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Cuba, Missouri
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February 6, 2003     Cuba Free Press
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February 6, 2003
 

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4A Opinion February 6, 2003 The Cuba Free Press Do our kids count? We all take pride in our children. Or do we? According to information recently released in the KIDS COUNT in Missouri 2002 survey, we don't care as much as we should. Crawford County ranked 104th out of 114 Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis in the status of our children's health and well-being for 2002. We ranked below average in eight of 10 sta- tistical categories reported by the Citizens for Missouri's Children and the Children's Trust Fund. That low rank can't be attributed to the fact that we live in a rural county. Of all the counties neigh- boring us, Crawford County ranked the lowest! Washington County finished just ahead of us at 103rd. Dent County was 93rd. Iron ranked 72nd and Phelps was 70th. Franklin County was in the top third of the state at 32nd, while Gasconade fin- ished in an outstanding sixth place. Again, we were 104th. As compared with 2001, Crawford County's rank- ing actually worsened in six of the 10 major cate- gories listed in the report (see graph on page 2). The most alarming figures put us ll3th in the annual high school drop out rate at 7.7 percent, 109th in child abuse and neglect cases and 106th in out-of- home child placements. Certainly not much to smile about. The county was not Just without some good Thinking numbers in the report, , .... however. Crawford Rob County ranked eighth Viehman in the state in infant mortality at just four deaths per 1,000 births, while the statewide aver- age was eight. The county improved in births to mothers without a high school diploma, childhood deaths and births to mothers ages 15 to 19. In 2001, there were 5,990 children living in Crawford County. Of that amount, 23.3 percent lived in poverty and 21.6 percent had just a single parent. Other areas of concern included the facts that from 1998 to 2002, the county's licensed child care capacity dropped from 242 to 223 and that public immunization of our children dropped from 75.5 percent in 1997 to just 40.2 percent last year. That state immunization average for 2001 (the last year for which figures were available) was 77.9 percent. So how are we to reverse these trends? It's going to take a big vision, but a lot of small steps to real- ize a goal of making Crawford County a better than average place for our children. Perhaps the first step that can be taken will be for the community to get financially behind the pro- posed community and child care center being pro- posed in Cuba by the the non-profit Crawford County Foundation (CCF). As the KIDS COUNT survey shows, this center is needed and it's needed now! A survey conducted by the CCF last year showed that 86 percent of families with children 12 and younger would use the proposed center, which would offer more than just day care. The CCF is also planning to work in conjunction with local schools on before and after school programs to explore the possibilities of coordinating efforts to better serve the local communities. The Division of Family Services will be contacted to ensure that all children have access to quality child care services. The CCF has obtained permission from the city of Cuba to lease ground at Tangle Creek Park to build both a child care center and a recreational commu- nity center. The buildings will be built through donations received through individuals and busi- nesses as well as grant money that is received from either state, federal or private foundations. Tax dol- lars will not be affected, nor will tax dollars be used for either of these projects. So now comes the time to put my money where my mouth is (or ink is as the case may be). This week I am making a $1,000 donation to the CCF and I challenge other county business owners to do the same! For more information about the proposed day- care center or to find out more about making a donation, call George Reed at Peoples Bank (885- 2511) or Heidi Hunt at Wallis Oil (885-2277). Guest Editorial Do you know how your money's being By Jack Stapleton Jr. Missouri News and Editorial Service In this day of a faltering national economy, declining manpower needs and slumping business profits contending with increasing inflationary factors, Missourians have grown increasingly nervous as they opened their morning newspaper or caught the radio's brief message of budg- etary woes in Jefferson City. Each day seems to bring new cries of alarm over the inade- quacy of state revenue to match state expectations in amidst a field of hundreds of Missouri programs. As they keep looking for that pot of gold at the start of the horizon, taxpayers are dis- appointed when they encounter only the reasons cited by state officials for this or that cutback in program objectives, that cancellation of projects only just recently deemed essential to our collec- tive well-being or the promise to restore reductions from other sources that, on the sur- face, appear equally deserving. This is the worst of times at the very moment we were expecting progress, when our public schools would be engaged in curricula progress that was promised last year or the last decade; when pro- grams to restore the health of physically and mentally chal- lenged citizens would be fully operational; when our aging highways would have been replaced by gleaming new superhighways that adequate- ly managed our ever-growing motorized population; when under-funded programs would have been given adequate resources to meet their first- cost estimates and goals. Alas, no such luck. Although overly optimistic program results are as much a part of public service as the expected political arguments over their actual need and their financial integrity, our state has in recent months met the prospect of a cloudy future, influenced by many of the con- ditions noted earlier, and our "recovery," if indeed it can even be called that, has been slow in coming, even on some days seeming further distant than before. When Gov. Bob Holden unveiled his long-awaited plan for spending in the fiscal year that will not begin until July 1 he was anything but optimistic about the future funding of several programs that have become more or less perma- nent fLxtures in the state's multiple workload of educa- tion, economic development and health care, proposing even less than has been set aside for programs for the remainder of the current FY 2003 budget. This backtrack- ing was essential, the governor explained because of numer- ous economic factors beyond even the influence of Jefferson City, marking it as the first declining budget in more than a decade, when circumstances somewhat resembling those currently were at full play. During the end of the sec- ond term of Gov. John Ashcroft, this writer took part in the closing of too many men- tal hospital wards, creating images that still remain seared in the mind even to this moment. Being spared from this latest tragedy does little to mitigate the horror of seeing parents and grandparents accompany their children from hospital wards around the state. It was not Missouri's best moment. What is clearly called for in Missouri, as well as in other geographical and constitution- al venues, is a budget that can be crafted in the spring for the contingencies of future months and years, and fortunately for us, there is a name for such a process. It's called Performance-based Budgeting, a process which can determine the efficacy of state programs and their funding patterns. It's not exactly a new idea, although it has been avoided by most political entities for a number of reasons, not the least because it holds public officials accountable for the complete funding of existing programs. It is a doubly impor- tant process because it keeps officials from over-budgeting, relying on a hoped-for change of circumstances that will somehow relieve politicians of embarrassing and counterpro- ductive budgetary allocations. One suspects P-B, as it's sometimes called, may have been less-than-enthusiastical- ly adopted by political figures is because it requires constant attention from the only group held responsible: namely, the budgetary officials of both the executive and legislative branches of government. Under the present system, executive and legislative groups involved in the budget- ary process are only required to divide the projected revenue with the expected expendi- tures. There is no requirement that the allocated revenue actually exists in the hands of the approvers, making the only duty of those responsible the less-than-secure assurance that sufficient revenue was expected and that the estimat- ed program costs were reason- able under circumstances that are no longer germane. Dialogue under this system is simply: "This amount of rev- enue should finance expect will happen gram months the dialogue for requested spending think these rect but we have knowing at this process. " Just how spending public The saving Performance-based is that it permits supervision of approved spending accomplished in to avoid the deficits so often blind-faith projection cials who are responsibility f or spending. Those engaged in cal process find doubly blessed by the of accountability for cessful funding of new expanded public since few if any group has ever been of office due to economies and enue. It only makes require the same responsibility for those who allocate the as those who must cost of suffering their tion or elimination. The crying of children must not permanent fixture of programs in Missouri. www.bar ryscar*oons.corn NA00AH--- .. r SO/IBO[:>Y IT'S JUSTTH /LIST I THROWIH' MAYOR A COSI'U/I TO A PAITY... /TING! i V IT'S SIR GLUTTON PLINI! Your Thoughts Germans like Cuba LETTER TO THE EDITOR Recently, while surfing the web looking for some information about Cuba MO, I came across a web site about a band in Germany called "Cuba Missouri". Being curious I e-mailed the band and ask the obvious question, why do you call yourself "Cuba Missouri"? I received a reply from a Roland who relates that he had spent a couple of days in Cuba and liked the town and the name, he also said since all his band members are from small town in Germany then he felt it was appropriate to use the name of a small town in America for the name of his band. Anyway I ordered their CD, received it yesterday and was not surprised to find its typical Euro Rock. I thought you might find this interesting. Share your views... The Free Press welcomes comments and suggestions from our readers will consider for publication any letter or article submitted. To be letters must be signed and include an address and daytime phone The publication of any letter or article does not necessarily reflect the ion of this newspaper. We reserve the right to edit any letter or reject t letter or article submitted. Letters should be 200 words, or less. Mail: Letter to the Editor Fax: (573) 885-3803 Cuba Free Press E-mail: PO Box 568, Cuba, MO 65453 news@cubafreepress.co CUBA FREE PRESS I I0 SOUTH BUCHANAN CUBA, MISSOURI 65453 PHONE 573-885-7460 Publisher & Editor ROB VIEHMAN Circulation JANICE RANSOM Advertising SANDY MORICE Printing RUSS NEW Post Office Publication No. S65-180 February 6, 2003 Volume 43 Number 37 Cuba Free Press www.cubafreepress.com Address all communications in care of the Cuba Free Press, P.O. Box 568. Periodical Class Postage paid at Cuba, Missouri. Published weekly each Thursday morning at Cuba, Mo. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to CUBA FREE PRESS, P.O. Box 568, Cuba, MO 65453. Single Copy Price 70 75 SUBSCRIPTION RATES J CRAWFORD CO. MISSOURI OTHER I years $54.00 I years $72.00 2 years Tax 4.04 Tax 5.38 [Pay $58.04 ] [Pay $77.38-] I year $30.00 I ),ear $40.00 I year Tax 1.24 Tax 1.99 [ Pax Sn'141 i Pay 2.. I