Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, March 31

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: Earth Day poetry, shingles vaccine, home warranty scam, sleep tips, waitress to the rescue.

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Time to rhyme — for the Earth

Thumbs Up: Here’s a way of encouraging people to help the environment in a creative way – through poems. Youth and adults in Douglas County are invited to submit original poetry about their care for the Earth to celebrate Earth Day (Saturday, April 22), and Poetry Month. The event is sponsored by Cherry Street Books, Douglas County Library, Citizens for Sustainable Future and Alexandria Area Indivisible. Mail or drop off your poem by Monday, April 3 at Cherry Street Books, 503 Broadway in Alexandria. Submissions should include the writer's name and contact information. Students should include their age with their poem entry. Two participants, one adult and one youth age 18 and under, will win a $25 gift certificate from Cherry Street Books. Everyone who enters will have a chance of winning. Poems will be posted and several will be read at the Earth Day celebration at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria on Saturday, April 22, noon to 3 p.m.

Good news about shingles

Thumbs Up: If you missed the March 17 column by Marica Schroeder, a registered nurse with Horizon Public Health, you missed out on something important: Medicare now fully covers the cost of the shingles vaccine for older adults. The vaccine “Shingrix” is a two-dose vaccine with the second dose given two to six months after the first. It’s safe and more than 90% effective in keeping you from getting shingles – a viral infection that brings on a painful skin rash and blisters. It affects about one out of every three people in the U.S. Keep in mind Schroeder's advice: “Be sure to discuss your adult vaccination needs with your healthcare provider.”

Home warranty scam

Thumbs Down: A new scam is targeting homeowners. Scammers are sending out letters urging homeowners to purchase warranties and implies (falsely) that the sender of the letter has a relationship with the homeowner’s mortgage company or with county deeds offices. The letters carry company names like “Home Warranty Direct” or “Home Warranty Solutions.” The letters appear to be official documents but they’re a fraud, likely from criminals outside the U.S. who are trying to get your credit card number or bank information, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. You should discard the letter. You may also file a complaint by calling 1-800-657-3602.

Good tips for getting more zzzzs

Thumbs Up: March is National Sleep Awareness Month. Todd County Health and Human Services sent out a news release about what to do if you have trouble sleeping: 1. Establish a regular sleep schedule; go to bed and get up at the same time every day. 2. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. 3. Use your bedroom for sleeping only. Don’t work or watch TV in your bedroom. 4. Avoid napping too much during the day. At the same time, remember to balance activity with periods of rest. 5. If you feel nervous or anxious, talk to your spouse, partner or a trusted friend. Get your troubles off your mind. 6. Listen to relaxing music. 7. Don’t rely on sleeping pills. They can be harmful when taken with other medications. Use them only if recommended for a brief period by your healthcare provider if other non-medication methods don’t work. 8. If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Don’t stay in bed worrying about when you’re going to fall asleep. 9. Avoid caffeine.

Waitress comes to the rescue

Thumbs Up: A waitress at Northwoods Cafe in Alexandria named Sabrina came to the rescue of an Evansville couple earlier this month. Ray Dahlen and his wife were bringing a friend to enjoy breakfast when the friend lost his ballast and fell in the parking lot. “Sabrina was alerted by some of the patrons and jumped into action, directing bystanders to call 911,” Ray said. Sabrina also brought a blanket to keep their friend warm, wiped the blood from his head and reassured him that he would be OK. The ambulance arrived and they took him to the ER where he was examined and taken back to his care center. “Not only did Sabrina provide comfort and care but before we left, she brought out two hot breakfasts to be eaten at the ER. I asked her what I owned her and Sabrina said, ‘Nothing.’” Ray said. “She gave my wife and I such a big hug and wished us a good day.” He added that he and his wife are grateful for Sabrina, the customers at Northwoods and the Alexandria community for the help they received.


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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