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July Fourth celebration is a go

This year’s July Fourth celebration in Cloquet promises to be less stressful for organizers for a number of reasons:

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 Shamrock Environmental Landfill has again offered to match any donations up to $5,000, basically guaranteeing that Cloquet will have enough money for a fireworks display;
  •  The organizing committee has more than doubled in size, and it looks like there could be a respectable number of volunteers for this year’s parade and activities in Veterans Park;
  •  The Cloquet City Council and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren unanimously agreed on Tuesday that the city could act as the event sponsor. Although the July Fourth activities would still be organized by volunteers rather than paid city staff, with the city acting as sponsor it means the city’s insurance will cover the volunteers. It also means donations to the event are tax deductible, as long as they flow through the city.
  • The Council and Mayor also approved several other items related to the July Fourth festivities during a very short — less than five minutes — formal Cloquet City Council meeting Tuesday night. They approved the closure of Cloquet Avenue from 22nd Street to Eighth Street for the Veterans Celebration Parade at 11 a.m. July 4, along with the public fireworks display permit. They also approved a license for Generous Jerry’s Fireworks to sell fireworks in the city limits, with a time extension of up to 8 p.m. in the days leading up to the Fourth.

    The Veterans of Foreign Wars will also be in charge of the beer tent this year as well as conducting Bingo in the afternoon at Veterans Park — both items were approved unanimously by the Council.

    As usual, activities on the Fourth will include food and family fun at Veterans Park all afternoon, an open house at the fire station on Cloquet Avenue, games and music at The Beach, the Sawdust 5K run in the morning, exhibits and an accordion concert at the Carlton County Historical Society, a car show at the Northeastern, and a movie in the park and fireworks to wrap up the day.

    New this year is Stipes Carnival, which will set up carnival rides, games and food on Voyageurs Park on Dunlap Island in Cloquet from July 3-6. There will be free wagon rides on the Fourth to help people travel between the carnival, the activities at Veterans Park and The Beach on the Fourth as well.

    In other actions Tuesday, the Councilors and Mayor Ahlgren also:

    •  Approved a display of fireworks on June 28 at the Fond du Lac Tribal Center during the annual Enrollee Days.
    •  Approved the demolition of a former Red Cross home that had fallen into a state of disrepair at 1408 Avenue G in Cloquet. The city is paying for the demolition and asbestos abatement costs up front, and will be paid back when the property is sold, by request of the homeowner.
    •  During the Council’s work session Tuesday, much of the discussion (again) focused on the money accrued from the Local Option Sales Tax and how the city is going to spend the proceeds from the tax. The city has collected nearly a million dollars in the sale tax fund in the past 13 months, but there have been no votes on how to spend the money.

    City Administrator Brian Fritsinger presented the Council and Mayor with a Powerpoint providing background on the sales tax, and suggestions for ways to help the decision along. No decisions were made to spend sales tax dollars on anything specific Tuesday, but Councilors did say they liked the idea of staff recommendations in each of the areas — parks and infrastructure — included in the state legislation allowing the tax.