Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Thumbs Down: A Supreme Court decision in June will make it easier to hide taxpayer-supported information that should be available to the public.

Day of Caring lingers on

Thumbs Up: Even though Discovery Middle School’s “Day of Caring” took place back in May, its impact lingers on. MaryAnn Skaff Maamer recently posted a comment on the newspaper’s Facebook page expressing how grateful she was to have the students help fulfill her winter-long dream of growing a wildflower garden. “They cleaned out all the weeds in my raised garden and even repaired the corners that we're coming apart,” she said. “Then they planted several boxes of wildflower seeds for me. And one grape tomato plant for my dogs. I have enjoyed watching it grow since May. Every day it makes me so happy to think of their hard work and kindness…These children have really made my summer enjoyable and I want to thank them so much. The impact of the program goes well beyond the two hours that they spent in one day.”

Rescue on Lake L’Homme Dieu

Thumbs Up: Greg Moen of Bemidji witnessed a close call on Lake L’Homme Dieu on Aug. 3. He saw a stand-up paddleboarder fall off his board and begin to struggle as the wind pushed the board away from him. “I was readying my boat to go out and get him when his cries for help became more desperate,” Moen said. “He was sinking under the water when a pontoon with two men whisked in and one dove off the pontoon to assist the swimmer while the operator of the pontoon kept the boat clear but poised to move in once the paddleboarder was ready. The two men got the paddler on board and then retrieved his board and transported him back to his point of origin. Needless to say we, at the shore, were relieved beyond words and gave the men a round of applause. Right place, right time, right actions, right result. Well done men!”

Hiding public information

Thumbs Down: A Supreme Court decision in June will make it easier to hide taxpayer-supported information that should be available to the public. In the words of the National Newspaper Association, the ruling “blew a big hole” in the Freedom of Information Act when the court decided any company can keep the government from releasing information about it if the business considers the information confidential. The case came from the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which tried for years to learn how much food stamp money landed with local retailers. The court took the side of the grocery industry in saying the information is confidential, even though the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is taxpayer-funded and often controversial. The Argus wasn’t looking for information about beneficiaries, only revenue totals at the store level, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has. The information is public business and should be disclosed. A bipartisan group of senators, led by Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, introduced S.2220 to make the information public and the legislation deserves support.

Helping people read

Thumbs Up: Deb LeDoux deserves a thumbs up for reaching a big milestone – donating 1,000 hours helping people read. She’s been a volunteer with the Alexandria Literacy Project since 2009 and has worked with several learners, and at times, more than one at a time. Currently, she’s working with seven different learners, volunteers in English as a Second Language classes and serves on the literacy project’s board of directors. Her fellow board members said that LeDoux has “gone above and beyond to help her learners with real-life issues, such as transferring a car title, in addition to helping them improve their English.”

Theatre L’Homme Dieu delivers

Thumbs Up: Theatre L’Homme Dieu received two “thumbs up” from readers recently. An Alexandria woman said the theatre was “wonderful to deal with” when a problem arose – she’d purchased tickets for a performance but was unable to attend because she had cancer surgery. The theatre not only refunded the price of the tickets but were kind and courteous. “They really accommodated us,” she said. “They even sent a get well card. The plays out there are always great too.” Another Alexandria resident was blown away by the theatre’s July 31 concert, “A Salute to Glen Campbell” by Jeff Dayton. Dayton, a Minnesota native who lives in Nashville, was the band leader and guitarist for Campbell for 15 years and delivered an emotional and compelling performance that lasted two hours and 25 minutes. “While I was listening to him, I think I died and went to heaven,” said the resident.


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.

What To Read Next
Get Local