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Tying up some loose ends

By Staff | Feb 2, 2015

Its time to dust off the cobwebs, recharge the batteries, fire up the enthusiasm and learn a few new tricks.

In other words, this week Faribault County Register publisher Lori Nauman and I will be attending the annual Minnesota Newspaper Association convention.

As I have relayed in this column before, the newspaper convention is always interesting. Besides some excellent seminars and great speakers, you never know who you will bump into everyone from a U.S vice president, or senator, to former editors or reporters of the Faribault County Register.

And, yes, for those of you who might possibly be wondering, the Register staff has been informed that we have won six awards in the annual Better Newspaper Contest.

What those awards are exactly, we won’t know until later in the week. You will find out what we won in next week’s edition of the newspaper.

But, before I head out to the lights of the big city, I need to clear my desk of a few things that need to be recognized.

Economic Good News

The last few issues of the Register have contained some good news on the economic front in Faribault County.

A couple of weeks ago we broke the story that there are new owners of the former Elmore Academy building complex, and they plan to utilize the facility.

While their exact plans have yet to be revealed, as they are still in the preliminary stages, it sounds like it could be a great deal for the city of Elmore, employment opportunities for the area and a big impact on the economy in Faribault County.

I don’t want to jump the gun and get too excited until the final announcements are made, the enterprise opens, and people are working there, but it is hard to not think this a great thing for our area.

After all, it is so much better than the alternative of having the buildings sit empty for a few years and deteriorate.

This week’s front page story details the sale of the former Singleteary Foods processing plant to a newly formed subsidiary of a Twin Cities investment company.

They, too, have not announced any firm plans as to just what is going to happen to the facility how many it could employ, when it will open, things like that but it is still exciting to hear.

After the four-year financial disaster under the former owner, I will reserve judgment for a while until the plant is actually open and operating.

But, this certainly sounds like good news for Wells and the Faribault County area.

Economic Bad News

There was also some bad news reported in last week’s newspaper, when it came to economic activity.

The resignation of Linsey Preuss as Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC) executive director is causing a scramble on the economic development front.

With FCDC’s contracts with both the city of Blue Earth and the county, there are not many projects in the county that Pruess was not involved with.

I hope FCDC can quickly fill the gap left caused by her resignation so that there isn’t much of a pause in some of these plans.

Preuss started several big projects in her time at FCDC, taking a much more functional, active role in economic development than either of her two predecessors.

Faribault County’s loss is Fairmont’s gain and I wish Linsey well in her new job.

The same can be said for having Jeff Lang leaving United Hospital District.

Lang oversaw many changes and improvements at UHD during his tenure, from combining the clinic into the hospital and building a new facility, to working towards getting many quality physicians to come to Blue Earth.

And, let’s face it. With their large facility, budget and number of employees, UHD has a huge economic impact on this community.

Again, I wish Jeff well in his new venture in Michigan.

Farewell to a Nice Guy

The community lost another icon this past week, with the death of long-time school superintendent Ken Queensland.

If you read his obituary, you will get a sense of what he accomplished in his life. But, unless you actually knew Ken, you might not get the sense of just what a really great guy he was a real gentleman in every respect.

He truly cared about his community and deeply loved the Blue Earth Area schools and, I think, all of the students who attended Blue Earth and BEA over the years.

He still mentored kids, belonged to Kiwanis because their priority is children first, and loved to talk to many former students, smiling when he learned how successful they had been in their lives.

Let’s face it. Ken Queensland was the epitome of being a Mr. Nice Guy.

And who says nice guys finish last?

In my book, Ken finished first at the head of the class.