Good luck, coach Miles
THUMBS UP: Congratulations to former Southwest Minnesota State University men's basketball coach Tim Miles, who during the last few years has made the jump from Division II to Division I and is now coaching in the Big Ten with the University of Nebraska. Talk about going big time, Miles, who had an impressive 78-39 overall record with the Mustangs from 1997-2001 and coached the Mustangs to their first conference title in program history and NCAA regional championship in 2001, will now be coaching in one of the premier conferences in Division I after guiding the Colorado State Rams to a 20-12 record and their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003 this year. Not only is Miles an accomplished coach, he's affable, personable and media-friendly - an all-around good person. We wish Coach Miles the best of luck at Nebraska.
THUMBS DOWN: The MERIT Center in Marshall and the city's proposed regional amateur sports complex were both left off separate bonding bills this year. Here are some things that made it, followed in parentheses by the chamber that included it: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden preservation (Dayton, $8.5 million); Civic Center expansion in Mankato (Dayton, $15M); Mayo Civic Center expansion in Rochester (Senate GOP, $32M; Dayton, $35M); Civic Center expansion in St. Cloud (Senate GOP, $10M; House GOP, $1M; Dayton, $10M); and Minnesota Zoo dolphin tank renovation: (Senate GOP, $7M; House GOP, $5M; Dayton, $7M). By the looks of things, in Minnesota it really pays to be a civic center director or a dolphin. We don't mind scaled-back spending that the House and Senate presented in relation to Dayton's $775 million package, and with billions of dollars in requests offered up at the Capitol this year, we don't think there's room for over-the-top spending. Seven million dollars for a dolphin tank falls into the over-the-top category. And why all the money for civic centers and none for sports facilities? And what about the MERIT training center, where law enforcement and emergency personnel from around the state get so much valuable training? The metro area looks like it will come out quite well this year, while those in southwest Minnesota are left to go back to the drawing board.
SIDEWAYS?THUMBS: The Planning and Zoning Commission in Marshall tagged some important conditions to its vote to recommend the city council approve a CUP for the construction of a 30-foot tall digital billboard in Marshall: the image on the billboard change no more often than every six seconds; the billboard's brightness be adjusted for light conditions; and the billboard cannot use flashing or moving images. We have another one: It can't be put up at an already dangerous intersection, notorious for crashes. We're not against the billboard going up within city limits, it's actually a pretty neat idea, but putting it at the intersection of Minnesota Highway 23 and U.S. Highway 59 is a mistake. Anyone who drives the streets of Marshall on a daily basis knows there is no such thing as a safe intersection along 23 - whether it's at County Road 7, Saratoga, 59 or 19 - and the last thing drivers need whichever way they're headed, is a big, bright distraction. An extensive study of digital billboards in Rochester might have showed no increase in crashes after the billboard was erected, but this stretch of road in Marshall is unique - we already know it's dangerous, so much so, in fact, that one of the aforementioned intersections was one of three sites in Minnesota chosen by the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies for its 2010 collision avoidance study. That's saying a lot, considering this is still a rural area that sees considerably less traffic than in more urban areas. The most important colors at the 23/59 intersection are green and red, and those are the only colors drivers should be concerned about.