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Thumbs Up and Down - Views by the Echo Press January 13

On thin ice

Thumbs Down: Those going out on the ice should be very careful out there and know exactly what they're getting into. Because of the unseasonably warm weather we've been having - temperatures were 10 degrees warmer than normal in December - open water and weak ice conditions are common throughout the lakes area. A resident on Lake Latoka viewed an aerial photograph this week and was amazed at just how much of the lake is open water. Remember the Department of Natural Resources' stern warning: There is no such thing as "safe ice" and it should be at least 12 inches thick for most cars and light trucks, eight inches for compact cars, five inches for snowmobiles and ATVs and four inches to walk on.

Christmastime kindness

Thumbs Up: Residents throughout Douglas County once again demonstrated their generous and caring spirit during the holiday season and throughout the year by supporting United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties. "Thanks to the many volunteers who have worked so diligently this Christmas to help others. In no place is it more evident what a giving community we live in, than at United Way's office," said United Way leaders in an e-mail to the newspaper. "During this Christmas season we have been blessed with a multitude of volunteers who have adopted families, wrapped toys, helped families pick out gifts for their children, packed baskets for seniors, and assisted with registration of Jingle Bells boxes. Toys for Tots alone gave out over 1,800 toys to more than 162 families, 444 children. Santa's helper delivered over 73 packages for Santa for Seniors. A big thanks goes to the organized efforts of Dustbusters, Dunn Brothers Coffee, Menard's, USPS, Viking Savings, Sun Opta, Aagaard, and Tastefully Simple as well as churches in Belle River and Osakis, to make this season special for all."

Rude service

Thumbs Down: A local resident had an unpleasant experience at the local Social Security office this week. She said that the employee who waited on her and her husband was rude. "We were offered no privacy to discuss our personal issues, having to stand at the front reception window where anyone in the waiting area could overhear what we were saying. In addition to making us feel insignificant, this employee had an unkempt appearance, making our interaction even less pleasant."

Lesnar's legacy

Thumbs Up: Even though Brock Lesnar of Alexandria lost his Ultimate Fighting Championship bout in Las Vegas on December 30 and announced his retirement, he can look back at a very successful career. The former UFC heavyweight champion and Minnesota Gopher wrestling standout finished his UFC career with a 5-3 record and was one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in the sport's history. Here's how one Alexandria reader reacted on our website: "Has to be tough on Brock, but what a career he has had. Hope he stays around the Alexandria area. Farm boy from South Dakota, to NCAA heavyweight champion at University of Minnesota and on national TV [with WWE and UFC]. Congratulations, Brock."

Slick roads in Victoria Heights

Thumbs Down: An Alexandria resident was angry and disappointed that the roads in the Victoria Heights area were not sanded or salted down after Wednesday morning's snowfall. He's lived in the area since 1997 and has frequently complained about the problem but he said that the roads are still slippery and hazardous after it snows. Drivers have a hard time making it up all the hills in his area and vehicles have often slid into the ditch. "It's irritating as a taxpayer that nothing's being done," he said. He offered a suggestion: Have the city street department add the Victoria Heights area to a list of spots requiring extra attention when things turn slippery.

Bremer grants make impact

Thumbs Up: We give a shout-out to the Otto Bremer Foundation for once again delivering much-needed grants to organizations or causes in the Douglas County area. Among the foundation's recent round of 81 grants totaling more than $8.37 million were two local contributions. The city of Evansville will receive $45,000 to purchase new playground equipment and renovate its baseball complex. Also, the Kensington Fire Department will receive $25,950 to buy equipment that will be used to fight wildfires.