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Thumbs up and down

Thumbs up and down to the departure of the R.W. Lindholm Frank Lloyd Wright house, which was shipped piece-by-piece to an architectural park in Pennsylvania in May and June. Thumbs up because the owner, Peter McKinney, made a very responsible decision in donating the home, which was vacant and hadn’t sold, so it can be preserved and enjoyed by fans of the world famous architect. But we can’t help (yes, selfishly) wishing it were still here, hidden in that beautiful grove of pine trees across the street from Wendy’s and Wal-Mart, a hidden treasure in the heart of Cloquet. Would a local organization have been able to maintain the home, where the McKinney boys used to roam, in the setting for which it was designed? That setting is not the same, of course, thanks to the commercial development along state Highway 33 on that end of town. News that the gas station — the world’s ONLY existing working gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright — is for sale is also worrying, but we resolve to be positive, and hope that whoever buys it will treasure it as the McKinney and Lindholm family has … and keep it right here in Cloquet, where it belongs.

Thumbs up to the ladies of the Cloquet VFW Auxiliary sewing group, who spent hours cutting and sewing a large and beautiful patriotic quilt that was raffled with great success to raise money for the July Fourth festivities. They are a talented and hard-working group, with hearts of gold and an eye for detail. Well done, ladies! And by the way, Carla Bayerl won the quilt. Carla is retired from the U.S. Air Force and was thrilled to win. “A quilt like that is hard to come by,” she said. “I highly appreciate the unique assortment of squares carefully woven together containing different patterns of red, white and blue. I'm showing it off to everyone!”

Thumbs up to Carlton County and its board of commissioners. It must be a great place to work, as recently retired County Assessor Marci Moreland stated more than once in last week’s Our Neighbor’s story. Moreland worked for the county for nearly 40 years, and said it’s been a blessing. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Moreland said. It seems former and now new Public Health and Human Services Director Dave Lee feels the same way. Lee left the county to take the same position for St. Louis County, but asked for his old job back in Carlton County last week and commissioners were happy to have him back.“I value being able to work with a board and administration where there is strong leadership willing to make the investment and commitment in providing good public services,” Lee told the Pine Journal last week. “I feel like I have done and can continue to do excellent work (in Carlton County), in a setting where that support and leadership is there.”

Thumbs down to what seems to be an increasing number of ATV accidents. It feels like a perfect storm: too many young unlicensed and untrained drivers, older drivers who think it’s OK to drive an ATV when they’re impaired by drugs or alcohol, and more and more drivers taking to the roads with their ATVs rather than the trails. ATVs are not cars. They don’t have seat belts or air bags. In the case of an ATV collision with a car, the car will usually win. Parents, make sure your kids take the safety classes offered, and don’t drive four-wheelers that are too big for them. And for those who want to drink and drive their ATV, please walk home next time or call someone sober for a ride. It takes longer, but your chances of getting there without hurting yourself or someone else are much improved on foot.

Thumbs up to all the small towns that continue to celebrate the Fourth of July. It’s not easy, as the price of fireworks continues to climb, and people seem to resent paying taxes so cities cut all the fun stuff out of their budgets. In Cloquet, the costs of the festivities are paid for by donations of money or time. Area businesses, service groups and individuals donate money, the city donates staff time and resources and a fairly small group of loyal volunteers do the same. If any of those groups don’t pitch in, it doesn’t happen. So thank you everyone and kudos to all the volunteers, all the contributors, all the city workers and veterans and businesses and regular folks to come together to make this wonderful,  city-wide party happen every year. It feels so nice to celebrate together.

~ Jana Peterson