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All the grant money in the world can't buy what the Highland Volunteer Fire Department has -- a growing, diverse group of volunteers. "It's all teamwork here," said volunteer firefighter Marvin Landreth. A crop of shiny new equipment slated for the group -- a tanker, engine, canoes and more -- just adds to that key ingredient. "They say firefighters are brothers and there's a huge amount of truth to that," said Highland Fire Chief Todd Carlson. "The people on my department are my family." That wasn't always the case.
Charley Weeth spotted a host of pedestrian dangers lurking on Superior's streets during a two-day walkabout. The executive director of Wisconsin Walks didn't mince words when he discussed his findings with city officials Thursday. Wide streets, no buffer zone between sidewalks and streets, signage that is hard to see, old, cracked and even missing sidewalks were all concerns.
Christmas came early for the Highland Volunteer Fire Department. Tuesday, members packed new river rescue equipment -- canoes, paddles, life vests, back rests and even wheels for portaging -- on a trailer. In about a week, the department's 1964 tanker truck will be replaced. And next summer, they will receive a new fire engine. The town's 265 residents will only foot the bill for the tanker. Everything else was provided by corporate and government grants. The new rigs will make a "gigantic difference in our ability to suppress fires," said Highland Fire Chief Todd Carlson.
The question of whether to launch a language immersion school in Superior rests on the shoulders of parents. "Unless there are enough students to create one or two sections, the board isn't interested," said Superintendent Jay Mitchell. The school board's curriculum committee began consideration of a Spanish immersion school at Lake Superior School a year ago. The idea sparked a mixed response during public meetings this spring, including a flood of letters to the editor.
In January, Betsy Gregg will witness history. The University of Wisconsin-Superior senior was chosen to attend Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. "One can't deny that this will be a historic day for our entire country," she said in an e-mail interview. The thought of being able to share that moment with future generations, she said, "gives me goose bumps." The trip was made possible through a scholarship from the UW-Superior Foundation. "This is exactly the kind of thing we want to be doing," said Jill Schoer, assistant chancellor for university advancement.
The time has come for the garage at Graceland Cemetery to rest in peace. "I don't think the roof is going to last this winter," said Gale Winter, president of the cemetery board of directors. The 1920s structure has served it's purpose for decades. But today, only tarps and creative stacking keep lawnmowers, trailers, a chain saw and other equipment from getting soaked when it rains. Holes in the roof are becoming apparent. Winter's husband, Randy, tried to cover one with a piece of tin last summer.
A few miles out from "the sunny side of Superior" is a rural church in what Fr. Ron Olson calls "God's Country." For 100 years, it has served as a focal point in Foxboro -- a place to celebrate, worship and grieve as one. "I think it's very important," said Sue Britton. "It's what holds the community together." Whether their congregational roots run deep or they are new transplants, members of St. William find a warm welcome every week. "I just love our little parish," said Carolyn War.
After five years of fighting for state regulations on predatory lending, Superior leaders may have found a solution to breaking the downward spiral of payday loans. It didn't come from Madison or city ordinances code. The remedy came from a local credit union. By January, Superior Choice Credit Union will be offering Good Money loans, a product similar to a payday loan at half the price. "It's a great private-sector anwer to predatory lending," said Superior Mayor Dave Ross.
The need for financial counseling has exploded in the past three years. "In 2004, as a service we met 3,000 families," said Dan Williams, program director for LSS Financial Counseling, a division of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. "This year, we will serve 18,000." With demand outpacing supply, partnerships like the one forged with Superior Community Credit Union can ensure members get fast help -- a three-day wait instead of a four to six week wait. For 22 years, LSS has served the state of Minnesota.
Fourteen businesses and organizations set off on the path to sustainability last week. These Early Adopters, chosen by the Sustainable Twin Ports group, included a full spectrum of participants. "Everything from a husband and wife-owned sign business to an entire county," said Tracy Meisterheim, Early Adopter Project Coordinator. A church, a car wash and the city of Duluth are on the team.