The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 11, 2014

Fair board offers bold new plan

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to the Blue Earth County Fair Board for trying a bold plan to save a 154-year-old tradition.

Fair Board members voted overwhelmingly this week to close down the fair at its current location in Garden City, with hopes of starting the fair at a new site near the county’s population center of Mankato.

Those opposing the idea are understandably saddened by ending the long tradition at the beautifully wooded site along the Watonwan River. But the reality is there was no other choice. The fair is in considerable debt and attendance in recent years has dwindled. The fair at its current location was doomed, no matter the vote.

Now, the board has the daunting but exciting challenge of finding high-profile land near Mankato and raising a lot of money to purchase land and start constructing buildings for a new fair ground. It will require generous support from not just average residents who would enjoy the fair, but support from agribusinesses and others in the area.

Bill Altnow gave it his all

Thumbs up to all the memories that former Free Press photographer Bill Altnow helped preserve for the Mankato region.

As the newspaper’s first full-time photographer, Altnow captured on film for 35 years the moments that helped shape the community. From victories or defeats at sporting events to war protests and tragedies, Altnow’s familiar friendly face was there to record local history.

Altnow died at age 79 on Wednesday, but community members and co-workers will never forget him. He liked to say he’d give his right arm to be ambidextrous. But he gave his heart to his work at The Free Press and to his community.

Rod Searle was a great statesman

Thumbs up to the ideals and statesmanship Rod Searle represented for his many years in the Minnesota Legislature. He represented his constituents in Waseca well and was a role model for many legislators throughout the years.

Searle died last week at the age of 93 after an illness.

He presided over a Minnesota House of Representatives that was evenly split in 1979 between Democrats and Republicans. Searle was a true statesman, always willing to listen to another point of view and was the kind of legislator who helped get things done to make Minnesota a better place to live. He is the kind of legislator and elected leader we surely could use more of now.

Groups support bookmobile, reading, education

Thumbs up to the North Mankato Taylor Library staff and several area non profits and private businesses that donated money for the purchase of a bookmobile.

Otto Bremer Foundation, Taylor Corp., the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation and the Mankato Foundation donated funds totaling about $57,000 for the library to buy a used bookmobile. The new bookmobile will service small towns in Nicollet County, including Nicollet, Courtland and Lafayette.

It will be available for home day cares, senior living centers and private schools, all groups that might find it difficult to make regular trips to the library. The bookmobile is a way to bring books, and the education and enjoyment they offer to areas that are underserved because of geography or other limiting factors. The North Mankato City Council had given North Mankato Library director Lucy Lowry permission to seek the donated funds and the project appears to be a nice success. Donors deserve credit for their commitment to getting books to people who need and would benefit from them.