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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Saturday , June 23, 2018 - 12:00 AM

Each week the Standard-Examiner hashes out issues large and small and takes a thumbs-up, thumbs-down stance. Have a thumbs-up or thumbs-down you’d like to give? Email a submission of 100 words or less to jmccabe@standard.net.

Here’s what we recommend this week for praise and criticism:

THUMBS UP: To Gerald Lautenschlager, who spent nearly 50 years maintaining and repairing military aircraft, including 22 years at Hill Air Force Base.

On Thursday, more than a decade and a half after he retired from Hill, the 81-year-old Layton resident returned to the base’s runway — this time as a pilot, flying his restored 1946 Ercoupe.

The plane, a vintage World War II era antique that was rebuilt by Lautenschlager over a period of three years, will be on display during this weekend’s Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space Show — scheduled for today and Sunday.

Lautenschlager took off from the Ogden-Hinckley Airport late Thursday morning, completing his flight to Hill close to the same time the Air Force’s aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, made their arrival.

“It was a zoo when I landed,” he said. “But it’s worth it. Bucket list kind of thing.”

A native of upstate New York, Lautenschlager joined the Air Force in 1955, serving as an aircraft technician at various installations. He retired from active-duty in 1979 and then repaired F-4s, C-130s and F-16s as a Department of Defense civil servant until 2002.

THUMBS UP: To the North Branch Library in North Ogden, set to reopen today.

The doors open at noon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a variety of activities follow from 1-5 p.m. to welcome the public and acquaint them with the revamped facility. It closed in April 2017 to accommodate the work.

The interior was gutted and has a completely new look and feel, with the lower level, which had served largely as a storage area, converted into public space.

The $6 million upgrade of the facility at 475 E. 2600 North is the fourth and final upgrade across the library system financed by a $45 million bond approved by voters in 2013. Per other improvements, the Main Branch library in Ogden received a $16.8 million overhaul, completed earlier this year, and the Southwest Branch library in Roy was rebuilt at a cost of around $20.5 million, among other things.

Among the activities Saturday will be storytelling, music and tours of the overhauled facility, which serves the area around North Ogden, Pleasant View, Farr West and Plain City.

THUMBS UP: To the Ogden Raptors on the team’s successful start this week with an 11-8 win over Idaho Falls Monday. The Raptors, who returned home later in the week, have fallen on hard times since then, but it’s good to see the club exciting fans with their play.

THUMBS UP: To the Utah Safe Schools Commission, which this week recommended mandated mental health reporting, gun restraining orders and availability of mental health teams for students.

The top recommendations called for the creation of teams of mental health professionals that can assess situations involving students and called for support of a bill that will be drafted by Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, that would allow families, household members and law enforcement officials to petition a court to remove someone’s access to guns if the person is deemed as dangerous to others or themselves.

Handy said he is in the process of drafting the language of the bill.

“We are going to have it so that there is an extreme high level of due process requirement. And individuals would be referred for mental health counseling and assistance,” Handy said. He is also in the process of drafting provisions to return those confiscated firearms.

The commission recommended passing legislation that would mandate the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification to report relevant records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.

Elizabeth Love, 18, is one of the student representatives on the commission. She said she was satisfied with the recommendations presented.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction (and) I think it’s great that is being addressed after Parkland (and) that we are still talking about it even though it was four months ago,” Love said. “I hope that more changes come out of it because having this commission alone is not enough and we need to pass things like waiting periods and universal background checks.”

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