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Guest Views: Local leaders offer wishes for the new year

With 2021 in the rearview mirror, the Pine Knot News reached out to a variety of local leaders to ask them what they hope Carlton County will see in 2022. Here’s what those who responded said:

Minnesota Rep. Mike Sundin

“As we reflect on the difficult times that we have experienced in the last couple of years, I’d like to thank the people that have contributed to keeping us healthy and safe as best as they could. Health care professionals and public servants of Carlton County deserve to be recognized for their efforts in safeguarding public health. My wish is that we honor the efforts of these public servants by getting vaccinated and encouraging others to do the same.”

Dave Lee, director of Carlton County

Public Health and Human Services

“My wish is that we finally turn the corner on the spread of Covid-19. Our community has done an excellent job in practicing good public health, rallying to make vaccines available and working to keep our families and neighbors safe. Our medical community and schools need a break. Addressing the mental health stress we are experiencing will be very important moving forward. We need to remember all that we have been able to accomplish over the past two years.”

Mayor Roger Maki, Cloquet

“My hope for Carlton County for 2022 is that we, as government and community leaders, can significantly increase affordable housing units. Naturally, my preference is to see most of those units come to Cloquet, but I will be happy regardless of where in the county real progress is made. This problem has been around for as long as I have been working in real estate (52 years). Let’s work together to solve it.”

Holly Hansen, Cloquet community

development director

“I hope our industries and businesses thrive, and that entrepreneurs consider the possibilities Cloquet has to offer. I hope this community continues to appreciate and support businesses that we have here and strives to intentionally shop here. I hope investment, development, and communitywide revitalization efforts continue bringing Cloquet to its best and fullest potential. I hope developers open up property for single-family home development and

gentle-density projects. I hope skilled developers consider loft apartment opportunities in our downtown. I hope this region continues to grow in awareness of all that Cloquet has to offer, and the people we have here know that it is a great place to be.”

Gary Peterson, Carlton County Board of Commissioners chairman

In November we’ll have the vote on the half-cent sales tax. Hopefully people will understand this is the best route we can have to fund the jail and justice center and they will pass the tax, because we don’t have a choice about building a new jail. I hope the state will also share some of its surplus to give us more help establishing the new women’s program there. But the biggest thing is I wish we could get through this pandemic and everything that comes along with it, including increased governmental regulations.

Kim Belcastro, Wrenshall superintendent

“The last two school years have been the most difficult years in my 32-year career in public education. It is my personal hope that 2022 is the year to get beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. I also hope that this positive movement forward will bring unity among staff, students, parents, guardians and community members. The pandemic has had many negative side effects that have adversely impacted daily life inside and outside our school buildings. Carlton County is a great place to raise and educate students. However, the pandemic proved that even in Carlton County not all students were able to be afforded the opportunities to get what they needed and deserved in order to be successful. My motto for the year is to be ‘Hopeful and Supportive’ to all.”

Rick Breuer, CEO Community Memorial Hospital

I hope we can get to the next phase of Covid in 2022, one where many of us can resume the things that bring us joy: connections with others, hobbies, fellowship and hugs. We also will need a time of healing for all those who have suffered from Covid as well as the caregivers, and I hope 2022 brings respite for us all.

Stephanie Hammitt, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College president

A top priority or wish for 2022 would be to see less divisiveness in our world today, whether it be locally, statewide or nationally. The last couple of years has taken a toll on many individuals and the struggle is real. At Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College we pride ourselves on living and operating within our core values. They include Respect (Manaaji’idiwin), Integrity (Gwayakwaadiziwin), Stewardship (Ganawenjigewin), Innovation (Maamamiikaajinendamowin), and Compassion (Zhawenjigewin). By keeping these core values in mind and using them to guide our decisions and actions, we hope to see less division in society while at the same time recognizing the strength and real power that individual ideas and opinions can bring to the table when arriving at those decisions.

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