“I can’t believe Memorial Day is here already.” My guess is that most of us have heard, or said that in the past few days. Memorial Day isn’t really any earlier than normal (last year it was on the former traditional May 30th day but in 2015 it was on May 25th) but it seems that way this year. I always look forward to Memorial Day. My folks used to call it Decoration Day, which is what it was originally named back in 1868, when it came into being. That name seemed to slip away back in the early 1960s, when it became more commonly known as it is today. In 1968, Congress changed the date, for what they called Memorial Day, to be the last Monday in May. They also made it, for the first time, an official federal holiday. That all took effect in 1971.
Some years in the past, even when Memorial Day was held on May 30th and clusters of lilacs in vases or jars could be seen decorating many grave sites. Now, even with Memorial Day earlier than the 30th most years, you can hardly find lilacs still in bloom. The lilacs seem to bloom earlier each year. It seems like only a cold, late spring will make that possible anymore, even with an early Memorial Day. There will be no lilacs in bloom near the Volstead House to pluck for grave decorations. The lead-up to Memorial Day is a busy time for everyone but especially for cemetery committees and caretakers.
Everyone wants those cemeteries to look good for the Memorial Day weekend, when graves are decorated and flags fly on veteran’s graves. It can be serious work to get that mowing and trimming done when it rains on most of the days in late May. For many, the Memorial Day weekend effectively marks the beginning of summer and a chance to get away for the long weekend or for some other family fun outing. It’s hard to take issue with that but we still enjoy joining a good number of other folks who keep the old tradition of attending Memorial Day programs each year.
That annual program here in Granite is set along the river at the Veteran’s Park and is also held at the various cemeteries in many other towns. If you don’t have other family plans, set aside an hour or so to attend the local Memorial Day program. It’s a nice tradition, especially here in our small towns.
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The large crowd at the annual Treasured Talents Dance Studio last Saturday evening had a fun time watching their favorite dancers perform their end of the season recital. We were among the parents and grandparents there and couldn’t have been more delighted to watch our pre-school age granddaughter. Cora. and her friends take their turn on the big stage in front of several hundred folks. Watching all the families that were clustered together in the seats, taking photos and waving to their favorite dancer was half the fun. The enthusiasm and support is amazing. We were there as parents quite few years ago and those feelings and memories came flying back to us as grandparents this time. It was quick and lively time that even our granddaughter’s older brothers seemed to enjoy.
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The legislature ran out of time to finish up their work by their deadline on Monday but they crafted an agreement with Governor Mark Dayton on budget item spending goals and several tax issues. In exchange, he agreed to call the legislature back into a special session starting immediately. This all came to pass on Monday at midnight. I confirmed what some might think is an incurable sickness by watching the legislative proceedings on television last Monday night. As they are constitutionally required to do, the legislature did adjourn by midnight on Monday but then the leaders immediately called the new special session to order and they continued working until 2 a.m. There is more committee work and long “floor sessions” scheduled on Tuesday as this is being written so the results are known at this writing. The legislative leader’s agreement with Dayton called for them to wrap up their work by 7 a.m. on Wednesday and the leaders have told their members to be prepared to work all night in order to finish up their work by that time. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for good decision- making, but we’ll hold out hope.
There are a good number of things to watch for in all of this, many of which will have an effect on our local area:
-Pioneer Public Television is looking for funding in the Capital Investment Bill (typically called the Bonding Bill). They have requested $1.9 million for new broadcasting and editing equipment for their new building. This could be money that the state borrows from the sale of bonds or it could be cash from the state's reserves. Either way, it is eagerly anticipated and lobbied for. -The Legacy Funding Bill, which would fund recommendations from the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails Commission, could include a significant amount of money for Memorial Park improvements in Granite.
-An increase to Local Government Aid funding could be in the Tax Bill and would provide more operational money for both Granite Falls and Clarkfield. At issue is how much is the increase (if there is one) and is it just a one-time increase or is it for each year going forward?
-Transportation funding is likely going to increase but there are questions if that is a one-time, lump sum amount. If so, how much will it be and will the legislature designate how they want it to be spent or leave that up to MnDOT staffers. Another concern, as previously talked about, is if there will be any additional money for city streets in cities under 5,000 in population.
-Other items that we are keeping our eyes on include higher education funding for Minnesota and also a proposed increase in funding for Pre-K programs and K-12 schools. We are also concerned about funding for state parks, as well as several other things. There’s lots to keep track of and we probably won’t know any real details until later this week. It’s a crazy way to do business and each year it seems to end the same way. Hopefully it all turns out okay.
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Our wishes for an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Let’s be sure to not forget those who have gone before us.