Wayne Birkholz, St. Joseph
With the new St. Joseph Government Center nearing completion comes an unwelcome surprise to the facilities. It is the dynamic sign in front that screams for attention. I’ll set aside the fact it’s unnecessary, unjustifiable, serves no public good and a waste of taxpayer dollars that could have been better spent in solar panels perhaps, and not least a garish eyesore for the community of St. Joseph and St. Ben’s.
Instead, I’ll focus on the irony of the first message to be displayed: “Drive Safely . . . don’t text and drive.” So instead of you looking at your phone, the City of St. Joseph thought it best to install a GIANT texting device that is thrust into view and demands attention because it’s overly bright. The message scrolls, to hold your attention for the maximum amount of time possible. Then when that is over, a slideshow begins to show you the time and temperature and some penguins, presumably to remind you it’s really winter in Minnesota despite the lack of snow. All of this in the most pedestrian-dense area in town, creating a dangerous mix of distraction and peril.
Furthermore, most people would agree there is already enough demand for our attention and it’s only with mental energy that we are able to ignore and tune out the bulk of it. Do the residents of St. Joseph really need to have their senses assaulted one last time while on the way home from a long day? Or maybe worse, first thing in the morning?
I ask you to join me in demanding the city council use this sign only during business hours and then shut it off after hours. And only until such time that some other suitable purpose can be found for the base, at which time the dynamic sign can be removed permanently.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.