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Signs, signs, everywhere are signs — except for here

By Staff | Sep 12, 2009

Despite the old 1960s song to the contrary – which says there are too many signs in the world – signs are important.

They are informative, helping guide us, telling us where to go and where not to go.

Highways are full of signs. Without them, drivers wouldn’t know which way to go. Or what the laws are.

Businesses use signs to show us who they are and what they sell.

Without signs to inform us, we might not be able to identify many things as we travel about.

Town signs are important to help passing motorists know just exactly where they are.

You might be guessing where this column is going, and you are right.

While most of the towns in Faribault County have signs identifying them as motorists approach, Blue Earth does not.

Winnebago has three nice signs as one comes into town on Highway 169 from the north or south, or from the east on Highway 109.

But on the same highway in Blue Earth, only the Minnesota Department of Transportation green highway sign tells the passing drivers where they are.

Sure, there is a Blue Earth city sign under some trees off to the right, near the Green Giant statue. Yes, it is a very attractive sign. But it is small and hard to see unless you are stopped at the traffic light and glance to the right.

The lack of a Blue Earth sign is something I noticed exactly two years ago on my very first trip to this fair city. It surprised me then, and it concerns me now.

Of course, a ‘Welcome to Blue Earth’ sign isn’t the most important – or critical – issue around. However, it is something everyone sees, and is important for a local identity.

Actually, signs which say ‘welcome’ are not as common anymore. Most community signs just identify the city, and perhaps the slogan.

St. Charles has a nice, large sign which states the name of the city, and their slogan – “Gateway to Whitewater.”

Not only that, they have the same nice, large sign on every entrance into the city.

Blue Earth should have four. Two on north and south Highway 169, and two on the east and west entrances on County 16. Perhaps a fifth one on County Road 6.

Perhaps not all of them need to be the same size, but some type of sign sure needs to be at the five spots.

Coming in from the east is a great example of a beautiful sign. It is the new one for Steinberg Park. But as far as one designating the name of the town one is entering, good luck finding one.

The argument could be made that highway signs, and the one city sign, are enough. Personally, I don’t think it is.

Of course, the cost of signs becomes an issue, as well as who – or what entity – will be responsible for funding that cost. Should it be the city? Or the chamber of commerce? Local donations?

Perhaps it will take all three. Or more.

My suggestion is that this project become a topic of conversation at various local organizations. Also that it become a goal for construction during the Highway 169 rebuilding in 2013.

As long as the highway is getting a whole new facelift, it seems as though it would be an ideal time to add a pair of Blue Earth signs. And if you are going to do two, why not make it four right away.

It could take a while to decide what the signs should look like. What sort of material they should be constructed out of. The exact location for each one.

And, of course, where the money is going to come from.

It will take thousands of dollars, we are sure, to pay for the signs. Thousands for each one, perhaps.

In these economic times, when cities and community groups are struggling to fund current obligations, adding another expense may not seem too bright.

However, starting now on a four year plan would help cushion the blow.

It just seems as though a nice town like Blue Earth should have a sign identifying it as a great place to stop in, visit, or stay a while.

Just a thought.