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Jeers to dispatch center move, cheers to cheery MN

Jeers to the Minnesota State Patrol for planning to close its dispatch center in Detroit Lakes.

The DL location, which currently employs five dispatchers, is one of seven state dispatch centers being closed.

Starting in January, all calls from the Detroit Lakes and surrounding areas will be answered in Roseville, which will be the primary call center for the state. A second, smaller location will be in Rochester.

The consolidation is being pitched as a money-saver and an improvement to public safety, but we have our doubts.

The technology may allow for flawless long-distance communications, but technology isn't everything.

It's hard to beat local dispatchers who know the people, know the terrain, and know the conditions on the ground in an emergency.

While the far-away dispatch center is not likely to discourage people from calling for help in an emergency, it may result in help taking longer to get there, especially if callers refer to local landmarks instead of fixed addresses.

And it will likely discourage locals from calling in about non-emergency matters.

Some rural residents who live along state highways now keep in touch with the State Patrol dispatchers, letting them know if they are having get-togethers or rummage sales that may result in cars being parked in ditches or along highways.

They call to let troopers know something unusual may be going on in that area.

The better informed troopers are, the better they can serve the public, and that's the kind of local communication that will be lost with the consolidation of the dispatch centers.

It will also mean the loss of five good jobs in this area.

It is to the State Patrol's credit that the local dispatchers have all been offered a position at one of the two consolidated call centers, but those people have deep roots in the area and face a tough decision on whether or not to relocate.

Last time the State Patrol tried this a few years ago, there was enough legislative kick-back to force the agency to back off.

People should let their elected officials know what they think of this stealth consolidation plan.


Feeling miserable? It could be worse -- you could live somewhere other than Minnesota.

Minnesota is the "least miserable state" in the country, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg of the most and least miserable states.

That's right. Miserable as you are, City Pages reports that you're still better off than the sniveling wretches in any other state.

Bloomberg bestowed this high honor upon Minnesota after developing misery rankings using 13 data points -- things like poverty, air pollution, the number of people without health insurance, income inequality, and underemployment, among others. Each variable was scored from zero to 100.

Turns out the Land of 10,000 Lakes has a lower-than-average child poverty rate, more high school graduates than average, and a per-capita personal income of $43,000. That gives Minnesota a misery score closer to zero than any other state.

You're feeling better already, aren't you? But if you must leave Minnesota, the next least miserable state is New Hampshire, followed by North Dakota, Vermont and Massachusetts.

Poor Mississippi is the most miserable place in America, with a per-capita income of just $31,000. People are slightly less miserable in Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas, in that order.

So cheer up. Things could be worse -- and they are, everywhere else.