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Visiting the Forbidden Island


Fri, Dec 27th, 2002
Posted in Features

The US government doesn’t exactly say that we can’t visit Cuba; they just make it mighty hard to get there. And if you do figure out a way to get to the island, a mere 90 miles offshore from Florida, the US prohibits you from spending money there. Spending money for such items as food, cigars or a hotel room, under the current "Trading with the Enemy Act", makes you subject to a 10-year prison sentence, a $250,000 criminal fine, and a $50,000 civil penalty.

So when I heard that two Harmony-area women, Joy Johnson and Marcia Love, had recently returned from a visit to Cuba, I wanted to find out more.

Did you have to break the law to get there? I asked them.

"No, no," Marcia laughed. "We went with a group called Neighbors East and West. It was totally legal."

The tour was organized by Sam and Ruth Neff of Whitefish, Montana, who have led numerous groups to Cuba since 1992. With education as the reason and focus for traveling to Cuba, the Neff’s have been granted a license by the US Treasury Department to visit the forbidden island.

"It’s a people to people experience," Joy said. "We did not meet with any government officials."

Marcia is a retired school administrator and Joy is a retired dietician. While it was Marcia’s first trip to a Latin American country, Joy lived in Chile in the 1960s and has made numerous humanitarian trips to Nicaragua over the past several years.

For eleven days in November Joy and Marcia, along with 23 others in their group, visited schools, medical facilities, an Aids clinic and a communal farm. They also visited a hospice where young victims of Russia’s Chernobyl disaster are still being treated. Both Marcia and Joy report that the people they met everywhere in the country were gracious and that they were treated wonderfully.

"I wanted to go to Cuba to see what was so terrible about the place that we’ve had to embargo it for the past 42 years," Joy said.

The purpose of the embargo, Joy explained, is to isolate and weaken Fidel Castro, who has been Cuba’s El Jefe Maximo (The Maximum Leader) since 1959.

"We’ve had ten presidents since then," Joy said. "So it doesn’t look like the embargo is working too well."

Before 1959, Cuba was ruled by the dictator General Fulgencio Batista, who tu .....
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County to apply for challenge grant to upgrade manure management practices

Fri, Dec 27th, 2002
Posted in Features

Fillmore County’s Soil & Water Conservation District Officer Lora Friest informed the County Board of the availability of a Challenge Grant at their final 2002 board meeting.

The grant is available through the MN Board of Soil ..... 
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The Commute: My friend died

Fri, Dec 27th, 2002
Posted in Features

I’d planned to write this column about New Year’s resolutions and my aversion to physical exercise, but every time I start to write it, I am thinking about Deanne, who died December 16.

At the age of two, she was diagnosed with ..... 
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Sumner Township subdivision denied variance

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Features

Last Thursday evening, in a hearing room filled to capacity with over 75 citizens, the Fillmore County Board of Adjustment denied a variance to Bruce and Linda Bucknell to develop a subdivision within 600 feet of a feedlot.   ..... 
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Family’s tragedy sparks action

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Features

When it came time for Kingsland Elementary School to select their annual Christmas Service project, it didn’t take staff or students long to come up with a cause.

On October 24, first grade student Daphnie Crews and her brother ..... 
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Tuchek sentenced to six years in prison

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Features

Former Lanesboro Police Chief John Tuchek was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $800,000 in restitution to the victims of the arson fire he set in Lanesboro on April 7, 2002. Tuchek was also ordered to have no contact with hi ..... 
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Commissioner's Report: Changes in school vaccination program

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Features

Changes in how the state administers school vaccinations will take responsibility for the program away from Public Health, Sharon Serfling told the County Board at their Monday meeting.

Serfling, Fillmore County Public Health Di ..... 
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Lanesboro Council rescinds agreement over Church Hill alley

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Features

All was not silent as Bethlehem Church members joined the Lanesboro City Council at its regular bimonthly meeting Monday night, December 16, to discuss the Church Hill alley. After Mayor John Brose updated the church members on the stalemated situati ..... 
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Preston Council requires developer to comply with parking ordinance

Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Features

The Preston City Council approved a development agreement between the city and Corson Condominium Corporation at their Monday, December 16 meeting.   Corson, who is developing 12 new apartment units at the old elementary scho ..... 
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