Thumbs up to the agreement formalized this week between the Connections seasonal homeless shelter and First Presbyterian Church, which will give Connections a larger and more centrally located space to work with next winter.

Each year Connections moves a little bit closer to its goal of a permanent, year-round overnight shelter. The upper floor of First Presbyterian, 220 E. Hickory Street, doesn’t figure to be that. But Connections co-director Erica Koser said it’s a valuable intermediate step forward.

Kudos also to Covenant Family Church, 709 North Riverfront Drive, which housed Connections this past season. Covenant isn’t as conveniently located for the purpose as First Presbyterian, and the quarters weren’t as spacious, but it too represented a step forward from the rotating model Connections used its first two winters.

The ministers and congregations involved in Connections are truly doing God’s work.

Great outdoors

Thumbs up to those who are newly embracing the outdoors and outdoor activities as a way to combat the stifling effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Outdoor recreation retailers selling everything from bicycles to kayaks have found a robust business from those who want to take on a healthier lifestyle. They’re all too happy and willing to accommodate.

The robust outdoor activity and increase in exercise will likely become a habit even after COVID-19 health concerns have subsided.

It goes to show that area residents as well as many Minnesotans know how to face adversity and get healthier in the meantime.

And the Mankato region has worked hard to develop plenty of outdoor resources and places from parks and trails to campgrounds that can encourage this activity.

Water quality help

Thumbs up to the Lessard-Sams Commission for awarding the city of Mankato a $1.3 million grant to purchase farmland to turn it back into a wetland and improve overall water quality going into the Minnesota River.

The city received the grant to buy land to start a large wetland, water-retention project that will slow the runoff of water from farmland through the city’s ravines and into the Minnesota River.

The overall project will likely cost around $7 million, but the money from the commission will be a good start. The city is asking the Legislature to fund the rest through bonding.

The city has proposed the project as a natural way to help clean up the runoff into the Minnesota River that is considered an impaired waterway and not fishable or swimmable in many areas.

City Manager Pat Hentges argues that such a project will be less costly than the millions of dollars that would be needed to upgrade water treatment plants all along the Minnesota River.

It’s a great plan to use natural resources in a smart way to improve water quality and the environment.

The Twins way

Thumbs up to the Minnesota Twins, one of a handful of franchises in Major League Baseball to commit to retaining their non-playing employees on the payroll at least through June.

Many teams have begun laying off employees; others have slashed pay; some are doing both. The Twins — and Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, and perhaps others as well — are going full staff at full pay, even though revenues are zero and there is no guarantee that there will be a major league season.

The conventional wisdom about the Pohlads, the family that owns the Twins, is that they are cheap. This is not a cheap move. Nor, it may turn out, a wasteful one, if it keeps good employees on hand when times turn better.

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