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Our opinion: Continued support of Shooting Star welcome

The weather is getting warmer and the area finally looks like it’s getting past the threat of snow — seems like a perfect time to voice support for extending the Shooting Star Trail to the Iowa border.

Only just recently, the Shooting Star Trail connected fully LeRoy (trailhead) to Austin, but over the years there has been talk on how to continue reaching out to other possible partners in trail riding.

There’s been discussion on connecting the Shooting Star with Blazing Star Trail in Albert Lea and Freeborn County and recently serious steps have been made in linking the Shooting Star with the Wapsi-Great Western Line at the Minnesota-Iowa border.

Broadly speaking, we support any of these linkings for obvious reasons — tourism and financial, two things that are interlinked.

A quality bike trail, such as the Shooting Star Trail, that connects with important destinations along the way brings people to the area and can help stimulate local economies.

The financial stimulation can take on different looks, including shopping opportunities and dining opportunities.

In March, the Mower County Board of Commissioners endorsed the efforts of Public Works Director Mike Hanson in requesting between $1.4 and $1.5 million in bonding money for the proposed four-mile Minnesota-Iowa hook-up between Taopi and the border. Also in March, Rep. Patricia Mueller introduced a capital investment bill that would appropriate money for that same stretch. That bill is currently in the Committee on Capital Investment.

These same types of moves are mirrored from work in 2019, when the board voted to approve the completion of the Shooting Star Trail leading into Austin and give us confidence that in the relatively near future we could see work heading south to the border.

We are bolstered by this kind of cooperation at the local and state level that reinforces the support for further recreation opportunities here in southeast Minnesota and again, while we are confident this work continues, it’s worth voicing continued support for this effort.

It’s just another gem in the treasure chest that is Mower County, Minnesota.