Save Money with Home Health Remedies

While Blue Ridge Press specializes in opinion columns on the environment, sometimes what they write can be applied to everyday life. Like this column,written by a community food activist, talking about herbal remedies and simple choices you can make (like adding black pepper to foods for better nutrient absorption) for better health. Enjoy!

Save Money with Home Health Remedies

by Karen Johnston

There’s a growing trend to do what you can at home to relieve common ailments and health problems without emptying your pocketbook. Herbal schools are seeing an uptick in people interested in grandma’s old-fashioned remedies, such as elderberry cough drops, or herbal heating packs for joint pain. Likewise, my mother would be proud to know I listened when she told me that a glass of peppermint tea relieves a stomachache.

It’s just common sense to take care of yourself and your family’s health in small, but effective ways while saving a buck. There’s also tremendous satisfaction in making your own home medicine chest. Here’s how:

• Educate yourself – There’s a really cheap place to learn about medicinals in almost every town in America, the library! Loads of herbal books have wonderful recipes – easily made and used at home – for common ailments. Example: Ginger tea relieves stomachache and encourages appetite. Peel the root with a spoon, grate into teapot, pour in boiling water. Drink immediately for best effect, or add honey, when cool, for an extra soothing drink.

• Find an herbalist, or better yet, become one – There are all kinds of online herbal education programs, whether you’re mildly interested or serious about a career. Many recommend great sources for herbs and natural medicines, or make and sell them themselves. Some can put you in touch with local growers if you want to make your own preparations.

• Grow your own! – Those same herbal books you picked up at the library will list many medicinal plants effective for various ailments and symptoms. If you have garden space, it’s worth growing a few things for what ails you. This not only gives you a free source, but a little gardening exercise, which is bound to make you feel better. The beauty and scent of many herbal plants – such as lavender, sage, thyme and peppermint – is an added bonus, contributing to feelings of wellbeing.

• Look into alternative medicines – Chinese, Indian, Native American, and European systems of medicine all have particular herbs that are effective and easy to grow. For example, tumeric root, popular with Chinese and Ayurvedic practitioners, is a safe and wonderful anti-inflammatory; it can be grown in warmer regions of the U.S. and is also available in the grocery store. This brings us to the next point:

• Food as medicine – World cultures have long recognized foods and spices as having many positive effects on the body. In India, for instance, meals are prepared and spiced with long-range health in mind. Closer to home, there are terrific remedies available in grocery store food aisles and spice racks. An oatmeal bath soothes a summer rash and poison ivy. Powdered tumeric is a great antibacterial for cuts and scratches, and so is honey; mix them together for a powerful and effective topical treatment. That cinnamon you like on your toast or in your latte? Great for heart health and circulation. Another fun food fact: common black pepper increases nutrient absorption up to 300 percent! So, if your kids don’t like broccoli, tell them they don’t have to eat quite so much if they sprinkle on the pepper. Those of us who do like broccoli get more nutrient bang for our buck.

• Eating well – We all know we should eat more veggies. But did you know that when you eat is as important as what you eat? It’s been common knowledge for centuries that eating late at night, when the body’s energies are winding down, causes digestive problems. It may also create more of those roaming, cancer causing free radicals, along with a morning stomachache. Do what dieters do: avoid eating after 6 PM – not so much for weight loss, but as good health practice to optimize digestion.

We can do much to protect our health with what’s available in our homes and communities. I’ll be back in future articles with more info, suggestions, and recipes for home treatment of colds, coughs, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Karen Johnston is an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant, former farmer, and community food activist living in Montpelier, Vermont. Contact her at © Blue Ridge Press 2012.


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Add Immunizations to Your Back-to-School Checklist

I remember how surprised I was when I took my oldest child for her first immunizations as an infant to find that I cried almost as much as she did. While I did stagger immunizations after that — so she never got more than two in one day — I have no regrets about immunizing my children. They have all survived their shots unharmed and, better yet, have not contracted any of the  diseases that killed so many people before immunizations became so prevalent.

In the following opinion piece, Commissioners Brenda Cassellius and Ed Ehlinger, and University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital representatives Kathie Taranto and Joe Neglia encourage parents to make sure they take care of this important task before school gets started again

Add Immunizations to Your Back-to-School Checklist

In less than a month, students throughout the state will grab their backpacks, hop on the bus and begin a new school year. The annual countdown to the classroom comes with its own set of rituals for Minnesota families, from picking up school supplies to brushing up on material from the previous year.

In the midst this preparation, don’t forget one of the most important items on your child’s to-do list: an early childhood screening or well-child visit to your pediatrician or family doctor.

Making sure your child is screened before school starts and is current on their immunizations is as essential for a student’s success as a healthy breakfast each morning.

Each year, 40-percent of students in the U.S. aged 5-11 miss three or more days of school due to illness or injury. For students in kindergarten through 12th grade, nearly 22 million school days are lost because of the common cold and 38 million school days are missed due to influenza according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While we may never be able to fully prevent our children from getting sick, immunizations play a key role in fighting serious illness. In fact, immunization rates higher than 90 percent can result in disease rates of less than one percent. This means our children can stay healthy, reducing the number of missed school days and maximizing their time in the classroom.

Achieving these high immunization rates is especially crucial for children who cannot be immunized due to age or health concerns. If every child around them has received their immunizations, these students have a lower chance of being exposed to a serious illness.

Minnesota law requires vaccinations or documented exemptions prior to kindergarten and seventh grade. Last year, an incredible 98.4 percent of Minnesota children entering kindergarten were fully immunized. With overall immunization rates in Minnesota remaining stagnant for the last five years, it is important we ensure our students’ vaccinations remain current. Immunized children protect grandparents, babies, and other family members from being exposed to illnesses that could be life-threatening for them.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates for every new generation that remains current on immunizations, 33,000 lives are saved, 14 million cases of disease are prevented, direct health care costs are reduced by $9.9 billion; and an additional $33.4 billion are saved in indirect costs.

Early childhood screenings, ideally between the ages of three and four, are just as important. They assess how a child is growing and developing and can also detect possible health or learning concerns. These insights are important for success in the classroom, providing educators with information necessary to ensure each student’s needs are being met. Like immunizations, early education screenings are required for students before entering kindergarten.

Healthy students are better learners. This year, make sure your children are immunized and your early learners are screened prior to the start of kindergarten. It’s an important part of getting the school year off to a great start for every student.

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Celebrate Lake Superior Day all weekend: July 12-15

To highlight the importance of this Great Lake to the environmental and economic well-being of this region, volunteers have coordinated a weekend of activities to call attention to the special connections we all have to this unique world treasure.

The celebration actually gets underway in the Twin Ports and along the North Shore this Thursday, July 12 with a variety of activities including:  “Temper Tantrums of Lake Superior – an afternoon hike along the shore from Tettegouche State Park; a walking tour at Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) to learn about the process that cleans wastewater and returns it to the St. Louis River each day…plus activities in Canal Park with booths and presentations at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, plus specially narrated Vista Fleet cruises, and hands-on family-friendly activities at Great Lakes Aquarium.

The celebration continues with a variety of indoor and outdoor activities all weekend long – open houses, musical performances, films, exhibits, hikes and games – at additional venues including: the offices of Lake Superior Magazine, Gooseberry Falls State Park, Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center, Split Rock Lighthouse, Temperance River State Park, Cook County Historical Society, Grand Portage State Park, Wade Stadium, several area churches, and Barker’s Island Festival Park in Superior.  A complete listing of Lake Superior Day events and program details is included below… and is posted at

Lake Superior Day sponsors:  Lake Superior Binational Forum, Minnesota Sea Grant, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program, Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Visit Duluth, Save Lake Superior Association, St. Louis River Alliance, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Todd Signs, Lake Superior Magazine.                        


Thurs. – Sun., July 12 – 15


Canal Park/Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center   Near the Aerial Lift Bridge, Duluth

Exhibits/activities: 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tables with experts from Minnesota Sea Grant, Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Save Lake Superior Association, St. Louis River Alliance, Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Lake Superior Magazine and others. Also Saturday and Sunday (July 14-15), Lake Superior Marine Museum Association will sell “Cruise of a Lifetime” raffle tickets for an ore-boat trip at a tent onsite. Association members will provide kids’ activities, such as nautical knot-tying tips.


Great Lakes Aquarium   353 Harbor Dr., Duluth

Activities: Family friendly activities and Craig Blacklock’s photography exhibit, “Apostle Islands and Pictured Rocks – From Land and Sea.”


Vista Fleet cruises will give stories and fascinating facts relating to Lake Superior Day and will serve meals on lake-related placemats. Area restaurants will serve meals on Lake Superior Day placemats with games, activities and information about the Big Lake.


Thurs., July 12

Western Lake Superior Sanitary District   27th Ave. West & the Waterfront, Duluth

Walking tours: 1-2:30 p.m. Wastewater Treatment facility (ages 13+) or Organics Composting facility       (all ages). Learn about the biological processes that clean wastewater and turn organic material into a soil addition. Moderately strenuous (stairs, indoors & outdoors). Closed-toe footwear and pre-registration required; tours are free. 218-722-3336.


Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, Duluth

Presentation: 11 a.m. Denise Wolvin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: “On a Clear, Calm Day: The Sinking of the Thomas Wilson,” the whaleback that sunk off the Duluth piers.  Presentation: 2 p.m. Center Executive Director Thom Holden, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: “Shipwrecks Here and There on the Big Lake,” a look at just a few of some 4,000 accidents on Lake Superior.


Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Kayak tour: 4:30-8 p.m. The Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center will host a kayak tour with naturalist guides who weave stories, history and environmental information along the way. Pebble beach picnic included. There is a fee and pre-registration is required. 218-353-7414

Tettegouche State Park, 11-11:30 a.m.  “Temper Tantrums of Lake Superior” – Hike along Lake Superior’s shore and learn how the lake can behave like a two-year-old. Meet at park office. Contact park at 218-226-6365.

Friday, July 13

Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center      Canal Park by the Aerial Lift Bridge, Duluth

Presentation: 11 a.m. Andrew Slade, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, “People & Policies Protect Lake Superior,” on what we all can do to help protect the Big Lake. Presentation: 2 p.m. Adele Yorde, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, on “Port of Duluth Superior: Great Lakes Cargo Capital”


Saturday, July 14

Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center

Exhibits: Special display by the DNR’s MinnAqua program about fish, aquatic habitats, water stewardship, fish management and fishing. Presentation: 11 a.m. Doug Jensen, Minnesota Sea Grant, “Aliens are Invading Gitche Gumee.” Presentation: 2 p.m. Mike Link & Kate Crowley, who walked the shoreline of Lake Superior, talk about their journey and new book, Going Full Circle: A 1,555-mile Around the World’s Largest Lake.


Lake Superior Magazine Offices     310 E. Superior St., Duluth

Open House: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Treats, new lake-related items, clearances & sales. 4 p.m. special reception honoring Lake Superior Day Volunteers, plus special guests Mike Link & Kate Crowley will be available for visiting/book signing.


Temperance River State Park  9 -10 p.m.  “Minnesota’s Mysterious Moose” – watch a slideshow about this elusive creature of the northlands. Meet near the shower building in the upper campgrounds. Bring a blanket or chair to sit on. Contact park at 218-663-7476.


Sun., July 15 – Lake Superior Day


Area Churches. Several celebrate with Lake Superior Day services. Check with individual churches.

Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center    Turn at mile 73.3 on Highway 61

Activities: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Hands-on activities all day as part of the festivities. Hiking trails open all day.

Music: 2 p.m.  The Fish Heads   Enjoy foot-tapping bluegrass and Lake Superior songs with Kim & Mike Munson.


Barker’s Island Festival Park      On the waterfront, Superior

Exhibits/activities: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Exhibits, vendors, music, poetry, kids’ activities and a native plant sale. near the new National Estuarine Research Reserve offices. Unveiling of the Superior Council of the Arts “Postcards from Our Estuary” entries.  Awards: 1 p.m. Lake Superior Binational Forum presents its annual Environmental Stewardship Awards to individuals and organizations.


Gooseberry Falls State Park

Exhibits/activities: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.  Join naturalists for a full day of activities focusing on Lake Superior and its unique flora and fauna. Contact the park at 218-834-3855.


Cook County Historical Society     8 S. Broadway, Grand Marais

Films/exhibits: 3-5 p.m. Film festival, part of WTIP radio’s year-long Lake Superior Project, features “Grandmothers Gathering for Gitchigaaming,” shot on Madeline Island by director Lorraine Norrgard, who will lead a discussion, and the film, “Paddle to the Sea.” An exhibit of community art and essays reflect connections to Lake Superior.

Grand Portage State Park, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Ojibwe Cultural Connection to Lake Superior . Outdoor presentation about the cultural relationship between Grand Portage Ojibwe & Lake Superior; 4 p.m., meet at Mt. Josephine wayside area to hear about Ojibwe connection with Isle Royale and Lake Superior water travel. Contact park at 218-475-2360.

Wade Stadium        Grand Ave. & 34th Ave. W., Duluth

5 p.m. Special acknowledgement of Lake Superior Day at the Northwoods League baseball game – Duluth Huskies vs. Thunder Bay Border Cats.


Note:  Many state parks and other venues along Minnesota’s North Shore offer regular lake-related activities.                

State Park programs are free, but a vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Permits ($5 daily or $25 year-round) can be purchased at the park.


<i>Celebrating Lake Superior Day began in the early 1990s, spearheaded by The Lake Superior Binational Forum, a multi-sector stakeholder group of U.S. and Canadian volunteers that work together to provide input to governments about lake issues and educate basin residents about ways to protect and restore the lake.  For more info:  Lissa Radke, (715) 682-1489.

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A different kind of Mother’s Day gift

Growing up, my mother sat on the board of the local Planned Parenthood organization and talked to me a lot (endlessly, I thought at the time) about how important it was to make good choices … about many things, including becoming a parent. This column by Leslie Kantor may not be all warm and fluffy like your favorite Mother’s Day card, but it’s definitely worth thinking about. ~ Jana Peterson/Pine Journa

A more meaningful Mother’s Day gift

Americans love Mother’s Day. We love it so much that we’re collectively shelling out about $19 billion this year on gifts, special meals, and cards. But when it comes to educating our kids about how most women become mothers, we’re much less conscientious. Too many of our children aren’t learning about the connection between sex and parenthood before it’s too late. That means they lack the tools that help them avoid pregnancy until they are ready to be parents.

The evidence of this struggle is clear. Although the teen birth rate recently fell to a record low, 750,000 American teens still get pregnant every year. In fact, U.S. teens are much more likely to become pregnant than teens in other countries with more comprehensive sex education and broader access to birth control. Our teen pregnancy rate remains high despite the fact that the vast majority of parents talk with their kids about topics related to sex. Unfortunately, far fewer parents are covering topics such as how to say no to sex and how to use birth control — two key ways that teens can avoid unintended pregnancies.

Parents consistently say they would like help from schools. In fact, multiple studies have shown that parents overwhelmingly support school-based comprehensive sex education that includes information on contraception. A 2011 Planned Parenthood poll found, for example, that 90 percent of parents think high school sex education classes should address birth control and 75 percent believe it should be covered in middle school.

Unfortunately, legislators in several states are going the opposite direction. Tennessee, North Dakota, and Wisconsin lawmakers have all recently passed sex education measures requiring school programs to withhold critical sexual health information. This legislation requires schools to emphasize abstinence and prevents teaching balanced information about birth control. The Tennessee bill could allow schools or teachers to be sued for “encouraging” or “condoning” nonspecific “gateway sexual behavior.” More than a few critics and reporters have speculated that handholding or kissing could fall into that category.

On the federal level, conservative lawmakers have continued to oppose funding for proven sex education programs. Hundreds of studies have shown that programs that emphasize both abstinence and birth control are more likely to help young people delay sex and avoid pregnancy than programs that teach abstinence alone. In fact, there’s so much evidence for this approach that the federal government now designates funding for programs that replicate it. Still, even with the proven success of comprehensive sex education, conservative lawmakers in Congress — who say they oppose wasteful spending — snuck $50 million per year through 2014 into the Affordable Care Act to fund unproven abstinence-only education.

The lawmakers who push abstinence-only education say teens are less likely to have sex and become pregnant if schools emphasize the dangers of sex outside of marriage and restrict teaching about contraception. But they’re out of step with what parents want, as well as with all of the evidence about what actually works to help young people delay sex and protect themselves when they become sexually active.

As the mother of a 13-year-old son, I know firsthand the rewards and challenges of parenting. It’s a commitment that no one should enter into lightly or unprepared. That’s why we parents want our kids to delay having babies until they are ready for the responsibilities parenthood requires. As a sexuality educator, I frequently hear from parents who want their kids to have access to useful information about sex and sexuality at school and not just at home.

That’s why this Mother’s Day, moms across the country would welcome the gift of effective school-based sex education. Believe me, a well-prepared kid beats a sappy Mother’s Day card any day.

Writer Leslie Kantor is the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s vice president of education.
Distributed via OtherWords (

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Lake Superior Zoo recognizes Earth Hour with special event March 31

The Lake Superior Zoo’s Green Team will celebrate Earth Hour 2012 on Sat., March 31 with a special event from 7 to 9 p.m

The zoo will turn out its lights and have a bonfire, campfire chili and music, along with an educational presentation and lantern-lit walking tour. The Arrowhead Astronomical Society will be on hand with telescopes for viewing of the constellations.

The city of Duluth will join the celebration by turning out the lights on the city’s iconic lift bridge.

Registration is $15 per family, $7.50 for individuals and FREE to zoo members. Register online at

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned off their lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Only a year later, Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as a symbol of solidarity in the fight against climate change.

In 2011 Earth Hour became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action. Iconic buildings and landmarks from the Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off. People across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet.

For more information contact Holly Henry at (218) 730-4500 ext. 207 or register online at

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Miss the parks meeting? Then fill out an online survey

The city of Cloquet is asking for resident input on the development of a long-term Master Parks Plan. Complete the (approximately 10 minute) online survey at Survey questions will also be printed in a future issue of the Pine Journal.

Here’s the latest Pine Journal story on the Master Parks Plan process.

City makes progress on parks plan


Jana Peterson


Although last Wednesday’s community meeting on the Cloquet Master Parks Plan attracted just over 30 people, Caleb Peterson said the quality of the participation made up for low numbers.

“Those that were there were very engaged and participating,” said the assistant city engineer who oversees the city parks. “I think that was even more important than having a huge turnout.”

Much of the meeting time was dedicated to small-group discussions that were reported to the larger group near the end of the meeting.

Peterson said new (to him) ideas included a climbing wall in Veterans Park and a zip line and/or a new chalet complex at Pine Valley. Discussions also included more familiar ideas and needs, including a skate park and more athletic fields, particularly at Hilltop, where the soccer fields are often booked solid in the fall with league and high school soccer games and practices, along with FDLTCC football practices.

Connectivity – or the lack thereof – was a consistent theme.

“I think we heard about trails and connectivity – whether it be sidewalks or bike trails – from every group,” Peterson said. “It sounds like that might be a focus point so far.”

Members of the Parks Master Plan Task Force were named at Tuesday’s Cloquet City Council meeting. Those include the following Cloquet residents: John Badger, Tom Urbanski, Rick Norrgard, Kevin Robertson, Jeff Leno, Rick Stowell, Holly Peterson, Jenny Blatchford, Charlotte Henning, Brady Slater, Dennis Painter, Tom Brenner, John Sanders, Jon Waugh, Tim Krohn, Daniel Tarr, Ken Ripp, Scott Blatchford, Joe Nowak, Barb Wyman, Mark Roberts and Dave Manderfeld.


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Get involved by sharing your thoughts about Cloquet’s park system

Future plans for all of Cloquet’s parks and trails, including Pinehurst Park, will be discussed at a city-wide meeting starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the commons area at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, 2101 14th St., Cloquet. Everyone is encouraged to come; food will be provided.

The meeting is the first step in formulating a master parks plan, something the city has never done before. Although Cloquet boasts a number of park features, from sporting fields to cross country trails and more, the system has been built piece by piece over the years.

On Wednesday, consultants from LHB Design Firm, which was hired by the city to help draft a parks plan, will help facilitate the meeting, but they’ve promised that it won’t be a lecture, more of a brain-storming session. Older children who are able to participate in small group discussions about the park system’s strengths and weaknesses are welcome, as are folks of all ages.

LHB’s Lydia Major said the first meeting is really about gathering information, opinions and ideas about the parks system as a whole from the people who use it. What are the strengths and weaknesses? What will make the parks better? What events are needed? How can things be better connected? Have people seen wonderful park systems elsewhere they which could be replicated in Cloquet?

Peterson said he is hopeful that a healthy number of interested residents will turn out for the meeting, despite a history of citizens not participating in activities designed to plan for the future of Cloquet.

“I don’t know why people don’t come, they’re busy I guess,” he said. “I think if it’s not something that will directly impact them tomorrow, they stay home. And part of it might be the format of most meetings. Maybe they think their input won’t be valued or heard.”

He noted, however, that part of the reason the city chose to hire LHB was because the firm has had great success with getting citizens involved and uses some unconventional methods to increase community engagement in the process.

Major said people should plan to be at Wednesday’s meeting for at least two hours. The bulk of that time – after a 20-minute presentation – will be spent in small group activities, she said.

“We’ve had what sounded like crazy ideas come out of these small groups but people have banded together and made it happen,” she said, referring to a kayak trail that came out of a Roseville, Minn., meeting. “There is also a lot of overlap between groups, but that’s good too, because that also tells you what ideas may have a lot of support.”

For more information about the meeting, call the city of Cloquet at 218-879-6758 or visit the city’s website at

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Truck driver concerns valid, but story also illustrates the dangers of assuming the worst

When I first heard that a truck driver had asked a 9-year-old boy outside of Washington Elementary School if he wanted to see something inside his truck, I was pretty shocked. Of course, as the mother of twin 9-year-old boys at the same school, I assumed the worst.

After Wendy Johnson, publisher at the Pine Journal, followed up on the police press release to find out the whole story, my feelings changed and I began to think perhaps this truck driver was only guilty of poor judgment rather than unthinkable intentions. (Read the Pine Journal story at the end of this blog post.)

I realized then that the same kind of story easily could have been written about me the Friday before.

Just a week before, it was a bitterly cold Friday morning. I had just dropped off my boys at school and noticed a teenage boy who was not wearing mittens, walking in the direction of the high school, a good 8-10 blocks away. I had seen him walking the same route a couple times before, but this time I decided to drive around the block and see if he needed a ride to school since it was such a cold day.

By the time I got around the block, he was gone. Assuming he must have gotten a ride from someone else, I didn’t give it another thought.

Until I was reading Wendy’s story and suddenly realized that my kind intentions could very easily be misinterpreted.

I’m not saying that the truck driver is guilty or innocent, just that we too often jump to the worst conclusions today. I think the little boy did all the right things, as did his grandmother in reporting the incident. The police and county attorney’s office also did their jobs in investigating the matter thoroughly.

But I also hope the truck driver still has his job if his only crime is that of not thinking of how his offer could be interpreted.

Charges not likely against delivery driver who approached elementary student

By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal

Assistant Carlton County Attorney Michael Boese indicated Wednesday that charges are unlikely against a delivery truck driver who reportedly invited a 9-year-old student at Washington Elementary School in Cloquet to get inside his semi-truck after school on Friday.

According to Cloquet Deputy Chief Terry Hill, the incident took place at 3:20 p.m. Friday as the student was waiting to be picked up outside the school. The 9-year-old boy said a man delivering items to the school asked him on two occasions to get inside the truck to “see something.” The boy did not comply. He reported the incident to his grandmother when she arrived to pick him up, and she took down the company name and contact information from the side of the truck. The family contacted police later that afternoon.

Cloquet police assigned School Liaison Officer Derek Randall to investigate the incident. He was able to track down the 31-year-old truck driver to get his version of the story, as well as that of the boy who reported the incident.

According to Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande, the truck driver stated he was making a delivery to the school when the boy gestured for him to sound the truck’s air horn, which the driver did. The driver stated he then asked the boy if he wanted to come inside the truck to see how the air horn worked, which the boy refused to do. Lamirande said based on both statements, it was difficult to determine the truck driver’s true intent in asking the boy to enter his truck.

“I agree this sort of thing can be some really scary stuff,” acknowledged Lamirande, “but it’s also a huge label to put on someone if they are innocent of any criminal intent.”

The paperwork on the investigation was forwarded to the office of the Carlton County Attorney on Tuesday, and after reviewing it thoroughly, Boese commented the following day, “I know people are concerned about this, but with the information we have at hand, I don’t believe we can charge [the truck driver] because the incident doesn’t fit the criteria we need to follow.”

Boese explained that the intent of the accused in such an incident must be clearly defined, whether it be through sexual contact, solicitation of a child to engage in sexual contact or attempt to kidnap.

“This is scary, reprehensible conduct,” agreed Boese, “but at this time, unless anyone else comes forward with additional information, we don’t have the grounds to charge him with anything.”

Boese said the school does have the right to file a misdemeanor trespass order against the driver, however, indicating by certified letter that he is not allowed to call at the school any longer or risk a misdemeanor trespass charge if he does. Washington Elementary Principal Randy Thudin stated on Wednesday morning that this is likely the course the school will take.

“I think we need to do that just to protect our kids,” said Thudin. “It seems like something this child would not have made up.”

In the meantime, Thudin said the school doesn’t plan on going about things any differently than they are right now to maintain student and staff safety.

“For the past two years, we’ve had a policy of locking down all of the doors so anyone entering the school has to go by way of the school office,” he said. “When I sent out an email to staff on Tuesday, I said I know it’s a lot of work to keep things locked down, but it’s a system that we need to adhere to.”

He further stated the driver in question was making a delivery to the school’s art room, and the teacher followed procedure by meeting him at the front door, escorting him to the classroom and making sure the door was locked after he left.

Thudin said all teachers talk with students on a monthly basis about bullying prevention, being approached by strangers, and related personal safety topics. He added that a week ago Friday, the CLIMB (Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body) Theater made a presentation to students at every grade level on those same topics.

“The [Washington Elementary] student reacted absolutely appropriately,” reiterated School Superintendent Ken Scarbrough, “and I believe everything that could be done was done. I’m not recommending any policy changes.”

Thudin said he hasn’t had a single call from parents regarding the incident, and both he and the teacher talked with the 9-year-old boy when school resumed on Tuesday.


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Why not have breakfast with a wolf?

My kids are too old now, but the Lake Superior Zoo’s upcoming “Breakfast with the animals” opportunity sounds too good to miss for those with little ones ages 3-6. Sign up and you can join a little one for a sneak peek at the zoo before hours and even get to see what a wolf has for breakfast!

Read on to find out more:

Breakfast with the Animals at the Lake Superior Zoo

Zoo animals eat breakfast in the morning too! Join them before the zoo opens for a light continental breakfast and a behind-the-scenes peak at animal enrichment. Child-focused and caregiver-directed free play activities and crafts will stir your child’s imagination and inspire learning.

The program kicks off on Friday, Feb. 3 and Saturday, Feb. 4 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. with a Bird Banquet. Enjoy breakfast with the zoo’s cockatoos and macaws. Learn about flight and feathers through imaginative play and enjoy a visit around the zoo afterwards.

On Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. take part in Hungry Like a Wolf. educational crafts and activities focusing on wolf behavior, and a “people breakfast” with the zoo’s early risers. Then visit the wolves and watch them devour their carnivore meals.

Breakfast with the Animals is for children ages 3 to 6, with a caregiver.

Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Members: $9 adults, $4 children / Non-members: $19 adults, $9 children.




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Ladies, resolve to do some financial planning for your future

This column “Women and personal finances” by Jason Alderman is a quick read, easy to understand and provides some useful links for those who decide to take the bull by the horns and do a better job of planning for future finances. And even though he works for Visa, Alderman doesn’t appear to be promoting a product, just sound financial practices

Women and personal finances

By Jason Alderman

By many measures, women’s lives have changed substantially in recent decades. According to a comprehensive government report called “Women in America” (, although certain social and economic situations for women have improved, when it comes to personal finances, many women still face challenging hurdles.

Key report findings include:

  • Women live longer than men but are much more likely to experience critical health problems that hamper their ability to work – and to pass up needed care due to cost.
  • Although the earnings gap between women and men continues to narrow, it’s still significant: Among full-time workers, women’s weekly earnings as a percentage of men’s have increased from 62 percent in 1979 to 80 percent in 2009.
  • More women than men now graduate high school and college, but far fewer earn degrees in engineering, computer sciences and other higher-paying fields.
  • Women increasingly marry later, have fewer children or remain childless, yet still are more likely to live in poverty, particularly single-mother families.
  • Women are less likely than men to work outside the home (61 percent vs. 75 percent in 2009) and are much more likely to work part-time and to take time off to raise children or care for aging relatives.

In a nutshell: Women generally earn less and live longer than men, so at retirement they often have less in savings, receive smaller retirement and Social Security benefits and must spread out their money longer. Clearly, women need to take charge of their financial wellbeing. Here are a few places to start:

Develop a budget to track income and expenses. Either download a budget spreadsheet template or investigate software packages and online account management services like Quicken (, (, Yodlee ( and Mvlopes (

Plan for retirement. Time is your biggest ally when it comes to retirement savings, so get cracking. Start estimating your retirement needs:

  • Social Security’s Retirement Estimator (, which automatically enters your earnings information from its records to estimate your projected Social Security benefits under different scenarios, such as age at retirement, future earnings projections, etc.
  • Check whether your 401(k) plan administrator’s website has a calculator to estimate how much you will accumulate under various contribution and investment scenarios. If not, try the retirement calculators at and AARP to determine your current financial status and what you’ll need to save to meet your retirement needs.

Do your research. Many helpful personal financial education and management tools are available online, including:

  • The National Foundation of Credit Counseling’s MyMoneyCheckUp™ program offers a step-by-step assessment of your overall financial health and behavior in four personal finance areas: budgeting and credit management, saving and investing, planning for retirement and managing home equity (
  • Social Security’s Website for Women provides information on retirement, disability and other issues. You can also order or download their informative, free publication, “What Every Woman Should Know” (
  • The Women’s Savings Initiative, a program jointly developed by Heinz Family Philanthropies, the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) and Visa Inc. ( This free program features an audio- and e-book called “What Women Need to Know About Retirement,” which you can order on CD or download as a PDF or audio file from Practical Money Skills for Life, a free personal financial management program run by Visa (

Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. To Follow Jason Alderman on Twitter:

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