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Happy 150th, NU?Battery

THUMBS UP: The New Ulm Battery is celebrating its 150th anniversary today with a banquet at Turner Hall. It is fitting that the Battery celerbates at Turnery Hall – both are vital parts of New Ulm history.

The Turnverein, of course, was one of thegroups that helped found New Ulm, and Turner Hall has been a center of city activity ever since.

The New Ulm Battery was founded shortly after the US-Dakota War of 1862, with cannons that were a gift from the Cincinnatti Turnverein. Their purpose was to protect the city in case of another attack.

Fortunately there never was another attack, and the Battery has become a ceremonial organization dedicated to preserving and re-enacting Civil War-era military history. But New Ulm remains, to this day, the only Minnesota city with its own Department of Defense.

Happy anniversary, New Ulm Battery.

Award-winning dish

THUMBS UP: Rep. Tim Walz is a smart poltician, and a smart politician knows that when you want to win a hotdish contest, you start with good ingredients.

Walz was the winner of the third annual Al Franken Minnesota Delegation Hot Dish Cookoff in Washington this week, with a dish he called Hermann the German Hotdish. It featured a lot of bratwurst cooked in Schell’s beer, then baked in a standard Tater Tot hot dish. Obviously, the beer and brats made the difference.

Congratulations to Walz for having great taste.

Hard spring for ADs

THUMBS DOWN: Springtime in Minnesota is always a tough time for high school athletic directors. Sports schedules that were drawn up with such optimism earlier in the school year are often disrupted with the bitter reality of ice and snow.

This year is especially difficult. Here it is, April 13, and there is snow on the ground. A few games and meets were played on Monday, but the rest of the week has been wiped out by the weather. Even games that were rescheduled have been rescheduled again. By the time May comes, we may have baseball teams playing quadruple headers to fit all the games in. After all, not everyone has heat radiation warmers under the turf like the Twins do to melt the snow.

We sure hope the weather starts warming up soon, to make life a little easier for the ADs – and the rest of us.

Special anniversary

THUMBS UP: Friday was the 58th anniversary of the day medical experts declared Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine “safe, effective and potent.” The Salk vaccine, and the oral vaccine developed by Albert Sabin and approved four years later, conquered the polio epidemics that terrorized America in the ’50s. By 1988, polio was virtually non-existent in the Western hemisphere, but still endemic in the rest of the world with 350,000 cases in 125 countries.

Today, thanks to massive immunization programs undertaken by world health groups and funded in part by Rotary International, polio is nearly gone from the face of the earth. Only 223 cases in five countries were recorded in 2012, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is working to end the disease once and for all by the end of 2018. The disease is endemic in only three countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, and has been re-established in three more – Angola, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The end is near, but there is still much to do. It will be a day to celebrate when the last country is free of polio.