth traffic guards and on-duty police officers help kids cross there.

It’s a point of pride that Saranac Lake is a walkable village. (It’s bike-able, too, but could be more so.) Taking more advantage of that would make this village even more of an All-America City.

MOUNTAIN – Congratulations to John Ellis of Tupper Lake, who was elected as a state Supreme Court judge for the next 14 years. It’s good to have an Adirondacker on the bench (even if it took two months of vote counting and legal maneuvering – yeesh). We wish him very well and trust he will be truly just.

VALLEY – Tupper Lake school Superintendent Seth McGowan got a 17 percent raise when he took on the noble experiment of adding the middle-high school principal job to his own – even though he had several teachers to share those administrative duties with him. That made sense, but now the experiment is over; it was just too much work, especially with the state’s new teacher evaluation plan requirements. An interim principal is in place, and a new one is being sought. With that added expense and since Mr. McGowan is just a superintendent again now, he should lose at least some of that pay increase; that should have been part of the deal from the beginning.

Instead, however, the school board is letting him keep the raise and giving him annual 2 percent raises on top of it for each of the next three years. We don’t think that’s the way most hard-working taxpayers want their elected school board members to steward their money, especially when the state is giving the Tupper Lake district, in particular, much less money now and thus putting more of the burden on local property taxpayers.

Granted, it’s a small amount of money in the grand scheme of school spending, but it’s meaningful. It’s an example of board members, who were elected to lead, not exerting checks and balances on staff.

MOUNTAIN – Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel seems like the right kind of person to run a U.S. Defense Department that’s pulling back from two wars and trying to make itself more efficient amid scary deficits and a presidential administration that is – thankfully – being careful not to embroil the U.S. in too many of the world’s conflicts. Both he and Sen. John Kerry, whom President Obama has nominated for secretary of state, state plainly that their experiences fighting in Vietnam made them wary of war; they know its hellishness well. It seems that they, more than others who have held the job, would try to use the U.S.’s vast military power soberly – that is, as a last resort.

Both Hagel and Kerry are well qualified for these appointments and also suited for them at this time in our history. We hope the Senate confirms them.