The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 7, 2013

Kiwanis Lights glowing bright once again

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to all the people who work to make the Kiwanis Holiday Lights a premier and stellar event for the entire Mankato region.

By all indications so far, the Kiwanis Holiday Lights event at Mankato’s Sibley Park appears to be on its way to topping last year’s momentous initial unveiling.

Once again, hundreds of volunteers from the Mankato Downtown Kiwanis club and numerous other community organizations worked for months before the opening to get the spectacular display ready. Many local high school and college groups, including sports teams, pitched in to make the event happen.

Dozens of businesses again supported the project with donations. The Dotson family supplied a large donation for a unique synthetic sheet of ice for ice skating. Numerous contractors donated time, materials and labor.

Many nonprofit groups will be donating their time and volunteers helping to run the event every night through New Year’s Eve.

Clearly, the Kiwanis Holiday Lights is an event the entire Mankato region can take pride in not only for all the joy and wonder it brings area residents and their children, but because it is truly an event for the community and by the community.

There is no cost to see the lights and hours for viewing are Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Mankato economy climbs higher

Thumbs up to the ongoing strong economic news coming out of the Greater Mankato region.

According to new federal Department of Commerce figures, the per-capita personal income in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties grew faster in the past three years than elsewhere in the state.

From 2010 to 2012, per-capita personal income grew 13 percent locally, a growth of $4,639 per person.

The St. Cloud area saw an 11 percent increase, Rochester a 6.6 percent increase, Duluth a 9 percent increase and the Twin Cities a 9 percent increase in the same period.

The region’s per-capita income stands at $40,052, slightly above St. Cloud and Duluth and below Rochester and the Twin Cities.

The report comes on top of other good economic news locally, including a recent Free Press story showing that housing sales and prices have increased locally at a faster pace than in most of the state and nation.

As with any report, the per-capita income findings don’t mean all boats were lifted equally. Many individuals and families continue to struggle and have seen stagnant or even declining earnings since the recession began.

But the overall increase is real and impressive and shows the Mankato area has been fortunate.

Editorial Board

Walz helped clean up tombstones

This spring, I was asked to make a presentation for the dedication of a new veterans memorial at the Elmore Cemetery. I told the committee that the only topic I would feel comfortable talking about would be the Civil War veterans.

When the day came and I made my presentation, I mentioned that my wife, Vicki, and I had visited Vicksburg National Cemetery to locate the stone of Edwin Marsh Way of Elmore Township who died during the siege of Vicksburg. I also mentioned that his stone, and the vast majority of Civil War era stones, were almost unreadable because they were covered with a mold the color of old crankcase oil.

After the program, Rep. Tim Walz came up to me and said he would have his office look into the problem of moldy tombstones.

Well, my wife and I just returned from a tour of several Civil War sites in Dixie. We had stopped by Vicksburg National Cemetery to see if anything had changed and to our delight, there were thousands of nice, clean tombstones to greet us.

Thank you, Rep. Walz and staff, a wrong has been corrected.

Albert “A.B.” Russ

Blue Earth