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Editorial: Let's debate

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Energy and health care issues will remain at the forefront of the Red Wing Republican Eagle Editorial Board’s agenda for 2014. Elections and school referendums also will be on our watch list.

Transportation safety, a primary concern in 2012 and 2013, saw substantial improvements (including those for Highway 52) and promises of more (such as a new Mississippi River bridge here), but we’ll continue to keep an eye on developments.

Energy

Goodhue County has a new zoning ordinance in place regulating silica sand mining. Will it be good enough? Will it hinder existing industrial sand operations such as gravel pits? No one will know until a company files a permit request and goes through the process.

Alternative energy issues also require attention.

The wind power debate is far from over, despite the demise of New Era’s proposed wind farm. The local focus will grow in coming months and years to individual property owners choosing to erect turbines. The state and federal governments continue to offer incentives, as do power companies.

Solar energy has arrived in Red Wing — at least on several public buildings — and we expect that to grow. Elsewhere in our readership area, however, people who tout solar energy are experiencing pushback.

Health

Whether you call it the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, universal health coverage will continue to make headlines. The long-awaited coverage is here, but the system is a sickly newborn. Witness the woes of MNsure, Minnesota’s program. Governments have to correct the problems. Locally, we’re better off.

There’s the free CARE Clinic. Plus, the Mayo Clinic Health System broke ground for a new hospital/clinic in Cannon Falls. The system’s leaders say they are committed to health care reform and to all of our communities. We’ll hold them to it.

The biggest drain on health care dollars, of course, is the elderly. St. Crispin Living Community promises a state-of-the-art, innovative facility that could help change the way this state cares for its oldest citizens.

Elections

Government of, by and for the people doesn’t get any better than at election time. We anticipate a full slate of local candidates stepping forward to offer their leadership and ideas. Red Wing School District may take a building referendum to the voters.

The public debate will extend well beyond this rudimentary priority list. We won’t hesitate to weigh in. That’s our job — and it’s every citizen’s job too. We hope readers will express their views, challenge conventional wisdom and offer solutions in 2014 and beyond.

Let the great debate continue.

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