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Round and round we go, again

April 9, 2011
Chuck Hunt
In answer to your unasked question, yes, I did hear a comment or two about the annual Register April Fools Day story.

It chronicled a ficticious plan to change the names of the Blue Earth Area and USC schools to Faribault County West and East.

A few folks, including one former editor of this publication, were upset about the story.

The editor, who covered some of the bitter and emotional consolidation meetings back in the day, even wrote a letter to the editor.

He, like several others, didn’t read the story all the way to the final paragraph which revealed the fact that it was just an April Fools joke.

Some of our readers wondered if last week’s column about Ellen Katzke and her illegal lemon tree was an attempt to sneak in another April Fools story.

It wasn’t, of course. The bizarre part of that story is that it is all too true.

I did have a second April Fools Day story in the works, but when push came to shove, the school story won out for the honor.

The runner-up story dealt with a plan to move the Green Giant statue in Blue Earth from its present location to the center of one of the new roundabouts proposed for Highway 169.

In the story, the chamber is said to be planning a fundraiser to come up with the $18,000 needed to accomplish the move. The plan, the fundraiser and the cost were all made up, of course.

The story has a basis for some fact (which always helps in writing April Fools Day stories).

A city walkability expert who visited Blue Earth more than a year ago suggested this very idea when he was told about the roundabouts.

The Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce took note of the idea, but was not seriously pursuing the plan.

However, a special ad-hoc sub-committee of the City of Blue Earth was looking at a modification of the idea.

The committee is looking at the esthetics of the Highway 169 and downtown Main Street renovation plans. Those plans include sidewalks, plantings and the roundabouts.

One idea they were actually considering was putting a welcome to Blue Earth sign in the north and south roundabouts – complete with a statue of – no, not the Green Giant, but the Sprout.

In a meeting with an official from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the committee had those plans shot down in flames.

MnDOT says absolutely no signs or funky green Sprout statues will be allowed in the roundabouts.

This came as a surprise to the committee members, for a couple of reasons.

First, a different MnDOT representative had been receptive to the idea of both the sign and a possible decorative image. Like a 5-foot Sprout incorporated with a sign of friendly greeting.

Second, the very first computer generated engineer’s drawing of the proposed roundabout for Blue Earth had – you guessed it, a Welcome to Blue Earth sign as part of the design.

It appeared to be a granite block, about 4-feet tall and 15-feet long, with the Blue Earth name and logo carved on it.

Very nice.

So, if MnDOT’s own drawing has a sign in the roundabout, one would naturally assume it could be done, right?

Wrong.

It seems MnDOT once thought a sign would be alright, but has since decided the roundabouts need to be kept clear of any possible traffic hazard.

Sure don’t want some motorist tooling along and smacking into a granite block or a green Fiberglas little statue.

So, the April Fools Day story of a really big statue being placed in a roundabout seemed, well, not such a funny thing anymore.

At least, it wouldn’t have been seen as humorous in the MnDOT office in Mankato.

I’m sure there would have been several official letters in response to that story.

Especially if the MnDOT people also didn’t read it to the very end.
 
 

 

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