The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 22, 2013

Our View: Don’t deny a walk in the woods

The Free Press

— To authorities of the Three Rivers Park District in Scott County that has started to ban walkers and hikers from trails in Scott County parks to make room for snowmobilers.

It’s an absurd policy and one that even snowmobilers say isn’t right.

Apparently authorities were worried that because the walking trail allowed snowmobilers, there would be risk to the walkers, some of them elderly. If safety was that big of a problem, the common sense response would be to ban the snowmobilers.

Fortunately, authorities are re-examining the decision. They recently found snowmobilers were veering off the trails into prairies and destroying some of the natural beauty of the parks. Some snowmobilers were using the grassy hillsides as jumping points and digging all the way down to the dirt in other places.

Rota Hart, a 71-year-old walker at the park, got 100 neighbors to sign a petition to change the policy back to allowing walkers. Even some snowmobilers signed on. Perhaps there’s a peaceful coexistence for both walkers and snowmobilers in the parks, but banning walkers is not the answer.

Let’s hope common sense prevails here. Pedestrians are not a danger to snowmobiles.

Lowering C-section rates is a good sign

To the health-care providers who are reducing the rates of cesarean section deliveries — rates that still remain too high in many parts of Minnesota.

The use of C-sections to deliver babies has increased dramatically across the nation in recent decades. C-sections are valuable when a vaginal birth could endanger the baby or mother. But they have been increasingly used solely to make it easier on the schedule of mother or doctor.

Many doctors and health-care facilities are now trying to reduce unnecessary C-sections after research concluded that shortening the length of a pregnancy by even a short time can cause problems for babies.

A new report by the nonprofit MN Community Measurement finds rates vary dramatically in Minnesota. Statewide, the rate for first-time mothers is about 26 percent. Some clinics have reduced their rates to 17 percent, while other clinics have rates as high as 51 percent.

Local providers have done pretty well. Mankato Clinic ranked just below the state average while Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato was just above the state average.

Shenanigans unwarranted with Hagel archives

To secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel and his defenders who have continued to deny access to his archives at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Thousands of papers, speeches, audio and video files have been stored at the university, and since Hagel’s confirmation has yet to be voted upon by the full Senate, information that could be gleaned from them could go far in providing context to his views, which are still being debated despite the fact that on Thursday his confirmation was said to be likely.

The archives were given to the university in 2008, yet the university has said they will remain sealed until they are processed and indexed. Seems a poor excuse to protect this nominee from further scrutiny, especially when considering the fact that university officials said they’d go ahead and grant reporter access anyway if Hagel would agree to it.

He has not.

Patrick rises in racing

You’ve got to like Danica Patrick who recently added to her racing successes by winning the pole position for the Daytona 500 that kicks off Sunday.

Patrick was the fastest qualifying round for Daytona, which put her in the first position as the race starts. As she marks a racing milestone, the media couldn’t help but ask about “important things” like her new dating relationship with fellow race driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Both are battling for Spring Cup Rookie of the Year honors.

She seemed to take it in stride, saying, “I get that it’s not about racing.” The biggest dating controversy may be that she drives a Chevrolet and Stenhouse drives a Ford.

But history may not be on her side for actually winning Daytona. In the 54-year history of the race, the pole position car has only won 16 times. Still, Patrick’s top position will add to the excitement of watching the race she can certainly add the top qualifying position to her list of racing success.