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Thumbs up to the Carlton County Drug Abuse Task Force for organizing community forums in both Moose Lake and Cloquet over the past month to help people learn more about the epidemic of heroin and opiate or synthetic-opiate drug abuse. Education and prevention will surely help stem the still-worsening tide of addiction here and across the country. Still, as a county, state and nation, we need to make some more substantial investments, including more and better treatment options for addiction and for mental health issues, because many addicts are self-medicating. We are failing some of our most vulnerable populations and that’s a real shame for a country that likes to think it leads the free world.

Thumbs up to news that the only gas station ever designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will remain in local hands, even though the descendents of the original owners have decided it’s time to sell. According to Mike McKinney, the unofficial spokesman for the four older McKinney brothers who carried on the family businesses, no one in the next generation wanted to continue and he and his brothers were ready to retire. The gas station had been listed for sale off and on for years, but this time they found a buyer … right there at the gas station. Longtime employee/manager Chris Chartier and fellow auto mechanic Don McKay will purchase the R.W. Lindholm Service Station and plan to continue pumping gas and repairing cars and trucks there. McKinney said it was important to him and his brothers that they find a local owner, even if they didn’t maximize profit on the 58-year-old building. That’s really nice.

On that note, thumbs up to all the publicity being generated … and news that a national TV morning show wants to come and do a story when the property actually changes hands. Bring on the tourists? Let’s just hope they remember to buy some gas at the historic gas station, tip in foul weather and maybe even pop down to the historical society to find out more about our cantilevered treasure.

Thumbs down to election nastiness and to those who mistake bad manners for strength on either side of the aisle. We have given up on the presidential race ever becoming an example of reasonable debate, wherein voters choose the candidate that offers ideas and concrete solutions they like. However, we haven’t lost hope for our local candidate forums, which are usually lively and informative, without all the name calling. There’s nothing wrong with debate, or disagreeing, but let’s all try argue the issues and quit with the name calling.

Thumbs up to letter writer Phyllis Markley who was upset after reading a legal ad in the Pine Journal about an upcoming Cloquet Planning Commission case concerning a possible new site for Friends of Animals, one that she thinks is highly unsuitable. She’s not against FOA — in fact she’s adopted both a cat and a dog from there in recent years — but she doesn’t think a site near the railroad tracks will be good for the animals. We don’t want to weigh in on that argument here, but love that she took action by writing a letter to the editor and encouraging people to attend the meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Cloquet City Hall.

~ Jana Peterson

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