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Thumbs up to news that a new handicapped accessible group swing is installed at Churchill Elementary. People in wheelchairs can roll right onto the Sway Fun and there are handgrips to help them stay in place. Up to 10 of their able-bodied peers can climb on the Sway Fun with them to add to the fun. Kudos to retired teachers Cathy Schroeder and Debbie Roach for making it happen, and to community members and businesses that contributed close to $17,000 to help pay for the specialized swing. And finally, thumbs up to all that the new swing represents: inclusiveness, a loving and caring community and fun for all, together.

Thumbs down to a shockingly low voter turnout in Carlton County. Even where there were local races, turnout was under 15 percent. Countywide, it was just over 7 percent. At the same time, we’d like to say, “We get it.” The only race on the ballot for most people was a Minnesota Supreme Court race, and most people don’t follow judicial selections very closely, so … let’s just all vow to do lots of reading and fact checking in advance of the General Election and get to the polls to vote in November.

Thumbs up to organizers of the Wood City Music Festival. They’ve done such impressive things over the past three years and attendance at the Christian music festival in Veterans Park just keeps growing. It’s good, clean family fun and it’s free. Here’s hoping that Mother Nature cooperates and Saturday is a beautiful day to be outside listening to music and having fun.

Thumbs up to National Night Out. In some places it’s all about the neighborhood. In small towns like Mahtowa, the entire population can attend a potluck. It’s also been a citywide celebration in Cloquet for the past two years, sponsored by the Cloquet Police Department, Cloquet Area Fire District, WKLK and Carlton County Mounted Posse, aided by donations from numerous area businesses. It’s nice to have police officers grilling and plating hot dogs and burgers for residents, laughing and joking, even while dressed in their official police uniforms. It makes it more difficult for people to stereotype law enforcement in a negative manner, which is even more important in these times of too many shootings, by police and at police.

Jana Peterson

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