A summer full of things to do
THUMBS UP: The summer of busy weekends kicks off in a couple of days with Russell's Bandwagon Days today through Sunday and Vesta River Daze, which begins Saturday. We've already had a very successful Shades of the Past event in Marshall, along with Clarkfield's Heart of the Prairie Days, the kinds of festivals that keep everyone busy and offer area residents plenty of things to do without having to travel hundreds of miles to do it. Plus there are also other weekend events not considered city festivals going on throughout the summer to add to your to-do list. Take this weekend, where there's a Fishing Has No Boundaries event in Cottonwood and an Operation: Military Kids event at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Marshall on Saturday. And don't forget to take part in the official welcome home event for our area troops, who recently returned from a year overseas. That takes place at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Marshall Middle School. The festivities continue next week with Canby's Hat Daze and Sunday air Show in Canby and the Saddle Horse Holiday event in Lake Benton. There's also an air show in Granite Falls at 4 p.m. on June 19. The following week, Western-Fest in Granite Falls kicks off on June 23, and there are two city festivals - Wabasso's All-Fest and Dawson's River Fest - during the last weekend in June. Looking for things to do in June? You won't have to look far to find something, and that's a tribute to all area cities and their volunteers who work hard throughout the year planning and organizing these events.
Area athletes do us proud
THUMBS UP: The spring sports season is winding down, but the level of competition is increasing this week as the state softball tournament and state track and field meet take place. The Wabasso softball team is once again representing the area at state and might field one of the youngest teams at state this year, and 21 area student-athletes are set to compete in the track and field meet Friday and Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul. There are also a number of area golfers headed to this year's state tournament. Good luck to all our high school student-athletes. On the collegiate level, two former Southwest Minnesota State University baseball players - Adam Schrader and Andrew Kinney - were drafted by the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, respectively. Pretty exciting news for a small, Division II school in rural Minnesota.
SIDEWAYS THUMBS: Minnesota is home to some of the best health care in the entire nation. On Thursday morning, it also became home to this country's largest nurses' strike when 12,000 or so Minnesota nurses began their one-day strike as part of their dispute over nurse-to-patient rations. The strike included 14 hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Hospitals have stepped up and hired nearly 3,000 replacement nurses and called in additional non-unionized staff. Nurses in California wanted to do something similar, but their plans were thwarted by a judge. On the surface, one might react negatively toward the nurses because it could appear they're walking out on their patients, but in reality, they're doing it to improve things at their hospitals, for the betterment of those patients. When people see others striking, many assume, "well, they're doing it for more money, for a bigger paycheck." That's not the intent of this strike. It's about staffing issues and pensions. These nurses care about their patients and certainly are not happy they had to resort to a one-day strike. Whether or not their actions will have an effect and improve things at the hospitals where they work will have to play itself out, but we applaud them for taking a stand to improve their hospitals and the care they can provide.
THUMBS UP: Marshall residents certainly can't complain about not being able to ride their bikes around town. While not all the bike paths around town are linked together yet, there are plenty of safe places to ride. The Independent on Saturday will have a Page 1C story about Marshall's bike paths, including its newest one along Country Club Drive. It's so new, in fact, that the landscaping isn't even done yet. Still a number of folks have already put the trail to use, whether it's riding their bikes or simply walking. That trail is part of a comprehensive bike trail project that will result in a 14-mile loop around Marshall with "spoke" trails here and there that branch out into key locations around town - parks, schools and the Marshall-Area YMCA. Minnesota was recently named one of the top biking states in the country, and Marshall has definitely gotten in on the act.