New Verizon Center sign (copy)

Verizon's naming rights deal for the Mankato Civic Center expired earlier this year, but an agreement with a new organization is expected soon.

Q: Good morning sir,

Is the city of Mankato close to an agreement with a corporate sponsor for the naming rights of the Mankato Civic Center? I would think the city would want something even if it’s not $110,000 a year like what Verizon paid for.

Thank you.

A: Before Ask Us Guy got around to contacting Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges with this question, he answered it in his monthly update to the City Council.

“We do have an impending naming-rights contract,” Hentges said, adding that the payments to the city will actually be a third higher than what the Verizon deal provided before the company decided not to renew the contract. “It is about a 35% increase over the value previously.”

So, the Mankato Civic Center — which was initially the Midwest Wireless Center before switching to Alltel Center and then becoming Verizon Center — will soon be called ... .

Cut the drum roll, please, because Hentges isn’t saying.

Instead of announcing the name in the Ask Us column, he somehow sees more value in holding a ceremony in coming weeks where the name will be unveiled in the presence of council members and representatives of the organization coughing up the big bucks for the naming rights.

At this point, Hentges would only describe the process undertaken by the city after Verizon executives, who are based in Manhattan, decided they didn’t see much value in having the company’s name plastered all over a building in flyover land. City officials reached out to organizations in “health care, insurance, manufacturing, retail.”

But others also expressed interest.

“We did have a number of contacts initiated by organizations regarding this,” he said. “One company in particular — one entity in particular — asked us to have further discussions.”

Ask Us Guy took note of Hentges’ switching from “company” to “entity” in describing the organization but otherwise has no clue what it is.

Readers are invited to speculate. Or anyone with the inside scoop — say a worker in a sign-manufacturing firm who is suddenly assembling a very large backlit outdoor sign with the words “Civic Center” or “Center” included — should feel free to contact Ask Us Guy.

Q: But, if you walk on the other side. You have another word, You have “BUH.”

A: This was a reaction by a reader to last week’s Ask Us column, which addressed why the “B” on the food-truck HUB sign has a backward “B.”

The reader suggests maybe it’s not backward at all — it’s just being viewed from the wrong direction and the actual word being expressed is “BUH.”

While Ask Us Guy is skeptical, there is one scenario under which the sign installer might have been intentionally trying to create the word “BUH” — if the installer grew up in the rural area just north of Pierz, not far from Mille Lacs Lake, and was attempting to pay tribute to Buh Township, population 529, and named after Roman Catholic priest John Francis Buh.

Q: Dear Ask Us Guy,

There are a lot of places north of the Mississippi. International Falls is north, Canada, the North Pole ... just to mention a few.

A: OK, this is another observation prompted by last week’s column, when Ask Us Guy noted he wasn’t as bothered as some folks by the backward “B” on the HUB sign. What people should be annoyed by, Ask Us Guy suggested, was the radio ad for a St. Peter bar claiming to have “the best bloody Marys north of the Mississippi.”

Although the reader is technically correct, Ask Us Guy stands by his opinion that normal humans make reference to things east or west of the Mississippi — not “north of the Mississippi.” In addition, he believes the St. Peter bar would be violating its liquor license if it is shipping its bloody Marys to International Falls, Canada or the North Pole.

Q: About those milk cartons ... .

A: A couple of weeks back, in response to a question about recycling, it was noted that Blue Earth County was advising residents to toss coated-cardboard milk cartons in the trash because the recycling facility was not recycling them anyway. Some area residents challenged that, suggesting the milk and juice cartons are, too, being recycled.

Dave Kronlokken, the county’s waste and recycling supervisor, said the county had been told by officials at the recycling center that the milk cartons were problematic and often became a contaminant in the single-source recycling stream. But Kronlokken agreed to double check and has found out the milk cartons can be recycled after all.

“We have had some recent communication with Waste Management’s recycling facility in Minneapolis on this issue and asked them to clarify it for us,” Kronlokken said. “They clarified with us that while carton recycling does pose some challenges for them, they do accept cartons for recycling, and the cartons they receive do get sent out to a mill to be recycled.”

The county website has been updated and the website’s “Waste Wizard” feature, which allows people to search hundreds of terms to find out what items can and can’t be recycled, now has cartons back on the recyclable list.

Contact Ask Us at The Free Press, P.O Box 3287, Mankato, MN 56002. Call Mark Fischenich at 344-6321 or email your question to; put Ask Us in the subject line.

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