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THUMBS UP/THUMBS DOWN: Views of the Echo Press Editorial Board

Facebook frustration

Thumbs Down: We appreciate the interaction and feedback we receive on the newspaper's Facebook page. We do have a modest request, though. Before commenting on a story, you may want to read through it. It doesn't take long, maybe a couple minutes. There have been many, many times when in-a-hurry readers skip the step of going to the story. Instead, they just start commenting on something that they don't fully understand. It can lead to a lot of confusion and misinformation. Just recently, Facebook readers jumped to several wrong conclusions about a mini-roundabout that will be back in place at Lake Street and Fifth Avenue in Alexandria. Facts they missed were in the story: It's not permanent. It's being tried for a two-week period. It's much smaller than a typical roundabout. It's not expensive. It's using temporary materials the city already has. Facebook is great for interaction but it's also a good way to get to a story that's probably worth reading, especially if you're going to comment about it. There is a tech news website in Norway that forces readers to take a quiz before commenting on a story. We don't want to go that far. We're just asking Facebook readers to check the story first.

In-the-dark drivers

Thumbs Down: A reader sent us a note that drivers should tape to their steering wheels: "With all the rainy days we have had, why are there so many vehicles driving without their lights on? It is the law that if your wipers are on, your lights should also be on, but traveling on the roadways I've seen countless numbers of vehicles are going on the roads without their lights on. Is it that difficult to follow a simple rule like that, and if it is then how safe is it to have those people driving on our roadways?"

Menards to the rescue

Thumbs Up: The Alexandria Menards helped James Conn of Alexandria out of jam. He bought some oil stain to refinish his deck but later learned it wasn't the right type. In his hurry to get back to the store, the can opened, spilling some of the contents onto the floor of vehicle. When he arrived, he discovered that the paint store section was dealing with its own emergency — a cover had apparently came off a paint can in the shaker and employees were contending with a gooey mess. But amongst the chaos appeared Colin, who calmly listened to Conn's story about getting the wrong stain. "Against the backdrop of several others clamoring for his attention, Colin analyzed my issue and presented me with three alternatives and then helped me evaluate each one of those alternatives, while maintaining an ever present calm demeanor and engaging smile," Conn said. He said he left Menards not only with the right kind of stain that Colin recommended, "but more importantly, feeling that I had received some of the most respectful customer service ever experienced from a retail store in a department operating under battlefield conditions."

Wrong-way walkers

Thumbs Down: People of all ages who are out walking don't seem to know the unwritten rule of walking on the left, facing traffic when there are no sidewalks, said James Pohl of Alexandria who emailed a thumbs down. "Pedestrians walking on the right, in the traffic lane have only their ears, frequently stuffed with earbuds or covered by headphones, to alert them to what is coming from behind them," he noted. "Facing traffic, they have their eyes as well as their ears to allow them to move out of the way if need be. Walkers and runners, do yourself and motorists a favor, drive on the right, but please walk on the left!"

Good advice for the harvest

Thumbs Up: In its latest newsletter, the Runestone Electric Association provided some timely safety tips for the harvest season: Be careful when raising augers or the bed of grain trucks around power lines. Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines. Do not let the spotter touch the machinery while it is being moved anywhere near power lines. Be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles or rods into power lines. Non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, ropes and hay will conduct electricity. Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If a vehicle comes in contact with a power line — stay on the equipment, warn others to stay away, call 911 and do not get off the equipment until the utility crew says it is safe to do so. Remember, always look up and live!

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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