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EMS instructor, physician honored for lifetime achievement

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A long-time Emergency Medical Services (EMS) instructor with the Cromwell Fire Department and a Cloquet physician who served as medical director for the Carlton Fire Department were both honored with the distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award at Monday’s meeting of the Carlton County Board.

Steve Bridge, president of the Carlton County EMS Association, introduced the awards. Bridge began by honoring Michael Peterson, who joined the Cromwell Volunteer Fire Department in 1984. Over the 30 years since, Bridge told commissioners, Peterson went from being a training officer with the department to become an EMS/CPR/advanced first aid instructor. He has also served as an EMT instructor at Hibbing Technical College and and EMT examiner for the state of Minnesota.

“He has a gift for teaching others,” Bridge commented. “He is a lifelong learner and has spent thousands of hours at it. He has the sort of passion it takes to be a teacher.”

Bridge said in addition to his duties with the department, Peterson has taught countless students over the years.

“Mike has dedicated his life to teaching others, both in Carlton and St. Louis counties,” said Bridge, “and the Cromwell-Wright department would not be nearly as well trained without him.”

The second Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Vicki Anderson. Dean Wolf of the Carlton Fire and Rescue Department explained that Anderson recently retired as the department’s medical director after more than 30 years of service. He said Anderson, who has been a physician at Raiter Clinic and Community Memorial Hospital since 1976, was “very instrumental” in getting an EMT defibrillator program started in the department in the early 1980s, explaining that Carlton had been selected for a pilot program that turned out to be very successful.

“She not only taught our staff but she also developed many, many medical variances and protocols for us,” said Wolf, “as well as conducting many educational programs throughout her years with us.”

Wolf said in addition to her duties at the clinic and hospital, Anderson also serves as medical director at Inter-Faith Care Center in Carlton and has distinguished herself in many ways throughout the county.

“She has an entire briefcase-load of committees she’s served on, awards and certifications,” he commented, thanking Anderson for her long-time commitment to the department and the area.

Denny Johnson of the Carlton Fire Department presented the EMS “Unit of the Year” award to the Mahtowa Fire Department, with firefighter Jim Fundine accepting. Johnson said the Mahtowa department has helped respond to numerous emergencies over the past year, “from simple falls to multiple vehicle accidents,” he added.

“They have provided excellent care and exceptional assistance,” he said. “Pride, compassion and commitment are three words that come to mind when it comes to the Mahtowa Fire Department. They have a consistently high quality of work and provide exceptional teamwork.”

Sue Bengston of Moose Lake Fire and Rescue was honored as the EMS “Person of the Year.” Bridge said Bengston has not only served as the Mercy Ambulance director but has also taught EMS/EMT instruction at Hibbing Technical College.

“She helps out wherever and whenever she’s needed,” said Bridge, “and she’s committed to teaching others while continuing to grow herself.”

In business to come before the Board at Monday’s meeting, Commissioners Dick Brenner, Marv Bodie and Gary Peterson (Commissioners Bob Olean and Tom Proulx were absent) unanimously approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for the Doddridge Avenue/Big Lake Road project. Transportation Director Mike Tardy explained that the county’s share of the inter-agency project will be $500,000 — $400,000 of which will be secured through federal funding and $100,000 of which will be funded locally. He added that associated Highway 33 improvements will also be included in the project’s scope. Tardy told commissioners that bids for the project — which will, among other things, reconfigure the busy intersection at that pivotal location — are expected to be let in April, with completion set for sometime this summer.

Commissioner Brenner questioned if the intersection or Big Lake Road will be closed down at any point during the reconstruction process. Tardy said the project will take place utilizing staged construction phases in order to minimize impacts to local traffic flow.

Commissioner Marv Bodie requested that the Board consider supporting legislation that would allow — but not require — cities and counties to post their legal publications on their official websites, either in addition to, or instead of, in qualified newspapers. Bodie distributed a model resolution from the Association of Minnesota Counties that the Board can endorse and forward on to the legislature if they so choose. According to the materials distributed, about half of Minnesota counties have thus far endorsed the move. Up until this point, legal entities such as the county have been required to publish such legal notices as their legal proceedings, minutes, public hearings and delinquent tax lists in legally qualified newspapers. The Board voted to forward the proposal to next week’s meeting of the Committee of the Whole for discussion.

Also tabled until next week’s Committee of the Whole meeting were two proposed county employee policies. One would support and make accommodations for female employees who are breast feeding their children by providing milk expression breaks, lactation rooms, breastfeeding equipment and education in all county buildings. The other that would allow county employees who use cell phones in the course of their jobs to choose between the use of a county-issued cell phone or a pre-determined reimbursement for utilizing their personal cell phones. The Committee of the Whole meeting will take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, in the County Transportation Building on Old Highway 61 in Carlton.