Third Avenue and Kenwood

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: An Alexandria woman sends a thank you to the drivers who stop for pedestrians, bikers and those who use handicapped scooters in the crosswalk at Third Avenue and Kenwood Street in Alexandria. And she also offered a thumbs down. "Shame on you who don't stop," she said. "Please be more aware." The city, to its credit, is looking into the problem and recognizes the seriousness of the situation. At its meeting Monday night, council member Todd Jensen urged immediate action while calling the intersection a "death trap." The city is working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to get crash data, speed studies and other information to gain a better understanding of what can be done. Meanwhile, drivers need to be on the alert as they approach that crosswalk and yield to pedestrians, walkers and scooter drivers who are simply trying to get across the street safely.

Leaving pets in cars

Thumbs Down: This shouldn't be that hard: When it's hot outside, or even just around 70 degrees, don't leave your dog or cat in the car. But every summer, reports of pets sweltering in vehicles come across the scanner. It's cruel to the animal - so cruel it can lead to its death. And it's against the law. Trooper Jesse Grabow addressed the issue in his latest "Ask a Trooper" column. Many people may not realize just how hot the inside of a vehicle can heat up, even with the windows cracked open. A 70 degree day can climb to 104 degrees in a car in just a half hour. If it's 90, the temps can skyrocket to 109 in just 10 minutes and hit 133 degrees in an hour. Grabow's advice: Leave your pet at home whenever possible. Or arrange to have someone stay in the vehicle with the pet with the engine and air conditioning running. Pet owners could also check with the business they are going to because it may allow owners to bring in the pet while shopping. We've got many hot days ahead this summer. Don't let your pet die in the heat.

Giving blood

Thumbs Up: It's time for blood donors - and especially those who have never given blood before - to step it up. The American Red Cross reports that the busy Fourth of July holiday led to a drop in blood drives, which has caused a blood shortage. This week, it issued an emergency call for eligible individuals of all blood types to give now and prevent delays in medical care. The Red Cross now has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available - and less than a two-day supply of type O blood - for patients. At least a five-day supply is desired. Several blood drives will take place this month in Alexandria: July 12 - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Cowing Robards; July 22 - 1 to 7 p.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church; July 23 - 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church; July 26 - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Glenwood State Bank; and July 30 - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cornerstone Church. There's also a blood drive in Millerville from 1 to 6 p.m. on July 18 at the Church of the Seven Dolors. We give a thumbs up to those who regularly give blood and another thumbs up to all those who will roll up their sleeves for this latest shortage.

Genetic testing scam

Thumbs Down: Here's a new scam that involves genetic testing. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, scammers across the country are offering Medicare beneficiaries cheek swabs for genetic testing to obtain their Medicare information for identity theft or fraudulent billing purposes. Fraudsters are targeting older adults through telemarketing calls, booths at public events, health fairs and door-to-door visits. The commerce department offers four tips: 1. If a genetic testing kit is mailed to you, don't accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender. Keep a record of the sender's name and the date you returned the items. 2. Be suspicious of anyone who offers you free genetic testing and then requests your Medicare number. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes. 3. A physician that you know and trust should approve any requests for genetic testing. 4. Medicare beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare numbers. If anyone other than your physician's office requests your Medicare information, do not provide it.

• • •

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.