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Echo Press Editorial: Thumbs Up/Down, views by the Echo Press


Thumbs Down: The Douglas County Board will consider a resolution Tuesday that should keenly interest readers. It supports legislation allowing counties to publish public notices on their websites instead of in newspapers. It’s a bad idea – and not one that would just hurt newspapers but any citizen who sees the value of publishing important information in a medium that’s independent of government. Right now, the county’s public notices are being printed in the newspaper and on the Echo Press website, which is free of any government finagling or after-the-fact adjusting. Some claim that taking public notices out of newspapers will save money but local governments have never substantiated this. Money spent on putting public notices in papers is a very small percentage of a local government’s budget. And the expense of designing, operating, properly maintaining and updating a website is significant, if done right. Remember too, that many low income and senior citizens do not have ready access to the Internet. Public notices in newspapers are the permanent record of what a public body intends to do. There is no archival history to government websites as there is with newspapers. Years from now, any citizen could go to the Echo Press and read exactly what a public notice said. Do we really want government to have sole responsibility and control over the dissemination of its own notices? No. Contact your commissioner and your state legislators and tell them you want to read public notices where they belong – in your hometown newspaper.


Thumbs Up: Yes, the plows create extra work for homeowners by piling up snow at the end of their driveways, but think of where we’d be without them. Stuck. Snow plow crews have been especially busy this winter keeping up with snowfalls and bad weather. They go out, day and night, in all kinds of hazardous conditions – whiteouts, black-ice, bitter cold, gale-force winds – and get the job done. They tame whatever chaos winter throws us, allowing us to resume our daily routines promptly. So this is a big thumbs up to all the snow plow drivers out there. We appreciate your efforts and remind drivers that one good way to return the favor is to give them the room to do their jobs. Move your parked car off city streets so they can get through and if you encounter a plow on the road, slow down, stay well behind the plow (at least five car lengths), stay alert and never drive into a snow cloud. Remember MnDOT’s advice: We’re in the storm together.


Thumbs Up/Down: A reader, noting recent stories about driving habits in Alexandria, adds one more item to the list: stop signs. “Thumbs up to the 95 percent of local drivers who come to a complete stop for each stop sign and also come to a complete stop before turning right on a red traffic signal, or when the traffic light is yellow they stop, knowing the red light is next in line,” the reader said. He added a thumbs down to the other drivers who don’t even slow down for a right turn on red. “You are an example for your children and anyone who sees you driving,” he said. “Is it a total lack of respect for fellow drivers, or is it just arrogance, that makes you blow through the stop signs and red lights? Either way, sooner or later you will cause an accident. Is it really worth the extra second you saved?”


Thumbs Up: Here’s good advice from a reader: With all the recent snow, residents should check their back doors/exits and make sure they’re clear in case of an emergency or fire. The reader noticed that last weekend’s strong wind gusts created big drifts that could trap people if they have to make a quick escape.


Thumbs Up: This item actually started out as a thumbs down. We received a couple of phone calls on January 20 from residents who were wondering why the ice skating rink at Noonan Park wasn’t cleared since kids had the day off of school. As it turns out, the rink was cleared off earlier that day. The Alexandria Park Department clears the rink every morning, seven days a week. It’s an under-appreciated effort that deserves a thumbs up. On the day in question, the rink was cleared but it snowed after that. Bill Thoennes, public works coordinator, said that trying to clear the rinks in the afternoons is difficult because of all the people who are out there.


Thumbs Up: Giving someone a helping hand makes an impact. It did for Virgene Grubb of Alexandria. She sends a thumbs up for all the people who have helped her get in and out of church and stores this winter. “I walk with a cane and I’m amazed when people come to my aid,” she said. “Thank you for helping us elderly folks. We really appreciate the assist!”