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opinion Cloquet, 55720

Cloquet Minnesota 122 Avenue C 55720

Thumbs down to the continued government shutdown. Can anyone say irresponsible brinksmanship?

Washington, D.C. and its politicians often feel like a different world, but there's no doubt this game -- and it is a game -- is having an impact locally as well as nationally.

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Here are just a few facts and figures about the shutdown in the state and county:

- Approximately 18,000 civilian federal workers around Minnesota were sent home on furlough after Congress could not agree on extending the federal budget.

- More than 1,200 civilian National Guard employees were furloughed, mostly in Duluth, St. Paul and at Camp Ripley.

- While most federal payments to Americans are continuing -- such as food stamps, veterans' medical services, Medicare, Medical Assistance, Social Security and WIC grants -- many of the offices where people sign up for federal aid are closed, so it is nearly impossible to sign up for aid or get answers.

- Monthly payments to area landlords that subsidize low-income tenants could be put at risk if the partial federal government shutdown continues into November and beyond.

- While state parks are still open, in Minnesota, the major recreation facilities closed are Pipestone National Monument, Voyageurs National Park, Grand Portage National Monument, Mississippi National Recreational River and St. Croix National Scenic River. National wildlife refuges and other federal government lands also are closed.

On the bright side, the shutdown has not yet affected the Fond du Lac Reservation. Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Chairwoman Karen Diver said everything on the reservation -- including the Head Start program -- is open and running, because the Band drew down any grants they had the week before the shutdown. "We are good for 30-45 days," Diver wrote in an email response to the Pine Journal. "One would hope it would be resolved prior to that. [The] only impact is our federal partners are not available."

Thumbs upto emergency nurses -- yes, this week is Emergency Nurses Week -- and all the others who make up the team of medical professionals who respond to our emergencies. What would we do without all of you -- paramedics, nurses, doctors and all the other ancillary medical personnel who operate miraculous machines that help diagnose our ailments -- in our times of need? It takes a special group of people to work together in those conditions, to keep their cool when parents of hurt children and others are losing theirs, to continue to work and think and be professional in truly traumatic situations ... and to not scoff when the situation might not actually warrant an emergency room visit. For all that and more, we thank you.

Thumbs up to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for canceling its moose hunt.

According to www.fdlrez.com, after numerous discussions with Band members, the Reservation Business Committee voted to cancel the Band's 2013 moose hunting season in the 1854 Ceded Territory. The RBC based its decision on the dramatic decline of the moose population.

"Although state and tribal biologists have both concluded that tribal hunting has not been a significant factor in the moose decline, the Band has a longstanding cultural tradition of conservation and stewardship over natural resources in the ceded territories," the community notice stated. "The RBC believes that we need to do what we can to help stabilize the moose population for the future."

Thumbs up to engaged newspaper-reading citizens who want answers. To the woman who called on Monday, convinced there are more emergency sirens (vehicles, not weather warnings) going off than ever, you were right. Although the police chief said their calls are about average, the fire chief said calls are up significantly. To the Esko-area resident who wanted to know more about his school, township and new ambulance district taxes, we're working on it and those are great questions. To the Cloquet reader who wondered how county officials never figured out that the transfer station was not earning as much as it should have, we wonder the same, especially with the number of complaints logged over the years. It's certainly a story we will continue to cover closely. Thanks to all of you for calling with your queries, and thanks for reading us.

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