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Thursday, August 17, 2017 9:05 AM
We are emphasizing the importance of your community newspaper by subtraction — a front page devoid of news — this week as part of a statewide “whiteout” campaign in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, of which we are members. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder of all that you would lose if your local newspaper ceased to exist.
  • An anonymous person commenting on our website described me as a “rich” newspaper owner who ignored a story to protect my “media empire.” I don’t respond to anonymous opinions and will only say the person was wrong since the incident in question did make our newspaper. However, what was amusing about the comment — and worth exploring — is the supposed “media empire” I have created with my small weekly newspapers.
  • The Minnesota Newspaper Association “whiteout campaign” a month ago in which more than 200 newspapers across the state intentionally left their front pages devoid of news made quite an impact. Nearly 1 million newspaper copies in Minnesota had front pages that were mostly white except for a brief explanation of the reason for the campaign.
  • The muted light during the eclipse of the sun about a week ago was still bright enough to shine on the spiraling prices at the gas pumps. This wasn’t the eclipse that awed millions when the moon’s shadow covered the sun, lowering the level of light in Minnesota during the early afternoon on Aug. 21. Instead, this was about two weeks later when the sunshine was muted by wildfire smoke drifting in from southwest Canada and the Pacific Northwest. The smoke, which came in several waves, muted the direct sunlight, created some gorgeous sunsets, but also triggering air quality alerts in parts of Minnesota.

  • Mayberry was a fictional community made famous by “The Andy Griffith Show” in the 1960s. Although it represented an idealized version of rural life, it resonated with many people and had some legitimacy as a portrayal of a real community. Life has changed drastically in the ensuing 50 years, so much so that people would just laugh if anyone pretended Mayberry depicted a basis for reality today.

  • Ten years ago the Rushford area received torrential rain, estimated to be up to 17 inches in spots, that flooded the community. The average rainfall for an entire year in our area is 34 inches.

    The remnant of Hurricane Harvey dumped as much as three feet of rain on southeastern Texas last weekend with 15 to 20 inches more expected as of Monday. Houston is more tropical than Rushford, but still averages just a third more inches of rain per year, meaning the expected total rainfall from this storm will approach the 50 inches of rain Houston gets in an entire year on average. That would break the Texas state rainfall record and make it one of the most extreme rain events in U.S. history.

  • The death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, sparked a national dialogue on race, free speech and violence in the weeks following the white supremacist rally. Much of the debate ending up focusing on President Donald Trump’s varying comments on the tragedy.
  • In Minnesota, we understand the importance of a free press. It’s hard to forget in our state – Minnesotans are among the most engaged citizens in the country. Last year we again ranked first in the nation in voter turnout. Minnesotans volunteer at the second highest rate in the country. And we usually look to our local newspapers as the first stop for the information we need.
  • We are emphasizing the importance of your community newspaper by subtraction — a front page devoid of news — this week as part of a statewide “whiteout” campaign in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, of which we are members. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder of all that you would lose if your local newspaper ceased to exist.
  • One of the childhood books I most remember is “The Little Engine That Could.” I know I read many books as a child, including Dr. Seuss and even the “Dick and Jane” books in school. However the “Little Engine” book just stands above the rest.
  • No lakes, but water quality even more important to Bluff Country
    We may not have the bodies of water that make up the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but water is still important in our region of Minnesota, which features bluffs, springs, caves and many streams. These unique geographic features, including sinkholes and disappearing rivers, components of karst geology, also create challenges to keep our water clean.

  • Yesterday the sun was shining in Preston where a small group of people gathered under a white canopy to discuss healthcare, including a broader concept, which includes clean water, protecting the environment and lifestyle. The people were invited there by Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger from the Minnesota Department of Health. Also in attendance were Bobby Vickermann, county coordinator, and other local officials.
  • We may not have the bodies of water that make up the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but water is still important in our region of Minnesota, which features bluffs, springs, caves and many streams. These unique geographic features, including sinkholes and disappearing rivers, components of karst geology, also create challenges to keep our water clean.
  • My wife and I experienced a good example of a random act of kindness and paying it forward when we volunteered at Historic Forestville for the old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration earlier this month. We each manned a stand for a few hours on the grounds near the field for old-time baseball. One stand had popcorn and peanuts and another had rock candy.
  • Two years ago, I ended my column about the transition of this newspaper to new ownership with this thought: “I may have plans now, but I’ve learned over the years that nothing in life is predictable.”

    That is one of the few times I really knew what I was writing about. Today, I’m announcing that I’m back as sole owner of the Bluff Country Newspaper Group. Due to various reasons, things just didn’t work out and the transition to gradually transfer ownership reversed course a while ago. 

  • Who needs Fitbit when natural  step motivator is by your side?
    I’ve found something that motivates me more than a Fitbit to get my recommended steps in each day. It’s all natural, provides forceful reminders to get moving and even adds emotional benefits to daily walks.

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