"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Food Support cases up dramatically


Fri, Feb 6th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

PRESTON - On January 20, the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, the Fillmore County Social Services front desk logged 200 contacts - phone calls and walk-ins from residents in need.

Gail Bunge, Financial Assistance Supervisor for income maintenance programs at the county, said that the lobby was full of people throughout that day.

"Mondays and days after holidays have been particularly busy," Bunge said.

The recession has hit Fillmore County in many ways: single adults and heads of households have lost jobs and seniors on fixed incomes are finding it difficult to meet their health care costs.

Unemployment in Fillmore County stood at 5.9-percent in December 2007. A year later, 805 people out of a labor force of 11,159, or 7.2-percent were out of work.

Over the past year, the county has seen a 24-percent increase in the number of food stamp cases, from 322 in January 2008 to 399 in December 2008. And the first month of 2009 has seen an additional increase of 32 cases, an increase of 8-percent.

"We are seeing people we wouldn't normally see applying for assistance," Bunge said. "The volume of applicants we are seeing have increased dramatically."

Over the past four months, social services has provided expedited service to 56 cases - where people are in critical need of services and benefits are provided immediately. This has corresponded with a 20-percent increase in food stamp cases over the same period (see chart).

In addition to income and food benefits, social services is seeing an increase in applications for health care benefits. In some cases, it is for families that need help with deductibles or who have lost health insurance totally; in other cases, it is for elderly who cannot afford their supplemental insurance.

Bunge, who has worked at Fillmore County Social Services for 28 years, believes that there has been a significant increase in the number of applications associated with this recession compared to previous downturns in the economy in 1991 and 2001.

The increased case load has had an impact on staffing at social services. Bunge said that she has recently noticed that her nine financial workers are tied to their desks more so than before. In addition to the spike in new cases, she said that staff have ongoing cases to maintain.

Who is eligible for

Food Support?

Bunge encourages those who are in need to apply for services.[Read the Rest]

Spending our money, Round II

Fri, Jan 30th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



It might be a stretch but it seems to me that the economic situation we now see around us is similar to being attacked by an unseen enemy. Like the 9/11 disaster, seemingly out of nowhere comes an unimaginable catastrophe. Sure, we know now ..... 
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A 'Welcome' Home

Fri, Jan 30th, 2009
Posted in Commentary



As my wife, Amanda Sethre, and I embark upon the adventure of publishing a weekly newspaper in this beautiful area of Southeast Minnesota, we would first like to thank you for being so welcoming.

The people and scenery of Fillmore C ..... 
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A Question of Energy

Fri, Jan 23rd, 2009
Posted in Commentary

On the night of January 10, we had the biggest and brightest full moon that we will see in 2009. A walk under this moon would have made streetlights unnecessary.

A big change for my husband and me with our recent move from the Big Woods into ..... 
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Wind farms in Fillmore County are a plus

Fri, Jan 23rd, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Over the past several decades we have developed an insatiable appetite for all that is electronic. This trend is not likely to be abated. Things that we now take for granted like central air conditioning, cordless phones, garage door openers, comput ..... 
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Barack Obama is the right person for the job

Fri, Jan 16th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Before the election last fall, I had a conversation with a Republican friend about the qualifications of the major candidates. The topic of concern in the media at the time was whether Sarah Palin, a small town mayor and first term Alaska governor, ..... 
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It's time to show the world what the U.S is capable of

Fri, Jan 16th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

I might get a new outfit for the inauguration. I fear the mail lost my personal invitation to the ball but I sure plan to celebrate in my own living room and the whole country should do the same.

Alright, the economy is tanked, the weather i ..... 
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Will they just tinker around the edges?

Fri, Jan 9th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

The editor has asked me to focus my commentaries on healthcare reform efforts and similar subjects. The subject should allow me to be as curmudgeonly as I want to be. I don't agree with any of the politicians and very few of the people I have discuss ..... 
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Capitalism with American characteristics

Fri, Jan 9th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

When Deng Xiao Peng emerged from exile after the Cultural Revolution in 1978 and started espousing economic reforms for communist China, he talked about "capitalism with Chinese characteristics."

Over the last 20 years, China's economy has ..... 
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