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The elephant in the room


Fri, May 12th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

I graduated from New Ulm Public High School way back sometime in the last century. New Ulm is a town of about 15,000 in south central Minnesota, surrounded by many small towns, most of them without their own schools by the time I graduated.

But one little nearby town, Nicollet, east of New Ulm on highway 14, population around 700 in those days, still had a school. In the summer of 1985, people began noticing more cracks on the outside of the 1916 building, especially near the roof. An architectural firm was called in and determined that the roof was deteriorating and pushing on the outside walls. What a surprise for everyone when the firm concluded that there was a greater than fifty percent chance the roof would collapse soon.

For the past two years, I’ve been covering the Rushford-Peterson school board meetings for the Fillmore County Journal. After sitting in on the regular monthly meetings, and special meetings for all this time, I have developed a much greater respect for the job school board members do. I am humbled by the responsibility they carry.

In 1985, the Nicollet school board suddenly faced some extremely difficult decisions. They invited past board members to join them in at least one meeting. Almost immediately, they voted to close the 1916 building, even though school was scheduled to start in a couple of weeks. The decision was made slightly easier when the fire marshal informed the district that if they didn’t immediately close the school, he would go all the way to the attorney general to make sure the school was closed.

The board appointed a citizen committee to study the issue that fall, and the committee, after looking at options like remodeling, or building only a new high school, voted 26-1 to build a new K-12 school in Nicollet. It was the least costly of the options, at least at that time.

In a few weeks, my friend’s daughter will be part of the graduating class of 2006, the nineteenth class to graduate from the new Nicollet Public school. The population of Nicollet has grown to about 900. Graduating classes are often fewer than thirty. An addition to provide more space in the school was just completed.

Four years ago in the R-P district, we had a referendum for a new school that was soundly defeated. Yet the facilities issue continues to be the elephant in the room.

Like other .....
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Bondhus: “DNR has a strong bias toward closing fish farm”

Fri, Apr 28th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

(The following letter was sent to the Fillmore County Board for their April 25, 2006 meeting).

I understand the Fillmore County Commissioners will be deciding whether or not to be the RGU (regulating governmental unit) on the EA ..... 
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Broberg: “Trout farm didn’t follow the rules and now wants legislative remedy”

Fri, Apr 28th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

Apparently, the owner and local supporters of Spring Valley Ponds think legislative action is necessary to finally get the permits for the fish hatchery and park. After so much time and money has been spent operating without the required permits, the ..... 
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We need a couple of dozen Carl Sagans

Fri, Apr 28th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

The Thursday before Earth Day, the 20th, PBS had a National Geographic special featuring Dr. Tyrone Hayes. Hayes, a Harvard trained PhD researcher at the University of California, held an audience at Eagle Bluff Learning Center spellbound for over an ..... 
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Victim: Put your bad experience to good use by speaking out

Fri, Apr 21st, 2006
Posted in Commentary

On September 17, 2005, at the age of fifteen, I became a victim. I was approached by a complete stranger, a 26 year old married man and father. I was all alone and had nowhere to go when this man took away my trust and safety. I was a victim of an at ..... 
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Ethanol may be the answer

Fri, Mar 31st, 2006
Posted in Commentary

The answer to America’s dependence on gasoline could come from the Midwest, not the Middle East.  Using ethanol as a transportation fuel can be traced back to Henry Ford and other transportation pioneers. Ford’s Model T, prod ..... 
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Shock and shame

Fri, Mar 24th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

The 1970’s Academy Award winning documentary Hearts and Minds, which detailed the course of the Vietnam War, from our initial contacts with the Ho Chi Minh resistance during World War II to our ultimate draw down of troops in 1973, documents how succ ..... 
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DOMA: The marriage of discrimination and religion

Fri, Mar 10th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

With the start of the 2006 Minnesota Legislative Session on March 1st, Republicans were aggressively pushing their tool to prevent gay marriage, the so called Defense of Marriage Amendment. Hundreds of thousands of DVDs distributed around the State f ..... 
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So long to number 34

Fri, Mar 10th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

I think it was May, 1992, but don’t quote me. We were visiting Minnesota from our home in Michigan, and my sister had given us Twins’ tickets. What I remember about the game was that Kirby Puckett hit a grand slam, and the announcer said it was Pucke ..... 
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