Thumbs up to the Minnesota State University Mavericks football team, coach Todd Hoffner and the fans for bringing pride to MSU and the entire Mankato community as they once again push for a national title.

The Mavericks play today at 11:30 a.m. in Pennsylvania against Slippery Rock University. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

The Mavericks, ranked third and fourth in the final polls, also made it to the national semis last year. Senior Nate Gunn is a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award, the Division II equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.

The Mavericks have wowed fans at Blakeslee Stadium this year with their offensive explosiveness and their defensive toughness.

Several of the Mavericks have also been recognized for their academic achievements, and they have two All American selections in Gunn and Shane Zylstra.

Today’s matchup features the two top scoring teams in Division II. Whatever the outcome, the entire Mankato community can take pride in the stellar season for the Mavericks.

More than hardware

Thumbs up to owners of a Butterfield hardware store for recognizing the need of its community and stocking groceries.

It isn’t an easy task. Grocery distributors prefer larger orders, so Barb Mathistad Warner and Mark Warner had to do some digging to find a supplier to fill the needs of this town of 586 in Watonwan County.

The hardware/grocery store only has one cart and four grocery aisles, but shoppers can get their basics, including dairy, meat and produce.

The Statewide Health Improvement Program also supported those efforts and it was a good use of state funding. Grants helped the hardware store add coolers, signs and displays. A $500 credit went toward produce, while the owners made investments of their own.

Rural Minnesota lost 14% of its grocery stores from 2000-2013. Food deserts are a real concern, especially for the elderly and low-income who aren’t always able to go to bigger cities to shop for healthy food. Gas station convenience stores are often the only alternative in small towns.

The hardware store owners’ efforts to close that gap helps the community. As a bonus, you can pick up that gallon of milk and a box of nails during the same shopping trip.

‘Purple rain’

Thumbs up to the Prince movie “Purple Rain” being added to the National Film Registry.

The 1984 movie joined several other classics in being added to the registry this year, including “Gaslight,” “Platoon,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Amadeus.”

“Purple Rain” is only the second Minnesota-made movie to make it onto the prestigious registry. The Cohen Brothers’ “Fargo” was added to the list in 2006.

“Purple Rain” was shot mostly in Minnesota, including scenes near Henderson, where Prince and co-star Apollonia Kotero were shown sharing a lengthy motorcycle ride.

Suicide hotline

Thumbs up to the plan to assign a three-digit number to the suicide prevention hotline.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline now uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). A caller to that number is routed to one of 163 crisis centers. Counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year.

The expectation is the three-digit 988 — along the same lines as 911 for emergencies — will make it easier to seek help and reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health help.

Suicide rates have risen by more than 30% in half the states during the past two decades, with 45,000 deaths in the most recent year for which figures are available (2016). The three-digit number isn’t the sole solution, but it figures to help.

The biggest drawback is that it will take months for this to happen.

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