Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, Nov. 18

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: Drivers forgetting winter, veterans, young voters, election workers

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Slip sliding away on roads

Thumbs Down: The first significant snowfall of the year once again triggered a rash of crashes throughout Douglas County. More than a dozen crashes were reported in Alexandria alone over the weekend and into Tuesday, Nov. 15. Meanwhile, the Douglas County Sheriff’s office responded to 11 crashes or vehicle-in-the-ditch calls in one day, Nov. 14. Also that day, the State Patrol reported 566 crashes on state highways between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., along with 171 spinouts, five jackknifed semis, at least two fatal crashes and more than 40 people were injured. It would be interesting to know how many of those incidents would have happened if the driver would have simply slowed down. Drivers have to re-learn their winter driving skills. Here’s good advice from Sgt. Jesse Grabow with the Minnesota State Patrol: “Be patient. Drive at safe speeds and give yourself plenty of time. If driving on snow or ice, brake slowly and gently. Brake early when approaching an intersection. If you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go. Then straighten your vehicle. If you have antilock brakes, apply steady pressure. Never try to pass in blowing snow, as there may be vehicles ahead you cannot see. Always buckle your seat belt and be prepared to turn back or pull over if conditions become threatening.”

Saluting our veterans

Thumbs Up: We received several positive comments about Veterans Day programs at Voyager Elementary School – “very patriotic and well done,” the Osakis School District; at Reach Church – “good speaker, especially proud of the home-schooled children giving all veterans a decorated thank you for your service treat bag,” and other programs. A couple of readers wondered why the Alexandria Area High School didn’t have a program. We contacted the district and found out that although there wasn’t an activity that brought veterans into the school, there were many activities that recognized the importance of Veterans Day and the history behind it. On Friday, students started the morning with an all-school announcement recognizing Veterans Day. Within social studies classrooms, students were engaged in learning activities about why Veterans Day is celebrated. Teachers also used resources and led class discussions around Veterans Day relevance and history. Students were invited to apply their learning to connections in their world by asking students about family members they know who have served or are currently serving. Also, students were asked if any were considering military service. Teachers were also invited to share their connections – whether a military service background or family members who have served. Students watched a video called The Poppy, produced by the California Department of Veterans Affairs, which tells the story of Flanders Field and the symbolism of the poppy to WWI. Students also watched a Veterans Day video. Additional supporting resources for these learning activities included videos produced by PBS and the History Channel History of Veterans Day and an AARP quiz on Veterans Day.

Young voters active

Thumbs Up: Here’s some good news about young people and voting. NPR News reported that about 27% of voters between the ages of 18-29 cast a ballot in the midterm election this year – the second highest voter turnout among voters under 30 in at least the past three decades. So far, the highest turnout during a midterm for this voting bloc is 2018 when about 31% of young people who are eligible to vote cast a ballot, according to NPR. During a briefing Thursday, Abby Kiesa — deputy director at CIRCLE — said 2018 remains “a high-water mark” for youth voter turnout during midterms in the U.S. since at least since the 1970s. Historically, youth voter turnout has hovered around 20% during midterm elections, according to NPR. It would be great to see a higher percentage of young people doing their civic duty – here’s hoping it will continue to increase.

Election workers

Thumbs Up: And on the topic of voting, we send a big “thumbs up” to all those who played a role in making the 2022 election a well-run effort. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication from election judges, volunteers, polling place workers and county employees, and Douglas County Elections Administrator Vicki Doehling to accomplish this feat, election after election. Many of these individuals put in long hours that go late into the night to tabulate all the votes, double check the results and report the information to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. They also start answering questions from voters well before Election Day. It’s a massive undertaking that it’s easy to take for granted.

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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By the Echo Press Editorial board
by the Echo Press Editorial Board