Thumbs down to the loss of a major employer in the region and the lifeblood of a community. A mainstay of Sleepy Eye for 89 years, Del Monte announced it will be closing the plant there and, as a result, cutting 363 jobs.
For 69 full-time and 294 seasonal employees, the announcement out of the blue hit hard.
And the impact goes far beyond wiping out jobs at the plant. The entire economy is affected, from local businesses to the school district to the farmers to the truckers.
Beyond those measurable results is the rip in the fabric of a small town. Generations of family members have worked for Del Monte and it provided reliable seasonal work for so many young people.
The hope is that those jobs will come back to the town in another way through another employer. Local government leaders will be working to fill the gap left by the loss of Del Monte. We hope efforts prove fruitful and that Sleepy Eye will bounce back stronger than ever.
Thumbs down to President Trump’s petulant insistence on bidding to buy Greenland from Denmark.
When the Wall Street Journal last week reported that the president has frequently voiced a desire for the United States to acquire the giant Arctic island, the expectation was that it was a one-day wonder of a story.
But this week Trump abruptly canceled next month’s long-planned state visit to Denmark, complaining that the Danish prime minister called the idea of selling the world’s largest island “absurd.”
Absurd the notion was, is and will be. Greenland is strategically located, and the warming planet may well make whatever mineral wealth lies under the ice sheet accessible, but the Danes have no interest in selling it and the few people who live on Greenland have no interest in becoming second-class citizens of the United States.
And the United States’ legitimate military interest in Greenland is well met by its current status. Denmark is a member of NATO, and we have an Air Force base on the island. What this nation needs of Greenland, it has access to. That should be sufficient.
Of course, this president treats NATO with derision. His snit over being rebuffed is yet another sorry example of the contempt he displays toward our allies.
Thumbs up to three major Minnesota health insurance companies who have found ways to lower the cost of insulin to their patients who often cannot afford high co-pays and deductibles.
Blue Cross Blue Shield announced last week that it would eliminate co-pays or cost sharing for insulin patients starting in 2020. The change will affect those who buy the company’s health plans on the MnSure exchange as well as small and large group plans.
UCare and Medica earlier this month capped patients costs for insulin at $25 per month for those who have their plans through the MnSure exchange.
It’s laudable that the health insurers stepped up to fill a community health need, but the Legislature still needs to act on this critical life or death issue.
Thumbs up to Greg Wheelock’s dedication to bringing respect back to the McPherson Union Cemetery near St. Clair.
While doing some genealogy work Wheelock saw many of the markers in the cemetery were tipped, buried or dirty. Although he has no relatives or friends buried there, the retiree has taken it upon himself to reset headstones and try to track down the location of graves where the headstone had been removed.
He developed his own pulley system and other devices to raise headstones and reset them. Since the Free Press story on his efforts ran, others have sought him out to learn how to do similar work in other cemeteries, or have offered to help him.
There are many small cemeteries that have been neglected and largely forgotten. Having people like Wheelock help bring back dignity to a final resting place is heartwarming.