Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, Feb. 17

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: feeding the hungry, password tips, street crews, safety tip, drivers slip, job opportunities.

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Feeding the hungry

Thumbs Up: First Lutheran Church in Alexandria came up with a creative way to help the Douglas County Outreach Food Shelf. The church launched its own version of “Feeding the 5,000” by striving to collect $5,000 and 5,000 pounds of food in February. All the money the church collects will be doubled in March through a matching grant donation. “We learned about the real concern of food insecurity in our community and want to help care for our neighbor,” said Pastor PJ Malin.

Tips for changing password

Thumbs Up: Earlier this month was “Change Your Password Day.” Kind of sad that there’s a day designated for such a thing but it does make sense to do all you can to stop scammers and identity thieves to gain access to your personal and financial information. Here are four good tips from Christopher Tangen, chief technology officer for Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union, on how to stop the bad guys from cracking your passwords:1. Don’t use socially engineerable things – information that people can learn about you through social media or just by knowing you. This includes things like kids’ names, pets’ names, dates of importance, year you were born, etc. 2. Don’t start your password with your capital letter. Many, if not most, people when told they need to use all the complexity rules for passwords (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters) will start their password with a capital letter. 3. Don’t put your number or in most cases two numbers right at the end of your capitalized word. i.e. Winter23. 4. Finally, don’t end your password with an “!” This is the most common last character in any password. Bad passwords – “Winter23!” or “Jamaica19!” Good passwords: “!reallyHatebeingcoldinthewint3r” and “mIssions1njamaicamakesmeh@ppy.”

Street crews to the rescue

Thumbs Up: An Alexandria resident on Fifth Avenue East was having serious ice problems on her driveway this past week. The driveway resembled an 8-foot ice rink, she said, and when it melted, water backed into her garage. A friend told her to contact the Alexandria Street Department. They responded very quickly and removed the snow and ice in a matter of minutes.

Safety tip from REA

Thumbs Up: Here’s a quick safety tip from the Runestone Electric Association that could save a life: Be careful when piling snow near pad-mounted transformers and beneath power lines where children might reach them. Just a quick look up is all it takes to make sure it’s safe.

Minnesota drivers slip in rankings

Thumbs Down: C’mon Minnesota drivers – you can do better. A new five-year study by Gunther Volvo Coconut Creek , showed that Minnesotans rank among America's “least improved” drivers. Speeding, illegal use of cell phones and drunk driving were some of the key factors the study examined. It placed Minnesota drivers the 45th most improved overall, meaning their driving skills trended downwards over a five-year period, compared to other states. It was a big dip. In 2018, Minnesota drivers ranked second best in the country, but they ended in 2022 in 31st position – a drop of 29 places.


Job opportunities bright in state

Thumbs Up: Looking for a job? Minnesota is among the best states in several job-related categories, according to a 2022 WalletHub report, “Best and Worst States for Jobs.” To ease the process of finding employment for job seekers, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 35 key indicators of job-market strength, opportunity and economic vitality. The data set ranges from employment growth to median annual income to average commute time. Here’s how Minnesota ranked (1 is best; 25 is average): 2nd – job opportunities, 29th – employment growth, 17th – monthly average starting salary, 1st – unemployment rate, 3rd – median annual Income (adjusted for cost of living), 10th – average length of work week, 18th – average commute time, 9th – job satisfaction, 16th – percent of residents 5 and older who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. See the full report at .

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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