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Roll out the umlaut: Dayton orders MnDOT to re-dot Lindström

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Gov. Mark Dayton plunged into a road sign controversy in an unequivocal way Wednesday, issuing an executive order requiring Minnesota's Department of Transportation to use umlauts on road signs when appropriate.

The move was inspired by a change to the sign at the Lindström city limits a few years ago.

The town in Chisago County is named for Swedish immigrant Daniel Lindström and calls itself "America's little Sweden."

The Star Tribune reported Sunday that city leaders were upset when MnDOT decided to remove the pair of dots over the o – the umlaut – on Lindström's road sign.

City officials told the newspaper the agency had rejected their appeals to restore the authentic spelling. But that will change with Wednesday's edict from the governor.

For years there was an umlaut on Lindström's sign. But in updating the sign after the most recent census, MnDOT ditched the dots. A spokesman explained to the Washington Post that the department was following federal guidelines requiring the use of standard English characters.

In a statement announcing his executive action, Dayton was adamant, writing:

“Nonsensical rules like this are exactly why people get frustrated with government. Even if I have to drive to Lindström, and paint the umlauts on the city limit signs myself, I’ll do it.”

Lindström's Swedish connections

Lindström is in a part of east central Minnesota where Swedish roots run deep. The Chisago County Historical Society notes that Lindström is one of four towns in the area that have sister cities in Sweden.

Lindström's sister, Tingsryds, has three umlauts in its slogan, Där livet är härligt (which means "where life is wonderful").

The tourist group Explore Minnesota promotes Minnesota's Swedish heritage by suggesting visitors travel the Moberg Trail, which is named for an author whose novels depict the hardships faced by Swedish immigrants to America.

Naturally, the trail includes Lindström, where a certain two dots will soon return to their customary place. MnDOT's spokesman tells the Post a crew from the department will make the change, saving Gov. Dayton from having to do it himself.

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