Tricounty News

Dec. 13 Update


The school district negotiations team met with the Eden Valley – Watkins Federation of Teachers team on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Continuous progress was made and we have reached a tentative agreement on language and finances. We’re in the process of completing the updates to the tentative contract that will eventually be voted on by members of each bargaining group.

I’d like to recognize and thank the following team members for the sacrificed time, patience, and displays of professional character and community pride while collaborating in the best interest of the Eden Valley-Watkins School District. The teachers were represented by Mary Holmberg, Diane Steffes, Donna Orbeck, Dave Dziengel and Jake Anderson. The district was represented by Bob Stenger, Shelley Kern, Julie Meyer, and alternate Rob Flaschenriem.


Kids say the darnedest …

If you’re ever around kids for any extended period of time – or even a not so extended period of time – you’ll observe firsthand that they come up with some interesting, unique, hysterical and brutally honest observations about the world as they perceive it. My own offspring are no exception. When I find myself grinning or pondering something they’ve said, I jot it down, to remember, reminisce and share with others, here. (And perhaps to use as leverage at a later date.)JillPertler-RGB

Four-legged friends

• Our always-appropriate son asked my husband and me, “What do you get when you breed a bulldog with a Shih Tzu?” It took a moment for our brains to leap where his had already gone, but the answer to his little “joke” amounted to a double parent sigh.

• We watched a documentary on the origin of domesticated animals and one son asked, “If the first dogs were wolves, how in the heck did that turn into a wiener dog?”

• As an equal petportunity household, we give plenty of brain time to cats, as one child demonstrated when he said, “I wish people were like cats, because then we’d have nine lives and we wouldn’t have to worry about dying if we jumped off a bridge or high building without a parachute.”


Dec. 6 Update

General Economic News

Today the state economic forecast was released and it contains some good news. The state has a projected surplus of almost $1.1 billion. After the school property tax recognition shift is repaid, along with a loan from the state airport fund, $825 million remains on the bottom line. I’ve included some general fund information below that was taken from the Minnesota Management and Budget website located at

Minnesota’s Budget Outlook Improves

Changes in forecast general fund revenue and expenditures for the current biennium have increased the projected balance for FY 2014-15 from $47 million to $1.086 billion. Forecast revenues have increased $787 million (2.0 percent), while projected spending is $247 million (0.6 percent) lower. A net reduction in general fund reserves added an additional $5 million to the bottom line. K-12 Shifts Completely Repaid, $825 Million Balance Remains. As in recent forecasts, current law requires any forecast balance be used to repay K- 12 shifts. The first $246 million of the balance will be used to complete repayment of the K-12 school property tax recognition shift. Additionally, $15 million is transferred to the state airports fund, restoring money originally borrowed in 2008. This forecast completes repayment of accounting shifts from prior budget solutions, reducing the forecast balance to $825 million.


Pillow talk

It’s human nature. We want what we don’t have. It’s a condition that often follows us through life.JillPertler-RGB

To get what we perceive we don’t have – or didn’t have during childhood – sometimes, as adults, we overcompensate. When she was a girl, my mom had only one doll. As an adult, she collected dolls to the point of near hoarding. Some people fill their china cabinets with china. My mom filled hers with Baby Tender Love, Thumbelina and Swingy.

Other people overcompensate with an overabundance of shoes, cats, comic books, PEZ dispensers, sports memorabilia or anything else one can purchase on eBay. For me, it’s all about pillows.


U of M December Starwatch

It’s no accident that holidays featuring lights are celebrated in December. This month Venus and Jupiter – and possibly one comet – crank up the wattage for us.

In early December, Venus shines as bright as it ever gets. Hanging like a lantern over the sunset horizon, our brilliant sister planet begins the month as a thick crescent, its face about 30 percent lit. By the end of the month, the crescent has lengthened considerably and thinned to a mere
5 percent of the planet’s disk. These changes happen because Venus is circling in for its next pass in front of the sun; soon it will drop from the evening sky.