Weather Forecast


Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Smoke alarm effort

Thumbs Up: The fire that claimed two lives at an Alexandria mobile home park last Friday underscores the importance of having working smoke alarms. A neighbor in the park, Judith Young, deserves a thumbs up for taking that message a step further. Working with the help of the Red Cross, she visited residents in the park and gave them smoke alarms. She also plans to go to other mobile home parks in Alexandria to make sure they have alarms as well. Working smoke alarms save lives. Install one in your home today. If you already have alarms, make sure to test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.

Nursing home fines weakened

Thumbs Down: The thought of a vulnerable, elderly person being abused or neglected when he or she is supposed to be receiving care is disturbing. Yet not enough is being done to address the issue. A recent report found that in 2016, 97 percent of the more than 25,000 allegations of neglect, physical abuse, unexplained serious injury, and theft in state licensed facilities for seniors in Minnesota were never investigated. And now the problem may get worse because of a federal government decision to roll back protections of seniors living in nursing homes. The administration is scaling back on the fines imposed on nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury. The change was requested by the American Health Care Association, which was concerned about federal inspectors focusing more on catching wrongdoing instead of helping nursing homes improve. Easing the penalties, however, is not the right approach. As U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar points out, "Rolling back protections for our seniors in nursing homes is a step in the wrong direction," she said in a news release this week. "The Administration should be strengthening — not weakening — efforts to protect seniors from dangerous situations, get them the help they need, and keep their families informed every step of the way."

Christmas card kindness

Thumbs Up: A reader, Caroline, called in a "thumbs up" for Voyager Elementary students "for being so kind, caring and considerate by writing up Christmas cards for the Bethel Community Center residents."

Creasing pages in a book

Thumbs Down: A retired school librarian gives a "thumbs down" to those who fold the pages of their checked-out book to mark their spot.. She gives a "thumbs up" to those who know enough to use a bookmark.

Cold weather help

Thumbs Up: An Alexandria couple experienced a car problem on a recent Saturday when the temperatures plunged to a 40-below wind chill. Several people stopped to offer help. "We were thankful even though we had called for tow service," the couple said in a note to the newspaper. "Then, college freshmen, Micah and his friend whose name we can't recall insisted on staying with us and invited us into their warm vehicle until help arrived and then drove us home. We have sincere thanks and appreciation for how these young men offered their time and assistance in such bitter cold. We wish them well in their challenging fields of study. They will have bright futures."

Dismissing ice dangers

Thumbs Down: Even with the extended cold snap, the ice is never 100 percent safe. Unfortunately, too many people think they know the ice conditions and end up paying dearly for that assumption. At the end of December, there were already five reported ice-related deaths in Minnesota this winter. That's more deaths than the previous two winters combined. Those who survive a plunge through the ice can put the lives of their rescuers at risk. Heed this advice from the Department of Natural Resources: New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly‑formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially‑thawed ice may not. Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away. Ice should be at least 5 to 7 inches thick to support a snowmobile or ATV; 8 to 12 inches for a car or small pickup and 12 to 15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

• • •

If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.