Our View....Thumbs up, thumbs down
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Thumbs up to the members of the Esko Turf Club. While we agree the Esko School district was probably wise to not include artificial turf in the plans for a new sports complex because officials feared voters might balk at the expense, we applaud the efforts of the all-volunteer group to make it happen anyway.
Carlton County is sorely lacking in the artificial turf area. While it may seem like a luxury to those of us who grew up playing on grass and mud and not much else, artificial turf would allow for a true multi-sport field. The way things sound, in Esko they’re looking at something way beyond high school varsity football and soccer as well.
“Many of us looked at the research on synthetic turf and found compelling evidence that the third generation of this type of turf, when compared to grass turf, was safer for children and increased the usage by up to tenfold,” Russ Davidson explained in last week’s story on the subject. “Many of us have the vision that this field can be used by football, soccer, and all the youth groups as well as the community.”
According to Davidson and the Esko Turf Club, a turf field could accommodate up to 25 games per week versus only 20-25 activities per year on the grass field. As well, an artificial surface is not as vulnerable to the whims of the weather. And it’s better for the environment than fertilizing the heck out of a grass field near the river (see Virg Boehland letter below for more on this).
So far the group has promises for close to half of the $400,000 they need to raise for an artificial turf field. If they can get another $50,000 pledged or donated by the Feb. 4 school board meeting, the board will most likely allow them to continue with their volunteer work on behalf of the community.
Speaking of groups volunteering their efforts to build a better community, how about the snowboarding enthusiasts who have been laboring to make a terrain park at Cloquet’s Pine Valley?
Thumbs up to Matt Anderson, Jackson Joyce-Nemmers and their band of merry snowboarders. These young people wanted to do something, so they talked to city authorities and then set about making it happen.
Cloquet Street and Park Supervisor Les Peterson said it best: “It’s refreshing to see the kids take this on, rather than waiting for the city to do something. They’re using their own resources and their own muscles to get it done. Kudos to them.”
Now we just need a little more snow.
Thumbs down to news that Minnesota fell from seventh to 11th in state rankings (from lowest to highest percentage) of adults who smoke. In No. 1-ranked Utah, 5.9 percent of adults smoke. In Minnesota, 19 percent – nearly one in five – smoke. Even though we’re doing better than No. 44 Kentucky (24.1 percent smokers), that’s not a statistic to be proud of.
Perhaps if the state had spent all its tobacco dollars on smoking cessation programs, we wouldn’t actually have more people taking up this very addictive vice.
Experts say the lower ranked states have higher cigarette taxes. Minnesota’s cigarette excise tax ranks 28th among states and Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a 94 cents-per-pack tax increase to deter smoking in his recent budget proposal.
The state’s job is to educate and advocate against smoking. Make it inconvenient. To protect those – like children in cars with smokers ¬– who can’t protect themselves. And we must continue to work to make sure our young people know what they’re getting into when they decide it might be fun to try smoking.
And we should not steal from funds dedicated to those purposes because legislators have forgotten how to work together.