Money for libraries
THUMBS UP: The Lyon County Board of Commissioners approved contributions of more than $50,000 apiece for library construction projects in Cottonwood, Minneota and Tracy on Tuesday. Although the money won't be paid out right away, it's a good move by the county to help support these three libraries since many of their patrons are rural Lyon County citizens. Libraries in Tracy and Minneota are looking to expand into existing buildings, and the city of Cottonwood is planning a new library as part of a $2 million project that also includes a new city hall, fire station and garage, along with the library, which would carry an approximate $200,000 price tag. Public libraries are no longer home to just shelf upon shelf of books and reading materials; they also need to be able to change with the times, and that means making sure there's plenty of room and technological capabilities for a number of computers. Libraries, as a resource tool for students and adults alike, are evolving; small-town libraries need to grow and expand with the times and the county is right to help these libraries do just that.
Emmer a no-show at Greater Minnesota debate
THUMBS DOWN: Neither Democrat Mark Dayton, not Republican Tom Emmer has separated himself from the other as a heavy favorite in this year's gubernatorial race, but Emmer isn't doing himself any favors by choosing to skip Thursday's debate being hosted by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Emmer told the AP it was "just one of those scheduling things." Emmer was scheduled to meet with the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce and attend a fundraiser with the Minnesota Trucking Association. Coalition President Timothy Strand says his absence will send a message to greater Minnesota communities. Debates should take priority this close to an election; they're the best way for voters to learn about candidates' views and plans if elected. Besides serving as a platform on issues, candidates can also use debates as ways to question their opponents and, if need be, defend themselves. Choosing a fundraiser over a debate that involves greater Minnesota could come back to haunt Emmer - who wants to restructure how state aid is delivered to cities and counties - and you can bet both Dayton and Independence candidate Tom Horner will take advantage of Emmer's absence in some way or another. Political candidates are notorious for reminding voters when opponents miss out on events that voters take seriously.
Return of the swans
THUMBS?UP: Trumpeter swans disappeared from the Minnesota landscape in the 1880s, and by the 1930s, only 69 trumpeter swans remained in the lower 48 states, living in the remote Red Rock Lakes area in southwestern Montana, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. But the swans have since made their way back thanks to the work of many agencies and organizations and donations from Minnesota taxpayers to the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff Fund.
The trumpeter swan population stood at about 2,000 six years ago thanks to a Minnesota/Iowa DNR and North Heron Lake Game Producers Association decade-long effort to restore the bird in southwest Minnesota and northern Iowa. Why is this a big deal? Because the outdoors is a big part of our culture in Minnesota. In some ways, it's what makes us who we are, and living in an area that's now home to a species that didn't exist here at one time is a special thing that should not be taken for granted.