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Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, Feb. 25

Views by the Echo Press Editorial Board. Topics: snowplow operators, unhelpful drivers, FFA's impact, new ag license plate, cell phone addiction

Plowing snow
When a snow storm strikes, residents in Douglas County can count on snow plows from cities, townships, the county and state will be out in full force.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

Snowplow operators

Thumbs Up: Snowplow drivers – they get unfairly criticized for not plowing every area of the county all at once and they draw undeserved grumbles when they put snow at the end of a driveway. But they truly are unsung heroes. Where would we be without their efforts that begin very early in the morning and continue through darkness? It’s amazing when you think about it. A snowstorm can dump more than a foot of snow in our area, and within a few hours, all the major streets and roads are plowed, allowing residents to carry out their daily routines. They deserve our appreciation for going out in all sorts of bad weather to get the job done efficiently and speedily. One way to thank them: Don’t be among the “thumbs down” people below.

Unhelpful drivers during storms

Thumbs Down: Snowplow operators have a tough job. Unfortunately, too many people make it tougher by not moving their vehicles off the side of streets after a big snowfall. This forces the snowplow operator to drive around them. Other drivers don’t give the plows the room they need when they’re out clearing busy highways and Interstate-94. Remember to stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow. Don’t drive into a snow cloud. Other tips from the Minnesota Department of Transportation: Stay alert for snowplows, which turn or exit frequently and may travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions. Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions. Turn on your headlights and wear your seat belt. Turn off the cruise control. Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.

Recognizing FFA's impact

Thumbs Up: It’s time to give FFA students, teachers and supporters a big thumbs up. It’s National FFA Week, Feb. 19-26. Donations are being accepted through the Minnesota FFA Website at www.mnffafoundation.org . Also, the Minnesota FFA Foundation is posting stories on its Facebook page that shows how FFA is making a big impact with statements by FFA students, agricultural education teachers, as well as donors and sponsors to the foundation. Contributions will go toward supporting Minnesota agriculture, food and natural resource science teachers across Minnesota. Two other opportunities to donate to the Minnesota FFA Foundation: 1. Legacy Club – donate $1,000 over one to four years. Donors to the Legacy Club will receive a Minnesota FFA Foundation commissioned giclee print by Bonnie Mohr. Donations will go to strengthen new and existing FFA chapters across Minnesota. 2. General donations – donations to the general fund provide valuable support to scholarships, youth leadership, teacher preparation and the State FFA Convention.

New agricultural license plate

Thumbs Up: On a related note, a new Minnesota license plate celebrating agriculture will benefit 4-H and the state's FFA members. Inspired by nearly 100 sketches from 4-H’ers and FFA members, the plate draws upon imagery of both organizations. The hands holding seedlings symbolize the 4-H pledge of "my hands to larger service," while the rising sun is a "token of a new era in agriculture" honored in FFA ceremonies. Leaders of both groups acknowledged their appreciation for legislation passed in 2021 that created the new plate. Residents can apply for the agriculture plate at any motor vehicle office. The cost per plate is $15.50, plus a $20 minimum contribution and any applicable registration, wheelage tax, tech surcharges or filing fees. The $20 minimum contribution is due each year when the vehicle registration is renewed.

License plate sample .jpg
This is the new Minnesota license plate that supports agriculture.
Contributed photo

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Cell phone addiction

Thumbs Down/Up: Are young people spending too much time on social media? Yes – and new research shows they know it. Facebook's own internal research found that “Young people are acutely aware that Instagram can be bad for their mental health, yet are compelled to spend time on the app for fear of missing out on cultural or social trends.” Also, a 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 54% of teens say they spend too much time on their cell phones. The good news is, something is being done about it. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, and Cynthia Lummis, R-WY, introduced bipartisan legislation to address negative impacts of social media – the Nudging Users to Drive Good Experiences. The NUDGE Act would establish studies to examine and recommend interventions to reduce addiction and the amplification of harmful content on social media platforms. Following the initial study, the legislation would hold platforms accountable for following through on recommendations. “For too long, tech companies have said ‘Trust us, we’ve got this.’ But we know that social media platforms have repeatedly put profits over people, with algorithms pushing dangerous content that hooks users and spreads misinformation,” Klobuchar said. “This bill will help address these practices by implementing changes that increase transparency and improve user experience.”

If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to aedenloff@echopress.com or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

What To Read Next
This commentary was submitted to the newspaper's Opinion page. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
This week in history in Douglas County.
This is a commentary from a reader that was submitted to the Opinion page. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
This week in history in Douglas County.