Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

Published 8:50 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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To the low voter turnout in this week’s primary election.

Primary elections typically have a lower turnout than the general election, but this week’s primary was particularly low.

According to the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office, a total of 3,057 ballots were cast on Tuesday out of 18,373 registered voters in the county, equating to about 16.64% turnout.

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In the 2020 presidential primary, 3,850 people voted, which equated to 21.56% voter turnout.

Statewide, nearly 885,000 voters turned out for the 2020 presidential primary in Minnesota, but this year, a little more than 585,000 voters hit the polls or voted absentee, according to the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

We hope turnout is much higher for remaining elections this year, including the Albert Lea referendum in April, the regular primary in August and the general election in November.

To another $1 million secured for Albert Lea’s wastewater treatment plant.

While there is still a long way to go, it was good to see that $1 million in federal funds were secured this week for the wastewater treatment plant in Albert Lea.

The funding has been requested by both U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, as well as U.S. Rep. Brad Finstad, and will go toward updating the infrastructure at the plant to support local food producers while maintaining standards for environmental protection.

The city is in the middle of trying to pursue additional support for the $80 million project, including $40 million in state bonding funds.

The plant, which was built in 1981 with federal support, has aging infrastructure, and the city is facing new regulations from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for phosphorus removal.

According to the city, the plant processes an average of 4 million gallons of wastewater per day, and under the new state limits, the city needs to remove 48 tons of phosphorus each year from what is discharged to the Shell Rock River. This ultimately flows into the Cedar River, the Iowa River and then the Mississippi River.

To wildfires in the last week.

If the wildfires reported in the last week are any indication of how the rest of the spring and summer are going to go, we’re in for a rough year.

Around noon Sunday, a wildfire ignited north of Waseca and ultimately burned an estimated 1,000 acres before it was extinguished. Numerous departments from around the area responded to battle the blaze.

We encourage people to take extra precaution in the weeks and months ahead and to always follow burning restrictions.