COURTHOUSE SECURITY The conviction last week of a man accused of trying to fire a gun inside a courtroom is a strong reminder of the value of increased security in the state's courthouses. Vicente Chacano was convicted of two counts of attempted murder. He tried to fire a semi-automatic handgun after he was convicted of child molestation, but the gun never fired. In his defense, Chacano testified that he forgot the pistol was in his pants when he went to court for sentencing on the child molestation charges.?He said he panicked when he realized he had the gun with him, and then blacked out. Jurors convicted Chacano, and rightfully so. But the point is that if the Adams County Courthouse in Hettinger had more security measures in place, the entire incident could have been avoided. We realize smaller courthouses don't always have the need for metal detectors and other security equipment, but it's a reminder that we're glad the Ward County Courthouse put tougher security measures in place years ago. We'd rather spend a couple of minutes going through security than be confronted with someone armed with a weapon inside the courthouse.
GROUNDED We understand the disappointment expressed by some after learning that NASA plans to propose significant cuts in space exploration plans, including eliminating two joint missions with European nations to explore Mars in 2016 and 2018. But at the same time, cutting those two missions would save $1.4 billion. Obviously, that's a serious amount of money, and in times of belt-tightening and budget cuts, $1.4 billion could certainly be spent elsewhere. It's about prioritizing. Is exploring Mars more important than other budget items that would help agencies with issues that need solving immediately? Probably not. We realize exploring Mars is an important undertaking for those in support of space exploration, but there are more immediate needs.