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The public had much to say to BEA School Board

Citizens question cancellation of veterans ceremony during homecoming

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Oct 10, 2021

Three veterans spoke at the Blue Earth Area School Board meeting on Monday, Oct. 4. Above is Lynn Johnson of the Veteran Resource Center and Academy. Veteran Resource Center and Academy director Mary Mellen also spoke at the meeting, along with Randy Olsen of Winnebago.

The Blue Earth Area School Board had a number of guests at their meeting last Monday night, Oct. 4.

Several citizens spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, expressing their concerns that a salute to veterans ceremony planned for the BEA homecoming game had been cancelled.

Several were connected to local American Legion Posts as well as the Veteran Resource Center and Academy located in the former school building in Winnebago.

Among those who spoke at the meeting was Mary Mellen, the director of the Veteran Resource Center and Academy.

“We are here because we understood veterans were going to be honored at a football game,” she said. “And were not honored.”

Randy Olsen, of Winnebago, then explained how he had been setting up a pre-game ceremony to honor veterans, and the veterans of fire departments, emergency personnel and law enforcement before the BEA Homecoming football game on Friday, Sept. 24.

“We were going to have all nine Legions in the county invited to attend,” Olsen said. “Especially the ones in the BEA District. We had a giant flag to walk across the field and the cheerleaders were going to be part of that. There would also be a flyover with smoke from the planes.”

The program would have started at 6:20 p.m., he added, and be over by the time the game started at 7 p.m.

Lynn Johnson, also with the Veteran Resource Center and Academy, spoke, saying he had been appalled at what had happened.

“I’m upset that Randy was not allowed to do this,” Johnson said. “And, I would like to know why Randy was not allowed to do this.”

While the School Board does not have to respond to public comment, board chair Susie Rosenau invited a response.

Superintendent Mandy Fletcher said the program was cancelled as it was felt it should be done at another time, and not during all the homecoming activities.

“Our students have gone through a lot in the last 18 months, so we wanted this night to be special to them,” Fletcher said. “They deserve a regular homecoming.”

She added that they are making plans already to hold a celebration of veterans around the Sept. 11 date next year.

At the end of the meeting, Johnson went around the room and thanked all the board members and the superintendent for their support of veterans, and gave a fist-bump handshake to each one.