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Future Echo Press Sports Editor Larry Holverson in his boyhood days. (Contributed)

Happy birthday, Larry!

Thumbs Up: Former Echo Press Sports Editor Larry Holverson, a colleague and friend to all of our longtime employees here at the Echo Press, is celebrating a big milestone on January 1 — turning 70. For 33 years, Larry covered every kind of sport in Douglas County and the surrounding region, building a reputation as a sports legend — a title that Larry would humbly say is laying it on too thick. But Larry put his heart and soul into the job right on up to his retirement in 2007. His coworkers knew it. Local coaches and athletes knew it. And readers did too. Back when the newspaper hosted an open house for his retirement, hundreds of people turned out to wish him well. He's just that kind of guy. Larry's wife, Joan, told us that those who want to wish Larry well may send a card to Larry Holverson, 500 Fillmore Street, #305, Alexandria, MN 56308.

The more you give...

Thumbs Up: Last week, we came across a writing from the Alexandria chapter of United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN) that we thought was fitting for the holiday season. It's called "The More You Give." The more you give, the more you get. The more you do unselfishly, the more you live abundantly. The more of everything you share, the more you laugh, the less you fret. The more you'll always have to spare. The more you love, the more you'll find that life is good and friends are kind. For only what we give away, enriches us from day to day.

Bringing back baby Jesus

Thumbs Up: Our Dec. 14 story, "Who stole the baby Jesus," about a manger scene figure that was stolen from the owners of Cedar Rose Inn stirred up some emotions — anger at whoever would stoop to such a criminal act and thankfulness for the forgiving attitude owners Rose and and David Gibson expressed. One reader sent us a little story that offers a light-hearted view. It's titled, "Someone Took Jesus." A couple days after Christmas, the pastor of a large church in San Francisco was walking by the nativity scene in the chancel of his church. He was stunned when he noticed the baby Jesus was missing from the manger. He quickly went outdoors to look around and he saw a little boy pulling a new wagon. In the wagon was a doll that looked very much like the missing baby Jesus. The pastor greeted the boy and asked him about the doll. "I got it from the church," the boy replied. "Why did you take it from the church?" the pastor asked. "Well," the boy answered. "I prayed for a new wagon and told the Lord Jesus that if I got one, I would give him a ride. I got the wagon, I took him for a ride and now I'm bringing him back to the church."

Corporate tax tactics

Thumbs Down: Corporate owners of multi-billion dollar big-box retailers like Fleet Farm and Menards are trying to use a loophole to avoid paying their full share of local property taxes. It's frustrating for local governments that not only risk losing revenue but are also faced with mounting legal bills. The stores argue that their buildings should be assessed as if they are vacant or "dark" rather than as operating entities, claiming that they've customized their stores so much that the facilities aren't worth as much as their assessed value. At its Dec. 17 meeting, the Alexandria City Council voted to keep $50,000 in the city's general fund to defend such tactics in tax court, if necessary. Douglas County is also prepared to go to court. It's a shame that businesses in our community that enjoy the many services provided by local governments — from police and fire protection to plowed streets — are dragging their assessed values into the courts. It's not the neighborly thing to do.

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