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Some good news locally despite tough times across the state

By Staff | Feb 14, 2010

Maybe things are not as bad out here in Faribault County as in other parts of the state.

Or, perhaps it just seems that way, because of the many activities going on here.

During a one-on-one interview with gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton last week, he told of visiting small towns across the state and had a few stories of tough times. Most of it had to do with the state budget woes and the governor’s unallotments of local government aid.

That has happened in Faribault County and has been well documented in the pages of the Register.

The county, the schools and the three largest cities in the county have all had LGA aid cut, and have had to make some serious adjustments to their own budgets.

But they did it.

Luckily, they had some reserves built up, unlike the state, and were able to weather some of the storm using those reserves.

The Blue Earth Area Schools, for instance, is dipping into their reserves to the tune of a half million dollars this year. But they have approximately $4 million in reserves. That fund will also help them weather through the current ‘delayed payments’ from the state.

The state has decided to delay their March and April payments to schools until May. For Blue Earth Area that totals $1.1 million they will have to live without, until May.

Some school districts are being forced to borrow funds to keep operating until the delayed funds from the state show up.

The state cuts have hurt, no doubt about it. But they were manageable. It is the ones still to come that could cause some real pain.

Beyond the state cuts, and local governments having to cut back, there seems to be a slight resurgence in the local economic outlook.

Can you feel it?

The news that Singleteary Foods, and its 250 jobs, is coming to Wells is huge. That it means a closed processing plant right in the center of town is being refurbished and reopened is welcome news not only to Wells but the whole area.

The completed total restoration of the Wells Depot and its soon to be new use as a museum is also a big deal.

Winnebago getting both a new grocery store and a convenience store built recently also shows that there is life in the small towns in this area.

Not to mention a multi-million dollar Adolescent Treatment Center being built by UHD in Winnebago.

Blue Earth is getting a new multi-million dollar medical clinic constructed by UHD, as well. In a town the size of Blue Earth, in these economic times, this is an incredible investment.

How many other small towns in Minnesota have projects like these going on? Not very many, I’d wager.

I wanted to tell Mark Dayton about some of these activities, but I only had a half hour with him. He was on a pretty tight schedule, and had a lot of stops to make – in order to visit all 87 Minnesota counties in 87 days.

Hopefully, someone in Faribault County told him about the ‘good stuff’ going on here. From what he told me, he has heard a lot about the ‘bad stuff’ from folks around the state.

Sure, times are tough. Some people are out of work. Some small businesses are not doing well. Families are having to cut back.

When people earn fewer dollars, and spend less, there are fewer tax dollars coming in to the state coffers. That causes ‘budget shortfalls’ for the state.

Minnesota has a budget problem, and somebody better figure out what to do about it pretty darn soon. And that someone is the legislature and the new governor, whoever he or she may be.

Maybe they should take a clue from local government entities, who seem to so far be weathering the state’s financial storm.

In the meantime, we will try not to forget that there are some pretty impressive things going on in our area communities.

And, we plan on reporting on them as much as we can.