Cheers to fire cadets, jeers to high student loan interest rates
The News-Item's cheers and jeers from the past week of local news:
- Cheers to Fire Cadet Weekend, the two-day camp that primes youth for possible service with local fire departments. Some 40 volunteers were part of the third annual event hosted by Elysburg Fire Department this weekend, these trained experts taking time to teach and encourage young participants. Not only is the camp a great opportunity for boys and girls to enjoy and learn through exciting exercises and training related to emergency services, but it's working on an even more important level: these youth are growing up to actually serve with local fire departments.
- Jeers to the continuing pending rate increase for student loans, which are set to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent July 1. To address it, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has introduced a bill that would set subsidized student loan rate interest at the same rate applied to loans made by the Federal Reserve to the nation's banks, currently 0.74 percent. But the bill won't pass, because the types of loans are dramatically different. Still, her bill raises the question of why the government demands more than four times the interest from students as it does from some of the world's largest banks, and is doing nothing as the difference is about to double.
- Cheers to Friday's groundbreaking for the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA), at which the Northumberland County-owned park was described as a "triple win" in terms of recreation, conservation and local economic development by Cindy Dunn, deputy secretary for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. The off-highway vehicle park may be open to the public on weekends later this year, at which time we'll begin to understand its full value, with hiking, biking and horseback riding, as well as hunting, also important aspects of the project.
- Cheers to Mount Carmel Area School Board for passing a budget without a tax increase and without excessive cuts to staffing or programs. It should be noted, too, that the board negotiated a new five-year contract with its superintendent, Bernard Stellar, that provides a healthy but reasonable salary in comparison to other regional superintendents at $90,000. It's perhaps no coincidence that taxes aren't going up in a school district where the top earner has this lower salary and will earn modest raises over the life of his contract. While we're handing out cheers, one goes to Stellar himself, who continues his duties as band director in addition to his many responsibilities as superintendent. It's rare today, but awfully refreshing.
- Cheers to two well-known local institutions on major milestones. Indian Hills Golf and Tennis Club is marking its 90th anniversary this year as it transitions from a private club to semi-private, and has opened its golf course to the public, while Edgewood Swim Club marks its 40th year with an emphasis on inviting local families to join at a reasonable fee. Indians Hills and Edgewood are important links to our past, but also important entities in the area's current and future quality of life.