Superintendent Joe Gothard delivered the State of the District Address at Burnsville High School on the evening of April 5. #Burnsville Strong Students were at the doors to greet people as they came in. Rahn Elementary and Eagle Ridge Junior High Strings did a very nice job of providing musical entertainment prior to the the program.
The superintendent’s main focus was on giving details of Vision One91. The construction at the High School is evident as you approach the campus, but there are changes going on in other schools as well. New programs and technology are also part of the changes going on to prepare students for the future. Pathways is a new model to help high school students plan for college and career. One category is Arts, Global Communications, and Information Systems. Another is Design, Engineering, & Manufacturing Technologies. Six students gave there perspectives on what they liked about their educational experiences in the district. Looks like a lot of exciting things are happening in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District!
It has been another very busy week. In addition to heavy committee schedules, there have been numerous visitors. One group representing School Nutrition programs talked about the ways they are working in I.S.D. 191 schools to encourage students to eat foods that are nutritious so they develop healthy eating habits, and this also helps them focus better in school. Howling for Wolves folks explained their concern about the changing policies dealing with wolves makes the wolves more vulnerable. Yesterday was Muslim Day at the Capitol. My visitors shared that Muslims are found in every one of our 134 legislative districts. The Muslim Community operates seven food shelves and three free clinics that are open to all.
Today I met with a woman who explained the harvesting of human organs in China and believes we should be actively opposing this practice. It is a horrendous activity. She said that many Chinese students come to Minnesota to get their medical degrees, so that is one connection. Please contact me if you would like her to provide information to you. Books she recommended were State Organs Transplant Abuse and Bloody Harvest.
In today’s Session, we finally passed a bill that will extend benefits to the miners. It took a long while to get to this stage because the House Republican Majority seemed to be adverse to having a clean bill.
Legislators return on Tuesday, March 29th.
On Saturday evening, I attended the Eagan Theater Company’s performance of Audition For Murder at Royal Cliff. It was a fun evening. The food was very good and the performance was very entertaining. The play involved people from the audience as well as the company actors. The story is about a producer, portrayed by Mike Obermueller, trying to prepare for a movie.
One last performance is on Sunday, February 14.
I attended the gymnastic meet at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday. The University of Minnesota hosted Maryland. Goldy was also there to cheer on the team. Lots of enthusiasm and it was fun watching very talented young women compete. The Gophers did win!
Afterwards, the team members have a table where they sign autographs and talk with their fans. A great way for the team to interact with their fans, especially since there were quite a few young gymnasts present.
Winter Dreams was the title of the program performed by The Eagan Women of Note on Sunday afternoon. It had a marvelous selection of songs, some were old favorites and some that I don’t recall hearing before. “The Seal Lullaby” and “Walking in the Air” were new to me and they are lovely. ( You can search for “Walking in the Air” and find a version where the tune is used as background to an illustration of a little boy flying with a snowman to the North Pole.) “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” were also on the venue. Santa Claus was there, too.
I took my five-year old granddaughter and she said she liked all the songs. I definitely agree. The program was taped by Eagan Television, so you should be able to see it on local access channels. For more information and to hear a few of the songs performed, go to: www.eaganwomenofnote.org
On Friday evening, I attended the Eagan Theater Company’s performance of ” A Christmas Carol Radio Play.” It combines the famous story by Charles Dickens along with the singing of Christmas songs and commercials. Delicious treats afterwards made for a most enjoyable evening. This production is becoming a tradition for the Eagan Theater Company.
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Progressive Rail in Lakeville. This is a regional railroad that hauls freight. Our tour included a short train ride in the Lakeville Industrial Park. We were able to ride in both the engine and an old-style caboose.
Progressive not only hauls freight, it has a large warehouse so it can provide flexibility for its customers. The Progressive building has an impressive display of railroad photos and artifacts.
One advantage of railroads is that diesel engines cause less pollution that trucks.
For more details, see: www.progressiverail.com
The Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD) held a Disability Policy Summit session today for advocates and legislators.
Part of the agenda included a discussion on current policies and some problems. One issue is that current limits to qualify for Medical Assistance are too low and forces many adults with disabilities deep into poverty to get services. The asset limit was set in 1983 and should be raised. The problem with the current asset limit is that it makes impossible for people with disabilities to get out of poverty.
The conclusion was a town hall forum in which we heard stories from some of the people in attendance. One woman who testified has been providing foster care for children with disabilities for forty years. Her concern was the backlog in processing paperwork which could mean the child would lose certification. She would like to see paperwork processed in a timely manner. Another person discussed the lack of oversight for children whose parents are dealing with brain injuries and similar issues. Her concern is that that while the parent is not in a position to truly watch out for the welfare of the child, there is no provision made to provide that oversight and help. The child/children are pretty much left to fend for themselves and the outcomes can be detrimental to the health and well being of the child/children. One man relayed the marked improvement shown by a brain injury patient once placed in a group home with stable staffing. He said we need to pay adequate wages so all people can have consistent staffing and relationships. Another person manages staff to help people with brain injuries and said it is quite challenging to maintain stable staffing because of the low wages that are being paid. This reinforces what we already know, wages need to be raised for people in this line of work.
The stories were very moving and once again show the strides that we need to make in properly caring for people with very serious conditions.
I attended another briefing by MnDot on the Statewide Planning Overview today. MnDOT has a twenty-year plan that is updated every four years. The current plan was adopted in 2012 and the next update will be in 2016. There are a number of opportunities to obtain information and get involved.
For more details, see: www.minnesotago.org
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency held an informational meeting on November 12 at the Burnsville City Hall to go over the status of the Freeway Landfill property.
The problem is that monitoring shows there are toxic levels above the safe standards. This property is close to the Minnesota River and a municipal drinking water supply. The site would not be able to get a landfill permit today. The property is privately-owned and the owner seems to be unwilling to help pay for the cleanup nor does he want to make arrangements to give the property over to the state as has happened in some instances. As of right now, if the state and the owner do not come to some resolution by December 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will take over They would identify the primary groups responsible for the contamination and make them pay for the cleanup. That could mean numerous lawsuits and take years.
The recommended action by the MPCA is estimated to take five years and cost about $64 million.