On Facebook, several of my siblings lurk and read the stories I've written when I post links via social media.
One sibling, I'll call him "Jim," once asked me, "Do you write anything other than stories about cows?"
Sure. There's wastewater treatment plants, soil health, government spending, business features and news, and, of course, hog feedlots. Oh, and for the last year there's the various angles of how COVID-19 has impacted our lives.
Lately there's been a new theme in the mix: jail construction.
Way down South
Last week there was a shortage of bylines from me. I spent six days in Texas helping deal with my parents' estate, namely cleaning out my late mom's townhouse so it can be sold. If you were looking for a deal on furniture, you missed it last week in Austin – the version way down South, not the one on Interstate 90 with which we're all familiar.
Since I've been back, I've been talking to people in and out of Fillmore County about their decision – coming later this summer – to build a new jail, or not.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections has downgraded the jail to a 90-day facility, and the folks in Fillmore County would like a plan in place before the state does to them what it has done to neighboring Winona County, which is to slap a "sunset" date on the county jail, essentially forcing the county to do something and do it fast.
Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge has undertaken a barnstorming tour of the county, updating city councils and talking to service organizations.
'Til the cows come home
Not to be outdone, on Friday the judge who ruled in the Daley Farm v. Winona County case is holding a hearing to answer a few questions about the case for the parties involved. Once this is done, I'd imagine the Winona County commissioners who won't talk about anything related to dairies or animal unit caps will be free to finally stop saying, "Due to pending litigation, I've been advised by the county attorney . . ." and they might start answering some questions.
Not that I'm dying to cover more cow stories.
MORE READING: Is Winona County's animal unit cap killing business?
In fact, other plans are being formulated by me. I have a whole new topic (not really new, but something that hasn't consumed my time) I'm planning to delve into during the coming months.
And that, I'd say, is one of the best parts of this job. While there are issues that are universal – a polite word for repetitive – there are also topics that are underserved. But as a reporter, we can say, "Hey, I think there are interesting stories to tell there."
That's what I plan to do with the topic of immigration in the coming months.
Why? Well, immigration is a universal topic. Find a place on Earth and outside the two poles you'll find a place that's been impacted by immigration (either coming or going). So I'm hoping to tell some of those stories.
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.