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Published May 02 2011

Forum editorial: Roses to Vik family for music

PRAIRIE ROSES: To the family of the late Darrel Vik, for their years of efforts in making music available to veterans, first in 2004 at the Fargo Veterans Affairs Medical Center and later to VA hospitals and civilian medical centers in all 50 states. The music library is at the heart of a new program at the Fargo VA center to create a relaxing environment for patients, including music, gentle massage and aromatherapy. Vik served 21 years as an Army combat engineer, including Vietnam, where exposure to Agent Orange defoliant gave him lung problems. His widow, Sharon Thiel of Henning, Minn., is rightly proud to have her late husband’s name attached to music libraries all over the country.

PRAIRIE ROSES: To the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the recently approved $680 million settlement in a federal class-action lawsuit brought by American Indian ranchers and farmers, including plaintiffs at North Dakota’s Standing Rock and Fort Berthold reservations. The settlement, to pay claims for discrimination in lending programs, has been long in coming. Too long for some elderly plaintiffs who died while the case, filed in 1999, was pending. The Bush administration had been unwilling to approve a settlement similar to one made by the Clinton administration for black farmers who suffered discrimination by the USDA. Now old wrongs can be made at least partly right, and new procedures can help avoid future lending bias.

PRAIRIE ROSES: To Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota for addressing regulators’ concerns about administrative expenses, including an incentive pay program that examiners concluded was too lax in a 2009 review. The new incentives place an emphasis on making health care affordable. The insurer also has tighter policies for severance packages, travel and investments – all deemed in compliance with Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm’s directives. More broadly, the Blues, in partnership with major providers including Sanford Health and Essentia Health, are working to restrain costs, which all agree are unsustainable.

LEAFY SPURGE: To the drivers who repeatedly move barriers on flooded rural roads. In Cass County, the sheriff’s office had to plead with drivers to pay “strict attention” to road closures. Barriers remain in place, sometimes in areas where the water has receded, because damaged roads are unsafe. The prolonged flooding – and aftermath – in rural areas is understandably frustrating, sometimes requiring long detours, but drivers should remain patient until engineers can inspect damaged roads and open them to the public when safe.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.