Thumbs up to the pursuit of a Greater Minnesota Regional Trail designation and grant money for the Red Jacket, West Mankato and North Minnesota River trails.
Revenue from Minnesota’s Legacy Act sales tax is set aside for parks and trails that are unique enough to attract users from a broader region. We think the combination of those three trails fits that criteria.
For all the parks and trails this area boasts, we have just one Greater Minnesota Regional Park — Le Sueur County’s Lake Washington Regional Park. The Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud areas each have four or five.
The features required of a Greater Minnesota Regional Trail includea regionally desirable setting that offers “attractive, unusual and/or representative landscapes, important destinations, or high-quality nature areas.” Other criteria require a trail attractive enough to draw “a regional clientele, potentially may draw tourists, and generates economic impact from outside the local area.”
The annual River Ramble, which draws hundreds of bicyclists to the trails, is proof the three trails do exactly all of that.
Thumbs down to last week’s sentence in a Saudi Arabian court, in which three people were sent to prison and sentenced to death for the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
Bringing to justice those who slaughtered Khashoggi, a dissident journalist, would be welcome. But those sentenced were not the masterminds behind the grisly killing.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has claimed he knew nothing of the murder, which was done after luring Khashoggi to the Saudi consulate. But the kingdom is tightly controlled by the crown prince and other top leaders, and U.N. and CIA investigations suggest the prince had to be aware of and even directed the highly planned murder.
The American government should apply pressure on Saudi Arabia to bring real justice for Khashoggi.
Too many bad fires
Thumbs down to a second straight holiday with a significant fire affecting vulnerable residents in Minneapolis.
The Christmas morning fire at the Francis Drake Hotel — a prestige downtown address when it was built almost a century ago, now an overflow shelter — came almost exactly a month after a high-rise fire in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood left five people dead.
Nobody died in the Drake blaze, but about 250 people, already living on the margins, were displaced, and most lost pretty much everything. The Drake itself is a total loss.
The fire and its timing triggered an outpouring of generosity that was at once moving and awkward, as hundreds of people brought blankets, diapers, clothing and other items to the fire scene and left them in the street.
The biggest need can’t be simply dropped off at an intersection: four walls and a roof. Wednesday’s fire merely worsens the emergency shelter situation in Minnesota’s largest city.
Heart grew two sizes
Thumbs up to a Minnesota police officer who went the extra mile in finding out about why a store customer stole food and took action to get her help instead of ticketing her.
A 61-year-old widow from Oakdale who cares for numerous children and grandchildren was desperate for food and tried to leave the store with more groceries than she could pay for, according to a Pioneer Press report. She was caught, but instead of giving her the ticket he wrote up, Woodbury officer Bryan Wagner verified her story.
He then went to local food shelf to get information for her and ended up with his squad car stuffed with food for her family.
The officer’s extra effort showed a lot of heart.