It’s all thumbs up for spring

Published 2:40 pm Saturday, March 20, 2010

On some opinion pages — the Albert Lea Tribune does it well for instance — a weekly thumbs up and thumbs down column is included. The idea is simple. The paper gives a thumbs up or a thumbs down as a reaction to various things that went on during the past week.

While the Austin Daily Herald doesn’t do a regular thumbs up or thumbs down feature — although one might be considered in the future — I thought I would do one for today’s column.

In addition, in honor of the first day of spring, I will only include all thumbs up today.

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So without further delay, let’s begin.

Thumbs up to:

1) The University of Minnesota mens basketball team

Yes, the Gophers lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but they got there by perseverance and made a deep run in the Big 10 tournament.

2) Governor Pawlenty’s final bonding bill

Of course, this would also be included as a thumbs down because of the several local projects that were line-item vetoed by the governor. But since there are no thumbs down in this column, Pawlenty’s bill gets a thumbs up because it includes a large chunk of flood funding, which may mean $1.875 million for flood mitigation projects in Austin.

3) The City of Austin and community leaders

The City of Austin and community leaders are making a late push to Google in hopes of landing the company’s super fast broadband network. Only select cities will be offered the opportunity.

4) The Southland School District

Bracing for declining enrollment and cuts in state funding, Southland officials recently looked outside of the box to research the possibility of going to a four-day school week. The district’s research included community meetings, and local residents basically said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to the idea. The school district listened and are no longer pursuing the idea. These recent events are a sign of a solid school board. Brainstorm ideas, figure out if they’ll work, inform the community and then make a good decision.

5) The town of Adams

Local residents of Adams are in the middle of an effort to raise $10,000 for the Kids Against Hunger program. The funds would supply $40,000 meals to the earthquake-stricken country of Haiti.

6) Ellis Middle’s School’s Science Olympiad teams

The Ellis Middle Schools Science Olympiad teams recently placed third and 16th at the state competition held March 6.

7) Southland barrel racer Shelby Janssen

The Southland High School senior has landed a rodeo scholarship at Vernon College in Wichita Falls, Texas.

8) Kalle Akkerman

The local 17-year-old recently won the Minnesota Music Teachers Association Young Artist Organ Competition in St. Cloud.

9) The Austin Human Rights Commission, the Advocates for the Human Rights and APEX Austin

These groups sponsored a worthwhile workshop this past week at Riverland Community college entitled ‘Immigration 101.’ The event provided good information about a topic that’s hotly-debated in Austin.

10) The finalists for Austin High Schools Artist of the Year

They include: Edgar Garcia, Estrella Gutierrez, Beth Hamilton, Whitney Heiny, Rene Lazaro, Ryan Rasell, Liz Richardson, Breanna Stegenga and Nicole Schabert.

The nine students were selected from a field of 16 senior applicants who displayed their portfolios in Christgau Hall. The portfolios were judged on the students’ breadth of work, choice of style and theme, presentation, written expression, artistic voice and leadership abilities.

Maybe next week I’ll have an all thumbs down column. But if the weather stays nice, maybe I’ll save that one for the start of next winter.