A long winter raises concerns
THUMBS DOWN: We all might be accustomed to rough winters, but this winter season has already become a headache for most residents, especially those who commute to work. It seems every week there are one or two days when driving to and from work or events means dealing with visibility issues and slippery roads or snow drifts. And with all this snow - and with three more months of winter to go - financially-strapped cities and counties are dealing with potential budget concerns when it comes to moving/removing snow and salting/sanding our streets and highways. While the burden of winter to residents is just that, a burden, a pain, it's becoming a financial concern for cities and counties throughout the region. It makes you think about potential losses in services as a result of county and city aid cuts - if services that might need to be sacrificed in the future will include taking care of our roads during the winter months. The more one thinks about it, the worse the picture becomes, especially if more storms are on the way. If winter road care isn't cut, other services might very well have to be. These are the kind of tough decisions we've been warned about, but ones that could be required in tough financial times.
Marshall gets road project money
THUMBS?UP: The city of Marshall was awarded $575,000 under a joint pilot program launched by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to use for work on Minnesota Highway 68 near the proposed Lake Road Industrial Park. The total project cost is $822,500. In all, 11 highway improvement and infrastructure projects in Minnesota have received preliminary approval for nearly $33 million in funding under the program. The funding was awarded under the new Transportation Economic Development (TED) Pilot Program, designed to improve roads, create jobs and encourage economic development in the state and is contingent on communities providing evidence they can complete the projects, including documenting that they have additional sources of funding and can meet environmental requirements and other planning standards.
THUMBS?DOWN: Because of inflammatory and personal attacks related to the AFSCME suit against Southwest Health and Human Services, we have once again been forced to make a decision to disallow comments on the website. It's unfortunate that this decision had to be made, because the last thing newspapers want to do is suppress someone's right to express their views and opinions, but personal attacks will not be tolerated. Those posting these comments should know that abusive comments are tracked and will eventually result in commenting privileges being taken away from certain posters. This is the second time the Independent has had to pull comments - the first being this summer relating to the Lyon County Sheriff's race. Sad. Keep it clean and civil, folks. You all have your opinions, but as you're typing them in, ask yourself: "Am I going too far?" Because once it gets personal, it gets pulled. You might not agree with our decision to pull comments or shut them down on certain topics altogether, but there comes a point when we must protect individuals who are being targeted in a personal way. Public officials have no problem being criticized for their job performance - they understand their public role in a community and can take it. What tips the scales, however, is when they have to defend themselves or their family personally. We police the comments as much as we can and will continue to do so to ensure they have a purpose and are not attacking an individual or his or her personal life. If you're a regular poster and feel so strongly about certain topics and issues, we ask that you consider doing what everyone used to do before technology provided you with the cloak of anonymity: write a letter to the editor, sign it, put your phone number on it and we'll call you to verify your submission. It won't run if it's libelous, but putting your name on it buys you credibility. Don't hide behind cyberspace pseudonyms just because you think you can get away with it. Let everyone know how you feel, and let everyone know who you are.
Keeping up on recycling
THUMBS?UP: An innovative recycling program kicked off in Canby this summer, and the recycling kick is continuing in that area this winter with a Recycle Your Holidays program by the The Recycling Association of Minnesota and Canby Developmental Achievement Center. Light strands are collected by Canby DAC?staff and clients, its lights separated, and the strands and cords are taken to a light recycling company and metals recycler. And it's all done locally, meaning there's a nice payoff for the community and its economy. There are light drop-off sites in Canby, Ivanhoe, Minneota and Marshall, so if you're wondering what to do with old lights that may or may not work, now you know you have option that doesn't include sticking them in some box somewhere and storing them.