We can’t help but issue a THUMBS DOWN after hearing from Karnack ISD Superintendent Amy Dickson about how the state’s so-called Robin Hood law affects her district. Karnack ISD gives away about a third of its $3 million budget back to the state through the Chapter 41 recapture program — money that could be used to fix up KISD’s crumbling school buildings and support other needed programs in the district. We are heartened by State Rep. Chris Paddie, though, who says he and other lawmakers want to increase the state’s overall allotment for school funding and take the funding burden off “rich” districts like Karnack ISD.

A THUMBS UP to local veteran Jerry Martinez, who has started a new military honor guard that seeks to serve all East Texas. Martinez and his group are working to make sure all our area veterans get the funeral honors they deserve. We also issue a THUMBS UP to other honor guards in the area, including the Patriot Guard Riders, who offer a similar mission.

The news that the federal government was re-opening initially made us give a THUMBS UP — until President Donald Trump gave lawmakers a Feb. 15 deadline to fund a border wall. Once again, Trump has decided to play chicken with Democrats instead of debating the issue and trying to persuade lawmakers on both sides of the aisle of his proposal’s merit. Worse, he threatens to declare the issue a national emergency just to get his way, a move that’s fraught with legal concerns. This deserves a THUMBS DOWN. We urge everyone to sit down and talk over the issue like adults.

THUMBS UP to the hiring of Glenn Barnhart as Marshall’s new Memorial City Hall Performance Center manager. Barnhart has a lot of experience promoting and managing small-town event centers, and we are hopeful he can make Memorial City Hall the best it can be — once it finally opens.

Fresh perspective and enthusiasm is what new District Attorney Reid McCain is bringing to the Harrison County courthouse, and we issue a THUMBS UP. In speaking to the News Messenger, McCain said he’s been working on seeing what works, what doesn’t work and what can be changed for the better — and that type of assessment is always a good thing.

A THUMBS UP to the hard-working and talented Elysian Fields ISD debate students who are making their first bid at the state tournament in March. We are excited for this opportunity and wish them the best.