The Free Press, Mankato, MN


December 14, 2012

Our View: Civic center gets a boost

Thumbs up: To Gov. Mark Dayton for keeping Mankato’s request for civic center funding center stage.

For years, Mankato has found fairly broad support at the Capitol for state bonding money to upgrade and expand the Verizon Wireless Center, only to have the funding excised from the final bill by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Dayton recently strongly endorsed having the state pay nearly half of Mankato’s proposed $31 million civic center project. He also supports similar efforts in St. Cloud and Rochester.

Dayton said he’d like to see them in a bonding bill in the next session of the Legislature, but said it may have to wait until 2014 if the upcoming state budget shortfall is larger than anticipated.

“We’ll keep trying until we get ’em,” Dayton said of the three civic center projects. “Or until I leave — one or the other.”

Let’s hope it’s before he leaves.

To improved health of teens

Thumbs up: To the results of a new survey that reveals declines in rates of sexual activity, smoking and binge drinking among Minnesota teenagers since the 1990s.

The information comes from the Minnesota Student Survey offered every three years to sixth-, ninth- and 12th-graders.

In addition, the survey reveals the state also has seen declines in the rates of teens carrying a weapon on school property, drinking pop and riding in vehicles without seat belts.

Of concern, however, is that the level of teens experiencing emotional stress hasn’t changed much from the mid-1990s. Also adolescents of color and American Indians still have some higher rates for poor health habits than white students. For example, Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger said the survey found 22 percent of American Indian ninth-graders smoked in 2010 compared with 10 percent of white ninth-graders.

That wellness gap needs attention so that all of our youth have a more equal shot of living healthy, productive lives.

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