Pot will keep rolling through

Parent Category: Editorials Written by Rob Viehman Hits: 776

    When Troopers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol find 130 pounds of marijuana in a van they stopped on I-44, it’s hard not to think about our country’s ongoing debate about security at the southern border.

    The pot came out of New Mexico and likely made its way into America from Mexico. No one is naïve enough, however, to think that drug smugglers trudged through the desert and into the United States carrying 130 pounds of marijuana on their backs. Obviously, the drugs cross the border at one of our ports of entry, quite possibly in the same van that was pulled over near Cuba earlier this month.
    No matter what your feelings are about building a wall along the U.S./Mexican border, you probably realize that such a barrier would have little, if any, impact on drug smuggling. At least three tunnels have been found under the existing border walls in the Southwestern U.S. this week alone. If they found three, how many are there that U.S. officials don’t know about, and will never find?
    The same can be asked when large shipments of drugs are found during traffic stops on our interstates. How many vans full of marijuana pass through our state every day and are never stopped? If there is no good reason for troopers to stop a vehicle, they don’t get stopped. Odds are that only a miniscule amount of drugs ever get found as they travel through Missouri, and the same thing is going on at the border.
    Commerce along the U.S./Mexican border is thriving and both nations are heavily dependent on it. There is simply no way to search every commercial shipment that enters our country and no real way to effectively search private vehicles, either.
    On average, about one million people legally cross the border every day. How in the world can all of those people be checked and screened properly? And that won’t change no matter how long, how tall, or how secure any border wall is now, or in the future.
    If you do or don’t support a southern border wall, you should realize one thing. If it is built, it’s not going to stop shipments of marijuana from passing through Missouri on our interstate highways. More busts like this most recent one will continue, as long as Americans continue to smoke pot and it remains illegal in parts of our country.

Old MS has no future for district
    The Steelville School Board is going to have to make a big decision…and it’s going to have to make it soon. Within days, the board will decide whether to ask voters to approve a no tax increase bond issue in April, but that’s not the big decision it faces. As part of that process, the board must also decide what will become of the old middle school building.
    The school holds a lot of history for Steelville. Many area residents attended high school there, while others went to fifth through eighth grade in the old building. It would be wonderful to save it, but do you save it at the expense of our students’ future?
    Even though the old middle school could be fully restored (at nearly double the cost of new construction), anyone who has studied the district’s needs and looked at the building can only come to one conclusion—it has no future as a school. (Full disclosure: I sat on the most recent facilities committee for the district.) It simply can’t meet state requirements for class size, and it would cost far too much to restore than can ever be justified.
    If the building can’t be used for a school, could it serve some other purpose? Possibly. It would make a nice community center, with classroom space for yoga or karate, meeting rooms, a public gym, etc., but who would pay for that and who would run it? There are no easy answers to those questions. Also, would the school even want a building on its campus, directly adjacent school buildings, that was being used for non-school activities? Would that be safe for students and staff members?
    Perhaps the biggest problem the old building presents for the district, however, is that it is taking up valuable space on the elementary/middle school campus. Space is at a premium at the in-town campus, and there is not a lot of other property nearby the school could easily acquire. If the old middle school building remains where it is, it will be taking up valuable parking and/or green space, will continue to hide the main entrance to the new middle school (and maybe a new main entrance for the elementary), and will prohibit the district from addressing two serious problems on the campus: traffic flow and water control.
    It certainly appears the future of Steelville’s elementary and middle school campus doesn’t include the old middle school building. Do you have to like that? No. But, you should certainly try to understand it. And you should realize that spending money and wasting precious space on that campus to save a little bit of local history should not be done at the expense of the district’s current and future students.