Time to expire meters

Aug. 17, 1989

Free Press columnist Brian Ojanpa was tired of parking meters and was willing to pay more in city taxes to have them gone. In 1989, there were 474 Park-O-Meters in the downtown Mankato area, down from a one-time high of 1,200. The meters brought in about $150,000 each year, plus the overtime parking tickets, worth another $130,000. Mankato City Finance Director Harley Mohr said if the meters went away, then so would the salaries of the “meter maids.” And the net cost to city residents would amount to less than a fast food dinner for a family of four ($20/year). Ojanpa said he had his checkbook out, ready to pay to be rid of the meters. It took nearly a decade, but in May 1998 the City Council voted to remove them. By October, they were all gone, says Kay Schultz, records supervisor with the Mankato Department of Public Safety.

Rules Pinball ‘Free Plays’ Out

Aug. 5, 1940

Trying to determine what was — and what was not — gambling, Judge Fred Senn of Waseca determined that the pinball machines that awarded more games based on the players' score were indeed gambling machines and could be shut down and/or confiscated. The machines were in Owatonna and Faribault. Had the machines provided a set amount of games per coin, they were considered devices for amusement only. But when they awarded between two and 40 more games based on scores achieved, they became gambling devices and were illegal, ruled Senn. After a long-fought battle, the pinball machines were confiscated.

The Mankato Fair

Aug. 4, 1924

The approaching Mankato Fair was reported to be the best fair “ever.” The reporter of this story said that really meant something because fairs over the past few years had been “par excellent.” More attractions were expected, more livestock were to be on display, and “the ladies will have their handiwork on exhibition.” Fairs used to be one of the major highlights of every city and county during the summer. It was a place to gather, meet family and friends, and compete with those family and friends.

Grim Reminders

Aug. 8, 1979

A dark photo by Free Press photographer Bill Altnow showed dead and dying elm trees, victims of Dutch elm disease in the area. Blue Earth County weed inspector Everett Blaisdell said the trees were being taken down in parks and along roadways by county highway crews as they found time. The county did not qualify for government aid for tree removal, as qualifications required that trees be in a controlled five-acre plot. The five acres coud not run in a linear fashion, as “county-owned rights-of-ways do.”

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