After Deadline: In the middle of the Holi-Daze

December 28, 2018

The holidays are always an odd time around a newspaper.

Government offices are closed so our main supply of sources are often not available. People take vacation time, so even when offices aren’t closed there’s a good chance the person you’d like to speak with has gone over the river and through the woods.

This week, it’s been me.

I took the week off, but that still doesn’t mean there weren’t deadlines to meet.

Friday, before I took a few days off, I had several deadlines to finish. The first was the story you all read yesterday concerning a dispute some folks were having with plans in Wabasha County to reconfigure the highway near Weaver.

The story came from a Wabasha County Board meeting I’d attended.

Grabbing My Attention

In nearly three full-time years plus about five freelance years, I’ve attended a lot of board and council meetings. I generally know the individuals involved, and I can usually guess what is going to happen. So, when I guessed wrong at that Wabasha meeting, it made me think there might be a bigger story there.

People complain about the government and road projects — especially road realignment projects — all the time. But when everyone is universally against something and it still passed, there’s a good chance this will be something worth following up on.

Don’t believe me? Ask the folks in Lake City. They spent years arguing over the realignment of U.S. Highway 61 through town.

So, judging from past experience, I saw what was happening at the project near Weaver and I realized this might be something to watch for the future.

My Crystal Ball

On Saturday, you’ll read about a couple of things to watch for in 2019. This is part of our annual year-end coverage. This year, we’re looking at things that will likely make the news in 2019.

You’ll read a lot of options from our staff, but my newsmakers in 2019 are a person and a thing.

The person is Bill Hanisch from Hanisch Bakery in Red Wing.

No, Bill isn’t going to bake the world’s best donut or anything. Well, he might. It’s a possibility. Bill has been known to bake some delicious donuts.

But where I think Bill will likely make the news is his efforts to bring a new city ordinance before the voters of Red Wing. It’s something that’s never been done before, and it is essentially removing the representative rule layer of government from our democracy.

Rather than elected city council members deciding what laws or rules should be enacted or enforced, the decision will be made directly by the citizens of Red Wing.

Why is Hanisch doing this? Well, it’s safe to say he didn’t like the decision of the city council when it decided last fall to start enforcing a graffiti ban on Barn Bluff. And, I’d guess, he thinks the citizens of Red Wing will make a different decision when they’re allowed to vote in private.

An Idea In The News

My other attempt at soothsaying is the idea of eminent domain.

As you’ll read Saturday, there is one eminent domain case already heading to a court hearing in the region, and there will probably be at least one more.

Seeing this coming, I thought it’d be nice to let everyone know what eminent domain is, how it works in Minnesota and the issues in the cases we’ll likely see.

Seeing these stories on the horizon is all part of our efforts to plan ahead, which can be tough around the holidays. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, folks like to take time off, but we, of course, still need a newspaper. That means the editors seated to my left and right kept coming in to get the newspaper out each day we had a paper. We had at least one reporter on staff each day making sure whatever happens is covered.

Holiday Plans

In the end, it’s all a matter of planning ahead.

Back when I’d just finished college, I worked for — at the time — one of the largest travel magazines in the country. But our production cycle was about four months from assigning a story, getting the story written, editing the story, sending it and photos to page designers, re-editing and publication in time for distribution.

For the December issue of the magazine, that meant Christmas each year came in September. By December we’d be talking about spring trips in the car or cruises in the Caribbean.

The same thing is true here at the Post Bulletin.

I know when the the first eminent domain trial will be. I have an idea when Bill Hanisch will get that last signature needed to get his ordinance on the ballot. And all of it will be happening in 2019.

So, get ready for a year of great news. I guarantee it’s on the way.

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