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July 26, 2006     Sentinel Tribune
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July 26, 2006

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE Wednesday, July 26, 2006 Page 4 BETWEEN By Tom Merchant Sentinel Tribune THE LINES They just don't get it You hear a lot of talk these days about rising ener- gy prices and alternative energy sources. The trouble is our government, mainly at the national level is giving us lots of lip service with little solutions. In my view there is a lot of promise in alternative energy sources, in particular ethanol and soy diesel. The sad thing is there is a lot of misinformation going about, I presume from the auto makers and oil companies. Case in point, there is a company that manufac- tures a flex fuel conversion kit that can be installed on your vehicle in about fifteen min- utes. It is being used very successfully in other coun- tries. However the folks in Detroit claim burning E-85 in your converted car will ruin your engine. That is com- pletely false! I suspect the reason they are saying it is because they want to sell you a new flex fuel vehicle. I have been burning a blend of E-85 in my regular Buick Park Avenue for over a year now with no problems what so ever. Yes my fuel mileage dropped about 1 mile per gallon, but that is insignificant when you save 40 to 50 cents a gallon. The only problem I have is, why is there so much vari- ance in Ethanol pricing throughout the state? I have seen, in the same time peri- od, E-85 at one station selling for $2.19 per gal. and at another station $2.49. My suspicion is the distributors are engaging in a little price gouging. I think these gov- ernment investigations are looking at the wrong peo- ple. It's probably not at the local level or the manufac- turing level, but somewhere in between. You know "The Middle. Man". At any rate I will continue to burn as much E-85 as I can and I will also see about converting my vehicle to run as a flex fuel vehicle. Found Kitty- The past couple of days there has been a small young tom cat hanging around our yard, it is white with gray tabby markings, and is quite friendly. Anyone missing one or would like to give it a nice home p ease give me a call at 274-6558. Have a great week! It is Time for us to Catch Up Here's the story. Earlier this month Canadian officials announced anoth- er case of Mad Cow Disease in their country, the country's sixth native- born case of the disease since 2003. They also stated it was an older cow, born before the 1997 ban on the use of cattle protein in cattle feed. Following the announcement, guess what It did not make the front page of any big city newspaper; it did not make it on network television news; it did not send cattle futures markets at the Mercantile Exchange into a tailspin About the only area it received attention was agricultural media. So finally, my wish expressed sev- eral times on Samuelson Sez over theyears, that this be treated as a non-story, is finally being granted. There are so many other disease, weather and insect problems that deserve far more attention than the announcement of a case of Mad Cow Disease: The Department of Agriculture said, and I quote, "Based on our confidence of the food safety meas- ures in place in Canada and previ- ous audits of the system, we have determined that it is not necessary to send any U.S. experts to participate in this investigation at this time, and we do not expect the latest case would cause any disruption in our trade in beef or beef products in Canada." Canada, incidentally, opened it's border earlier this month to all U.S. cattle. The United States accepts imports of younger cattle and beef, from cattle 30 months or younger. But finally, it is not a major story and it does not have major impact on the industry. But to me it does point out the need for a National Animal I.D. pro- gram in this country That proposal continues to generate controversy as I learned in some of the "hate mail",really nasty mail, I received a few months ago when I did a Samuelson Sez urging a National Livestock I.D. program. As you look at livestock producing countries of the world, there are real- ly only three major countries that do not have a national livestock I.D. program. Those countries are Brazil, South Africa and, of course, the United States. All themajor beef-exporting coun- tries competing with us in the world market have had a National Livestock I.D. program in place for several years It is time for us to catch up and not be left at a compet- itive disadvantage in the world mar- ket. My thoughts on Samuelson Sez. Letter Policy "We welcome your participation, whether in letters or commentary. If possible, please make your sub- mission by e-mail to sentrib@ncp- Conventional mail address is Sentinel Tribune, P.O. Box 98, Westbrook, MN 56183. Our Fax number is 507-274-6137. We require submissions be original in our mar- ket area (no form letters please). All must include writers name, address, and day time telephone number Letters should be brief, up to 250 words, other submissions should be no longer than 500 words. Original items can not be returned unless the writer would pick them up at the office or send self addressed stamped envelope. No items will be kept longer than 30 days We reserve the right to refuse publica- tion of any submitted letters or sto- ries." ~J2006 Rochester Post-Bulletin ( 00 - .-,~.~.o ; . m m =Stories from the Batt Cave" Hot enough for you? The weather guy reports people melting in the streets. High temperatures for the day fall just short of the boiling point. Hot weather hits like a test I had- n't studied for. Each year the Dog Star (Sirius) appears and the heat gets serious. One of the joys of getting older is the obligation to torment younger people by telling them how much worse the weather was when I was their age. My Grandma used to tell me that she knew it was going to be hot (cold, rainy, snowy, dry, Windy, or fair) because she could feel it in her bones. Mark Twain should have said (but didn't), "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does any- thing about it." I do nothifig about the weather except ask inane questions of others like, "Hot devour all of the ice cream in the house. I'd rest in a tire swing under the big maple tree. I'd sit in the cow tank until Dad told me that I was scaring the cows so much they weren't giving any milk. I'd go down to the creek (the LeSueur River). We called it "the crick." It wasn't much help during the Dog Days of summer as the water moved slowly, sometimes carrying a smell that offended the nose and discouraged skinny-dip-- ping. I'd whine to go to town, just so I could hang out in the supermarket I considered running through a car wash. It was difficult to find the appro- priate words to describe those hot, humid, bygone days. Sweltering, muggy, humid, dripping, uncom- fortable, and steaming were adjec- enough for you?" tives often applied During my bai'bT0d(years, ther t "How much hotter can it .get?" weren't many places to hide' fi;om became subject of conversation. the heat Air conditioning was There are magic words Every merely a rumor. The basement was cooler, but it was dark and the best places were occupied by spiders. It would get so hot that I didn't have to be reminded by my father to turn off a light. Any heat-produc- ing source was extinguished as quickly as possible There were days when the heat was so intense that when someone asked me if it was hot enough for me, it caused me actual physical pain. I'd drink iced tea, lemonade, and various colors of KooI-Aid, all with mini-icebergs floating in the glass- es. I'd provide dentists with work by chewing on the ice cubes. I'd family has them. Often they are a key to a great family story or joke. My mother had one./t was "sul- try." On those hot, humid days, my mother would say, "It's sultry. It's going to be hard sleeping tonight " Hard? It was impossible. Sleeping in my bedroom on such a night was like trying to sleep in a kiln. I would lie spread-eagled on my bed, with sweat pouring out of every pore of my body. I'd toss and turn. Then I'd turn and toss. I'd spin my pillow in the hopes of finding the cold side. Sleep is impossible unless my head rests on the cold side of a pillow. My mother, bless her heart, would come upstairs to my room. She placed a large dishpan filled with ice on my bedside stand Then she would plug in an electric fan and allow it to blow across the dishpan The cold air coming off the melting ice would be pushed in my direction by the winds of the fan like a mini-cold front. If I imagined I was on an iceberg floating in the Arctic Ocean, it felt like air condi- tioning. After the ice had turned to warm water, the fan would hum the night away moving hot air from one place to another If it became even hotter, even more sweltering, even more sultry, my mother would wet the sheets on my bed. Now I was perfectly capa- ble of doing that all on my own, but my mother did it for me. It remains my main goal in life --to be half as nice a person as my mother was. In those tifling day.s before glob- al warming my family, would some- times ga{h r in the shade of a large oak tree on our farm. It was com- forting on a hot, humid day to see the people I loved enveloped with- in a circle of shade. On nights when sleep was impossible, we'd sit on the front steps of our house and look at stars and fireflies. My mother would lead us in the singing of Christmas carols. It was- n't easy to complain about the heat while you're singing Jingle Bells It was Christmas in July. It was cool. AI Batt 2006 71622 325 St. 1-1, MN 56042 Letters to th ditor New Study: Minnesota Press, Policy and Lawmakers Ignore Rural Poverty A new study from the Center for Rural Public Affairs, a Midwest think tank in Nebraska recently released a report showing that the growing rural Minnesota poverty problem is largely unreported by the press, and unappreciated or unknown to Minnesota policy and lawmakers. This situation, accord- ing to the Center, makes a very large difference in access to resources by some of Minnesota's poorest people and to the programs like Western Community Action that serve these people. According to Michael Holton from the Center, Minnesota anti- poverty programs are primarily geared to the urban areas, but ignore growing rural poverty. Holton also claims that one of.the reasons this happens is that "stoic" Minnesotans won't often ask for help or make it known that they are in serious trouble. "People don't come out and say, 'I am in poverty,' but we know it exists." A portrait of Cottonwood County poverty would surprise many, including the people of Cottonwood County. According to state demog- raphers Cottonwood County offi- cially has 9.5% of the population in poverty, which is the highest rate of poverty of the five counties that Western Community Action serves. This also includes 13.6% of all the children and 8.4% of the elderly. The median household income of Cottonwood County is $35,967 compared to the state median of $50,750 which makes us infinitely more poor than most in the state. Average earnings of our workers are only $23,741 compared to the state average of $41,272. And in Cottonwood County people not cov- ered by health insurance of any kind is at 6.1% of the population. We have a very poor county by all comparisons. But even these official compar- isons fail to capture the true depth of Cottonwood County poverty. A look at the number of children in Cottonwood County schools using the Free and Reduced Lunch Program may show the real depth and unreported poverty rates of the county. They are as follows: Mountain Lake 35.7%, Windom 17.7%, Red Rock Central 25.2%, and Westbrook-Walnut Grove 40.8%! Considering the number of chil- dren that need to use the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, do we really need their "stoic" parents to tell us that Cottonwood County is very poor? Jerry Carrier Executive Director Western Community Action Thomas Merchant Roxy Soil Junette Merchant Joan Spielman Carolyn Van Loh Teri Herder- Blahnik (ISSN 8750-3905) Managing Editor Ad Layout & Office Manager Advertising Sales Westbrook Office & Production Production assignment reporter Walnut Grove news correspondent Published every Wednesday at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 Periodicals Postage Paid at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FOR THE SENTINEL TRIBUNE WILL BE: In the following counties: Cottonwood, Redwood, Lyon, Murray and Nobles $27.00 Per Year - $18.00 6 Months (includes Peach). Elsewhere in Minnesota $31.00 per year. Out of the State $36.00 per year. Canada and foreign countries inquire at the Sentinel Tribune Office If wrong amount is submitted subscription will be pro rated accordingly "Snowbirds" may put their paper on hold at no extra charge while they are gone, or pay $6.00 extra to have it mailed out of state. 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