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Cutting back on the arts

Thumbs Down: Cut the arts. That's a common reaction to dealing with the kind of budget mess Minnesota finds itself in. But thinking of the arts as some kind of extravagant luxury is a wrong-headed approach. Arts not only provide entertainment and culture, they are, in the words of Maxine Adams, director of the Lake Region Arts Council, "an economic powerhouse." The arts contribute $838.5 million to the state's economy. They generate $94 millon in state and local government revenues and provide 22,095 full-time jobs, according to Adams. In the west central area, which includes Douglas County, the arts generate $13.5 million in economic activity, $5.3 million by non-profit arts and culture organizations and an additional $8.2 million in event-related spending by their audiences. Regionally, the arts provide 433 full-time jobs and deliver $1.6 million in local and state government revenue. We hope that when the Legislature is crunching the numbers to deal with the deficit, it considers these numbers as well.

Honesty in a parking lot

Thumbs Up: It's amazing how a simple act of honesty can brighten a person's day. An Alexandria woman was worried about losing her purse. She left it in a shopping cart in the Walmart parking lot. When she realized where she lost it, she was bracing for bad news. She didn't have to. "A very wonderful lady who worked at Walmart turned it in," she said. "Thank goodness there are still honest people in the world." The contents of the purse were untouched. The woman learned that Walmart trains its employees on how to deal with lost items and how to take them to a secure location so nothing is stolen along the way.

Helping furry friends

Thumbs Up: Here's a very worthy cause that can use more community support: the Lakes Area Humane Society. The LAHS has provided shelter, vaccinations, altering and medical care to more than 17,000 animals since the shelter was opened to the public 11 and a half years ago. Your membership can make a big impact - $500 can cover the cost of housing, medical care and food for five adoptive pets; $100 could cover the cost of altering one adoptive pet; $50 could cover vaccinations and heartworm/Lyme testing for two adoptive dogs; even $25 could cover the vaccinations and testing for one cat. It's easy to join. You can do it online at (select the "membership" tab) or call (320) 759-2260.

Word play for lexophiles

Thumbs Up: Newspaper writers love word play so we couldn't resist sharing the following tidbits a reader shared with us, entitled "For All You Lexophiles (Lovers of Words)." 1. A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired. 2. A will is a dead giveaway. 3. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. 4. A backward poet writes inverse. 5. A chicken crossing the road: Poultry in motion. 6. When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds. 7. The guy who fell into an upholstery machine was fully recovered. 8. You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it. 9. He broke into song because he couldn't find the key. 10. A calendar's days are numbered. 11. A boiled egg is hard to beat. 12. He had a photographic memory which never developed. There were many others as well, but you've probably groaned enough by now. Here's one last one: The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.

Car crimes/timely arrests

Thumbs Down/Up: Breaking into someone else's car and stealing things may not seem like that big of a deal. Until it happens to you. Beyond the monetary loss, you can feel violated, cheated, fearful and insecure. It's been happening too often in Alexandria lately. Fortunately, it appears that some good police work may have taken a bite out of this type of crime. Three suspects - who are, we stress, innocent until proven guilty - were arrested this week in connection with a rash of vehicle break-ins that happened on March 5-6. Police obtained surveillance video of the suspects and their vehicle, which led to the arrests. A key aspect of solving crimes rests with the public's cooperation. If you've had your vehicle broken into in the past couple of months and have not reported it, call the police department at (320) 763-6631.

Lifesaving advice

Thumbs Up: Here's a timely reminder from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety: When you turn your clocks ahead and "spring forward" before going to bed on Saturday night for daylight-saving time, also remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms. Of those who lost their lives in residential fires in 2009, only 17 percent died where smoke alarms were known to be present and working. "Once a year, spring or fall, think about the importance of smoke alarms and make sure that yours are working," said State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl. "Most fire deaths are entirely preventable, and adequate warning is essential for survival."