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Verne Wagner plans to tickle your funny bone Wednesday. "If we're in a recession," said the Duluth man, "Let's offer a little comic relief." Wagner is one of four comics ready to deliver punch lines at The Laff Shack. He will be joined by local comedians Le Ann Diler and Chuck Androsky and headliner Michael Thorne of Minneapolis.
For 10 years, Mary Anderson-Petroske has run her own publishing company. The authors are her eighth-grade students. Their works get a single printing -- one book each. And every copy is given away. Last week, the Superior Middle School authors sat down in the library media center to read their books to kindergarten students from Northern Lights School.
They meet every Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Douglas County Courthouse to witness the end of the American dream. These weekly auctions of foreclosed properties are generally a quick, cordial affair. "Usually it's lawyers and bankers," said Deputy Dan Lindberg, who holds the sales. Occasionally bidders do show up. "People are always looking for a good deal," Lindberg said. They are not easy to find, said those familiar with the auctions.
David Holcombe had a heart for youth. He cheered his son's hockey teams, applauded his daughter's figure skating routines, served on the Superior Area Hockey Association board and coached numerous youth athletic teams. "He was just the proudest father I've ever met," said Holcombe's friend Pat Golat. "He was so proud of his kids and so proud of everybody's kids." Since early Saturday morning, those who knew Holcombe mourned his death.
The house on State Street was close to condemnation when he bought it, David Smith said. Over the last 15 years, he made the village of Oliver house a home. He jacked up the roof to put in a wall, sliding glass door and temporary siding. He built cabinets and doors out of wood recycled from his job at Duluth Timber. Five years ago, a new roof and siding were put in place. "The house was almost complete," Smith said. In three hours, fire erased 15 years of work and left six people homeless. "I have nothing now," Smith said. And time is the enemy.
Two Superior businesses cleared the air for customers this month. Thirsty Pagan Brewing and the Barker's Island Inn bar became smoke-free establishments March 1. "It's better off for our employees; it's better off for our customers," said Steve Knauss, owner of the Thirsty Pagan. "It just made sense for us to do it." Charlie Johnson, general manager for Barker's Island Inn, said his main motivation to go smoke-free was the health of staff and guests. "It's a risky thing to do," he said, but, "everybody's been happy.
Homelessness is paralyzing. "When you know where you're going to put you head down at night, you feel secure," said Barb Certa-Werner, executive director of Harbor House Crisis Shelters. "You're able to work on other areas of your life." When finding a place to sleep is a daily challenge, she said, "You can't do it." Every day in Douglas County, 600 people are homeless. They are not nameless or faceless. "We're talking about your neighbors, your friends, members of your family," Certa-Werner said.
It happened again. Early last Friday morning, fire destroyed the home of Ed and Doris Charbonneau -- for the second time. The Lake Nebagamon couple watched as the blaze spread from their attached garage into the house where they planned to retire. But there was no doom or gloom in Ed's voice during a phone conversation Wednesday. In fact, his first question was "How are you, dear?" That's to be expected, say those who know the couple. They are able to focus on the positive. "Everybody's safe and sound," Ed said, and they were able to salvage about 90 percent of their clothes.
A Superior sex offender is accused of exposing himself to the public days after he was put on probation for a similar offense. Michael Francis Nelson, 55, made his initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court on Monday for one count of lewd and lascivious behavior, a class A misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and a $500 signature bond was ordered.
It started with dinnerware. About 20 years ago, Janet Sobolik went to an estate sale with her brother. The vast array of items interested her, but it was the kitchen items that hooked her on antiques. "I bought a few pieces of Blue Ridge dinnerware," the Superior woman said. "So then I had to go to all these shops and find more of the pattern to get my hutch full." Fast forward two decades.