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Our Opinion: Cheers to MN Olympic athletes

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Cheers to the 19 Minnesota athletes preparing to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Minnesotans have traditionally sent a disproportionate share of athletes to the winter games, and this year is no exception: Only California, with its 38 million residents, sent more.

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Look for Minnesotans competing in events including biathlon, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing and speed skating.

Gov. Mark Dayton urged Minnesotans to honor their home-state athletes and follow them at the Olympics. Info on each athlete is available at the Team USA website.

*** Jeers to Dilworth Fire Chief Kurt Kennedy, who was fired by the city council for making threats against the council and city staff.

Kennedy, 49, was charged in Clay County District Court in December with one felony count of making terroristic threats.

He allegedly said the department ruined his life and he had a plan for revenge against several members of the department and City Council, at one point allegedly saying he was going to “burn everyone’s house on the Fire Department,” according to court documents.

The council held a special closed meeting Thursday. After an hour discussion behind closed doors, Mayor Chad Olson made a motion to terminate Kennedy’s employment, effective immediately.

***Cheers to MnDOT, which has joined an effort by the Great Northern Corridor Coalition to ramp up freight movement and improve safety on the rail corridor across the northern part of the country.

The federal goal is to create a globally competitive, seamless and multistate freight corridor consisting of rail and road networks.

The Great Northern Corridor spans the northern tier of the western United States from Chicago through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

“This interconnected system of highways, rail and ports is vital to communities,” said Dave Christianson, MnDOT freight and rail senior planner.

“We rely on this multimodal transportation system to move U.S. products to global markets and deliver necessary commodities to our communities.”

More than 203 million tons of freight moves over this corridor, and that number continues to grow as the economy improves. The coalition is working to strengthen the corridor to promote economic growth for neighboring communities and accommodate the demand for safe, efficient and environmentally sound transportation services.

The first step is under way to identify opportunities to improve the technology, operations and infrastructure along the corridor.

The study is being conducted by Olsson Associates, Parsons Brinckerhoff and The Beckett Group, with funding through the Federal Highway Administration Multistate Corridor Operations and Management Program, and from coalition partners.

The next step to strengthening the corridor is identifying possible strategies to improve multimodal transportation system management and operations.

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