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Thanks for the thaw

THUMBS UP: After two days of record low subzero temperatures and even lower wind chills, it was so nice to have temperatures approaching normal levels again on Friday. Who knew 15 degrees could be so comfortable?

The Polar Vortex, as it was called, kept a lot of people indoors, including school children. Even the post office decided weather that would produce frostbite in minutes was no place for its carriers.

But severe weather like this creates lots of challenges — car batteries that die, furnaces that stop working, natural gas meters that freeze up and water mains that break in the cold, large piles of snow downtown to clean up. The people who had to go out in the cold and fix all that did it quickly, competently and heroicly. So here’s a thumbs up to all the plumbers, furnace repairmen, tow truck operators, city utility workers, police, firemen and snow plow drivers who didn’t let the cold get in their way.

Highway 14 bill

THUMBS UP: It has a long way to go before becoming reality, but a bill introduced in the Minnesota Legislature this week would provide $85 million in state trunk highway bonding funds to finish the Highway 14 expansion between Nicollet and New Ulm. State Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) and State Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL-St. Peter) are co-authors of the bill.

This is a project that has been decades in the making, and though the state has plans and designs all ready, it is waiting for funding. Highway 14 is a dangerous road, and a bottleneck that throttles economic activity in this area.

The planning and lobbying have brought the project ever so close to completion. Now the state just needs to get the rest of the job done. Here’s hoping the bill will pass.

End of an era

THUMBS UP: Since her first World Cup ski race in 2000, Minnesota native Lindsey Vonn became a dominant force in the world of ski racing. Vonn, who learned to ski at Buck Hill in Burnsville, announced Friday she will retire after her next two races this coming week. Her oft-injured knees just can’t take it anymore.

She retires with an amazing record: 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals and 7 World Championship medals. Only the legendary Swede Ingemar Stenmark has more World Cup wins at 86.

Vonn’s determination to come back from injury after injury make her a great champion. Minnesotans should be proud.

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