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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 9:20 AM

The emphasis at the Capitol this legislative session is Greater Minnesota. Legislators from both parties and Gov. Mark Dayton have all been voicing their commitment to rural Minnesota this session.

  • The emphasis at the Capitol this legislative session is Greater Minnesota. Legislators from both parties and Gov. Mark Dayton have all been voicing their commitment to rural Minnesota this session.

     
  • Proponents and opponents have already lined up on the proposals by DFL state senators in Minnesota and President Barack Obama to make tuition free for community college education as long as students meet certain criteria, such as reaching a certain grade point average and staying in school for two years.

     
  • A woman next to me at a community meeting commented to the group of local residents assembled there that “no one reads newspapers anymore.” I think she was being funny, while trying to needle me a bit since we knew each other, but it could very well be she also believed it since there are a lot of experts asserting the death of newspapers.

     
  • Likely few people who have made purchases in Fillmore County since Jan. 1 noticed they paid a new tax that was added to their total bill. The reason this new tax escaped notice is because a $10 purchase added just a nickel in state sales tax to their bill.

     
  • I typically write a letter to go in my personal Christmas cards each year to update people living elsewhere about our family. This year, I had a hard time with that task since our family really didn’t do anything too exciting the past year and it seemed the year was full of mostly bad news, which is better left to myself as it wouldn’t be a good fit for a cheerful Christmas letter.

     
  • The increasing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has been a national, even global, concern over the past several years. Minnesota school administrators, particularly those in Greater Minnesota, have started to raise concern about a similar gap in one particular area — deferred maintenance funding for schools.

     
  • Confusion has reigned in Spring Valley since the local solid waste service recently changed its schedule. Some residents have had their garbage totes out the wrong days and their recycling totes out the wrong weeks for the every-other-week recycling service.

     
  • Divining the mysteries of the economy seems to be about as reliable as reading tea leaves. Even among experts, there are different answers on how the economy in the United States is doing. Ask the average person, and the answer varies even more, depending on location and other circumstances.

     
  • The darkest season seems particularly cruel this year. Bitter cold and snow came shortly after Halloween. A string of deaths, including leaders in communities from Rushford to Spring Valley, continues. The announcement of the closing of Alco stores in Caledonia, Cresco and Spring Valley bolsters a trend of downsizing the business presence in our small towns.

     
  • Buildings in downtown Rochester are reportedly being sold for millions of dollars, some more than twice their estimated value, likely a result of the $6 billion Destination Medical Center project that is just getting underway. DMC isn’t just about real estate speculation, though, as new hotels, senior housing units and office buildings are already going up in Rochester in anticipation of the growth the project will bring.

     
  • Former Tri-County Record publisher Myron Schober’s obituary noted that when he returned to the Midwest, a region he valued for its high value on truth, honesty and justice, after serving in the military, he had a goal: “My life plan is simple — be good and do good...it’s in the execution that the details get sticky.”

     
  • The candidates taking part in a forum in Spring Valley last week — the only public forum in Fillmore County this election cycle — tended to agree on most issues raised, with only subtle differences in opinion. Since the questions came from the public, it would indicate there are no burning issues that are separating citizens, or candidates, in the county. For those divisions you have to get more local to items, such as the referendum in the Rushford-Peterson school district or the actions of the Wykoff City Council regarding its previous mayor.

     
  • Once again, many of our athletic teams are having outstanding years. Although it is too early to determine if any of them will make a run to the state tournament, several programs are creating a lot of excitement in the communities throughout our area.

     
  • Minnesota routinely leads the nation in voter turnout for elections. That has given the state an image of an engaged, politically aware population.

     
  • It’s always interesting which columns generate conversation, at least conversation that makes it back to my ears. The feedback from last week’s column on the responsibility of the press was surprising.

     
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