Monthly Archives

August 2010

Roads, Rail, and the River

By | Economy, Le Sueur County, Scott County, Transportation | No Comments

This past Thursday, after a couple of hours greeting State Fair visitors from the Minnesota Senate booth, I headed south to Savage to step aboard a barge for a trip down the Minnesota and Mississippi River towards St. Paul.  The trip was sponsored by the Highway 169 Corridor Coalition as over 100 members made the 3 hour trip. We often think of the Hwy 169 corridor as roads and rail, but we cannot overlook the importance of the river in making this area a truly inter modal transportation network.

The 3 R’s (road, river, and rail) along Hwy 169 are economically vital for funneling freight into the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Region from the Mankato area and southern Minnesota. This area produces almost half of Minnesota’s corn, soybeans and ethanol, which makes Minnesota third in the nation for production among all states. Other major commodities moving along this corridor include aggregates, clay and sand, hogs, manufactured goods and food products.  The corridor connects major producers of ethanol, biodiesel and their byproducts to markets and refiners along ‘ethanol alley,’ the southwest freight corridor formed by Highway 60 and the Union Pacific Railroad.

The Ports of Savage are important for grain exports via the Minnesota and Mississippi River systems, guaranteeing low-cost, competitive transportation to regional and world markets for Minnesota farmers. The corridor is expected to play a future role in expanding access from western Minnesota agricultural producers to the Ports of Savage via routes capable of bypassing Metro congestion.  This is good news for the communities in my district along the corridor as we work to put together a long range plan of maximizing economic development for the area.

Dog Days of August

By | Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20 | No Comments

Door knocking in August.  A few more miles on the car….and a few more miles on the feet.  Hot and sweaty…plenty mosquitoes.  Another night away from the family.  Despite these and a few other inconveniences, I actually enjoy door knocking.  It is a great opportunity to meet my constituents.

They come in all shapes and sizes.  Answering the door, “Agnes” blushed and apologized because of the curlers in her hair.  “Doreen,” in her pajamas, is ready to turn in for the night.  After all, it’s 8:15 pm.  There are a lot of dog owners…and even more dogs, barking and clawing at the chance to meet the candidate, nervously standing on the stoop separated only by the flimsy screen door.  Nurses, teachers, grandfathers, single moms, plumbers, accountants, business owners, veterans, lawyers, farmers, and dads, and the rest of you.   Thank you for politely listening and taking my literature. Thank you for sharing your issues and concerns.  Thanks for asking a few questions.  Thanks for the Twins update.  Thanks for offering me a drink of water. “Have a good evening!”

Campaigns are too long.  Too many dollars are raised and spent.  But nothing beats a little face time with the voters.  Over the next 80 some days, we will see you at the doorstep.

Gorman Lake

By | Environment, Le Sueur County | No Comments

Gorman Lake is on the 2010 Impaired Waters list.   Gorman Lake is part of the Cannon River watershed located in the southwest corner of Senate District 25.  A constituent from the area contacted me a few weeks ago to express concerns about the lake and what can be done about it.  I sat down with Beth Kallestad, executive director of the Cannon River Watershed Parnership to talk about Gorman Lake and other rivers, lakes, and streams in the area.

The Cannon River Watershed Partnership celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.  It’s a great organization with dedicated workers and volunteers. The organization’s goal is to make the watershed that spans six counties from Dakota to Rice to Steel counties, “drinkable, fishable, and swimmable for everyone.”  Gorman Lake experienced a manure spill in 2006 and the CRWP started monitoring the lake in 2007. The Minnesota Pollution Control agency and the DNR have also been studying the lake over the last several years, assessments being the first step, followed by a plan for implementation.  Funding is always an issue.   Clean Water Funds do not go directly to non-profits such as the CRWP.  The organization must rely on government entities such as the Soil and Water Conservation district boards to apply for funds to be distributed at the local level. The CRWP works to bring together these and other agencies to use grant money to monitor waterways and implement best management practices.

Ultimately, we all need to take an interest in protecting and improving the water quality and natural systems of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.  Passing the Legacy Amendment in 2008 showed that Minnesotan’s do have an interest in preserving our most precious resource, our water.  Gorman Lake is just one of those lakes. We should all be interested in its success or failure.