EDITORIAL: Laurels Lances
March 10--Laurel: To another step toward realizing industrial hemp's economic and environmental potential. The state Agriculture Department's conditional approval of an industrial hemp research certificate enables a coalition -- fittingly including two farmers from Hempfield, academics and industry officials -- to plant a 2017 crop on a Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. site. The project will advance efforts toward making building materials, textiles, plastics, food and other products from locally grown plants.
On the "Watch List": Reduced food-bank funding. This year's county budget shrinks general-fund support for the Westmoreland County Food Bank by $49,000, which likely means less food for about 7,000 needy families. Commissioner Ted Kopas says this "was part of a very difficult budget negotiation." That suggests horse-trading led to reducing food-bank funding in favor of funding something else. So, what might have been a higher priority than helping feed the hungry?
Laurel: To whistleblowing on lead-tainted school water. Not taking fellow officials' assurances about Summit Elementary's water at face value, Butler Area School Board newcomer Leland Clark uncovered information that led to Summit's closing, three top administrators resigning, a federal lawsuit and two criminal investigations. He properly put students' welfare -- and his district's accountability -- ahead of other officials' self-interest.