Short Takes

Weather to the extreme

THUMBS DOWN:

The Midwest section of the country has seen its share of devastation at the hands of recent storm systems, especially in Nebraska where two lives were lost thanks to twin twisters. Locally, we’ve avoided the widespread devastation tornadoes can bring (although there was one confirmed tornado north of Marshall shortly before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday), but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the region – actually, the whole southern portion of the state – will soon see a stretch of nice, dry weather. All areas around Marshall are begging for such weather, and farmers across the southern third of the state surely have seen enough precipitation for a while. Spots in Murray County are still under water as once-defined rivers and creeks have essentially been swallowed up by their own waters. And things got bad enough in Cottonwood that sandbagging efforts got under way Thursday morning. It seems the region has gone from drought to flooding just like that, and everyone would agree, these extreme weather patterns are getting old.

Still waiting for a resolution

THUMBS DOWN:

The Plum Creek Board rejected mediation terms offered Wednesday night, and the library saga continues. Marshall-Lyon County Library has been offered the chance to remain a member in good standing of the Plum Creek Library System, but only under certain conditions. It’s now up the to MLCL board to make a tough decision: whether or not to accept the offer – a meeting could take place next week. We hope this issue gets resolved sooner rather than later, since the people who are most affected are library users, young and old, but the MLCL board has plenty of thinking to do and surely will not take this decision lightly. In the end, we need some kind of resolution. We need closure.

A good reminder for railroad intersection safety

THUMBS UP:

June is Rail Crossing Safety Awareness Month. Yes, there is such thing. Scoff if you must, but it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself to be careful at crossings. Already this year, there have been 25 highway-rail grade collisions in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said. In February, drivers in Elk River went around lowered gates at two different crossings and their vehicles were hit by trains. And just last week a train and semi truck collided at a crossing north of Green Valley. Luckily, there were no injuries that day or in the Elk River incident, but the potential for tragedy is there. MnDOT says that last year in Minnesota, six people died and 26 were injured at highway-rail grade crossings when their vehicle collided with a train. Another five died and five were seriously injured while trespassing on railroad property. The good news is, this summer MnDOT is investing $7.9 million in gates and upgraded crossing signal equipment at 40 locations throughout the state. But as drivers, we need to do our part as well. Deaths and injuries at these crossings are on the rise nationally, so be safe and keep your head on a swivel.