2013-07-11 / Views

our opinion

Society must protect its youngest members

Young people are precious. Their potential is limitless.

Their vulnerability real.

This week our thoughts turn to two tragic accidents. One occurred on the eve of the Fourth of July holiday; one occurred a little more than a year ago.

Four-year-old Gavin Punter’s life ended while riding his tricycle along Lake Shore Drive in Centerville Township on July 22, 2012. A Maple City driver, who was taking Oxycotin through a prescription, ran her vehicle into him.

The driver has been ordered to serve 16 months to five years in prison. She was convicted not for her role in the accident, but for leaving the scene.

That’s because she may or may not have been taking pain medication in prescribed doses. Different bodies process the opioid at different rates, so a blood test taken after the accident couldn’t tell if the driver was “high” or “medicated.”

To Gavin, there was no difference.

We’ve become a medicated society, which is a polite way of saying drugs are taking over our lives. We could not join in the glee expressed by marijuana users and civil libertarians advocates when the state Supreme Court ruled that driving while taking the drug with a prescription can be legal.

Instead, we worry about the next Gavin.

Steven William-Osler Easter shivered violently, slipped into mental confusion, and turned blue. Or at least those are the outward symptoms of hypothermia.

Steven was returning from an ill-advised trip to North Manitou Island when the canoe being paddled by his father turned over around 8 p.m. The temperature was warm and comfortable above water. It was a dangerous 55 degrees underwater off Sleeping Bear Point.

His young body had been robbed of life by the time it was pulled aboard a Coast Guard helicopter more than two hours later.

It is not our responsibility to pass judgment here. We write as a call to other parents, and all members of society.

Children are precious, their potential limitless, their vulnerability real.

Cherry plan comes together

A late spring, bee-friendly warm afternoons in May, and this week two much-needed rains.

So far, at least, the heavens have answered Leelanau’s prayers.

While no one wanted to say as much out loud — that’s sort of a farmer’s thing — much pressure has been put on the 2013 crop. It could be described as an experimental year, much different than in 2002 — the last time the industry emerged from full-fledged crop failure — in that a plan has been put in place to deal with temporary market shortages.

Will the plan work? Time will tell, but it certainly wouldn’t work without a bountiful crop of plump cherries this season.

For a recap, cherry growers have time warped their way through two events “of the century” in only one-tenth of the time. Unseasonably warm months of March and April prompted buds to swell and blooms to pop weeks ahead of time in 2002. Cherries were frozen in place; just 15 million pounds of tart cherries were harvested in Michigan.

Ten years later and 90 years ahead of time, the same type of weather caused a repeat, only worse. Just 2.5 million pounds of tarts were shaken last season in Michigan.

Phil Korson, executive director of the Cherry Marketing Institute, and other industry leaders mapped out a plan that culled back promotional activity until just about now. The idea has been to keep the health benefits of tart cherries in the public’s eye even if cherries aren’t in its mouth while supplies are low and prices high.

Now the promotional buzz is ramping up just as Frankensteined two-ton trucks and converted school buses start hauling vats of cooled cherries down county roads to producers.

So far, so good.

The rains were needed after a three-week absence in some places. They help the health of cherry trees in the long run, and the bottom lines of orchardists in the short run as cherries take on weight.

Wouldn’t it be nice if 2012 came to be recognized as a turning point for the cherry industry — for the better?

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