Thumbs Up/Down - February 1, 2013DRIVING INTO TROUBLE Thumbs Down: It’s freezing outside, your windshield is all frosted over and you don’t have a lot of time. It’s OK to just scrape away a tiny spot to see through before driving off and letting the defrosters do the job, right? Wrong.
Thumbs Down: From time to time, we hear from a disgruntled reader who claims that his or her letter to the editor wasn’t published because the newspaper didn’t like it. We’re accused of selectively deciding which letters to print. That’s flat-out untrue. We print virtually every local letter we receive as long as it meets basic guidelines such as being fewer than 300 words and contains a full name and address (for verification purposes). It also can’t be libelous or attack private individuals. We recently received a letter from a “P. Hampton,” who accused the paper of rarely printing “contrarian views” from readers because we didn’t want to “offend anyone” or “make them think.” He then challenged the newspaper to print his letter to prove him wrong. Here’s the problem: Mr. “P. Hampton” didn’t include his full name, a complete address or a telephone number, and his letter also exceeded the word limit. There was no way of even contacting him to explain the omissions. We strongly urge readers not to jump to the conclusion that the newspaper didn’t publish their letter because we disagreed with their viewpoints. We print letters from every side of an issue on every topic, no matter what our own personal stance may be. The Opinion page is a forum for communitywide debate, a clashing of ideas, a chance to see how other people view the issues of the day. We will never stand in the way of that.
DRIVING INTO TROUBLE
Thumbs Down: It’s freezing outside, your windshield is all frosted over and you don’t have a lot of time. It’s OK to just scrape away a tiny spot to see through before driving off and letting the defrosters do the job, right? Wrong. It’s unsafe and illegal. Sergeant Jesse Grabow with the State Patrol recently addressed the problem in his Ask a Trooper column. He quoted Minnesota statute, which states, “No person shall drive any motor vehicle with the windshield or front side windows covered with steam or frost to such an extent as to prevent proper vision.” Grabow also strongly recommended drivers to clear rear windows and take the time to remove snow on the hood. “If all the snow is not removed, when a vehicle reaches highway speeds some snow can be blown from the vehicle and sucked into the fresh air intake area of your car,” he said. “This usually results in an almost instant moisture fog up on the inside of your windows and windshield. Try to make sure you get all the snow from your vehicle. It will help your visibility and it could help you avoid a crash.”
HUNTING SAFETY EFFORTS
Thumbs Up: Here’s good news on the hunting front: Accidents are down. The Department of Natural Resources said that only one hunting-related fatality and 19 injuries were reported in 2012. DNR safety officials credit the state’s long-running hunter education program as the primary reason. “While one injury or one fatality is too many, having a year with so few incidents is tremendous,” said Captain Mike Hammer, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. Hammer sees the safe hunting year as a culmination of Minnesota’s volunteer-driven hunter education program. Anyone born after December 31, 1979, needs a firearms certificate to hunt game with a firearm. More than a million students have been certified since the program began in 1955. Females comprise more than 30 percent of the students certified each year. The DNR is always in need of more volunteer instructors to mentor and train youths, Hammer noted. Information on becoming a firearms safety instructor can be found on the web page at http://www.dnr.state.
WILDLIFE INTEREST ON THE RISE
Thumbs Up: And on the topic of hunting, a new survey shows that more Americans hunted, fished and watched wildlife in 2011 than five years ago. It marked the first time there’s been an increase in hunters and anglers in a decade. That’s good news for the Douglas County area, which has bountiful fishing and hunting opportunities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey found that more than 90 million residents aged 16 and older participated in some form of wildlife-related recreation. The increase was primarily among those who fished, up 11 percent since 2006, and those who hunted, up 9 percent.