The Free Press
— 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.
Veterans get their just memorials
Thumbs up: To Ken Flies, an Eagan man, who has researched Civil War veterans killed in battle and who were brought back for burial to Minnesota.
Flies has taken time to identify those soldiers, has discovered where they were buried and plans to erect new burial markers to commemorate their lives and sacrifice. The project is part of the governor’s Soldiers’ Recognition subcommittee, a group aimed at commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. With $100,000 in Legacy Amendment funding, 18 gravestones have been found in 15 counties. Capt. Asgrim Skaro is buried in St. Peter and 2nd Lt. John Roberts is buried in Le Sueur.
The entire project is worthwhile and a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives in such an important war.
Music a gift to all at concert
Thumbs up: Wow. Thanks for the gift of music to everyone in our community.
I attended the Christmas concert at West High School Friday night. It was absolutely fabulous.
The orchestra: Difficult music done to perfection. The band showed us a side of band music that was beyond words. The choirs, both concert choir and the West Connection: Unbelievable, with voices that stirred the hardest of hearts.
Keep up the good work you are doing. As a community, we are so proud of your efforts.
I also will be attending East’s concert, which will make me equally as proud I am sure.
Once again, thanks for the early Christmas gift. We all appreciate your talents.
Omi Haldorson, Mankato
Loyola production wowed audience
Thumbs up: My wife and I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Loyola High School performance of “Rock Nativity” at St. John’s Church Sunday afternoon. “Wow” would be one way to describe this performance by the most magnificent group of young people I have seen in awhile.
What a special way for families to begin their advent season. The performance was geared to all ages. I was impressed how the little ones in attendance were so in awe of the music, and of course, the story of Jesus’ birth.
Thanks to the committed and dedicated staff from Loyola High School for spending hours upon hours helping our young people tone up their music and acting abilities.
We, as a community, are very fortunate to have this quality of Christian education at our disposal. I for one am very proud to say that I support “Loyola High School on the Hill.”
Keep up the good work.
Jim Theuninck, Mankato