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Thumbs - Our high country lowdown on the news

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By Optic Editorial Board

THUMBS DOWN! TRAGEDY STRIKES. Two Las Vegas city employees were killed Wednesday when a deep trench they were working  in collapsed. After the ditch collapsed on them, a frantic effort ensued to get them out, but Frank Romero and Gene Hern died at the scene. And to add to the tragedy, fears that the ditch remained unstable kept crews from pulling out the bodies until hours after the accident.  

Our heart goes out to the families of these two victims. Two vibrant lives were taken away far too soon.

THUMBS UP! DECISIONS MADE. The power struggle within the Mora-San Miguel Electric Co-op came to a head with the hotly contested elections — with two of three board incumbents failing to get enough votes to hold on to their seats.

In the District 5 race, Diego Quintana defeated incumbent Robert Baca by eight votes, while in the District 1 race, Virginia Mondragon handily defeated incumbent Mary Lou Roybal. Daniel Romero was the only incumbent who held onto his seat, winning re-election in District 4 by a mere four votes.

The winners take office after the annual meeting on June 25. Here’s hoping it’s quiet until then, and that the new leadership can restore confidence.

THUMBS DOWN! TOUGH TIMES. Both Las Vegas school districts are bracing for some hefty budget cuts for the upcoming school year. The City Schools district is anticipating a budget cut of more than $1 million, the result of state cuts to K-12 education, federal stimulus funding going away and a drop in special education students. That’s significant to a district currently operating on a $27 million annual budget. Meanwhile, the West Las Vegas district is having to plan layoffs of first- and second-year employees. Districts officials stressed that there are currently no plans to lay off tenured teachers.

These are daunting times for just about any operation that depends on state money, but it’s particularly disconcerting to see the schools hit so hard.

THUMBS UP! GRADUATES. On the brighter side of education, Highlands University and Luna Community College each held their commencement ceremonies last weekend, lifting up another round of college grads. Yes, it’s a tough economic climate they’re entering, and yes, some of them may not be able to launch their careers as quickly as they would hope, but entering the job market with that degree in hand is still a tremendous advantage.

Congratulations to all graduates. Your work will be rewarded.

• • •

AND WE QUOTE

“We have suffered our greatest loss in the history of Las Vegas at the city today with the loss of two employees.”
— Las Vegas City Attorney Dave Romero, on the deaths of two city employees Wednesday.