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The Long Way Home 6.7.24

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Seventy trips around the sun have taught me a thing or two about trust. Trust is almost as crucial as being fed.  Over the years, I’ve earned the trust of many people. Sadly, I’ve broken that trust with too many, some close to me.  If it takes an hour to earn trust in the first place, it takes years to gain it back after you’ve broken it--and the repaired cracks are always there when you do. Last month, the Cook County Board of Commissioners held a retreat at a venue in downtown Grand Marais. The purpose of the retreat was to discuss something other than county business, though. The retreat facilitator, Rachel Thiemann, had this to say in leading off her proposal to earn the contract. “Cook County has identified a need for consulting/training services to be provided to the Board of County Commissioners, focusing on their ability to work harmoniously and effectively together at all times. The background supplied indicates that meetings can at times become emotionally charged, unfocused,

The Long Way Home 5.31.24

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For nearly 60 years, the television soap opera Days of Our Lives has been a staple of our screens. Its iconic opening sequence, featuring an hourglass and the phrase 'Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives,' has become synonymous with the show. Originally airing on NBC in 1965, the show concluded its run in 2022. The story didn't end there. New episodes are now exclusively available on NBC’s Peacock streaming service.  The show is set in a fictional city called Salem, IL. There is an honest Salem, IL, and I’ve been there. It was the headquarters of one of the last trucking companies I worked for before my latest attempt at retiring. I don’t recall any bragging in Salem that it was the namesake for a long-running soap opera. But enough about that. The hourglass and accompanying phrases remind us that the characters and our lives are steadily slipping away.  To supplement our fixed income, I do some freelance writing. I’m also a certified and paid aqua

The Long Way Home 5.24.24

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Telling stories about the old days is almost as much fun and more educational than talking about the aches, pains, and exotic diseases our bodies bless us.  Last fall, a small group of folks gathered at The Hub, Grand Marais's senior center, to see if there was enough interest in forming "Leave a Trace," a group that would meet monthly to encourage each other to write and share some of our stories. My friend Larry asked me to participate because I'd written a column last summer about the benefits of putting our stories on paper—not for publication or notoriety but to help our descendants get a feel for our experiences.  We agreed this would be something other than a traditional writers' group. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month, and a handful of us show up (1:30 p.m. at the Hub if you'd like to join us). We don't make a big deal about grammar or sentence structure, but we do discuss shared experiences. After hearing what one of us has written, ot

The Long Way Home 5.17.24

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I’m a bit late to the game commenting on this, and some of my cohorts may tell me it’s all old news—just forget about it.  I can’t. On April 9, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, after reviewing a proposal from an out-of-town design firm for a new courthouse and improved cop shop, voted three to two to proceed with the planning process for the $32 million project.  At a meeting of the Board on April 23, the county administrator suggested the commissioners “pause” the design process, and the five elected officials agreed. Finding outside funding to proceed with the project was problematic. All the brouhaha over the proposal left me thinking about the proper role of local governments and how we are a trusting population.  The proposal for the so-called Justice Center results from the county’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) process. The CIP addresses deteriorating county-owned properties and cramped working conditions at the historic Cook County Courthouse headquarters, a building co