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Our View: Cheers and Jeers to voters, a rogue school dance and faster internet
OUR VIEW

Our View: Cheers and Jeers to voters, a rogue school dance and faster internet

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Cheers and Jeers

Cheers

For the first time ever, there are more than a million registered voters in Idaho. 1,004,449 to be exact, according to Chad Houck, chief deputy secretary of state.

Of those voters, 407,616, a little more than 40%, had requested absentee (or mailed) ballots. And of those, just over 128,000, or 31%, had already been returned. That number will likely grow still: Requests for absentee ballots can still be made through Friday, Oct. 23.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, that’s OK. In Idaho, you can register to vote in person on election day at the same time you vote.

Jeer

Like so many events this year, homecoming dances across Idaho have been a victim to coronavirus.

But a group of Twin Falls parents haven’t let potential harm to the community stop them from planning their own non-school sanctioned dance. Apparently, more than 200 students will be attending an unofficial homecoming dance, without mandatory masking, after the school district canceled the official dance.

“They said, ‘We’re not taking it anymore, we’re having our dance,’” parent Shane Klaas said at this week’s school board meeting.

Really? While the school district works to keep kids partially in school and minimize contact with a hybrid schedule? While the health district says our community is headed toward critical risk levels in the next week? While our state is held back from advancing out of Covid-19 restrictions?

Packing more than 200 kids into a relatively small space so they can dance, sing along to music and breathe on each other sounds like a great way to increase the number of cases in our area.

Rather than undermining the hard, tireless work schools and hospitals are doing right now, maybe now would be the time for these parents to demonstrate some of that personal responsibility everyone is talking about right now.

Cheer

Depending on what side of the hill you live in in Bliss, you might not have been able to participate in a Zoom meeting, download the day’s school work or just stream a movie online with your kids.

That changed this week as Bliss got hooked up with high-speed broadband internet.

Building the infrastructure to get Bliss broadband cost $840,000. The town couldn’t have afforded that, but the pandemic made millions of dollars available for rural economic development.

Idaho got $1.25 billion directly from the CARES Act, $50 million of which went to the Idaho Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce decided to spend the money on broadband in rural communities.

White Cloud Communications Owner Joe Shelton explained that it hasn’t been financially viable for companies to provide broadband services in tiny communities. An internet provider needs a broad customer base to earn its money back. Grants like these are the only way smaller communities can keep up.

“For the people of Bliss, we never would have been able to spend those kinds of dollars for that small a population,” Shelton said.

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