A little winter can go a long way
THUMBS UP: Seldom do we give snow a Thumbs Up, but we'll make an exception in this case for this week's snowfall. A blizzard it definitely wasn't, but Monday's weather event did provide the area with some sorely-needed moisture. No, this week's weather didn't calm the financial fears of those who make a living selling winter-related items and toys, and it did little for snowmobilers itching to get their sleds out of the garage and onto the trails, but the moisture was good for the fields. We're still not big fans of harsh winters and all the headaches they can cause and the tough driving conditions that are created by them, but the snow that did fall and melt into our dry ground was a blessing. And it sounds like more significant snow is on the way for Sunday and Monday - bad news for commuters, but a godsend for farmers and certain businesses.
Then there's winter driving
THUMBS DOWN: As we all know, there's a major downside to snow as well. Driving in Minnesota winters isn't always fun and, as were reminded earlier this week, can be dangerous, even fatal. As we mourn the loss of four young lives lost in Monday's crash near Alexandria, we must always stay aware of the weather and road conditions as we make our daily commutes. The State Patrol reported about 200 crashes Monday and early Tuesday, and while it didn't directly blame the crash on the weather conditions at the time, it's not a stretch to assume weather did play somewhat of a factor. Give yourself extra time when traveling and slow down on the highway. These are simple winter driving rules that must be followed, even in tame winters.
Keeping the outdoors open during a shutdown
THUMBS UP: We're glad to see Legislature will consider bills this session that would keep state parks open and allow the sale of hunting and fishing licenses through a state government shutdown. Last year's 21-day shutdown fell during the 4th of July weekend, a nightmarish scenario for park operators and campers alike. Plus, clean-up measures in places like Camden State Park after the July 1 storm were hampered because the park wasn't allowed to open. Really, this shouldn't even be an issue; our elected officials shouldn't let their political antics escalate into a government shutdown, but we all know it could potentially happen again when the next budget year rolls around. We hope the Legislature has the foresight to pass these bills so the next time they force a shutdown we'll have one less thing to worry about.
More pain at the pump
THUMBS DOWN: The cartoon to the right pretty much says it all (like you need to be reminded that gas prices are trending up again). The price of a gallon a gas spiked again this week, as the national average hit $3.57 Wednesday - $.40 higher than it was one year ago. Tension in the Middle East has led to rising oil prices - the driving factor behind gas prices - and it sounds like there's no end in sight, as some analysts have predicted we will hit the $4 mark this spring. And if you think it's just Marshall that has high gas prices, think again. Cities around the state are dealing with the same problem. Check out these numbers, as reported by MinnesotaGasPrices.com: Fridley: $3.75 per gallon, St. Paul: $3.69, Minnetonka: $3.69. What remains a mystery is how some gas stations in cities around Minnesota manage to keep their prices stable - gas is $3.29 in Maple Grove - while other areas keep seeing increases. Another puzzling aspect that has had us scratching our heads for a while now: Gas at Casey's in Marshall on Thursday was $.03 more than what the Casey's in Tracy is selling it for.