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Letters: No build is smart choice for Gateway corridor; Celebrating student achievement

No build is smart choice for Gateway corridor

It saves money, moves people efficiently and provides an adaptable alternative that residents and taxpayers love! Running a regular route bus along the line would save close to $400 million and provide all-day service with more local stops. Express bus expansion to include midday and evening service would provide faster travel and the same benefits for commuters with no capital cost.

A side light is one of the best things about the route, the proposed Helmo/Bielenberg Bridge over Interstate 94, which Oakdale and Woodbury could still pursue. The bridge would have benefits for both communities in terms of business and traffic (cost $17.5 million).

One big reason the bus rapid transit project is a waste of hard-earned taxpayer dollars is that its benefits have been oversold. What do I mean? It won't reduce traffic congestion by enticing people out of their cars. Why? It won't be fast enough.

If one compares the Express Bus Schedule to the proposed BRT + Green Line, it's clear that the Express Bus is a good 30 minutes faster than the estimated 26 minutes for the Gold Line plus 46 minutes to travel the Green Line. That would be at least 72 minutes to go from Woodbury to Minneapolis (it's only 42 minutes on the Express Bus). People won't ride it.

This is why expanding the Express Bus for midday and evening service and adding the regular bus on the route would actually be the solution to entice drivers from their cars knowing they can quickly get home midday or if staying late. It's the affordable alternative that would not impose unnecessary infrastructure on the community.

Linda Stanton

Woodbury

Stanton is chair of Citizens for Smart Transit

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Transplant abuse awareness important

There are resolutions in the Minnesota House and Senate regarding an ongoing human rights issue in China. HF 2713 and SF 1666 are resolutions "Expressing concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned, forced organ harvesting from nonconsenting prisoners of conscience, primarily from Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their spiritual beliefs, and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups in the People's Republic of China."

It's wonderful to see that Cottage Grove area state Reps. Keith Franke and Tony Jurgens, and also Sen. Dan Schoen have taken the initiative to co-sponsor these resolutions.

My husband and I and other members of our family are from China and we practice Falun Gong, which is a form of "self-cultivation" based on the three principles of truth, compassion and forbearance. Mind and body practices like Falun Gong have been popular for thousands of years in China. After its public introduction in 1992, the practice quickly grew in popularity, with government estimates placing the number of practitioners at over 70 million by early 1999. This large and growing population of Chinese citizens embracing a spiritual practice soon met with persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since its inception, the CCP has systematically eliminated what is traditional in China and has replaced it with communist party culture. On July 20, 1999, communist party head Jiang Zemin ordered a ban on Falun Gong and a brutal campaign was initiated.

This situation has been going on for 18 years now, but is largely unknown outside of China. Many of my friends and family living in Minnesota have faced persecution directly or indirectly. Efforts like those of the Minnesota Legislature are very meaningful to them and to those in China who live under persecution today.

Greater awareness of transplant abuse in China is important because it can help prevent collusion in the areas of clinical studies in China and the training of Chinese transplant surgeons. Awareness is also important so that individuals in need of an organ transplant can make an informed decision before traveling to China.

Joy Zhao

Woodbury

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Celebrating student achievement

Graduation season upon us and I wanted to say what an honor it is to be part of our education system. As an assistant principal at MTS Minnesota Connections Academy, an online public school serving K-12 students from across the state, this is a particularly exciting and rewarding time. As an educator, I feel a lot of pride when I see a student take hold of his or her diploma. It's not so much the piece of paper but the hard work and academic achievement it represents.

Connections Academy students have attended public school from home, working closely with state-certified teachers online and on the phone while a trusted adult monitors progress in the home. These students are forging new ground, leveraging the power of technology and reinventing education — developing their own path to success. Many have shared that the online school environment has empowered them to play a more active role in their education; they feel more responsible and ready for the college or career that lies ahead.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017 — from all of us at Minnesota Connections Academy. We're proud of you and excited that you have the opportunity to meet, in person, for your graduation ceremony — an honored tradition.

Brad Swanson

Woodbury

Swanson is assistant principal of MTS Minnesota Connections Academy

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