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Eastern snowboard, er seaboard, gives us perspective

Coming soon, to a theater near you — "Snowmageddon," to be followed soon thereafter by its sequel "The Snowpocalypse."

Those are just a couple of the names being bandied about by the millions of people affected by the double-barreled snowstorm that hit parts of the Eastern seaboard earlier this month, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

OK, it was a mammoth storm in a part of the country that's doesn't normally get this much snow in two or three winters combined. Mass transportation came to a standstill. Schools were closed for days. So were many businesses. Congressional hearings were postponed.

But it's been almost two weeks now. Isn't it about time the media back East move on and start covering something else?

I'm always amazed at how pre-occupied the Eastern media are with the weather. But only when it hits the East. Five inches of snow, and judging from reporting on NPR, NBC, CBS, Fox and CNN you'd think a giant, man-eating avalanche had just flattened the eastern third of the country.


To get some perspective on the most recent storm, I talked with a native of Rochester who's spending her first winter away from the Midwest in Baltimore: my daughter Caitlin.

Snowmageddon was bad, she said. So was the big storm that hit the East Coast just before Christmas. The last storm kept her from getting to work for two days because the buses weren't moving and the sidewalks were impassable.

"The only place to walk is in the streets, and that's really dangerous."

So, it wasn't just wimpy people whining.

"The problem is they don't have the equipment to clear streets out here that they do in Minnesota. Some of the less traveled streets never get plowed," she said. "The plows just don't go there. So you have entire neighborhoods getting together to shovel their street by hand. I guess that's good for community building, though."

It's stories like these that make me happy to live in a place like Rochester, where snow removal is fast and efficient. I know, I know. Sometimes it might take a whole six or seven hours after it stops snowing for some streets to get plowed. It's inconvenient to drive around those giant piles of snow in the street that are a byproduct of the removal process. But consider the alternative.

At least those of us who live on lightly traveled neighborhood streets don't have to shovel, or snowblow, our own streets so we can get to work.

For the record, I still don't have a snowblower. I do have a mostly unenenforceable contract with a shoveling-service provider. He's 16 and has the same last name as me.



I've already heard from a number of people regarding my tongue-in-cheek column about Gov. Tim Pawlenty using the proposed renovation of Chatfield's Potter Auditorium (the governor mistakenly called it a pottery project) as an example of something that doesn't belong in a state bonding bill.

One of those who called me is the son-in-law of the auditorium's namesake, George Potter. Robert Siegel, of Chatfield, whose wife, Virginia, is the daughter of the former Chatfield superintendent, said he called the governor's office over the weekend to "educate" the state's chief executive officer about the Potter project and its history.

He informed the governor that the auditorium was named after Potter in recognition of his long service to the school district as its superintendent and then as Fillmore County director of education.

The much beloved Potter died of a heart attack at his home in 1954 at the age of 59.

His funeral was held in a packed auditorium that now bears his name, Siegel told me.

"There are a lot of people down here in Chatfield who just don't understand where he (the governor) stands on this and where he's getting his information — or lack of information," Siegel said. "So I just wanted to thank you for your column."

Thank you for the historical perspective, Robert. I don't know if the Potter project is more or less worthy of state bonding money than others in the proposed bonding bill. There is one thing of which I am certain. The community of Chatfield does not deserve the mocking ridicule it has received over the last two years from our state's top elected official.

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