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Year in review: weather dominated

People across the globe — even those in our own country — tend to think of Minnesota as being tucked just beneath the polar ice cap, with year-round snow, freezing temps, stalled cars and bundled-up residents.
Those of us who actually live in the state know, however, that Minnesota is subject to weather extremes, from frigid winters to sultry summers and floods, tornados and droughts.
As we paged through the 2014 issues of The Chronicle for our end-of-year round-up, it was obvious that, once again, the weather dominated the news.
We can actually look back to fall 2013, when wet weather hampered harvest efforts, and farmers and grain elevators began burning propane to dry grain. That, coupled with huge exports of domestic propane overseas, caused a severe shortage when the 2013-14 winter set in, one of the coldest on record for the state. That drove heating fuel prices up to record highs, and brought U.S. Sen. Al Franken to Winthrop to look for ideas on how to avoid another shortage.
Coming on the heels of that frigid winter was a long, wet spring that delayed planting. Some farmers planted and replanted two or three times; others were never able to get into their fields at all.
The poor growing season and falling commodity prices had a direct impact on the County Board’s decision to not implement a proposed 2 percent levy increase for 2015; it instead held its levy at the 2014 level.
The wet spring climaxed at the start of summer, when late June rains dumped about 11 inches of water on the area in a scant 12-hour period, causing flooding throughout most of McLeod County’s communities. Particularly hard hit was the eastern side of the county, especially right here in Glencoe.
Emergency crews spent several days pumping water from streets, sewers and sanitary sewers, but that was just the beginning of the impact. Since then — and actually for several years of 100-year rain events — both the city of Glencoe and McLeod County have been working on flood mitigation efforts. Talks and plans continue today.
So far, this winter has been relatively mild. Let’s hope that continues into a favorable spring for planting.
The year 2014 also was notable for another trend: the retirement of longtime leaders in our community. Rich Glennie retired after 23 years as the editor of The Chronicle, Craig Kohls ended a nearly 40-year career as an educator and principal at First Lutheran School, and longtime ECFE educators Jan Mackenthun and Mary Jo Schimelpfenig also stepped down from successful careers.
We also note that the landscape of downtown Glencoe is changing, with the renovation of Glencoe Wine and Spirits, the demolition of a couple of old, abandoned buildings, including Mark’s Economart, and the arrival of DaVita Dialysis to the former Hallmark store.
Also noteworthy is that after a long recession, the building industry is starting to pick up: Miller Manufacturing is continuing to expand; the county is expanding its jail and courthouse, retrofitting its Materials Recovery Facility and upgrading its Health and Human Services Building; and the city of Glencoe is looking at major infrastructure improvements.
As we put 2014 behind us, we look forward to 2015 — hopefully, more economic development, more jobs, and better roads and utilities; and less snow, cold, rain and floods.
Happy New Year!
 — L.C.