On Tuesday morning, a joint meeting of the House Transportation Policy, Transportation Finance, Commerce and Consumer Protection , and Agriculture Committees along with the Senate Transportation and Public Safety,Commerce, and the Jobs,Agriculture and Rural Develpment Committees met in the State Office Building. The meeting started at 10:00 in the morning and adjourned about 2:30 in the afternoon.
We heard from every perpective on the state of the railroads, particularly those that run in Minnesota. Commission Zelle and Dave Christiansen of the Minnesota Department of Transportation started off with their report on railroads. Businesses impacted by the railroads talked about their experiences and expectations. Representatives of the employees talked about their experiences and challenges. An Amtrak official explained that almost all their routes are coming in behind schedule because of the huge problems caused by the trains carrying oil. They are seeing a reduction in passengers as a result. Last were the officials from the railroads who explained their operations.
It appears that that the main problem centers on train operations in North Dakota. While the railroads are expanding their rail infrastructure, ordering new equipment and hiring new personnel, all that will take a few years to accomplish and not much improvement is seen until then. That means the crisis will continue unless some extraordinary measures are taken.
I recenty met with some officials from the Union Pacific and this car definitely attracted my attention.
They said that their business has increased in all areas and they are ordering new cars as well as training new personnel every month. These are good-paying jobs. I recently talked with a retired engineer who told me that his income enabled his family to live comfortably and both his sons now work for the railroad.
This week, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is meeting in Minneapolis. The agenda is brimming with interesting workshops and speakers. One session featured Sir Ken Robinson. He advocates an educational system where creativity and individual talents flourish. He has authored some books that can provide details on his approach.
World renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma was one of the presenters on Turnaround Schools. He played a musical selection prior to the presentation. That was a real treat!
The speakers talked about the positive impact that happens in schools that have incorporated art in their curriculum. This program is going to be used in some schools in Minnesota.
There were so many compliments about the Summit, visitors were impressed with Minneapolis, the Convention Center, the friendliness of everyone. So whether you were on the planning team, staff, legislators, volunteers, or providing assistance in any manner to the Legislative Summit Attendees and their families, know that your efforts were very much appreciated.
This was an exciting morning in Eagan! The Twin Cities’ Premium Outlets officially opened at 10:00 A.M. The opening ceremony featured speeches by Mayor Mike Maguire, Governor Mark Dayton and officials representing the developer and management company. It was a beautiful day and lots of people were there.
There are woo stores there, but Coach and a few other establishments had waiting lines. Good buys to be had and so much to see.
I attended the DFL Second Congressional District’s Fundraiser on Sunday and, as always, had a great time. United States Senator Al Franken and Representative Betty McCollum were the featured speakers. We are so fortunate to have such capable and caring individuals representing Minnesota.
One of the items in the live auction was 36 volunteer hours on November 1. After spirited bidding, Angie Craig, a resident of House District 51A, was the winning bidder. She graciously donated that to my campaign. What a great gift! That definitely made my day, and week and then some.
Update: 8/12/2014 – We just received another picture from the flight I took on August 4th with Civil Air Patrol. Check out the Pre-flight, pre-taxi picture at the end.
August 4th is a day I shall remember for a long time. For the first time ever, I flew in a very small plane. It was a Cessna, a plane used by the Civil Air Patrol. It was a beautiful day to be out and about and aloft. Our flight included flying over four of the smaller or reliever airports in the Metro area. The pilot, Lt. Colonel Kevin Dunlevy did a great job of providing an incredibly smooth ride. Since this was my first time in a small plane, I wasn’t quite sure that was possible.
I am a legislative member of the Civil Air Patrol and after the flight I attended the monthly Wing meeting in the Terminal at Fleming Field.
The CAP Mission Statement is “Supporting America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development, and promotion of air, space and cyber power.”
This is a volunteer organization that operates as the United States Air Force Auxiliary. Membership is open to those 12 years and up.
This organization has a long history of providing service to our communities and we are very fortunate to have so many people committed to making sure that the legacy continues.
Checking the tail assembly (“Empannage”)
Checking the flaps
Checking the engine
Preparing to taxi
The weather for the eighth International Festival of Burnsville was perfect after the clouds finally disappeared. There were lots of people to appreciate the exhibits, food, and entertainment this Saturday evening.
The final act was a marvelous band that had many adults and kids dancing. Two girls tried to teach a couple of us the “SALSA” steps, I think I need a little more practice before I try that on my own.
I noticed a young woman with a SEGWAY. She said she has MS and this vehicle allows her a lot more flexibility than a wheelchair. I thought that was very resourceful!
This is a great community event.
On the morning of Friday the 13th, Blue Cross employees gathered around the flagpole in front of their facility on Yankee Doodle Road to celebrate Flag Day. The intent was to honor the flag and recognize the service Blue Cross employees have provided to their communities through civic engagement and military service.
The Blue Cross CEO commended the employees for their activity and U.S. Congressman John Kline delivered remarks on the flag. A military contingent then retired the flag that was flying and a new flag was posted. There was a reception in the courtyard afterward.
In the evening, I attended the Grand Opening of the Minnesota Zoo’s Conservation Carousel. The carousel has hand-carved wooden animals such as tigers, bears, and even a lady bug. The revenue generated from the ride will finance conservation programs. The BIG BUG exhibit was on the trail to the carousel. That is pretty amazing, too. We encountered a life-size praying mantis on stilts on the trail, very friendly. A very special evening and the weather was perfect!
On Tuesday evening, I attended the graduation of adults learners who have completed their courses to receive a high school diploma or their GED. The graduates attended programs under the auspices of the Rosemount-AppleValley-Eagan School District’s Community Education Department. The ceremony was held at Falcon Ridge Middle School in Apple Valley and the auditorium was filled with family and friends who cheered the graduates’s achievements.
It is always inspiring to attend an Adult Basic Education graduation because the stories of some of the graduates are shared as are their future plans. Many have overcome huge obstacles to attain this goal. One woman has a husband and four children. The graduates who have children usually say they have done this for their children and they want to be good role models. One young man said he wants to work in the railroad industry, others are going to Cordon Bleu, some already have jobs, and one woman wants to be an engineer.
Tom French, who is a volunteer at the Rahncliff Learning Center gave the commencement dress. He stressed the importance of setting goals and life-long learning.
The Memorial Day observance in Eagan took place at the Tribute Plaza this afternoon. Music was provided by the Royal Brass Quintet, the Eagan Men’s Chorus, and Joe Swierczek played TAPS. Dan Seanoa moderated the event and the guest speaker was Pastor Al Pruis from Peace Church. The Eagan Police and Fire Honor Guard did the Presentation Of The Colors. Participants also inluded Police Chaplain Debbie Brown,and Eagan Council Member Gary Hansen. Wayne Olsen and his daughter, Shelcy Kamrud, presented the wreath. Dan Olsen, their son and brother, was killed in action.
Pastor Pruis commented that he had served in Viet Nam and had the opportunity to visit that country a few years back with another minister. They visited both Saigon and Hanoi. Saigon is a modern city that seems to be doing well. While in Hanoi, he had the opportunity to worship in a church and to visit a museum that commemorates the war. The museum had been used to hold prisoners during the war. He also read the poem “Flanders Field.”
This is the fourth year the cermony has been held at this site. The event is sponsored by many community organizations, businesses and volunteers.