NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: It’s time for some positive news

So let’s focus on some positive news for a change:

A report released last week by the Indiana Department of Child Services shows fatalities from child neglect and abuse fell significantly during the 2016 fiscal year.

There were 77 such fatalities during the 12 months ending on June 30, 2015, up from 66 the year before. But in the fiscal year 2016 the total fell to 59 — a reduction of nearly 25 percent.

It’s a bittersweet statistic, of course. The bitter is that 24 children died from abuse and 35 more from neglect. What’s more, 46 of the 59 deaths were children 3 or younger, matching the national trend that toddlers are at the highest risk.

Over the past four years abuse reports grew in Indiana by 63 percent, and Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered an assessment of the DCS in December when the former director resigned because of concerns within the department. A resulting document highlighted 20 recommendations to help fix many of the problems, and Holcomb says he’s already put a few in motion.

We applaud the efforts of Holcomb and others to help the DCS fulfill its mission of reducing child neglect and abuse.

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It’s also encouraging to see our state coming through with promises to help schools prevent the horrors of shootings within their walls, such as have terrorized the nation in recent years. When it hit home with a school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in May, Hoosiers across the state joined with and others who called for state money to be designated for security measures for our schools.

After the Noblesville shooting, Gov. Holcomb emphasized the state’s commitment to school safety by pledging to provide whatever resources are needed. Upon the governor’s request, lawmakers boosted an existing school safety grant program from $10 million annually to $15 million during this spring’s special legislative session.

Holcomb and the Indiana Department of Administration have been offering Indiana schools the opportunity to order one state-funded hand-held metal detector for every 250 students.

The governor’s office says 370 “school entities” (94 percent of all traditional public school corporations) have ordered 3,231 metal detectors so far. Funded by the Department of Administration, the program has so far cost $330,000.

Among Allen County schools on the list, only East Allen had made a request, theirs for 38 metal detectors. Schools that have not ordered the devices can still do so by Oct. 5.

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Finally, we praise the power of the people in this republic where our citizens still have a say in how they are governed.

Voters in Griffith, Ind., overwhelmingly approved a referendum calling for the secession of their town from Calumet Township in Lake County. Why? Because the town of 16,000 residents has been paying taxes at a rate nearly four times higher than other neighboring townships, according to Wednesday’s Associated Press report.

Town Council President Rick Ryfa said Griffith taxpayers pay more than $2.1 million a year to Calumet Township but get little in return. The township includes the city of Gary, where, AP says, “a large percentage of the population lives below the poverty line and seeks township aid.”

Last year, Calumet Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson sued to stop the referendum, but the courts recently ruled that Tuesday’s special election could be held, and officials reported 97 percent of the 3,300 residents who cast ballots voted to secede.

Ryfa indicated the city would become part of neighboring Ross, North and St. John townships before the end of the year, since state and federal election laws would forbid such a transfer a year before the 2020 national census.

Here’s to you Griffith! As they used to say on the TV show “Hee Haw,” “Salute!”