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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Oct. 4

Thumbs Up — schools’ scores improve

Area students performed very well on the most recent state assessments, known as K-PREP. Six of the seven public districts that The Advocate-Messenger covers improved their overall scores compared to last year. Five of those six increased their scores by more than the increase seen statewide of 0.6 points.

Danville improved by 0.1 points; Garrard County improved by 3; Boyle County improved by 5.1; Burgin increased by 5.4; Lincoln County improved by 7.3; and Casey County increased by 7.4.

Four area districts are now classified as “distinguished” districts — including Lincoln County, which just about four years ago was considered one of the state’s lowest performing districts.

Standardized scoring systems designed to rank many thousands of students by the same numbers are inherently flawed and can’t say everything about any specific district. But what the improving scores do show is that teachers and administrators are at least paying attention and working hard.

Thumbs Down — Bevin’s text message

When Gov. Matt Bevin texted Attorney General Andy Beshear last week about a Boyle County fraud case that was dismissed due to possible investigator misconduct, he turned a serious situation into a silly one.

If there is an assistant attorney general who is regularly using suspect methods to gain indictments, perhaps of innocent individuals, that’s a big-league problem and it deserves to be treated seriously and handled in the appropriate manner.

Instead, Bevin tried to get under his rival Beshear’s skin by poking at him with a bullying text message.

“I would strongly suggest that you get your house in order. Your office is becoming an increasing embarrassment to the Commonwealth,” Bevin texted to Beshear. The text apparently included a link to a story about a Medicare fraud case in Boyle County that was dismissed after attorneys for the defendant successfully argued a motion alleging the witness who testified misled the grand jury.

Since when are text messages an appropriate method of communication between top government officials? Maybe next we can just hold public meetings on Twitter or have legislators “swipe left” on legislation they don’t like. 

The allegations in the Boyle County case should be dealt with and investigated, and Bevin would have been right to call for just such action. But that’s not what he chose to do.

Having just lost two court rulings, Bevin was clearly irritated at his political rival. The text message was a vindictive and foolish move.

Bevin needs to cool down, take a breath and conduct himself in a more professional manner.  That will make it easier for everyone to focus on real wrongdoing when others mess up.

Thumbs Up — Stewart McDermott Covered Bridge

The covered bridge over the lake at Millennium Park is the most iconic thing in the park. Now the icon has a name — the Stewart McDermott Covered Bridge, given to it in honor of the man who helped make it a reality.

The original plan for the park included a wrought iron bridge, which is a very jarring thought to consider now. The covered bridge has contributed to, even defined the aesthetics of the park. Imagining a wrought iron bridge in its place feels like imagining a boxy office building in place of the Boyle County Courthouse.

We’re grateful to McDermott and those he worked with at the time for coming up with the covered bridge idea and saving a lot of money while also making Millennium Park what it is.