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Archived Story

Editorial: Many thanks to go around

Published 9:37am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Congratulations to the Shell Rock River Watershed District for being persistent in its effort to acquire state funding for the dredging of Fountain Lake. Six years of asking finally paid off this year. State funds will pay for $7.5 million of the $15 million cost. The local-option sales tax will pick up the rest of the tab.

The dredge purchased by the Shell Rock River Watershed District as it appeared in 2012.
The dredge purchased by the Shell Rock River Watershed District as it appeared in 2012.

Kudos to state Sen. Dan Sparks and state Rep. Shannon Savick for doing the necessary politicking to bring home the critical funding for the project. It was remarkable to see these past years how swiftly the state would act when Rochester, Mankato, Duluth or the Twin Cities wanted state funds for projects and how slow it would act when Albert Lea wanted a minor request in comparison of dollars. It was good that Savick and Sparks let legislators know how critical this project is and how they could not put it off any longer.

It probably didn’t hurt to remind the DFL leaders how key the Albert Lea area is for maintaining their majority in the House of Representatives.

We especially want to note how unflagging and dogged the work by Savick was on Albert Lea’s behalf. She doesn’t care about party lines like many legislators do. She is there to push for what she feels is important. That’s respectable.

Local leaders deserve credit, too. They made many trips to St. Paul as well as hosted lawmakers here in Albert Lea. Some of the prominent players were Shell Rock River Watershed District Administrator Brett Behnke (and the entire staff and board of the district), Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen, Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams, Lakes Foundation of Albert Lea President Laura Lunde, Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr, Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Executive Director Susie Petersen, Albert Lea City Councilor Larry Anderson (and his friends with the Fountain Lake Sportsman’s Club), Albert Lea lawyer Matt Benda and many others — there are probably 30 people who deserve to be on this list, like Bill Howe, Larry Baker and on and on.

The end result: Fountain Lake is going to be dredged. Wow! This is another step in the right direction for our fine community. The goal is to start dredging in 2015, but the permitting process can be a hurdle.

Celebrate, people of Albert Lea. Our city’s cherished jewel is going to polished.