The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 11, 2013

Rotary donation tops for kids

The Mankato Free Press

---- — To the Greater Mankato Rotary Club for its generous donation of money and time to the Southern Minnesota Children’s Museum.

The newly merged club was looking for a big project to support, and this one fits the bill. The $4 million museum project has been in the works for years now. So far $2.5 million has been raised for it.

The rotary has committed $100,000 over five years as well as 10,000 hours of volunteer service. Volunteer opportunities could include helping out as play workers, on construction of exhibits and organization of fundraisers. That combination of giving time and money sets a good precedent for other groups interested in supporting the children’s museum. Money is needed to remodel the former city garage if that ends up being the site as planned, but hours of help are also needed to get the project done and keep the facility running.

Medical pricing disparities create confusion

To the widely and unexplained variations in medical billing across Minnesota and across the nation.

In an attempt to provide more transparency for consumers, the federal government last week made public more than 3,000 hospital charges for the most common procedures. The results were startling.

A joint replacement in Minnesota ranged from $26,000 to $55,000 while national costs varied from some $5,000 to more than $200,000. Kidney treatment ranged from near $10,000 to more than double that at different Minnesota hospitals. Similar disparities were found for most procedures.

Federal officials and consumer advocates said the wide differences can’t be explained by the cost of doing business in different communities and that higher charges didn’t correlate to better health outcomes.

Medical transparency has improved as more groups and government agencies have posted online data bases that give information on accidents in nursing homes, rate doctors and provide more financial information. Consumers need much more information — including costs of procedures, profits and administrative costs of insurance companies, costs of drugs — if they are to make the best decisions for themselves.

Raw Fusion show once again tops

Thumbs up to the Raw Fusion Fashion Show that has become a impressive display of creativity among area business participants and a significant fundraisers for local worthy causes.

This year’s creations included everything from mosaic tile to furnace filters and from granite to fabric blinds. The show has become a regular sellout event and this year raised thousands of dollars for Minnesota Valley Action Council, a social services agencies the provides myriad services to need and underpriveleged in our area.

The Raw Fusion event creates a lot of community buzz and excitement. It’s a great show for great causes, and it rivals similar shows in the Twin Cities. It’s putting Mankato on the fashion map.

Kennedy schools show success in school rating

To Kennedy Elementary School which was one of seven schools in the state named Minnesota Schools of Excellence this year.

The award is given to schools that under an evaluation process with the principal, staff, students and school community working together to strengthen education.

The program includes self-study and a school-improvement plan. Mankato Area Public Schools Supt. Sheri Allen said the award validates the Kennedy believes all students can learn and do well in school.

Riverfront Park lineup looks good

To the officials at Mankato’s Verizon Center for coming up with a lineup of music acts at Riverfront Park this summer that offers something for everyone and some performers who will likely surprise and delight.

The lineup will include electric blues pioneer Buddy Guy and country legend Merle Haggard. Country fans will also find favorites from the Jagermeister Country Tour including form Staind vocalist and emerging performer Aaron Lewis. Brian Davis and Rick Monroe will appear as well.

The 1980s rock lineup will include Ratt, Dokken and Lita Ford.

Events where some performers will play include Arts by the River in June and RibFest in August.

Since opening a few years ago, Riverfront Park has proven to be an entertaining venue with easy access parking and plenty of room to roam. It has hosted acts from Trampled by Turtles to Taj Mahal. It’s a great asset for a city like Mankato.