THUMBS UP: No one likes the traffic congestion at the intersection of highways 59 and 23. Even MnDOT has said it was surprised at how much of a problem temporarily eliminating a driving lane has become. And some businesses out that way have taken a big hit because of highway 23 construction. There are apparently plans in the works for a Band-Aid solution that could involve temporary traffic signals to loosen things up a little during rush-hour times at the 59/23 intersection and possible the 23/19 intersection. Until that is done, however, Marshall Police officers have turned into traffic cops in the morning and evening hours. And during the last week, the officers have been standing out in less-than-ideal weather situations - wind, cold, rain, the whole gamut of spring weather. Let's not forget to recognize them when this is all said and done. Being a cop isn't always the most fun job in the world, and it's made less so when these officers find themselves waving their arms around for hours as frustrated motorists drive past them. They're out there trying to make the best of a bad situation and should be thanked for it.
THUMBS UP: Think you can get away with not wearing your seat belt at night? Think again. Next week kicks off a two-week Seat Belt Mobilization period as part of the Safe and Sober Campaign, and on Tuesday, the Independent went on a ride-along with a Marshall Police Officer to get a behind-the-scenes look at a typical night on patrol and how officers are able to track down seat belt offenders when it's dark. The officers know what to look for at night, just like during the day and use certain strategies when it's dark out. So you might think there's no need to worry about being pulled over for not wearing your seat belt at night, but just because it's dark, don't assume you can get away with it. The best thing to do is to simply wear your seat belt - then you'll have nothing to worry about - day or night.
Sunday's coming fast
THUMBS DOWN: Once again, the Democratic-controlled Legislature faced a sure veto by Gov. Tim Pawlenty - this time concerning a health and welfare package. A key provision in the package, Democrats hope, is expansion of Medicaid health care for poor adults. The bill was pushed through late Wednesday, giving Dems some time to attempt to override a veto if Pawlenty uses the maximum three days to reject it. Whatever happens, it's unfortunate that 1) it's taken this long to get to where legislators are at in terms of taking care of the $3 billion deficit; and 2) the Dems and our Republican governor can't seem to find compromise just days before the midnight Sunday deadline to pass bills. Legislators know the clock is ticking, and they know the battle they'll be facing next year - a projected $5.5 billion deficit. Should be an interesting weekend in St. Paul. Let's hope some common ground is found sometime between today and Sunday. And let's hope our governor doesn't favor fishing over finances to the point where things get held up even more.
THUMBS UP: For the first time in some years, things are looking up weather-wise for the fishing opener. After a week of clouds, wind and rain, drier weather is expected to start moving in today and continue throughout the weekend. And while plenty of success can be had on the water when it's raining, it's also nice to spend a day on the lake with the sun actually shining.