Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, Sept. 9

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: Unfair blame, lung health, out of place flags, irresponsible dog owners, a boost for a small town.

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Unfair blame

Thumbs Down: Here’s a message that should be screamed from the rooftops of every home in Alexandria: The city does not determine which restaurants will be opening in Alexandria. Just let that sink in. Every time that the newspaper reports about a new restaurant that’s opening or a new business that’s going up, people on social media blame the city and its leaders for not getting the restaurant or business that they want to see. It’s as if they think the city has this thick stack of applications from restaurants or businesses that it goes through every day and determines which project shall go forward and which ones shall not. That’s not how it works. The restaurants and businesses make the decision to move here or build a business of their choosing. It’s a free market. So the next time you hear someone say, “Why doesn’t the city open an Applebee’s?” or “How come Alexandria has so many banks – why doesn’t the city build something else?” stop them in mid-sentence and tell them the city does not make those decisions. The businesses do. It seems pretty obvious but judging from social media posts or just comments on the street, too many people are just not getting it.

Lung health improves

Thumbs Up: A study of smoking rates and pollution levels over the past five years (2016-2021) contained some good news for Minnesota. The state ranks among the best levels of lung health in America. The analysis factored changes in smoking rate in each state, as well as the change in pollution level (measured in PM2.5, which is the average daily density of fine particulate matter in micrograms per cubic meter). Minnesotans experienced a 0% decrease in smoking rates over five years, and a decline in PM2.5 (-5.7), placing it 25th overall. On a local level, Douglas County fared pretty well. Although the percentage of smokers increased from 15% in 2016 to 19% in 2021, its pollution level dropped from 12.5 to 5.7, making the county 19th best out of the state’s 87 counties.

Out of place flag

Thumbs Down: A Vietnam veteran emailed the paper with comments about the flags that are displayed on three flagpoles near the entrance to the Douglas County Courthouse. He noticed that two of the flagpoles did not have flags and the one with the U.S. flag wasn’t on the center pole and it was on the shortest pole. According to flag etiquette, in a group of state, local and/or society flags, the American Flag should be flown highest and in the center. “My email is not meant to point fingers but to get our flag presented correctly, and perhaps, to educate whoever is responsible,” said the veteran.

Irresponsible dog owners

Thumbs Down: An Alexandria resident gives a thumbs down to irresponsible dog owners – those who allow their dogs to poop in yards and streets without picking it up. He’s also seen it happen in the city dog park at the end of Victor Street. even though the city has conveniently provided bags and disposal containers on the site. He also gave a thumbs down to owners who continue to let their dogs out without being leashed. “There have been numerous instances of dogs attacking residents while walking and others on bikes, causing severe injuries,” he said. “There is no area of our city that is immune from this responsibility. Perhaps former Gov. Jesse Ventura said it best: ‘You just can’t legislate stupidity!’ In this case, a complete ignorance and disregard for our neighbor’s welfare.”

New help for small towns

Thumbs Up: The Lake Region Arts Council and the West Central Initiative has launched a new “Artists on Main Street” program for small towns that are interested in involving artists with their Main Street revitalization plans. The program will provide $10,000 in technical assistance, training and financial support to one town under 5,000 in population in west central Minnesota, including Douglas County, that wants to learn how to effectively collaborate with their creative community. Towns that are actively working on Downtown/Main Street revitalization and are interested in leveraging the talents of artists and creatives to build more vibrant and just rural economies, enhance civic life, and respond to challenges and opportunities are encouraged to apply by going to the website, and clicking on the Artists on Main Street link. The deadline is Friday, Oct. 7. Funding for the first year of this pilot project is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Lake Region Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.


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.

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