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Our View: Investing in the future a great idea

Thumbs up to the 72 new Minnesota State Patrol officers who graduated at a cadet ceremony in Minneapolis last week.

But ... thumbs down at the same time, because not all the new officers are additions to the number of staff.

Lt. Matthew Langer at the State Patrol's headquarters in St. Paul told the Budgeteer News that 40 grads are additions to their ranks, thanks to an increased authorization by the 2008 Minnesota Legislature.

Thirty-two new troopers filled vacancies created by resignations and retirements. So, now, the Minnesota State Patrol has less than 600 officers.

The number of officers has not kept pace with the growing number of motor vehicles on the road, nor the number of miles traveled on Minnesota's roadways.

So, while State Patrol officers do an excellent job, they are hamstrung by a lack of adequate troopers to meet the needs of law enforcement duties assigned to them.

While we're on the subject, another thumbs down to a recent decision to cancel the State Patrol's next trooper candidate school, scheduled for January 2010.

Don't blame the patrol: They simply have been caught up in this terrible economy. With inadequate funds for training officers, the candidate school won't graduate its next class for almost two years.

Thumbs up to the Duluth at Work partnership between the city of Duluth and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

It's that old Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Duluth at Work currently distributes grants to four community organizations (Churches United in Ministry, Minnesota Teen Challenge, Neighborhood Youth Services and SOAR Career Solutions) that work directly with individuals, providing intense case management, skill development and mentoring to help lift them out of poverty.

To date, these organizations have enrolled 53 individuals through Duluth at Work; 66 percent of enrollees have found employment and 55 percent have completed training. But forget the statistics -- what those numbers represent are fellow human beings who are getting help so they can help themselves end the cycle of poverty that traps so many people.

In addition, Duluth at Work funds Growing Neighborhood Businesses, a program of Northeast Entrepreneur Fund.

This program has visited 285 neighborhood businesses an average of four times each in the past year, providing 21 with technical assistance in the form of success planning, financial planning, storefront enhancement, job incentives and marketing.

Investing in our citizens and our existing businesses is a smart thing to do, no matter what the economic climate looks like.

And, last but not least, thumbs up to a new baseball season. The Minnesota Twins are expected to do well, although skeptics believe the team won't finish "in the money." And we're counting the days until the Duluth Huskies open at Wade Stadium against the Battle Creek Bombers on May 28. Visit for some great bargains.