Thumbs Up and Down – Views by the Echo Press April 20, 2012Thumbs Down: Tailgating. It’s easy to get upset when the driver behind you gets close enough to nearly touch your bumper. State Trooper Jesse Grabow recently addressed the problem in his “Ask the Trooper” column.
New building code’s price
Thumbs Down: On the surface, stricter building codes may seem like a good idea but there’s a big downside that has local builders concerned: Higher costs for new homeowners. According to the Builders Association of Minnesota (BAM) and the local Vikingland Builders Association, proposed changes in the International Energy Conservation Code that are set to take effect next year could potentially add $15,000 to $20,000 to the cost of building a new home in Minnesota (based on a two-story, 3,000 square foot house with an unfinished basement). BAM leaders say that in addition to increasing the cost of housing by 8.6 percent, the way the new code is written would decrease durability of homes and cause additional moisture and mold problems. “In terms of construction, this code takes us back to a building practice we know causes mold in basements,” said Pam Perri, BAM executive vice president. She added that installing a two by four with batt insulation against a cold, wet basement wall is a building practice that has been prohibited since the current Minnesota Energy Code was passed in 2007. “At what point does the desire for a new building code win out over affordability and durability?” Perri asks. It’s a question that needs to be answered.
Thumbs Up: This week is Volunteer Recognition Week and around this area, there are a lot of people to thank, including hundreds of school volunteers. As of March 1, about 625 parents and other adults have generously given more than 6,200 hours to help shape Alexandria School District 206 youth to become responsible, caring citizens, according to Ruth Turner, volunteer coordinator. “Money cannot buy what this additional support brings,” she said. “The time given and the efforts shared truly make a difference in the lives of our students.” She offered a special thanks to Broadway Floral, Broadway Bistro and Catering, Colorful Seasons, Community Education, Dunn Brothers, Great Cravings, Pete’s County Market, Premiere Video, Target, Traveler’s Inn, Trumm Drug and Walmart. “By their support and donations of gift cards, these businesses have helped honor and encourage school volunteers for all of their contributions in our schools,” Turner said.
Thumbs Down: Tailgating. It’s easy to get upset when the driver behind you gets close enough to nearly touch your bumper. State Trooper Jesse Grabow recently addressed the problem in his “Ask the Trooper” column. He noted that the law states a specific minimum following distance of 500 feet for vehicles pulling trailers, including trucks as well as semi-truck tractors with trailers. While the law doesn’t state a specific distance for vehicles not pulling trailers, Minnesota Safety Council defensive driving instructors now teach a “three second plus” following distance rule. “Watch the vehicle in front of you,” Grabow noted. “When that vehicle gets past an object such as a sign, pole, bridge, etc., then count off three seconds. You should not arrive at that spot sooner than your count to three. If you do, then you are following too close!” Remember to add one second for every hazard that exists – heavy traffic, rain, snow, fog, driving into the sun, etc. In some cases you might have to allow six, seven seconds – or even more – to be safe because of existing hazards.
Fishing and politics
Thumbs Down: The Legislature’s inability to pass a long overdue increase in Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses is inexcusable. The increases, which have drawn strong support from conservation groups, hunters and anglers across the state, are needed to keep the game and fish fund from going broke next summer. The fees haven’t been raised in 11 years. Without an increase, the DNR will cut positions, reduce the time it devotes to conducting fish and game surveys, and enforcing laws. Local fish stocking efforts would also suffer. Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, wrote the bill calling for the increase but hasn’t been able to get it passed. Even though DFL Governor Mark Dayton is all for it, a key DFL senator, Tom Bakk of Cook, opposes it because as written, it would eliminate conservation licenses. Ingebrigtsen expressed a willingness to keep the conservation licenses in his bill but didn’t want to talk to Bakk about it. Instead, he wants Dayton to rally more DFLers to support it. And so it goes at the Legislature.