The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 4, 2014

Closing schools keeps kids warm, safe

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to the governor for closing public schools Monday.

Gov. Mark Dayton decided Friday morning to close schools Monday because of the dangerous weather forecasted. Temperatures are to dip into the double digits below zero statewide and with windchills, the “real feel” will be even more bitterly cold.

Exposing children to these dangerous conditions is a risk that shouldn’t be taken and the governor’s action is warranted. The entire state will be in the deep freeze Monday and knowing in advance that schools are closed will help parents make plans. Already on Thursday, Rochester schools had decided to cancel classes Monday when the high temperature there is to be 15 below zero.

Instead of each school district wrestling with what to do on Sunday night — even if the forecast is off by 10 degrees, conditions will still be brutal — parents and students can now plan accordingly.

Minnesota governors don’t in general take their power to close the state’s schools lightly. The last time it was done was in 1996. We may be hearty Minnesotans, but we are also smart and know safety of all of the state’s school children is paramount.

Nicollet residents show engagement on Highway 14

Thumbs up to Nicollet residents for quickly and decisively voicing their displeasure about an intersection plan proposed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Highway 14 will be updated to a four-lane from North Mankato to just past Nicollet, including a southern bypass of Nicollet. But instead of building a full interchange at Nicollet, MnDOT is proposing an intersection that would have vehicles turn right onto 14, then move over to make a U-turn to go the other direction on 14.

With a busy Highway 111 intersecting with 14, such a plan makes no sense. It would create unsafe conditions as slow-moving semis go onto 14 and then merge over to make a U-turn.

Nicollet residents have created a website criticizing the plan and have already obtained some 600 signatures on a petition that will eventually be sent to the governor and lawmakers asking for a full interchange.

Area residents have waited far too long for improvements to Highway 14 and should be concerned that MnDOT is proposing a flawed plan in order to same some money.

Town will benefit from hardware

Thumbs up to small town business entrepreneurs aiming to resurrect Mapleton’s local hardware store.

With today’s marketplace dominated by chain and corporate stores, it’s good to see business people willing to take a risk on an independent, small-town store. Mapleton’s hardware store will be owned by Jim Heins and managed by Steve Breiter.

The Mapleton hardware store had for a long time been run by Lorena Fron, who eventually sold it to an Owatonna man who had to close the store in 2012 due to health reasons. Heins bought the building and has been remodeling the 10,000 square foot store soon to reopen as Mapleton Farm and Home.

It will carry farm and garden equipment and all the requisite hardware fare. It will offer small engine repair and equipment rental. It may also offer bicycles, a long-held tradition of the old store. The city of Mapleton also supported the new endeavor with a low interest loan, noting that Heins used another such loan to revamp the Mapleton Elevator into a state-of-the-art facility.

Heins will be putting $300,000 into the project and the Blue Earth County Board and city of Mapleton will be guaranteeing a low interest loan of $75,000. The store is likely to be a fine addition to Mapleton and will likely serve needs of the surrounding rural area.