News studies are proving that the influence of traumatic experiences in childhood has a profound impact on the conduct and learning capacity of school children and are suggesting the need for an entirely new way of preventing problem behavior that runs contrary to past perceptions.

News studies are proving that the influence of traumatic experiences in childhood has a profound impact on the conduct and learning capacity of school children and are suggesting the need for an entirely new way of preventing problem behavior that runs contrary to past perceptions.

That was the message presented to Yellow Medicine County Commissioners YMC Chemical Health Coalition Director Conrad Osland and PACT for Families Evaluator Alex Loesch during Tuesday’s YMC Board meeting.

Loesch led an overview presentation focusing on a PACT for Families’ SHARE survey of 5th 7th, 9th and 11th grades in the five counties of Kandiyohi, Mcleod, Meeker, Renville and Yellow Medicine. Altogether there were 5,292 responses to the anonymous survey, with 294 filtered out by indicators of contradictory information.    
Areas of focus consisted of: School Connectedness and Safety; Bullying; Truancy; Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use; Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) & Resiliency Factors; Mental Health Indicators and Sexual Behavior. (5th graders did not receive questions regarding the last four).

Loesch presented information for Yellow Medicine County, with only Yellow Medicine East and Canby taking part in the survey. Echo Charter was said to be contacted but did not partake. Just under 480 students participated from the two schools.

In general, Loesch would say that the schools compared with national averages and he went over local trends within each subsector. Special attention, however, was given to toxic stress indicators, in the form of Adverse Childhood Experiences which were broken down to:

Household Dysfunction: in the form of: Substance Abuse; Parental Separation; Mental Illness; Battered Mother and Criminal Behavior.
Neglect: Emotional and Physical
Abuse: Emotional, physical and sexual.

ACE scores are calculated by a point system, wherein for each experience a child is subjected to results in one point added to their score.

Loesch said that studies are finding that the impact of this toxic stress trauma is so great that individuals with 4 ACEs correlate with a reduction in life-span of 20 years and so deep-seeded that it literally causes a breakdown at the level of human DNA––and the nature of this breakdown is passed from one generation to the next.

Overall he said a general classroom of 30 students will have five students with four or more ACEs, and that the number of students dealing ACE issues was “night and day” when comparing YME and Canby, with YME experiencing more of these issues.

“These numbers correlate with issues in the classroom,” said Loesch.
Loesch said such students are unable to learn when dealing with such experience and that punishment only adds to the trauma.

High Resilience survey answers, in the form of: I believe my mom loves me; I believe my dad loves me; my house has rules we are expected to follow; people in my life think I am capable’ and I am independent and get things done––are correlated with reducing ACE problem areas and repairing past harms. Yellow Medicine County was found to perform well in this regard.

“Does a child have a caring, stable adult in their life on a day-to-day basis? asked Loesch, before stating that an answer in the affirmative was much more important to student success than increased testing or curriculum related expense.

In other news:
•YMC Justice Center Construction Manager  Earl Fuechtman, of Contegrity, was on hand to provide the board an update on the planned demolition of the YMC Courthouse.

Fuechtman told the board that the abatement was finished an hour ago, and that Great Plains was preparing to cut the gas line and pull the meters while contractors also planned to cut and cap the sanitary sewer line. Additionally, he noted that there was an inch of water currently in the basement as a result of the most recent heavy rainfall.

The bid to demolish the 1889 YMC Courthouse, and 1970 addition was awarded to Veit & Company, Inc., of Rogers, at a cost of $109,523 in mid-May. The demolition is expected to begin early next week Fuechtman said.

•Yellow Medicine County Highway Department Engineer Andy Sander and Wood Lake Township resident Roger Olson returned  to discuss Olson’s concerns with a planned 2017 replacement of the County Road A9 bridge in Wood Lake Township.

Based on site usage, aesthetics and the state of the bridge, Olson said that he believed the estimated million dollars of tax-payer funds to complete the project could be better spent elsewhere.
Sander came prepared with additional information that indicated the condition of the bridge, including a state inspection that rated the overall health of the bridge at 26.9 on a 0 -100 scale. 100 indicates a bridge in perfect shape.
“Anything under 50 really we really start to look to replace,” said Sander. “The lowest we’ve ever had is a 19.”
The bridge is the last high truss (Pratt-style) steel bridge in Yellow Medicine County. The cost of replacement is expected to be covered by federal funds. The board unanimously passed a unanimous resolution to continue with the project as scheduled on the YMC 5-Year Road Plan.
•The board approved permanent employment status for Carrie Reyer as a Child Support Aid and Brad Monson as a Heavy Equipment Operator.
•The board indicated it wants to have further discussion regarding the development of concrete solar ordinances as well as broadband investment possibilities.