Local/state briefs

Lyon County Museum announces new exhibit

A year after the nation’s Civil War ended, an organization for Union veterans was established. Exploring bonds of comradeship, loyalty, and charity, the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) became a fraternal group which stretched across local, regional, and national lines. Limited in membership to those men who served between 1861-1865, the G.A.R. had a finite life. The men of the G.A.R. left a lasting legacy to the nation with the creation of veteran pensions, soldiers’ homes, and Memorial Day being among their many accomplishments. Counting approximately one million members throughout its existence, the G.A.R. developed into a formidable political lobbying group.

As a fraternal group, the G.A.R. gathered together for social events, including local and national encampments, which were run in a military fashion but included fun and entertainment for wives and children. Local posts raised money for charities and disabled comrades and made political endorsements. Many cities and counties across the northern United States preserve relics from the G.A.R. including monuments, buildings, funerary markers, and small objects and personal papers often found in local museums. The new exhibit, “Boys in Blue,” highlights the legacy of this group that set the precedent for future veterans’ organizations.

This exhibit, which is from March 1 to June 1, was organized by the Siouxland Heritage Museums in Sioux Falls S.D. Funding was provided by the 13th Infantry, Co. D, Inc. and the Mary Chilton Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution through the Mary Chilton DAR Foundation, Sioux Falls, S.D.

United Way community investment volunteers needed

United Way of Southwest Minnesota needs volunteers to help review local nonprofit organizations that apply for Community Impact Grants this spring. This is an exciting and influential volunteer opportunity open to United Way supporters. As a volunteer you will review a handful of program applications seeking United Way funding. Selection as a Community Investment Volunteer will be competitive and limited in participation. Volunteer applications are due April 2.

Volunteers will work together in teams to conduct program interviews and look at applicant programs’ plans and goals, metrics and results, and financial management. These reviews result in recommendations for funding to the United Way of Southwest Minnesota board of directors. Community Investment Volunteers are required to attend a one-time training facilitated by United Way staff regardless if they have volunteered in this capacity prior. The training will be from 3:30-5 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Marshall-Lyon County Library.

This is one of the primary ways that the money that was raised in the recent campaign is put to work to benefit people living in this area. Funds that were raised during the recent annual United Way campaign are re-invested back into services that benefit people in the areas of health, education, financial stability, hunger and safety and well-being. Volunteers who live in Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Yellow Medicine and portions of Cottonwood, Lac qui Parle, Nobles, and Redwood counties are strongly encouraged to apply.

Community Investment Volunteer work is time-limited work over approximately six weeks during April and May. Volunteers will be expected to spend up to eight hours (usually in hour-long increments during the business day) conducting the reviews and preparing recommendations. The panel review work is set up at the convenience of each group and needs to take place before May 25.

Volunteer applications are available online at www.UnitedWaySWMN.org or by request at unitedway@unitedwayswmn.org.

Minnesota district drops 2 classic novels, cite racial slurs

DULUTH (AP) — Two classic American novels will no longer be required reading in eastern Minnesota schools because they contain racial slurs.

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be dropped from the Duluth school district’s English classes next year. School officials said the move is part of an effort to be considerate to all students, particularly students of color.

District Director of Curriculum and Instruction Michael Cary told the Star Tribune that the decision follows years of concerns shared by parents, students and community groups.

The controversy over the two classic novels has been debated in school districts across the country.

Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published in 1960. Lee writes about a small town in the south and a white Depression-era lawyer, who defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. The novel was taught to ninth graders in the Duluth school district.

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was written by Mark Twain. The 1885 novel is about a friendship between a young white boy and a runaway slave as they escape down the Mississippi River. It was taught in 11th grade.