THUMBS DOWN: On June 9, according to law enforcement, Montevideo's "Let's Go Fishing" pontoon was taken on an unplanned excursion. In other words, it was stolen. The $20,000 pontoon has yet to be returned and probably never will be. What a sad story. These pontoons are used to bring residents of communities out on the lakes to enjoy a cruise on the water or a day of fishing. The pontoons are also part of the "Let's Go Fishing with Seniors" program that does the same for senior citizens who have few, if any, other options to enjoy Minnesota's great outdoors. Many people in different areas worked hard to raise funds to purchase the watercraft and, likewise, many businesses and organizations ponied up money for them. These pontoons are hard to hide, so if you happen to see one being pulled behind a vehicle in that area or out on a lake nearby, don't hesitate to call the Monte cops at 320-269-8808.
Fishing on the 4th
THUMBS UP: After going a few of years without it, the city of Marshall's Independence Day Celebration and Festival of Kites will once again include a kids' fishing derby at Independence Park. The pond at the park is routinely stocked with panfish, but because the city lost its sponsor and had difficulty staffing the event, it hasn't been held in recent years. This year, Borch's Sporting Goods has stepped up to sponsor the event and the Marshall Kiwanis will provide staff to help run it. The festival itself has always been a popular day-long celebration, but having a fishing derby adds even more excitement for the kids. "I'm glad it's back," Marshall Community Services Assistant Director Doug Goodmund said. "We were always busy in that little gazebo taking care of fish."
SIDEWAYS THUMBS: Minnesota's unemployment rate of 5.3 percent is still high - and it was reported unchanged from April by the Department of Employment and Economic Development - but we're still more than two percentage points lower than the national average. Both Republicans and Democrats agree the state needs to create more jobs in the state, but that could be a challenge when the new taxes set in, and Republicans have long feared that tax increases will drive current businesses out of state and prevent new ones from putting down roots in Minnesota. The Dakotas, meanwhile, are aggressively trying to lure Minnesota businesses west - yet another factor working against Minnesota. One thing's for sure, Republicans will once again be talking jobs leading up to the 2014 elections and will likely use the new tax structure as a weapon against majority Democrats in their efforts to win back power in St. Paul.
Farm bill fails
THUMBS DOWN: When asked what was next for the future of the farm bill shortly after it failed to pass the House on Thursday, all the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Minnesota's District 7 Rep. Collin Peterson, could do was defer to the majority party, saying the ball was back in their court. Peterson's optimism had grown during the last few months over the prospect of the bill passing, but now no one knows what will happen next - not even one of the most seasoned congressmen. Like bills can pass with bipartisan support, we once again realized Thursday they can fail bipartisanly as well. Once again, not a good day for Congress, already suffering from an extraordinary lack of ability to compromise to go along with its historically-low approval rating.