To the editor:

Having given some years in service to Owatonna’s local government, I’d like to share a few thoughts about essential public services.

Essential service, from the City’s point of view, is the provision of adequate potable water and electricity; effective and environmentally proper wastewater treatment; and, streets, avenues, alleys, and sidewalks that are constructed and maintained to provide safe and efficient travel, whether by motor vehicle, foot, or bicycle. We expect to have a qualified police force and fire department that are responsive to our individual and collective needs to be, and feel, safe. There are more.

Right behind essential services are those things help us to recreate, such as a trail system, baseball and softball fields, parks, and indoor facilities such as our tennis and fitness centers, creative and performing arts, and senior center, to name but a few.

We provide our valued employees with the modern and well-maintained tools and equipment they need to perform their duties with the highest regard for safety and productivity.

Without any of the above, we would see the quality of our community life diminish well below our expectations.

If you accept my thesis, then I ask that you seriously apply its outline to Owatonna’s public schools. Why would we think it’s alright to allow this most important “public service,” namely the education of our young people, to occur in a facility that needs continual repair, and where the physical layout is detrimental to educators attempting to use modern methods and tools to bring high-level learning opportunities to our kids? It makes no sense. We have historically been known as a community that values its public education. As far as I am concerned, that should not change!

I’ll close with this: If affordability is the issue, how then do we reconcile the purchase of over $14 million on gambling products in the City of Owatonna (2018 figures), with the notion that we can’t afford a new high school? Please think about that one.

Peter W. Connor

Past mayor and council member

City of Owatonna

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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