The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 9, 2013

St. Peter park upgrade will be draw

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to volunteers and officials in St. Peter who plan to reinvigorate one of the city’s largest parks.

The Traverse des Sioux Park near the Treaty Site History Center offers 380 acres of land and 12 to 15 miles worth of trails that are set up in six loops. Nicollet County Historical Society Director Ben Leonard says developing the trail will also draw more visitors to the Treaty Center.

A handful of volunteers, including Dave Newell, Paul Hanson and Dan Oachs, are working on upgrading the dirt trails through the park. Some of the park was damaged during the St. Peter tornado of 1998 and never really restored. Leonard says the park offers a great nature lover’s experience and views of the river where otters, deer and herons can be seen.

The Minnesota River at that point has an unusual rocky bottom and was a historical crossing point for early settlers and Native Americans.

The park sounds like a hidden regional treasure just waiting to be unveiled. It will likely add another natural amenity to the entire Mankato region. The volunteers working to make it better deserve support and kudos.

North Mankato makes recycling easier

Thumbs up to the city of North Mankato for adopting a new recycling program that will allow residents to mix all their recycling for convenient pick up. Co-mingled recycling often encourages more people to recycle simply because they do not have to do a lot of extra work sorting recycling into different containers.

The recycling can be handled at the city’s Riverbend Recycling Center where it has been sorted by a workforce from MRCI for a few years. While there seemed to be a gap in communication between the recycling center and the residents, it’s good to see things will be made easier now.

Judge right to ask gov’t to justify secrecy

Thumbs up to U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Rau for requiring the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota to make a case for continuing to seal search warrants three years after they had been issued.

An attorney for two anti-war activists who were the subject of the search warrants filed in court to have the warrants made public to in part show his clients were the subjects of undue suspicion. Initial search warrants are made public shortly after the warrants have been executed, so the men were publicly identified previously. Search warrants affidavits — the justification for the search — must be made public after charges have been brought in a case or the statute of limitations runs out — five years in this case.

Jess Sundin and Mick Kelly were part of a group of 23 activists whose homes were searched in 2010. Activist homes were located in Minneapolis, Chicago and Grand Rapids, Mich., and authorities were said to be interested in their possible connections to radical groups in Colombia and the Middle East.

But their attorney Bruce Nestor argued there is no reason to keep the files closed. No charges have been filed. No one has testified. Opening the records would presumably exonerate his clients of suspicion.

It’s important the judge compel attorneys to do so in these cases. Not doing so allows the government to unfairly put citizens under suspicion forever. Nestor argued the government shouldn’t be able to target political dissidents, hold them under a cloud of suspicion forever and never tell them why.

MSU student athletes shine as volunteers

Thumbs up to the Minnesota State University Student Athlete Advisory Committee and student athletes for their recent participation in a Halloween related event for Mankato area children.

The group set up activities and games, many related to sports, for the kids to participate in. Many came dressed in their Halloween costumes and received a treat while they jumped hurdles, shot hoops and took slapshots with pucks.

It was a nice outreach effort on the part of the student athletes and kids and parents certainly appreciated it.