Shelley Nelson column: COVID-19 colors local news

This column is part of a series where the Telegram staff look back at their work during 2020.
Former Superior City Councilor Dan Olson tells the story of how Kenna Hermanson brought up the idea of the all-inclusive Webster Dream Park in the rain during the official opening ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 9, in South Superior. (Jed Carlson /

The stories sometimes blur together but this year the ones that stand out have a common thread.

It seemed everything I wrote about this year, whether politics, elections, business or local government was all touched and colored by a disease caused by the new coronavirus.

What stands out is that it wasn’t all bad news.

In the face of a pandemic, new entrepreneurs found their opportunity to fill gaps where restaurants had closed. Stop N Go Pizza and Jamrock Cultural Restaurant — two Black-owned businesses — are getting their start where Sammy’s Pizza and Pak’s Green Corner once served the community.

Keith White cuts up mushrooms at Stop N Go Pizza on Tower Avenue Tuesday, Dec. 8, in Superior. (Jed Carlson /

Then there was Judith Gregoire, who had placed her husband in a long-term care facility, Superior Rehabilitation, to keep him safe because of dementia. It was only after she’d driven her husband back to the facility from a local emergency room that she learned he’d tested positive for COVID-19.

He died within a week of the diagnosis. That story was not an easy one to write with lots of moving parts that weren't making sense. But the best news came after the story was published: Judith Gregoire’s test for COVID-19 came back negative.

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak at Superior Rehabilitation claims 9 lives

RELATED: Jamrock Cultural Restaurant moves to Tower Avenue

RELATED: Take-out gets distinct flavor in Superior

Even before the pandemic began, the City Council changed the landscape for small businesses. While it’s fairly typical for large development projects to get subsidies to support their projects, the little guy was often overlooked until the city created the small business grant program.

The program has been wildly popular with many small businesses in town, so popular, in fact, officials had to replenish the fund once. It also gave the city a tool to respond to pandemic by creating a micro-grant program to help dozens of small businesses affected financially by the nearly two-month shutdown that started in March.


RELATED: Superior commission weighs changes to small business grant program

In a year where being indoors in large groups was hazardous for your health, the city made a lot of improvements in outdoor recreational opportunities, from finishing an 18-hole disc golf course in the Superior Municipal Forest to making the connection from the Osaugie Trail near Bear Creek Park to Wisconsin Point Road.
A sign welcomes hikers to the Bear Creek Trail near Bear Creek Park Monday, Sept. 28. (Jed Carlson /

RELATED: Disc golf course opens in Superior Municipal Forest

RELATED: Work begins to extend new Bear Creek Trail to Wisconsin Point

RELATED: Superior celebrates a dream come true

And work to complete Superior’s first all-inclusive park was finally done in time for summer play. I'm still impressed that it started with an 8-year-old child who didn’t think it was fair that her disabled friends couldn’t play like she could.


And kudos to the city’s parks and recreation staff for their creativity to keep summer park programs, Bayside Sounds, and now even ice skating going during a pandemic that has changed how we live, work and play.
Kids play at Webster Dream Park in South Superior Wednesday, Sept. 9. (Jed Carlson /
Kids play at Webster Dream Park in South Superior Wednesday, Sept. 9. (Jed Carlson /

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Participants will pledge to use less water or work to prevent water pollution for the year.