Surveys are handy tools to help those who issue them get feedback. No more, no less. Survey results may help decide which direction to go, but should not be the horse that leads the cart. So, I don’t get too excited when I hear about survey results that paint the object of the survey in a positive light. Nor do I get overly concerned when the opposite occurs. At the Platte County R-3 Board of Education meeting last Thursday at Central Office in Platte City, I listened to a presentation from Patron Insight, a survey company that the R-3 School District has employed in the past to conduct surveys of its patrons. As R-3 officials ponder placing a tax levy increase ballot question before voters, they hired Patron to conduct a recent survey in which 400 randomly-selected, head-of-household, registered voters in the District ware asked about their views on the District’s performance, on ideas for a potential ballot issue and to gauge their level of support — or opposition — to various tax increase proposals. An executive summary provided by Patron Insight said that while respondents feel “positively inclined” about the District’s performance and about many of the ballot issue ideas, “general concerns about taxes” still lingered with some who were surveyed. This is no doubt true — the R-3 tax levy increase question the District placed on the April 2012 ballot was decisively defeated. A closer look at the survey results reveals that 56-percent of those surveyed said they would either strongly favor or favor a tax increase proposal. Ironically enough, that 56-percent figure was the amount of no votes in the 2012 election. So, like I said at the outset of this column... That said, while the survey results showed an overall strong approval of the District, its administration, teachers and quality of education, there is no doubt some information from the survey has R-3 officials’ attention. Concerns about taxes and spending surfaced in various places throughout the survey. Another area that stood out is the fact that only 73-percent of those surveyed said they would give the District an A or B grade for its performance, a drop of 21 percent from a similar survey conducted in 2011. I’m in the process of wading through all the results and hope to give a comprehensive report in the next few weeks. PRECEDENT SET? There’s no question that what a Platte County High School player did in a game versus Winnetonka last month was wrong. Dead wrong. The player in question ripped off the helmet of a Tonka player, then allegedly struck him in the head with it, which resulted in the alleged victim suffering a serious concussion and an assault charge being filed against the alleged perpetrator. But was it a terrible decision fueled by human emotions during the heat of the battle or was it an intentionally criminal act? There are a lot of firsts involved with this case. I have been covering high school sports professionally for nearly 25 years and I have never reported on a case of criminal charges being filed against a high school student athlete stemming from an on-field incident during a game. Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said he has never prosecuted such a case and every attorney I have talked to said they have never been involved in such a case. Missouri State High School Activities Association spokesperson Jason West said the same. Of course, the referee working the PC/Tonka game who said when he was interviewed by the Platte City Police Department about the incident that he had never seen anything like it in more than 20 years of officiating games speaks volumes as well. This is a tough situation for all involved. The concern here is for the well-being of the injured student, first and foremost, but I also hope that this case does not open a can of worms that may have been better off left sealed. That said, I also hope it leads student-athletes to approach the games in a different manner and that they realize on-field actions can have real off-field consequences. TURN ON THE LIGHTS I froze my you-know-what off at the Zona Rosa Holiday Lighting event last Saturday. But that won’t stop me from taking part in the Platte City Holiday Lighting ceremony tonight (Wednesday), where I will be announcing the winners of The Citizen’s annual holiday coloring contest. See you there. And don’t forget Parkville’s Light Up the Night event this Saturday and Christmas on the River next weekend. Details on those events as well as plenty of other goodies can be found in our annual Gift Guide, inserted in this issue. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading.