Readers’ Views

Giving people tools

To the Editor:

As representatives of local public health in Faribault, Martin and Watonwan counties and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), we are responding to the editorial “Exercise guidelines: More needless meddling” that appeared in the Nov. 15 Sentinel. We are in full support of the recent update to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, as it provides important information regarding the health benefits of exercise.

These guidelines provide science-based guidance to help people of all ages improve their health. The federal government has been analyzing health and fitness data since the 1940s, when the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports was established. Its goal was to promote, encourage and motivate Americans of all ages to become physically active.

We feel strongly that providing information like the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and education empowers individuals to make positive changes in their lives. In fact, during our latest Community Health Needs Assessment, opportunities to be physically active was identified as a top five priority concerning community members.

While personal choice is one aspect to health, communities also can play a role in creating health. Good health doesn’t start in the doctor’s office. It starts where we live, work, learn and play. That’s where SHIP comes in. SHIP is helping communities across Minnesota expand opportunities for health eating, active living and commercial tobacco-free living. SHIP works in schools, workplaces, health care and child care.

If we want to reduce health care costs, investments in prevention are needed. Treating chronic disease like Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease costs money, and these diseases are largely preventable. Government absolutely has a role in providing evidence-based research to support prevention efforts.

Healthier communities create opportunities for our residents to live longer, healthier lives. By giving people some tools they can use on their own, plus supporting prevention efforts like SHIP, we can reduce the burden that chronic disease has on our state and, with our local partners, create better health together.

Caroline North,

FMW SHIP coordinator,

and Chera Sevcik,

CHS manager Human Services

of Faribault & Martin County,

on behalf of the Faribault, Martin & Watonwan Counties Statewide Health Improvement Partnership Community Leadership Team

Thanks to community

To the Editor:

I would like to extend a special thank you to the Fairmont community for its support of the blood drive held last week. The American Red Cross has had a severe blood shortage. Thanks to the Fairmont donors who listened to our call for help, and thanks to the Sentinel and Photo Press for their help in communicating the details of the blood drive.

Listed below are the units of blood collected. In total, 213 units were collected on the goal of 207.

o Tuesday, Dec. 4 — 82 units collected

o Wednesday, Dec. 5 — 96 units collected

o Thursday, Dec. 6 — 35 units collected

There were five first-time donors.

A special thank you to all the volunteers working in the canteen and greeter areas and to:

o Holiday Inn/Green Mill for the fine facilities and great staff.

o John McDonald and Kyle Redenius with Sentence to Serve troops.

The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

Cathy Stapel,

account manager

American Red Cross

St. Paul

Focus on what’s best

To the Editor:

Jack Hansen’s letter of Dec. 11 claims that Republicans created the current Minnesota state budget surplus. He says Gov. Dayton would surely have spent all that money if it hadn’t been for the Republicans holding him back. Maybe so. But it could also be argued that the Gov. Dayton prevented the Republicans from cutting taxes for the past eight years — and so the surplus wouldn’t exist without his efforts for the Democratic side.

Rather than attribute the surplus to either party, most would agree that it’s Minnesota’s strong economy since the Great Recession that has created the current surplus. The key is what to do with it now. Those of us who have lived through several economic booms and busts know the prudent thing to do during good times is to pay off debts and save money for the inevitable down times to come.

According to the office of Minnesota Management and Budget, the state had total outstanding obligations (debt) of $10.4 billion as of February 2017. A $1.5 billion budget surplus doesn’t amount to much when we have seven times that amount in debt.

We also know that when business incomes start to drop, and unemployment starts to rise, state tax revenue will fall. The state won’t have enough to fund its current level of services, and Minnesotans will demand some state tax relief to keep their household budgets afloat.

Minnesotans can come together now with the understanding that both parties will want something when the next recession hits. If we put money aside and pay down the state debt, the Democrats’ aversion to future budget cuts and the Republicans’ aversion to future tax increases can both be avoided. I suggest that Democrats and Republicans think past the current two-year budget. Instead of questionable claims of credit or blame, the new governor and Legislature ought to focus on what’s best for Minnesotans in the long term.

Chris Mau

Oakdale

I fully support project

To the Editor:

I write to express support for the proposed community center project currently under discussion in Fairmont.

I had the opportunity to attend the forum last week and obtain additional information regarding what’s currently known about the proposed community center. Admittedly, I went to the forum already in support of the project, having followed the details as they emerged relatively closely. Nevertheless, I listened carefully, both to the committee presenting facts on the project as they currently stand as well as those expressing support or opposition to the project. What a wonderful experience in civic engagement, and I appreciate the committee and the city for holding this event, as well as fellow concerned citizens who took time to attend and become more informed. The fact that our local elected officials also took the opportunity to spend nearly three hours at the forum shows me they are not taking their decision on this matter lightly, or without due consideration to the issues and concerns at play.

Surely some existing businesses have legitimate concerns regarding this proposed project, some of which were expressed at the forum. I believe, however, that there are opportunities for those with concerns to collaborate with the committee and the city to develop creative solutions in which private business and a public community center can work together in harmony to bolster the long-term success of both. I encourage those with concerns to take some time to think not how a community center might harm their business, but how they might leverage the existence of such a community center for their own benefit and the benefit of the community as a whole.

After taking time to reflect on the forum, my support for this project has been further solidified. I am a so-called “young professional” that often gets brought up in discussions on the future and longevity of the city of Fairmont. A Truman native, I returned to Martin County and settled in Fairmont in 2015 after moving away for higher education. I have returned with that education to a career in a community that I hope to be a citizen of for the rest of my life. But my story is the exception, not the rule.

In my discussions with various players in the business community, a common theme shines through — workforce. This problem is not unique to Fairmont, but is a problem nonetheless. The statistics are clear: Fairmont has an aging and shrinking population. The youthful new talent needed to ensure our businesses continue to thrive is not being replaced as rapidly as it is depleting. Make no mistake, we have a crisis on our hands.

I believe Fairmont is at a watershed moment, and the community center is merely the issue that brings the matter to the forefront. We can choose to rest easy, take the simple way, and leave things as they are, resigned to the fact that the future will be whatever the future is. Alternatively, we can embrace the changing times we live in and choose to address the problems head-on. I don’t know what kind of impact a community center will have on the long-term prospects for Fairmont — nobody can say for certain — but I, for one, am willing to try something rather than nothing.

As I watched George W. Bush deliver a eulogy recently for his father, I couldn’t help but think of my own. A particularly poignant statement stuck out in that eulogy where he recalled a portion of H.W.’s inaugural address: “We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it.” My father was a fiscally conservative man, but first and foremost he was a community man, and he taught me to be the same. That is why I believe this community, its children, parents, seniors, everyone, deserves our very best in developing creative solutions to the problems before us so that we can leave our homes, our neighborhoods, and our town better than we found them.

The future of Fairmont depends on all of us. Regardless of whether the community center gets built, it is on all of us, together, to develop solutions that move Fairmont forward. A community center is just one potential idea, but it is one that has my full support.

Derrick Greiner

Fairmont

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