GUSHER: For the positive beginning to the Greater Longview United Way’s campaign. A Curbside Kick Off Luncheon this past week started the effort, which already has hit about a third of the overall campaign goal of $1 million. The United Way, like many other nonprofit organizations that assist community members in need, has suffered financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but its mission has never been more important. We urge the community to go to longviewunitedway.org to find out how to donate to the campaign.
DUSTER: For the unknowns surrounding Longview ISD’s proposal to implement districtwide COVID-19 testing. We don’t know enough about the actual weekly screenings to deem the plan itself positive or negative. The district has said parents would be able to opt their children out of the screenings. Staff members also could decline the tests. That makes sense. However, Superintendent James Wilcox said at an East Texas Advanced Academies board meeting this past week that the goal is to use a type of breath test that would give almost instantaneous results. The problem is no such test has been approved by federal or state regulators. So how would implementing those screenings be possible? We don’t know. Wilcox also has said the district would try to use federal coronavirus relief funding to pay a company to perform the testing. That sounds good, but Wilcox’s wish might not be reality. Is that funding really available? If not, would the district then seek to pay the bill? How much would that be? And then there’s the potential partner, US MedTest. We don’t know much about the company, other than Wilcox said previously that it approached the district about establishing a partnership and that it appears to have some type of facility or office in the Dallas area. That’s a lot of unknowns about so important a proposal. The Longview ISD board has yet to sign off on the plan, and as we continue to seek answers to those questions, we urge trustees to do their due diligence before voting yes.
DUSTER: For the effort by Carthage officials to ban private billboard advertising they deem offensive. The ideas brought to the Carthage City Commission this past week came about after the Austin-based Lillith Fund erected a billboard in the city with the message “abortion is a blessing.” Regardless of what you think about that billboard, deciding which privately funded messages are fit to be displayed in public and which aren’t isn’t a government’s right. Carthage officials are correct to look at the constitutional problems that would arise from such regulations. And although some areas of speech are not protected by the First Amendment, those areas are linked to illegal activity, public safety risks and other dangers. The billboard in question doesn’t fall under those categories. For anyone who would cite a moral or religious justification for banning public displays of privately funded messages such as the Lillith Fund billboard, consider the flip side of the coin. The power of a government to ban messages advocating abortion is the same power to ban messages referencing the Bible or Jesus Christ. Enacting rules that limit those rights cuts both ways, depending on the views of the people wielding the power.
GUSHER: For a new program that teaches historical wood window restoration skills to local volunteers. The two-week workshop that wraps up today at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts is sponsored by nonprofit group Preservation Longview with the help of Kilgore carpenter Seth Forrestier, who taught the class. The skills taught during the workshop also benefit the renovation of the Rucker-Campbell house in Longview, which Preservation Longview has worked to restore for more than a decade.