Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

Published 8:50 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

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To plans in the works to help high school students in Freeborn County attend Riverland Community College for free.

We are excited to hear about plans underway to develop the Freeborn County Community Promise Scholarship, which could essentially provide two years of free community college education to graduates of Albert Lea, Alden-Conger and Glenville-Emmons high schools.

This scholarship has the potential to not only open opportunities for students but also to be part of the answer to the ongoing workforce shortage. 

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The goal is for students to become introduced to local companies during their time at the community college and become aware of career opportunities at each. Some might even have learn-and-earn programs where students can start working as they finish their education. 

We hope the group of partners continues to hammer out the details on this plan, and in the meantime encourage people who are able to contribute to this cause to do so by reaching out to Janelle Koepke with Riverland at janelle.koepke@riverland.edu. 

To options being considered for a new mutli-user trail starting in Albert Lea and continuing to Hartland.

This week, residents, engineers, county and city staff, and staff with the Minnesota Department of Transportation had a series of meetings to begin exploring options for a new shared user trail from Albert Lea to Hartland.

The trail would be on the abandoned Union Pacific Railroad line that runs through the city of Albert Lea. Freeborn County purchased the about 12-mile stretch of abandoned line from Albert Lea to Hartland from the railroad company in 2014 with two federal and state grants totaling $1.1 million. The line was abandoned in 2011.

In April the Albert Lea City Council approved a joint powers agreement between the city and county for the development and maintenance of the portion of the trail that runs through the city — about 2.4 miles.  

While we recognize this week’s meetings were only the start of what could be to come, we thank those who took time out of their days to start planning for this project. 

This is another project that has potential to be a great benefit to Freeborn County.

To dry, dangerous conditions in all of southern Minnesota this week.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and local authorities this week implemented burning restrictions in Freeborn County and the surrounding areas with a high risk for fire danger present. The DNR would not issue permits for open burning of brush or yard waste in these counties until the burning restrictions were lifted. 

Authorities have stated the restrictions were in place because of a combination of dry fall vegetation, low humidity and wind. The conditions led to a handful of fires throughout Freeborn County this week. 

We are pleased to see the area receive some rain early Friday, and rain was in the forecast for Saturday as well. 

Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag lifted the burning ban Friday morning. 

We hope this much-needed precipitation will help alleviate the issue.