When I interview folks, chances are I learn a lot more than I tell you. That happened this past week with the two biggest stories I wrote.
Tessa Leung and Ann Fahy-Gust are opening a new brewery in Pine Island. We're probably a week away from being able to order beer online and pick it up in Pine Island, and that's big news. But there's more big news to come. Part of the conversation that brought out that news was "off the record," a phrase that bothers me, but didn't stop me from learning more information that I might use down the road.
In fact, the "off the record" stuff was all for things yet to come. That ranged from access to the brewery from Pine Island – right now, it's a direct-access drive off of U.S. Highway 52 – to some future drink offerings that the ladies would like to keep to themselves. In both cases, there probably will be future stories.
Honestly, there was some "on the record" information that I didn't fully explain in my story, including how they will make a marbleized floor, how the Pine Island Cheese Mart's previous owner still tends to the vineyard to the south of the brewery and makes wine from those grapes, and the minutia of how COVID-19 slowed their remodeling and construction process.
Sometimes, interesting things in the moment don't make the cut when I'm looking at word counts.
Measuring Big News
Each story we write here at the Post Bulletin iS tracked and analyzed for how much it is read online. That's not a surprise. If we could count people's eyeballs staring at newsprint, we'd track how long they stare at the page.
The biggest story as far as the internet algorithms are concerned was the story of how some folks had gotten upset about the mask mandate and taken it out on the owners of Lark Toys. The angry customers practically demanded to be let in. The owners at Lark Toys held firm. That is to say, according to Miranda Gray-Burlingame, she stood at the door and asked if they might find another way to serve them without letting them walk in and exhale all over everyone.
Just because you claim a medical exemption (for all four members of the family, which seems a bit unprecedented) doesn't mean you can just enter any place that requires folks wear a mask. You can't barge into a home for the elderly, even if Grandma is inside. Because someone else's grandma might be there, too. And she's susceptible to the virus, which you may or may not be carrying.
Defining A Rude Gesture
The confrontation ended with the angry family leaving and the parents giving the Lark owners a rude gesture. That's the term Editor Jeff Pieters and I agreed upon to describe what they did. Another way of saying it was the family, despite the gesture, was not saying "you're number one" via body language.
Miranda, who had posted about the confrontation on Facebook, said people on Facebook knew the couple. But I didn't bother asking their names. I'm not here to out people having a bad day or even serve as the arbiter of right and wrong. Knowing and communicating their identities is more information than we all need.
Instead, we should all learn two important lessons from this story: acting kindly and patiently will always get you better service, and being rude will get you thousands of angry comments on Facebook.
Regional Reporter Brian Todd covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties along with some cities in Olmsted County. In the After Deadline column every Thursday, he shares behind-the-scenes tales from the newsroom.