The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 15, 2013

Legislative dealing trips trust

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs down to the Minnesota Senate leaders for slipping a new $89.5 million building for Senate offices into the recently passed state tax bill in the last hours of the session.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal noted that while only $3 million was approved for design, even this was invisible to many because it was part of a 379-page tax bill inserted late and with little discussion.

This is just another maneuver employed under the guise of conducting the public business in a speedy fashion when really it obfuscates power plays by leadership with little debate.

And another thumbs down to the same Legislature this time for what the Star Tribune calls a “tit for tat” — $33 million bailout for the downtown Minneapolis library in that same tax bill under the same last-minute shenanigans.

“It came after the state agreed to forgive loans on the Xcel Energy Center, located in St. Paul" and the Legislature apparently was afraid of displeasing its “twin.”

City's "people for parks" idea refreshing

Thumbs up for all of the public input on city parks and to the city of Mankato for reaching out to residents.

The city sponsored an open house and listening sessions in recent weeks to hear what people like, don't like and want in their parks. And people responded.

Residents suggested more barbecue grills in parks and a canoe launch at Land of Memories Park. They talked of the need for better lighting in some areas and the ability to bring their dogs to Sibley Park.

And several mentioned installing courts for pickleball, a sport that looks a bit like tennis but is played with a wiffle ball. It is the fastest-growing sport in the country.

The input is part of updating the city's long-term parks plan. Involving the public as much as possible. As Parks Supt. Mark McGuillan so aptly put it: “The way I approach it is parks are for the people.”

North Mankato does well with Caswell and state softball

Thumbs up to another successful year of North Mankato hosting the High School Girls State Softball Tournament at Caswell Park.

It's quite a record of success to holding and maintaining the contract for hosting the statewide tournament that brings in teams, fans, parents and coaches from all over Minnesota.

The fields seem to hold up well in spite the continuous and relentless wet spring rains we've all endured. The city's success at hosting this tournament is a feather in the cap for the whole region. It's a great sporting event to host and many residents get to see some high quality girls softball played right in their backyard with a comfortable venue and accommodating services.

Editorial Board

Loyola, community treated WW II vet with kindness

Recently — after I sent in a short story about my time in Mankato, especially while at Loyola High School — l was contacted by Amy Klugherz, director for advanced placement at Loyola High School.

She asked if she could visit my wife and I for an interview. After we became acquainted, she informed me I could be given an honorary diploma at Loyola's graduation.

I had left for the Army Air Corps in 1943, just before graduation.

On graduation day, Klugherz drove to Woodbury, then drove my wife, Carol, and I to Mankato. Through her gracious arrangement, we were honored dinner guests in her company as well as the school principal, the bishop for the Diocese of Winona, the author of "The Vatican Diaries" and three priests. It was an awesome experience for us.

At the graduation, I received a standing ovation. Then, to top if off, on the way out of the auditorium I was offered handshakes from many in the bleachers, who offered their congratulations and who thanked me for my service during World War II.

To sum it up, the people of Loyola, Mankato and your newspaper overwhelmed us with kind and loving treatment.

Harold Gifford