Thumbs up to Bukata Hayes and Jenn Melby-Kelley for making us proud to be members of this community.

Hayes, executive director of the Greater Mankato Diversity Council, and Melby-Kelley, a business owner and Mankato City Council member, were recognized this week by the Citizens League, a Minnesota nonprofit promoting democracy and governing for the common good.

Both Mankatoans were honored with others across the state for making a difference in their communities. As part of the recognition event, Hayes also participated in a panel.

St. Peter City Council member Keri Johnson nominated the two local winners. She pointed to Hayes’ work on the Write on Race community journaling initiative, this year’s Juneteenth march and a virtual series on policing among his accomplishments.

Melby-Kelley was cited for her tough decision-making as a council member this year, which included urging the city to adopt a mask mandate before the state did so. Johnson also described Melby-Kelley’s safe and inclusive business practices as well as her contributions to racial justice and the annual Pridefest celebration.

The recognition is well-deserved and we should all be grateful to live in a community that strives to better itself with people such as Hayes and Melby-Kelley leading the way.

Lower than low

Thumbs down to President Donald Trump and his Republican enablers.

We didn’t need the Russians this year to undermine the confidence in our elections. Trump and complicit Republicans have taken deception and subversion of our Democracy to a new low.

Thursday Trump began calling Republican state legislators to the White House to be part of his cabal of collusion to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election. He’s asked them to commit forgery and larceny in overturning legal votes through the elector process, even though Trump’s legal actions have been thrown out of court.

Even Trump’s own election security experts say there has been no evidence of fraud or malfeasance in election tallies. Then they were fired.

No president has ever gone this low.

Hwy. 14 safety

Thumbs up to state transportation officials for moving to improve the safety at a dangerous intersection at Eagle Lake.

The intersection at Highway 14 and Blue Earth County Road 56, where Casey’s is located, has always been a dangerous spot because of a hill that limits views and high-speed traffic on 14.

After much study and public input, the state has settled on making a J-turn on Highway 14, which will require drivers looking to go west on Highway 14 from County Road 56 to first head east before making a U-turn at a designated spot a few hundred feet down the highway.

The safety improvements are a big step in preventing serious injuries and deaths and one more step in making the Highway 14 corridor safer.

The state of hoops

Thumbs up to Wednesday’s NBA draft, and particularly to Minnesota’s role in it.

Four athletes who played their high school ball in Minnesota were drafted, a percentage that wouldn’t be surprising in the NHL draft but certainly is for basketball.

And the state’s NBA team, the Timberwolves, not only had the headline move of the first overall pick — taking guard Anthony Edwards — but made a splash with the not-yet-official trade that will bring fan favorite Ricky Rubio back to Minnesota.

The new front office deployed by Mankato-based owner Glen Taylor, who is said to be seeking a buyer for the franchise, has certainly been aggressive about reshaping the team. Nobody can blame Wolves fans for taking a wait-and-see attitude about the changes; this franchise’s roster has featured a number of No. 1 picks over the years, but few of them have even tasted the playoffs with Minnesota.

Taylor certainly would like that to change while he still owns the team.

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