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November 17, 2007

Smoking ban in Duluth bars is a hot topic

DCN Reporter

On October 1st, the city-wide smoking ban came into effect banning smoking from all Duluth bars.

As a result, Bernard Holland, manager of the Kozy Bar, has seen a drop in business.

“It’s [business] dropped a lot because it’s cold outside,? said Holland. “Right now we’re a little less than even.?

The Kozy Bar recently dropped a request for a designated smoking area, which would have been the first step to getting an outdoor drinking area for the bar.

With the cold weather coming in and the first signs of snow, Holland said he believes the Kozy’s business will suffer even more.

For Pizza Luce, the smoking ban has helped its business. According to Jona Johnson, a Pizza Luce bartender, business has not suffered. She also states that people can now eat lunch inside the bar when the dining area gets too full.

Johnson, who is a smoker that is in favor of the ban, said that by no smoking in the bars, it has helped her cut back on smoking herself and she doesn’t have to inhale the second-hand smoke.

“I use to smoke a pack and a half a day, now I smoke a half of a pack,? said Johnson. “My eyes feel better and I have less of a hangover. I’ve gone over to Superior and I’ve had to go outside for fresh air.?

For Peter Anderson and Dale Brown, who are long-time smokers, they disagree with the smoking ban.

“When I go out and have my beers, I like to have my cigarettes,? said Anderson. “I’ve cut down [on smoking] which is good, but let me have my way and let me choose.?

Brown, who said he’s also cut back on smoking, says that now littering could become a problem.

“Now that people can’t smoke inside, there will be more littering,? said Brown. “People who go outside to smoke will throw it [cigarette butt] on the sidewalk.?

Hillside residents find unlikely neighbors in raccoons

DCN Reporter

A raccoon lives on 10th Avenue E. and Eighth St.

Well, actually, it might be more like three raccoons.

“I think three of them live on the one block,? said Colleen O’Hagan, who lives on 10th Avenue. “One of them is a big one.?

While the three don’t cause too many problems for residents, O’Hagan said they occasionally notice the aftermath of a late night snack made by the trio.

“Our garbage probably gets hit once or twice a week,? said O’Hagan. “And typically in the dead of the night.?

With all of the easy meals, it’s no wonder that the raccoons don’t leave. Lindsay Ostman, O’Hagan’s roommate, has seen the larger of the three many times.

“He’s so big that he waddles through our yard and into our neighbor’s [yard],? said Ostman.

With a laugh, O’Hagan adds, “I’m really confident I could outrun the fat one.?

“We have more of a problem with it in the summer,? adds Ostman. “My boyfriend lives on 10th and Sixth, and they have had a real problem with raccoons.?

O’Hagan believes that the group of raccoons might be sticking together for a reason.

“I think the group might be a family,? said O’Hagan.

Earl Sullivan, the owner of Eighth Street Video on Ninth Street, acknowledges that there can sometimes be an animal control problem in the neighborhood, but for him it's typically not raccoons.

“I’ve never seen a raccoon around here,? said Sullivan. “But, I’ve seen a bunch of skunks.?

A few years ago, Sullivan said, a neighbor had a problem with a mother skunk and her babies hanging around her house. The group was eventually picked up by animal control, but that was before the group decided to go for a stroll. One day, the group of skunks decided to walk straight down the sidewalk.

“People on the street,? said Sullivan with a chuckle, “stopped their cars and started talking pictures.?

New Italian restaurant, Vicini Lago, to open in Duluth within the new year

DCN Reporter

Carol Valentini is getting ready to put her family’s Italian cooking recipes to the test in Duluth. Her new restaurant is being built on London Road. Valentini’s Vicino Lago will be one of the newest dining establishments in Duluth, and will bring a little “home cookin'? to town.

“Many of these recipes are from the old country,? said Valentini. “That’s what I want to share with people.?

Valentini’s family is no stranger to the restaurant business. Her grandmother started Valentini’s Restaurant in Chisolm, Minn. over 75 years ago.

“It’s been a cornerstone development on the Iron Range for many, many years,? said Valentini. “It’s been a main stay for all of these years because it has been rooted in people’s lives. It’s a place where people get together.?

Valentini hopes to have that same sense of community in her own restaurant.

“It’s going to be a casual restaurant that is real conducive to families,? said Valentini.

John Mackay is a Duluth resident who goes out to eat almost every day. Mackay feels that it may be difficult for a new place to get started and gain a reputation with there already being so many restaurants in town. He adds that because so many of the restaurants are owned by the same people, a newcomer will have to bring something different in order to be successful. Still, he is excited to give Valentini’s a try when it opens.

“Spaghetti and garlic bread, that’s my favorite meal,? says Mackay.

James Mckian moved to the Twin Ports around four months ago. While he almost never dines out, he thinks a new restaurant opening in Duluth will be especially valuable to college students.

“I think it’s pretty positive,? said Mkian. “It could give people like college students the opportunity for more jobs.?

Valentini says that the home style cooking will be the best aspect of the restaurant, and will bring something new to the restaurant scene in Duluth.

“I’m trying to get people to appreciate quality, homemade food and not think that they’ll have to pay $30 for dinner,? says Valentini.

While there is no set date for the official opening of the restaurant, Valentini expects to be up and running soon after the new year.

Hillside stores happy to see Uncle Loui's Cafe reopen

DCN Reporter

On April 19, 2007 tragedy struck Uncle Loui’s Café on 4th Street, propelling it out of business for the following seven months. This event has not only affected the café’s customers, but the numerous surrounding businesses as well.

“There was a fire,? said Penny Briddell, the owner of Uncle Loui’s. “The inside was totaled.?
A short in a refrigerator caused the fire that ended up causing massive smoke damage to the inside of the café.

“It couldn’t be fixed,? said Briddell. The café was forced to close for seven months so repairs could be made.

Uncle Loui’s reopened on Nov. 2 to the joy of not only their regular customers, but many of the businesses in its vicinity.

According to Briddell, Uncle Loui’s “benefits people in the surrounding businesses.?

Kate Hart, owner of Sunhillow Books said that business in her shop declined drastically when Loui’s was under repair.

“Boy did we notice it when it was gone,? said Hart. “I was lucky if I made $20 a day.?

Uncle Loui’s has proven to be a business that draws many people to the Central. This in turn helps to populate the area with people willing to explore the numerous small businesses in the area.

“People didn’t have a reason to come to this part of town," said Hart.

In fact, many small business owners noticed a decline in the number of people who frequented the area when Uncle Loui’s closed down.

Sherri Dunbar of Dunbar Floral and Gifts said, “When Uncle Loui’s wasn’t open there wasn’t as much foot traffic.? In general there were not as many people in the area to support its businesses.

“It’s good for business as a whole to have something prosperous in the area,? said Dunbar.

Although the café itself is quite quaint, Uncle Loui’s role in the community is far from small.

“We are a vital part of this community,? said Briddell. “It’s a business district. We’re a main artery to business in this area.?

The small café proves to be a main artery that provides life to its surrounding businesses and their owners.

“They certainly are a companion business,? said Hart with a look of satisfaction on her face.

“One kind of feeds off the other,? said Dunbar regarding the numerous small businesses in the area.
Through this café’s friendly service to its many customers, it has made itself a friend to the many businesses around it.

Uncle Loui's Cafe welcomed back into the neighborhood

DCN Reporter

In the last six years, five Hillside teachers hadn’t missed a Thursday morning at Uncle Loui’s Café.

In those six years, six different teams have won the World Series, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred and President George W. Bush has nearly finished his second term in office.

Six years is a long time.

That’s why David Heib, Jim Olson, Scott Anderson, Jack Sheare, and Jay Monson were in shock when Uncle Loui’s Café burned down on April 19th.

An electrical short in a fridge caused the fire. Everything was ruined.

The teachers all called and emailed each other to make sure everyone knew.

“We all cried,? said Heib.

“For the first few weeks, we just sulked,? said Anderson.

Eventually, the teachers would find a new meeting place: the Coney Island restaurant on Superior Street.

The employees at Uncle Loui’s, however, weren’t interested in finding a new place.

“From the moment it burned down there was never a thought about not reopening,? said owner Penny Briddell. And so the process began. A good insurance plan allowed all the employees to come together to help bring back what Briddell called “a lot of people’s favorite place?.

“We were even ready to volunteer,? said Heib of his fellow teachers.

Six months later, on Nov. 2, the work was completed, and Uncle Loui’s Café reopened.

“We had to do a lot of advertising to make sure people knew we were going to be open again,? said Briddell, “but mostly people knew just by word of mouth. We even had people walking by every day, peering into the windows.?

As for the five teachers?

“It was like coming home again,? said Olson. “The food was the exact same. The prices were even the exact same.?

“Our waitress still remembered all of our orders,? said Heib. “I didn’t even remember my order?

In fact, the new remodeling was actually improvement for the group.

“They even gave us a window,? said Anderson, pointing to the nearest wall.

After six months, things are finally back to normal at Uncle Loui’s.

Women working: Local construction company run by women

DCN Reporter

The construction crew finishes the house. This isn’t the first house they have built. This isn’t your average construction crew either. It is made up of all women.

The Women in Construction Co. (WiCC) is a building and remodeling contractor in Duluth. The company is made up of 22 women and was started in 2000.

“It was created in 2000 because our building needed a lot of work and we wanted to give women jobs,? says Kim Norgin, a worker at WiCC.

“The ages of these women range from 22 to 45. We do a lot of work in the Central Hillside,? Norgin says.

According to their website, www.womenworking.org, the company was created with three primary goals: To teach women construction skills, to utilize women crews to work on renovation and new construction projects, and to assist women in entering jobs that pay livable wages.

The WiCC works throughout the Central Hillside and Duluth. The company runs five to seven jobs at one time. Two of the women in the company each provide over 25 years of experience in housing development.

In addition, there are also six site supervisors, each sporting 10-25 years of construction experience.

In the seven years they have been working 97 buildings have been renovated, 16 housing units have been built, and 50 projects have been remodeled.

The WiCC also runs a cabinet shop. They create kitchen cabinets, vanities, and furniture for their customers.

According to the website, http://jscms.jrn.columbia.edu/cns/2006-02-28/marsh-womendroppingdishragsforskillsaws/, there has been an 18 percent increase in women construction workers in the past eight years.

“This is traditionally a man’s job. We are working to give women here jobs,? Norgin says.

November 16, 2007

Cancer survivor went against advice for chemotherapy treatment

DCN Reporter

After being diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, Emily Montgomery opted for an alternative healing regimen of juicing, a method which extracts restorative nutrients and live enzymes from raw organic fruits and vegetables, in replace of traditional chemotherapy. After six years, Montgomery is cancer free.

“I knew I did not want chemotherapy, I watched what it did to my sister and I knew it wasn’t right for me,? said Montgomery. “It just didn’t make sense to put toxic chemicals into a body already infected with cancer.?

Montgomery’s sister died of intestinal cancer at age 33 after being misdiagnosed, because of no prior family history.

“After, it didn’t occur to me that I should get a colonoscopy, nor did it to any of my doctors,? said Montgomery.

It wasn’t until a doctor’s visit, in which she came in with specific symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pains, that it was suggested that she get the procedure.

“It was one of those slap to the forehead moments,? said Montgomery. “When I saw the tumor on the screen, I knew this was serious.?

Montgomery was diagnosed in August of 2001 with Stage 3 colon cancer, meaning it had gone from her intestinal wall and spread to her lymph nodes.

While doctors pushed for chemotherapy, Montgomery committed herself to a traditional Chinese practitioner once a week for six months who used massage, acupuncture, aroma therapy and Chinese herbs to aid in healing; in addition to making juicing and a vegan macrobiotic diet her foundation.

Montgomery’s oldest son, Ian, describes his mother as being of very strong character.

“She was really gutsy to not do chemo,? said Ian. “She was willing to go against what every single person was telling her to do.?

Montgomery feels that it’s a shame that the only therapy cancer patients are offered is chemotherapy.

“They don’t give holistic information on other forms of treatment, you have to be your own advocate,? said Montgomery. “While I really liked my doctors, you have to realize they are still a business, they have to push what they are selling.?

For Montgomery, she knew that nutrition was going to be key to survival. While one may think her nutritional changes are drastic, for Montgomery it was a no brainer.

“I’ve been a crunchy granola since I was 20,? said Montgomery. “But, it was shocking to discover cancer. I thought I was healthy.?

Montgomery has since cut out sugar completely, and sustains herself with a diet of mostly raw organic vegetables, heavy on greens.

Montgomery’s son Ian, affected by his mother’s cancer, is also conscious of what he eats and his lifestyle.

“I’m really aware of what I put into my body,? said Ian. “I’m conscious of how important health is. I’ve already had a colonoscopy, and I’m only 21.?

“No one wants to talk poop,? said Montgomery. “I drive my kids nuts because we have to talk poop in our family.?

After cancer, Montgomery now reaches out to other cancer patients offering her alternative treatment by teaching a class at the Whole Foods Coop, appropriately titled Juicing for Life.

Anni Friesen, who coordinates classes taught at the Coop, feels that Montgomery’s alternative method of healing is incredible.

“Emily, herself, is really inspiring,? said Friesen. “After listening to her story, you just want to start living better and take advantage of life.?

“Life definitely is sweeter,? said Montgomery. “Optimism was a big part in my survival.?

Housing fund is shut down in Duluth

DCN Reporter

On a cold day, one of the first snowfalls of the year, a woman is standing in the lobby of a homeless shelter in Duluth. She is comparing winter hats, until she sees one with a big, poofy ball on top and her face lights up in a smile, something that is a little rare in a place where everyone is worried about the same thing; Wednesday’s front page news.

The Duluth News Tribune’s bold headline Wednesday morning announced that the city council has decided to cut off funding to the low income housing projects that were aimed at decreasing the number of homeless in Duluth. Currently 16 percent of Duluth is homeless. That number is high compared to the statewide average which is eight percent.

“This problem should be a top priority for the city government,? said Jen Randa, an employee at a homeless shelter in Duluth.

With only four homeless shelters in Duluth, people are being turned away constantly.

“I had a pregnant couple come in today, we couldn’t find them a room because they refused to split up, but the boy was only 17 so he wouldn’t be accepted into most of the shelters,? said Randa. “I’m not sure what they did last night.?

These stories are all too common, and with winter closing in upon us, the situation is becoming very critical.

“People get caught by the cops for living in tents around the city. What are they gonna do when it gets cold?? asks Randa.

The housing situation in Duluth has been getting worse in recent years, as it declines. Randa says she sees more and more families sleeping in cars and people squatting in bushes.

“Even middle class people are having a hard time with housing,? said Randa.

With housing on the decline and bitter cold weather headed our way, people worry about losing their homes and not being able to pay the rent.

“I could be homeless any day, anybody could become homeless,? said Todd Janke, Duluth resident.

While citizens of Duluth feel that housing should be dealt with more effectively, the city government feels that money could be better spent elsewhere. In Wednesday’s article in the News Tribune, City Council member Russ Stewart said ‘The city can no longer be all things to all people. This council has talked time and again about prioritizing city services and making the tough choices about what we’re not going to do anymore.?

Crime is on the rise in Duluth

DCN Reporter

When people think of Duluth, the first thing that typically comes to mind is that it’s a gorgeous city that borders Lake Superior. It’s quiet, it’s relaxing and it’s cold. Words like crime-ridden or dangerous don’t rest on the tips of our tongues.

However, when walking the streets of downtown Duluth, commonly known as the Central Hillside, signs of crime and poverty are almost unavoidable.

“There’s a lot of drugs on the streets,? said Al Bergren, superintendent of the Union Gospel Mission which is located in the Central Hillside. “Robberies, holdups … there’s been a lot up here.?

Though much of the crime does not occur until later hours of the night, Bergren said that drug and alcohol problems are prevalent at all times.

“There’s been a few murders and shootings,? Bergren said. “I think it has a lot to do with drugs.?

Hard crimes like murder have decreased in the city over the years. According to crime statistics provided by the
Duluth Police Department, there was only one reported murder in 2006, far less than the six reported in 2003. However, crimes like robbery, rape and assault have been on the rise over the years.

The statistics report 66 rapes in the city last year. This is a far increase from the 16 that were reported in 2005.

Drugs seemed to be the most noticeable problem the area has been encountering.

“People come here (to Duluth) to set up shop … to deal drugs,? said Candace Thompson, a local resident of the area.

Thompson said she tries to avoid walking the streets alone or even shopping in the area because the problem has gotten so bad.

“I stay out of downtown if I can,? she said. “I don’t trust it.?

Central Hillside resident Carl Deppe, on the other hand, doesn’t notice crime to be a problem in Duluth.

“It’s not too bad,? said Deppe, a Central Hillside resident. “I never see anything.?

Most businesses in the area, however, know not to ignore the issue.

Laura Bohlmann, who owns First Street Exchange Pawnbroakers, said her business has decreased because most people don’t even like coming into the area because of the negative attention some of the bars receive.

“It’s not a great neighborhood,? Bohlmann said. “We see prostitutes getting into cars all the time. It’s happening right outside the door. You see drug deals going on. You see muggings.?

Bohlmann said that another pawnshop nearby was burglarized at gunpoint two years ago. The owner of Twin Ports Pawn refused to comment on the situation.

Bohlmann and Bergren agreed that they don’t think they will ever see a time when crime is not prevalent in Duluth.

“It’s an issue that will never go away,? Bergren said.

Holidays are a busy time for floral creativity

DCN Reporter

Angela’s Bella Flora encourages people to tap into their creative sides.

The flower shop hosts several seminars each month dedicated to the education of floral design. Angela Stocke, the owner and creative leader of Angela’s Bella Flora, teaches the events.

“It’s kind of like artwork,? she said.

The classes are often booked a month in advance. This week’s workshop was “Thanks for Thanksgiving? to excite people about the upcoming season.

The class for the December workshop, “Holiday, Time to Play,? is already full.

Stocke has created a pre-order system to prepare her flower shop for the upcoming demands of the season.

At her Holiday Hot Chocolate Open House last weekend, customers were served hot cocoa as they wandered past floral arrangements for sale. If they saw something interesting, an order was placed to have it arrive before the holidays.

Instead of customers calling in and requesting a wreath for tomorrow, we can be prepared and organized ahead of time, said Stocke’s assistant, Mindy Slettedahl.

“That’s helpful because we can’t carry (everything) all the time,? said Stocke.

Stocke enjoys giving hints on how to add color to the outside of a house during the winter months or suggesting what would liven up the centerpiece in the dining room.

“We want to show people what they can do,? she said.

Stocke strives to be innovative every day, and spreading floral ideas fulfils a part of her, she said. She wants the people at her seminars to have fun with the “creative part of their soul.?

Clients and students have told her that they are inspired by the arrangements she has helped them achieve.

“My goal … has been reached when people say that stuff to me,? said Stocke.

Linda Habberstad has been a customer at Angela’s Bella Flora since it opened. She has been to almost every workshop.

“Angela is this incredible creative force,? she said. “I’ve always liked working with flowers, but she’s taught me how to (perfect) that.?

When Habberstad’s daughter became engaged, she turned to Stocke for advice on designing a special floral scene for the wedding. They put their creative minds together to create something memorable.

“She added all these unique little things that I never would have thought of,? said Habberstad.

After learning how to make one arrangement, Habberstad was able to tackle the challenge of creating 30 others.

“I could never have done that if I didn’t work with her (Stocke),? she said.

And managing so many flowers was quite the handful.

“My car smelled great,? Habberstad joked.

A "tents" situation resolved with donation

DCN Reporter

A recent walk for breast cancer research in the Twin Cities is now helping the Girl Scouts of northern Minnesota.

The tents, which were used during the “Breast Cancer 3-Day? walk, helped the Susan G. Komen Foundation raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research. Now they could potentially raise up to $42,000 to help the scouts build a much needed storm shelter at Camp Roundelay.

The Northern Pine Council, headquarters for Girl Scouts in northern Minnesota, acquired 1,400 tents that were slightly used during the three-day walk.

“They’re a two- to three-person pink tent that has a rain fly and mosquito netting,? said Julie Igo, the council shop manager in Duluth. “They pack down small for storage, too. The tents are in excellent shape, and it’s for a great cause.?

The Girl Scouts group is giving the tents away with every $30 donation to the Camp Roundelay Storm Shelter Project. The camp is located in Gordon, Wis., and entertains Girl Scouts from all over northern Minnesota. The Gordon area has definitely seen its fair share of dangerous weather.

According to the Wisconsin Emergency Management Department, a state record 62 tornadoes were documented in 2006.

“The storm shelter will help keep the girls safe,? said Gail Close, the membership development director of the Northern Pine Council.

“Nobody at the camp has been hurt or injured by the storms, but we’ve had nearby tornadoes do damage to trees on the campground,? Close added.

Camp Roundelay takes pride in helping young girls grow to be confident, caring and concerned adults. The 620-acre camp offers activities from horseback riding to canoeing. Being able seek refuge from dangerous weather such as tornadoes, hail and flooding would ensure even more safety for young campers.

“They (tents) make a great gift with the holidays coming up,? Close said. “We’ve already sold a few hundred and they’re going fast.?

For purchasing information, visit the Northern Pines Council Shop on Michigan Street in downtown Duluth.

Tradition is a way of life at Uncle Loui's café

DCN Reporter

DULUTH, Minn. — It's early in the morning and the sun has just risen. Though quiet around town, the folks at Uncle Loui's café have already put on their hot pot of coffee, began frying their golden hash browns and flipped some of their famous pancakes.

Though this small café on Fourth Street offers delicious breakfasts to its patrons, there is one item that's not on the menu--tradition.

Tradition is something that Sarah Chambers knows quite well.

For the past six years, Chambers, 66, has walked to this Hillside café nearly every morning to sip on her fresh cup of hot coffee and read her daily newspaper.

“This is my watering hole,? Chambers said.

Chambers, a Hillside resident for the past 30 years, enjoys her traditional coffee and paper. From time to time, she also orders one of the café's classic breakfasts.

“They're food here is great, it's tops,? said Chambers. “They're really known for their breakfast and homestyle cooking.?

Chambers enjoys Uncle Loui's so much that she makes it a point to spread the news to her friends and family.

“I recommend everyone gives it a try,? said Chambers. “It's a neighborhood hit.?

Penny Briddell, 50, is the owner of the small café since its grand opening back on Nov. 2, 1993.

“We make everything with love,? said Briddell. “We're all family.?

Uncle Loui's has a workforce of only eight employees, but they all take extra pride in welcoming its customers each and everyday.

“We're a part of customers' lives,? said John Colt, 24, who is a waiter and has worked at the café for five years. “You don't get that at many places these days.?

Chambers is one of those customers.

“I know the staff by heart, and they know me,? said Chambers. “If I don't show up, they notice.?

Though Uncle Loui's endured a devastating electrical fire that destroyed the building last spring, the blazes didn't come close to torching the café's traditional lifestyle.

The fire was the talk of the community, and many weren't sure if the traditional café was going to be back in business.

But through the rebuilding process, employees worked together day and night on everything from painting the walls to laying the tiles.

“It's way more than just a job,? said Jennifer Fallang, 31, who is a cook and has worked at the café for five years. “We are all very close knit.?

Uncle Loui's café was back in business on Nov. 2, 2007 which just happened to be same exact day it opened 14 years ago.

Just like every morning when Chambers orders her fresh cup of hot coffee and opens up her daily newspaper.

Just like tradition.

Peak in business for hunters' paradise

DCN Reporter

On Nov.3, thousands of avid Minnesota hunters set out with their firearms and the mindset to catch themselves a trophy deer, while Jim Hagstrom prepared himself for a rush of business--taxidermy.

In a small blue house-looking structure off of Sixth Avenue East, you will find Hagstrom contently surrounded by dangling fish carcasses and a smothering of deer antlers.

Amongst the robust aroma of burning wood and the clutter of animal pelts, he spends his days at Storey's Taxidermy mounting just about whatever animal you could imagine. From monstrous grizzly bears to slimy fish, he has done it.

Right now most requests are for deer.

“It takes me about a whole days work to mount a deer, but it is all together a six-month process until it is ready for the customer,? Hagstrom said.

What may be a hunter's prize later becomes Hagstrom's passion and profit.

Hagstrom began taxidermy at 10 years old and has owned Storey's for about 44 years.

“I like the nature part of it [taxidermy], and I am an outdoors person and so it's just the outdoors part of it that I like,? Hagstrom said.

Duluth resident Chris Holst often drives three hours every other weekend to go deer hunting.

“I like the peacefulness you get when in the woods. Seeing the animals in their natural environment and the thrill of the hunt,? Holst said. “There is nothing like the pre-shot anticipation.?

He usually hunts from September until the end of the season in December.

“Every chance I get I'm in the woods,? Holst said.

Holst is currently getting a buck mounted that he shot this year.

“I think that taxidermy is a great way to forever remember the hunt and every year you look at your kills you get pumped up to get another,? Holst said.

Minnesota has the average annual deer harvest of 239,920 according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Nearly 70 percent of Minnesota's firearms deer harvest typically occurs during the first three or four days of the season.

Crime in downtown doesn't scare business owners

DCN Reporter

It may be rough, but the area still has a lot of character.

To the north are schools and community centers. To the south is Canal Park. The area of concern contains Liquor stores, bars, pawnshops and a Casino.

“Once every day there’s police called, sometimes more,? says Laura Bohmann who owns a pawnshop across the street from the Kozy bar on 1st street.

In an area that carries the stigma of a tough neighborhood, it’s one of the busiest places in downtown Duluth. No matter the time of day or the kind of weather, it’s easy to find people walking around.

Some of the reasons are obvious. It has bars, a Casino, the Gospel Mission is just up the street and low-income housing is everywhere.

Because the areas constantly busy it ‘s not a bad place to have a business.

Some business owners might stay away from such a troubled neighborhood because of the fear of theft and crime.

Thus far the businesses in this area stay safe and continue to provide a service to the community.

"I really do feel as safe as a kitten," says Mike Mcmahon. He works the cash register, and greets most customers by name. “Ninety percent of our customers are repeat business. Outside they may be drug dealers, but in here we all have a mutual respect.?

Many businesses in other areas of Duluth have trouble with theft; for such a troubled neighborhood petty crime stays seems to stay pretty low.

“We really don’t have a lot of trouble with theft,? said Bohmann, “every once in a while someone will take a movie, but not often.?

That may not seem amazing but considering she has hours of stories of drug deals and prostitution just outside of her store it kind of is.

“[crime]It doesn’t help,? she says, “but it really doesn’t bother us much. I stay inside, and if they loiter outside the store I ask them to leave.?

Abandoned building is a fire hazard in the Hillside

DCN Reporter

Near the corner of Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue, an old green house stands defiantly in the face of time, abandonment and condemnation.

All its windows are boarded up, and its rickety porch is covered with beer cans, cigarette butts and other trash. It looks to be the victim of a fire years ago, but nobody nearby seems to know anything about it.

"That place has been like that for a long time," said Bill Smith, an employee of Old World Windows.

"Condemned, this dwelling is unfit for human habitation" are the words posted definitively on the house's front door. The house is abandoned, and the fact that nobody is there to look after it not only creates an eyesore but also a fire hazard, said Duluth Fire Chief John Strongitharm.

"There's an obvious increased risk of fire in an abandoned building," he said.

The only people who might be considered caretakers of this house and others like it are firefighters from the Duluth Fire Department. They board up windows and check for fire hazards in houses that have long since been abandoned and fallen into disrepair, said Strongitharm.

"It's not necessarily our responsibility, but we have the tools to get the job done, so we do it," he said.

According to Strongitharm, abandoned buildings have always been a problem for fire departments, with Duluth being no exception. There are over 282 houses on the City of Duluth Building Safety condemnation list, many of which are abandoned.

One problem that plagues abandoned houses much more than occupied houses is arson and foul-play, so the fire department discourages people from entering by putting up boards on windows and doors. Boards can be taken down though, and they often are, said Strongitharm.

"It's a constant battle to keep them up," he said.

Homes on 8th street in need of repair

DCN Reporter

It’s just before 11 a.m. in the Central Hillside. The sun is barely visible, the wind is blowing briskly and a light snow has begun to fall. The only sounds in the air are the tires scraping moist pavement, a snow hitting the ground and Chuck Dennis’ hammer.

“No one else is crazy enough to be out here,? said Dennis.

Dennis is helping a friend remodel a rental property on North 8th St.

A new window is set just above the front porch that Dennis is prying boards off. Jimmy Sianko is at the other end of the porch putting on new siding. Sianko, 52, has been doing construction for 31 years.

“We’d like to say we work 8 hours a day, but it just depends,? said Sianko. “Now that it’s getting dark earlier we’ve been stopping around 4:30.?

Dennis and Sianko normally start around 9 in the morning, they like to let the neighbors sleep in. Where they’re working has quite a few houses that are in need of some repairs. A couple blocks away a clacking sound is heard as fallen gutters, that look like they’re each clinging for dear life by a single screw, slap the side of a house with each gust of wind.

Dennis said the owners, Wally and Julie, have a few rental houses in the area, and even though work is being done to the house people are still living there.

“We just try to work around ‘em,? said Dennis.

The wind picks up as Sianko asks Dennis to adjust a piece of siding. With November almost halfway through and the weather getting worse by the day you would think that outdoor remodeling like this should be done any day now, but that’s not the case.

“We’ve been out here a couple weeks and we’ll be probably be out here a couple more,? said Dennis.

Silent auction raises money for local preschool

DCN Reporter

The Duluth Preschool of Fine Arts held their first Vendor Blender fundraiser Tuesday evening at Trinity Lutheran Church. About 20 vendors with home-based businesses donated products ranging from children’s books and cosmetics to Acai berry juice blends and spiritual healing sessions to a silent auction, the proceeds of which will benefit the preschool.

The Duluth Preschool of Fine Arts prepares toddlers for kindergarten with emphases on painting, sculpture, music, drama, sign language and forms of athletics that are often overlooked as art forms like ballet and swimming, according to Director Jodi Grochowski.

“Duluth needs more culture,? Grochowski said while making final preparations for the sale, “and culture starts at a young age.?

Kristy Mitchell started bringing her daughter to the Preschool of Fine Arts after going to another preschool.

“She needed way more stimulation,? Mitchell said. Here there is a less rigid structuring of the children’s activities. Here the kids have a say in their activities. “This is a lot more of a kid-friendly school.?

Grochowski could not be reached to comment on the success of the sale, but Trisha Linden, a teacher at the school, said turnout was lower than they’d hoped it would be, probably because of parent teacher conferences at neighborhood schools.

“It was kind of slow. All the vendors showed up and about 25 people came,? Linden said. “The silent auction brought it $100 to $200.?

Linden said these sales typically have low turnouts the first time they’re held and that Grochowski has not yet decided if the preschool will host another one.

November 15, 2007

Under the radar: Little-known artists living in the Central Hillside

Sandra Rennquist-Swenson with her work at the Washington Galleries (photo Eric Ludy).

DCN Reporter

If you were looking for working artists, chances are you wouldn't go to Duluth's Central Hillside to find them.

Lining the streets are businesses with names like Last Chance Liquor, Mom and Pop's Market, and Pawnbrokers. You won't find any eclectic coffee shops or trendy art galleries here.

Stick around long enough, though, and you'll meet people like Jimmy Henry and Sandra Rennquist-Swenson. They're both talented artists living and working in the Central Hillside, but so far have received little attention from the art world at large. Even most locals have never heard of them.

"There's a lot being created out there that sort of falls under the radar," said Samantha Gibb-Roth, the director of the Duluth Art Institute.

Click on links below to learn more about Jimmy and Sandra--the two different artists working off the beaten path.

Jimmy Henry's Story
Jimmy telling his own story
What poetry is to Jimmy
Jimmy's poetry reading: "Unemployed Hunter Gatherer" and "One Less Drunk Irishman"
Sandra Rennquist-Swenson’s story
Sandra's sculptures at Washington Galleries

November 13, 2007

Jimmy telling his own story

My name's Jimmy Henry. I'm a poet vagabond, all around welfare cheat, I don't
know . . . well-dressed lunatic.

I'm living in a board and care. It's kind of like an exalted mission. I have my own room there. I'm on the verge of section 8 housing. They're nice apartments really cheap. I've been kind of jumping through the hoops in order to be an artist in America.

I've had some problems, you know, like writer's problems. Timothy Leary, when they told him he had six months to live, he's like "Yes! I'm out of here! See ya!" There are times I've felt like that. I was gonna kill myself once because I had read everybody that sounds interesting. But, not anymore.

I started writing in the early 90s in Montana. I'm originally from New York. My family was Irish Catholics. The Irish were such great writers because you need something to rebel against. Joyce couldn't have written anything if his parents were hippies.

I went to Syracuse University for about two months. Then I took a two-week vacation to Yellowstone. I never went back.

The best thing about college is that you get to hang out with like-minded people and you don't have to go to work. The great thing about Yellowstone was that it was like college, only there weren't any academics.

I spent eight years working there with 500 other drunk lunatics. Everybody was on the road. Everybody was out searching. It was a lunatic convention of travelers and wanderers that really weren’t quite content with the mall and their visa cards and all the things that seem to make people comfortable today.

I was fired at Glacier National Park, ended up at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. "Land of the great hearts, bad livers, and incredible left hooks." That's why I started writing. I was 31. I wanted to before, but you know, as a baby you learn to speak by listening. To write, you read. As Bukowski says, "you don't choose it, it chooses you."

I ended up as a Bouncer at the third toughest bar in the country. The Bab Bar.

I had a unique situation because there were no poets from Dartmouth at that Indian bar in Montana.

The first thing I wrote was: Sorry, honest I'm not white, I'm Irish. Hearts of gold, livers sadly so old. Blackfeet nation, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Once mighty warriors now only a six pack now going back we stold all you hold your motherly earth cries alone. Give me a home where the Buffalo used to roam now only white highway crosses where they wreck, highways only brought you losses. Blackfeet nation my sincerest apologies.

In the mid-90s I was a skid row drunk. I was pretty depressed. My parents had died. I was drinking heavily. A girl blew me off for Jesus. So I ended up on the streets of Seattle for a few years. It was right around when Kurt Kobain blew his brains out.

Through my writing is what really saved me. My first book of poems," Women are from Venus, Men are from Bars," got published in '97 at a literary contest. After that I started a vintage clothing store. That didn't work out.

In business, in art, and in life, you need a goal. You need a plan. The plan in business would be to own the building. I wasn't that ambitious. It started falling apart. I stopped paying the bills.

I left town on a bicycle and headed to Portland. I hung out there for a while and then decided to ride East. The problem with the West Coast is if you want any help you have to wait five years to get into low income housing. It's so overloaded. I knew the people's republic of “Money-sota,? especially off the beaten path here in Duluth would be a tramp's holiday.

I had asked a lot of old rail riders, too. They said, "Duluth, bro. Go up there. Free donuts."

I was a little isolated for a little bit. I've sort of settled in now. I'm doing a reading on the sixth at Carmody's Irish Pub.

I'm not going anywhere. My road ends here. There's no place I'd rather be. I don't mind cold. I don't mind wind.

November 12, 2007

Sandra Rennquist-Swenson’s story

DCN Reporter

Sandra Rennquist-Swenson never planned on being a full-time artist. It all began with an accident.

A car wreck, that happened eight years ago, brought her lifelong passion of raising and showing horses to an end. She was barely even able to walk for two years.

So she sold her Texas horse farm and moved back to her hometown Wrenshall, Minn. where her father was still living. Although Sandra had been away from her father for years, she still found some of his old habits aggravating. One of them was to burn garbage rather than to recycle it. She constantly reminded him of the pollution that he caused by doing so.

And so one day her father handed her a big leaf bag filled with newspapers and said, "If you can make some use out of this, I'll start recycling."

She took up the challenge, doing everything she could think of to make something out of the old newspaper that would otherwise be set aflame in her father's back yard.

For three months she scrunched it. She shredded it. She rolled it. She did everything she could
think of to make use of it until one day an interesting idea dawned on her--boil it--and so she did. She boiled it into a pulp. And with time she learned that she could dry the pulp into different textures. And with the right texture she learned that she could add a dry paste. And with that dry paste and pulp she could add plaster and dried glue to make a viable mixture that looked like clay. And with that clay she made her first tiles.

Tiles with egyptian heiroglyphs, buddhist prayer wheels and harmonic anagrams--all derived from her love of ancient magic symbols.

Though she set out to take her new-found hobby up a notch, she decided to sculpt faces of mythical creatures out of her clay.

She had never done anything like that before, so she practiced molding over 20 of them on one 2-by-4 foot piece of her clay. The result of this was purely an accident--the ghostly piece she calls "Apparitions." It's eerie faces that peer out at visitors to Sandra's current art display at Washington Galleries in Duluth, in which her first tiles are on display along with more recent face sculptures. She has been living at Washington Studios Apartments upstairs for two years now, and still makes her clay and molds her sculptures eight years after that fateful car wreck.

And that's how Sandra found her new passion. It was an accident.

Jimmy Henry’s story

DCN Reporter

Four years ago Duluth poet Jimmy Henry was doing a poetry reading with four literature professors at a Barnes and Noble in Washington. They called him a "street poet," Henry says.

"I called them cul-de-sac poets, you know, because what does that mean?" he says.

Truth be told, Jimmy has been on the streets his whole life--from New York City, to Seattle, to his new home of two years in Duluth. He never graduated from college. He doesn't even have a computer.

"I just grab a notebook and wait for weird things to happen," he says.

Like two of his favorite artists, John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie, Jimmy writes simply, in the language of everyday people. His poetry has been compared to that of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg--the "beat poets."

After pedaling his bike from Portland, Ore. two years ago, Jimmy has settled down in Duluth, and he says he plans on staying. He can be found any given day of the week making the rounds between his usual hangouts in the Central Hillside. Look out for him. You'll know who he is. He'll be the only guy in a pinstripe suit riding a bicycle.

I caught up to Jimmy at Sunhillow Books on Fourth Street where he told me his story.

The Central Hillside has a need for volunteers

DCN Reporter

Although it may not be obvious at first glance, the city of Duluth has a definite need for volunteers to lend a helping hand in many unexpected ways.

Jan Lappy, the director of resident program services at Saint Anne’s Residence, in the Central Hillside said her organization has experienced shortages of volunteers.

In the 40 years that it has been in operation, Saint Anne’s has established a firm base of volunteers, but it continues to have a need for more.

Even an established organization in the Hillside such as Saint Anne’s has difficulty finding volunteers at times.

“For certain things there is difficulty finding volunteers,? said Lappy.

Steve "Floyd" Wahl of Floyd’s Hair Chopper’s on 4th Street is one man who happens to be willing to give his time outside of his regular work schedule to cut hair for long term patients at the Miller Dwan Medical Center.

“I feel really good when I leave there,? said Wahl regarding the times that he has cut hair for patients.

Although the simple act of cutting hair may seem trivial to most, the fact that he is willing to work outside of his normal schedule creates a massive impact in the lives of the people he works with.

“It is important for patients to have a haircut,? said Dave Schunk, a social worker at Miller Dwan. “It gives them a sense of normality.?

To many patients who have had their heads shaved due to surgery, a good haircut can often help them to feel normal again explained Schunk.

Not only do they receive a sense of normality, but it proves to be “one of those little things that can make your stay,? said Floyd.

Although Floyd is willing to donate his time, there exists a need for even more volunteers.

“For us there is a need,? said Schunk. “There are only two or three volunteers who are willing to come.?

Paul Reed, a professor at Carleton University, conducted a study between 1997 and 2000 showing that 18 percent of people who volunteered in those years stopped two years later.

There was only an 11 percent growth in volunteers in that time period showing a decline in volunteers by 7 percent.

Casey LaCore, a volunteer program coordinator at the University of Minnesota Duluth said that she currently has around 1,000 active volunteers.

However, she said if she were to have 400 more participants she would have no difficulty finding places for them to volunteer.

LaCore said that the Central Hillside area is a difficult area to find volunteers for.

“People feel that the Central Hillside is scary,? said LaCore with a concerned look on her face.

She proceeded to explain that it has a stigma that people find frightening, thus scaring off potential volunteers.

“A lot of what they need is advocacy work,? said Casey.

A reason for the need in this area of volunteering is that people tend to stay away from advocacy work because it tends to be more time consuming.

Casey explained that advocacy work involves such activities as food-shelf work, legislating, talking about voting and hanging posters around town.

In the long run, this type of work will not only help to solve some of the Hillside’s problems but it will also help to prevent many needs it may require in the future.

November 9, 2007

Personal experiences with racism in Duluth

DCN Repoter

Racism. Although it has been decades since segregation ended and well over a century since the emancipation proclamation, racism still exists in Duluth. The 2000 census for the state of Minnesota reports that less than 1 percent of the population identified themselves as African-American while almost 95 percent identified themselves as Caucasian. I sat down with two African-American mothers to talk to them about their experiences in Duluth.

Tamika Robinson is a 30-year-old mother of three. She has lived in Duluth for almost eight years; she is originally from St. Paul.

Listen to Tamika's story

Denise Lewis is a 47-year-old single mother of three. She has lived in Duluth for 14 years; she was originally from Providence, Rhode Island.

Listen to Denise's story

November 8, 2007

Breast cancer survivors see light at the end of tunnel

Courage, hope, bravery and strength--all are qualities shared by the women who come into Heide’s Mastectomy Shop.

Lorraine Washa's personal survivor story
Peggy Anderson's personal survivor story
Nancy Lowney's personal survivor story
Share your personal story

Share your personal story

Please share your own story about breast cancer. Simply click on "comment" below and write us about your story. It will be published on this Web site.

Lorraine Washa's personal survivor story

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 was not only a horrific day for the United States, it also turned out to be a horrible day for me personally. It was the day that confirmed my suspicions that I had breast cancer.

I found a huge lump in my left breast while I was on a camping trip in the BWCA during the early part of August.

When I felt it, I became scared and had a sinking feeling it could be breast cancer but did not want to totally face that possibility.

Once the shock of having breast cancer wore off, I was able to confront this disease with confidence that I would be a survivor.

Somehow I knew that after undergoing surgery for a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, I could survive anything--as long as I maintained a positive attitude and had dear family, friends and my spirituality for support. Being optimistic is not always easy when you are faced with a health crisis.

At the beginning you are confronted with so many things for approaching your particular health care. You put your trust in the doctors and hope they will offer the best possible care for your situation. The most important thing I learned was to ask questions no matter how insignificant they may have seemed.

I feel the health care I received was excellent. My surgeon had a significant amount of experience of dealing with breast cancer patients. He was very knowledgeable and empathetic of my diagnosis. He and my oncologist carried me through the steps with good health care service. They made me feel that I was not alone and that my breast cancer was treatable, which meant a high rate for the possibility of survival.

This gave me hope that I could overcome and survive breast cancer. People would marvel at my upbeat attitude.

I see the glass half full and can find the positive in anything, especially when facing adversity. As a positive effect of having breast cancer, I have gained many new friends and sisters who are a part of the Survivor Sistership Dragon Boat team.

In fact, I have accepted the position as the new captain for the 2008 team. With family, friends and God by my side, "How can anyone lose?"

Peggy Anderson's personal survivor story

As a diligent and dedicated teacher who has had a very fulfilling career life, I came down with breast cancer one year after retiring.

I asked myself, “Why Me? Will I live? Will I die? What is next? How will this devil’s dance burning in side of me be conquered?

I wanted to poke the pain out of its eyes because I had burning pain in my chest. Even though pain is not often associated with early stages of breast cancer, I could feel the uncomfortable pain. I desperately wanted peace with my overtaxed body.

Cancer was not distant to me. It had occurred in other countries or places in my body.

I had cervical cancer in my early 20s, and a vaginal recurrence of bad cells in my 30s. I cherished each day from my 20s on. I had counted all the blessings in my life.

Now my darkest moment came back--I was told I had breast cancer when I was 56.

First I went to my doctor. She and I both felt the lump. I was sent for an ultrasound and only gave half of one. My doctor found this out and sent me back. She wanted a full ultrasound, which I was not given. Instead, I was told to go home and put tape on the lump to see if it would grow.

I had biopsy, had a genetic breast cancer test, and three surgeries.

I couldn’t deal with having my breasts cut off, even though my son, Chris, assured me in his comforting words that years ago women from one ancient tribe would have it done because they could shot a bow and arrow better.

I had 21 lymph nodes removed, a lumpectomy and two more surgeries to get clear margins.

I came to realize that there was more breast cancer in my family than I knew about. It occurred at an early age in some cases, and I find how important it is to know your family medical history.

I didn’t know many people with breast cancer three years ago, and now I know hundreds locally, regionally, and nationally. I have met many wonderful women and men who have had breast cancer. They have amazing strength, humor, and a desire to end breast cancer.

Kathy Heide’s is a place where you can feel comfortable. You can chat with three wonderful women who know what you have gone through. I find warmth, solace, and a sense of healing by going there. They even sell my book for me, “Dear Auntie, Why Me??

Heide’s is a supporter of both of our Dragon Boat Teams: Survivor Sistership and Survivors and Supporters.

I have lymphedema and have bought products there such as bras and arm sleeves.

Nancy Lowney's personal survivor story

My four other sisters have no sign of breast cancer in them. I was the third oldest, but I have breast cancer.

I am 53 years old now, and have three children. I lost my son. My daughters are grown and have children of their own.

In August of 2000 I found a small lump under my left breast, right under wire of your bra would go.

I went to my doctor, and he said, “Now tell me where you think you have a lump.? He couldn’t find it until I showed him.

I also have a mammogram every year, but I just don't think they aimed it low enough to pick it up.

After Dr. Grohs, the office surgeon, checked me out, he was almost sure it was nothing to worry about.

“But we don't leave lumps in women,? he said.

I went for another mammogram, and this time the lump could be seen.

I thought I was going for a simple lumpectomy. It turned out to be cancer and it had already spread to 3 of lymph nodes.

My left breast was removed. We had talked about “what if? before I had the surgery.

My husband Tim told me that it was cancer when I woke up and the doctor removed my breast. I had to heal and have my stitches out before Dr. Grohs would release me to Dr. Sande, my Oncologist, at the Duluth Clinic.

A wonderful doctor.

I went through 6 months of intense chemo, lost all my hair, eyebrows, lashes, etc.

I didn't mind it. I didn't get sick from my chemo, but I was feeling numbness in two fingers and thumb on both hands plus my feet, so they cut my chemo down to one-hour drips, once a week. I was doing three-to-four-hour drips every three weeks.

I owe my life to my surgeon and my oncologist. I'm here today because of them.

Thanks to my wonderful Husband Tim, my girls, my grand kids, my family, friends, and my church.

If it wasn't for the fact that I have a scare to remind me of what I have been through, I wouldn't think twice about having had breast cancer.

You see, I run my Cancer's life, it doesn't run mine!

A lot of illnesses out there are untreatable. I was lucky enough to have a cancer that they know how to treat. I lost a breast, so what? It's just skin.

I can remember as a young girl if you heard the "C" word (cancer), it was all over for you and you were going to die.

I view things differently now. I believe once you have cancer, you always have cancer.

Maybe someday I'll get it back. I'll deal with that if and when the time comes.

I'd like to help if I can help anyone going through the nightmare of their life. If they can open their eyes, things will look a little brighter.

I have met a lot of wonderful women through my breast cancer in our Dragon Boat Team since 2002.

I have 21 plus sisters, and we get together several times through the year after the races.

In our team of breast cancer, women support each other, and we don't dwell on the fact that we all share the same disease.

We've fought the fight and won.

We're SURVIVORS, and we are moving ahead in life with courage, hope, and lots of LOVE to share.

Breast cancer survivors see light at the end of tunnel

DCN Reporter

Courage, hope, bravery and strength--all are qualities shared by the women who come into Heide’s Mastectomy Shop.


From left are cancer survivors Terri Newman, Peggy Rydberg, Peggy Anderson and Rita Korenhen- Raudman (photo by Gina Wilken).

Heide’s has been open for 15 years now and the four women who work there spend time trying to help other women overcome the effects of breast cancer.

Peggy Anderson, 59, had her darkest moment come true three years ago--she had breast cancer.

“Even though pain is not often associated with early stages of breast cancer, I could feel the uncomfortable pain,? Anderson said. “I desperately wanted peace with my overtaxed body.?

Unfortunately, cancer was not new territory for Anderson. She had been diagnosed with cervical cancer in her 20s.

“I cherished each day from my 20s on,? she said. “I had counted all the blessings in my life.?

Anderson went through a series of at least five surgeries to extinguish the breast cancer, including having 21 lymph nodes removed and a lumpectomy. According to the American Cancer Society, a lumpectomy removes only the breast lump and a surrounding margin of normal tissue.

“I couldn’t deal with having my breasts cut off,? Anderson said.

Since her diagnoses she has met many wonderful men and women who also have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“They have amazing strength, humor, and a desire to end breast cancer,? Anderson said.

Nancy Lowney, a 53-year-old Duluth resident, was diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2000.

She received mammograms annually, but the lump she discovered just under her left breast never showed up.

“I just don't think they aimed it low enough to pick it up,? Lowney said.? The doctor could not find it [lump] until I showed him.?

When Lowney went in for what she thought was a simple lumpectomy, she found out she had cancer. It had already spread to 3 out of 18 lymph nodes.

Her left breast was removed.

“My husband Tim told me it was cancer when I woke up and the doctor had removed my breast,? Lowney said.

Lowney underwent six months of intense chemotherapy. She lost all of her hair and felt numbness in her hands and feet.

“I owe my life to my surgeon and oncologist,? Lowney said.

She said if it wasn’t for the fact that she has a scar to remind her of what she has been through, she would never think twice about having had breast cancer.

“I run my cancer's life, it doesn’t run mine,? Lowney said.

She feels very lucky to have had a cancer that they know how to treat.

“So I lost a breast, so what, it’s just skin,? Lowney said. “I’m moving ahead in life with courage, hope and lots of love.?

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 was not only a horrific day for the United States but also Lorraine Washa.

It was the day that confirmed her suspicions--she had breast cancer--when she just turned to 47.

“When I felt it [lump], I became scared and had a sinking feeling it could be breast cancer, but did not want to totally face that possibility,? Washa said.

Once the shock of having breast cancer wore off she said she was able to confront this disease with confidence that she would be a survivor.

“Somehow I knew that after undergoing surgery for a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation I could survive anything as long as I maintained a positive attitude and had support,? Washa said.

She said people marvel at her upbeat attitude.

“I see the glass half full and can find the positive in anything, especially when faced with adversity,? Washa said.

Joanna Regnier, who is certified in fitting both prosthetics and compression garments at Heide’s, is very impressed by these women.

“Each woman is unique and has a passion for living life to the fullest,? Regnier said. “These women are the strongest, bravest people I know.?

According to the American Cancer Society, it's estimated that this year alone about 178,480 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. It is the most common cancer among women in the United States.

Breast cancer survivors make up of the largest group of cancer survivors according to the 2004 FDA Consumer Report.

Popular colors vary over time due to situations, consumers' feelings

DCN Reporter

The relationship between colors and emotions exists on a subconscious level. Colors can excite, impassion and encourage, or they can ease, soothe and console. Because of this power, businesses use colors to achieve the desired effect from consumers.

“When you start studying colors, it’s absolutely magnificent,? said Ardith Beveridge, a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers and an instructor at the Koehler and Dramm Institute of Floristry in Minneapolis.

“Color does produce emotions,? Beveridge said. “People who are marketers know this … it’s business.?

But the colors considered most fashionable are constantly in flux from season to season, affecting choices from clothing to furniture to flowers.

The hot colors this year? Brown, blue and rose hip, a shade of red.

Working with color—and flowers—is something Angela Stocke knows very well. She is the owner and lead creative designer of the floral shop, Angela’s Bella Flora, located on First Street in Duluth, Minn. Stocke attends “trendsetting? seminars to learn about the newest colors in fashion and how to incorporate them into her work.

“[At] my last wedding … the whole thing was chocolate and caramel,? she said.

Jay de Sibor is a past president of the Color Marketing Group, a New York-based organization that meets periodically and decides which colors will be important for the year.

“[Color is] driven by things that are going on around us: the world situation, environmental factors, globalization and ethnicity,? said de Sibor, as quoted in “Blue Tops Design Horizon,? an article published in the magazine “Art Business News.?

Understanding consumers’ emotions helps the group choose which colors to promote.

For example, since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have been seeking a sense of security and safety, thus attracting them to red, white and blue, according to de Sibor.

This year, the three most prominent colors are brown, blue and red because they are comforting, relaxing and energizing, respectively.

The American people are subconsciously drawn toward brown because it is symbolic of the earth, Stocke said. She also said that, during times of war, people are protective of their children and neighborhoods as if trying to claim their piece of it.

Blue, also a color of nature, is relaxing and soothing, and navy blue, specifically, encourages feelings of loyalty and strength.

The color’s sense of serenity is due to its relation the sea and sky, according to de Sibor.

“Blues make us feel safe and grounded,? he said. “We assume that no matter what happens tomorrow, the sky will always be blue. It's a color that exudes tranquility.?

Blue can also evoke certain reactions, according to Beveridge.

“You would trust me more (if I were) wearing navy blue,? she said.

In contrast, if you played tennis against an opponent who wore red, you would play better, according to Beveridge, because it inspires a higher level of emotion and feeling.

“Red is a real energetic color,? Beveridge said.

Duluth poverty rates soar due to depressed economy

According to the United Way of Greater Duluth 2007 Community Impact Report, Duluth’s poverty rate is nearly twice that of the rest of the state.

Abusive relationship leads Rene Thatcher into struggle with poverty
Kathy Stanley still hopeful after lifelong struggle with poverty
House fire leaves Joyce Neeb without hope

House fire leaves Joyce Neeb without hope

DCN Reporter

Joyce Neeb, 53, was rendered homeless three months ago when an electrical shortage caused a fire in the Duluth home she and her husband were renting.

“What was most astonishing to me was that the landlord didn’t even care that we lost everything, they acted like it was our fault,? said Joyce.

After weeks of sleeping in their truck, Joyce and her husband sought warmth and food at Churches United in Ministry’s (CHUM) drop-in shelter.

Joyce, originally from Indiana, has found it most disheartening that her family has cut all ties from her.

“It’s hard, after I left 10 years ago, they don’t want me to come back or even to talk to them,? said Joyce. “I don’t got nowhere to go home to.?

Making life and her fight through poverty a little harder is that Joyce suffers from epilepsy.

“People don’t understand it, some have even laughed when I had a seizure,? said Joyce.
With life’s struggles weighing heavily, it is easy to feel hopeless.

“It’s gotten so bad, I just want to die,? said Joyce. “I’m just waiting for something good to happen.?

Kathy Stanley still hopeful after lifelong struggle with poverty

DCN Reporter

Kathy Stanley, 40, has struggled with poverty her entire life. Raised by her ailing grandmother in rural Missouri, Kathy quit school after the ninth grade in order to work full time.

“Growing up with my grandma was good; although it was a struggle for us to survive each day,? said Kathy.

With the death of her grandmother, Kathy began working for a carnival, which eventually brought her to Minnesota. Although, after 12 years of service attending to, “The Titanic," a giant slide for kids, she suffered knee injuries and quit.

With the loss of a job and leaving an abusive relationship, Kathy soon found herself on the streets and seeking help from Churches United in Ministry (CHUM).

“At least I have a place to stay instead of being out in the cold or with him,? said Kathy.
Being hopeful to get back on her feet, Kathy has been looking for a job in Duluth, although her search has been less than fruitful.

“I guess I just ain’t got the experience they want,? said Kathy. “Right now, I’m surviving off donating plasma which is about $40 a week.?

Abusive relationship leads Rene Thatcher into struggle with poverty

DCN Reporter

Rene Thatcher, 50, is bubbling with personality and kindness, though one may wonder how she remains upbeat amidst her current struggle with poverty.

“I have to, I have to remain positive. There are so many other people who have it worse than me, I need to motivate them,? said Rene.

Rene grew up middle class until an abusive relationship left her homeless and desperately seeking help at a women’s shelter. With their help, Rene was able to find low income housing and odd jobs. After five years of supporting herself, misfortune struck again.

“I started to get really sick, some days I couldn’t even get myself out of my bed,? said Rene.

Rene was diagnosed with a degenerative disease which has left her without 50 percent of her hand strength and many pancreatic problems requiring surgery. Unable to work, Rene does receive disability checks which total $200 per month making it hard to survive.

With medical bills piling up, Rene came back to her apartment one day to find an eviction notice on her couch.

“It all went so fast, I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t find anyone to help, it was so wrong. I lost everything I owned,? said Rene.

Since the eviction, Rene does not qualify for low-income housing for the next three years and has been at Churches United in Ministry’s (CHUM) drop-in shelter for the past two weeks.

“This is a learning experience, everyone has a different story. You can’t just assume that you know what someone else is going through,? said Rene. “I’m hopeful my luck will change, until then I just have to hold my head up and smile. It’s all I can do .?

Hillside volunteers help fighting against crime

DCN Reporter

Neighborhoods are protected by the police; however, over the years in the Central Hillside neighborhood, police have been lent a set of helping hands.

Three Hillside women have volunteered their time to help prevent crime and make their community a nicer place to live.

These women say they take the extra step to help because of one reason.

They care.

“The Hillside is where I live,? said Lorelei Louks, 73. “I love the Hillside, it's beautiful.?

Louks has been living in the neighborhood for 27 years and is one of the very few who donates her time to help.

Louks, a local community activist, is involved in helping with crime and housing issues, and has witnessed everything from drug dealing and prostitution to alcoholism.

“You name it, I've seen it in the Hillside,? she said.

To help solving these issues, Louks created community block parties in her small apartment roughly 18 years ago.

These block parties, which are still prevalent today, are for local neighbors who get together to discuss community issues, such as crime, and see what they can do to help.

Louks, who has received an award from the St. Louis County Commissioner for her volunteer involvement in her community, has also been a part of many other positive acts.

In one of her bigger achievements, Louks volunteered her time to get the city of Duluth to install more lighting around the Hillside, creating brighter streets, alleys and a more secure neighborhood.

“I am always thinking about community issues,? said Louks. “Any area should be safe for all people.?

Shelly Louks, 52, is Lorelei's daughter, and has also been a big help for the neighborhood.

In the past, Shelly would walk the streets to watch for crime and has been in face-to-face contact with drug deals and prostitution, in order to clear it out of her neighborhood.

“I take pride in where I live,? Shelly said.

Two years ago, Shelly was even threatened outside her home when she confronted a van full of people who were in the middle of a drug deal.

Nowadays, Shelly continues to help by planting flowers, picking up garbage off the streets and running community block parties.

“It doesn't take much to help out,? said Shelly. “It's the little things that add up to make a community stronger.?

Shirley Rose, 70, a member of the community since 1944, has also volunteered her time to help.

“I have always wanted to help my community,? said Rose. “It makes me feel safe and happy.?

Over the years, there have been countless situations where Rose has notified the police of problems occurring in her neighborhood.

No problem was bigger than when Rose notified the police two years ago when gunshots were fired at a building only two houses from hers.

The incident occurred twice within a three-week span near her home.

Throughout all this crime, Rose has managed to keep a positive attitude. “I would do anything to help our community,? said she. “I love the Hillside, I would never move.?

Debbie Isabell Nelson, 55, has been the neighborhood coordinator for the Central Hillside community for just over a year.

Though problems such as drug dealing, prostitution and alcoholism still occur in the Hillside, Nelson can definitely notice a good change in the neighborhood.

“These volunteers have made a big difference in the Hillside,? said Nelson. “They have roots in the neighborhood and that's what makes a community thrive.?

Nelson is not the only one who notices these volunteers' hard work and care for their neighborhood. Dennis Fink, 62, has been the St. Louis County Commissioner for 11 years, and knows how special these Hillside volunteers are.

“All of these places would be nowhere if these people didn't get out and volunteer,? said Fink. “They are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood.?

Neighborhoods need police, but a set of helping hands, such as these three special Hillside women who care to help, can unite a community.

“These people have put a dent into crime,? said Fink. “Togetherness is the difference in a community and these people bring it.?

Homelessness is apparent in Duluth

Homelessness is a reality for 16 percent of people in Duluth, which is twice the statewide rate of 8.1 percent in Minnesota.


Union Gospel Mission superintendent Al Bergren discusses the issues of homelessness and poverty in Duluth.
Union Gospel Mission office manager Sharen Bergren talks about the Union Gospel Mission.
Union Gospel Mission cook Chuck Rogers talks about his experiences dealing with homelessness first-hand and his job with the Union Gospel Mission.
View slideshow of Union Gospel Mission and Boxtown

Duluth poverty rates soar due to depressed economy

DCN Reporter

Rene Thatcher, a 50-year-old Duluth woman currently living in an emergency drop-in shelter for the homeless, knows the hardships of poverty; she lives it each day.

Thatcher, like many people in Duluth, has struggled with the lack of affordable housing and Health care, which has led her to seek help from Churches United in Ministry’s (CHUM) drop-in shelter.

According to the United Way of Greater Duluth 2007 Community Impact Report, Duluth’s poverty rate is nearly twice that of the rest of the state.

CHUM’s executive director Jim Soderberg and Erik Torch, Damiano Center executive director, point out that poverty and homelessness in Duluth are related to a depressed economy as the cost of living has outpaced wage growth.

“The problem here is probably only 20 years old,? said Torch. “The [Damiano]center was started in response to an economic recession in the 1980’s when $9 million was cut from food stamps, welfare and other assistance, and minimum wage just hasn’t kept up with inflation.?

Soderberg also points out, “Homelessness is related to systemic issues, mostly the lack of affordable housing. Our primary task here is to help people find somewhere to live, but since general assistance hasn’t gone up for the last 10 years, it won’t pay the rent.?

While finding affordable housing is an issue, so is the lack of jobs in the Northland.

“There is a misperception that a lot of people don’t want to work, that they’re lazy, but I’ve found that that’s not the case,? said Soderberg.

Thatcher and Kathy Stanley, both current residents at CHUM’s drop-in shelter, are just two examples.

“It’s hard to find any work around here,? said Stanley. “Believe me, I’m trying.?

“I want to work. I did work,? adds Thatcher. “This is a struggle. People are ignorant. You can’t just assume people choose this.?

Torch and Soderberg agree that the larger issues of affordable housing and the job market need to be addressed by the city, state and on a national level.

“What really needs to happen can’t just be solved at the local level,? said Torch. “People need to have jobs that have housing wages. Housing is the most stabilizing force in a person’s life, do that, and everything else will fall into place.?

Soderberg, however, feels that more initiative and resources from the community will help to change poverty.

“Federal funding is not so good, the state is little better, it’s going to take changes, even sacrifices from people with means,? said Soderberg. “But, I feel that we’ve lost our sense of the common good.?

Joyce Neeb, who was left homeless three months ago due to a house fire, feels as though she has been swept under the rug by the community.

“The more you ask for help, the more people don’t want to hear it,? said Neeb.

As Thatcher points out, “No one wants to be here, there’s just nowhere to go. I truly believe that if just one random act of kindness was done each day things would get better.?

From the streets to sanctuary: a Central Hillside man finds solace through a local church

DCN Reporter

With the winter season around the corner in the Northland, many have already kicked-in their furnaces to keep out the cold.But for those who don’t have a place to stay, this is a time of uncertainty and a time when the homeless rely on the mercy of others for help.

A few weeks ago, 50-year-old George Rosenwald huddled outside the First Lutheran Church on Superior Street, trying to reap some of the buildings heat from the exterior walls as he would prepare to hunker down for the night. Pastor Warren Schulz describes the scenario and said he couldn’t turn Rosenwald away.

“One of the reasons he chose us for sanctuary is he cuddled up to the building like a teddy bear,? said Schulz. “We could not cast him out to the dogs, that’s all there is to it.?

The sanctuary Rosenwald received not only provided him with the opportunity for shelter, but also a chance to meet new faces. Rosenwald began to worship with the congregation. However, small controversy ensued.

Rosenwald does have a criminal history. Most of his offenses are minor crimes including public urination and 5th degree assault although he is a convicted felon as a result of petty crimes. The church also operates a small preschool in the basement near the area of Rosenwald’s dwelling and four children were pulled from the system by their parents after hearing word of the rap sheet.

“I can understand their fears,? Schulz said.

Elected officials also acknowledged Rosenwald’s past, but cautioned towards extrapolation of his record.

“These were not crimes related to children,? said St. Louis County Commissioner Steve O’Neil.

In all reality, Rosenwald’s crimes, most of which dealt with a few minor scuffles, rank more towards the bottom of the city’s stat sheet. According to the Duluth Police Department’s crime stats, the number of recorded of assaults was 224. Compare that to the number of thefts topping the list at 3,214. Regardless of where Rosenwald fits in with the statistics, church leaders say they have only had positive things to report.

Congregation President, Karen Alworth said even those who could barely afford to help George did so, even a lady who had been in a comparable scenario to that of Rosenwald.

“She called to say ‘thank you’ for what you’re doing,? Alworth said. “I don’t have much but I’m going to drop off a check to help this man because I’ve been there.?

In conjunction with a criminal history, George also has a medical rap sheet. The congregation is attempting to subsidize shoulder and heart surgery that Rosenwald needs, according to Schulz. The reverend also said that the church would help “as much as we can? to help Rosenwald obtain the necessary treatments.

George himself could not be reached for comment due to the fact of his relocation since recent media coverage he has received. Some even argued this was unfair.

“I can tell you that I pitch my stories to the [Duluth] News Tribune regularly and I don’t get on the front page much,? O’Neil said.

However, O’Neil did say that Rosenwald is in a secure place out of the elements, as he has been provided with an efficiency apartment in West Duluth, that is subsidized entirely by private donations. The fact of the matter is that there are others like George that don’t receive the fortuitous opportunities George has had, according to O’Neil.

On any given night O’Neil estimates that around 400 people sleep homeless with 40 percent of that population under the age of 18, and it all adds up.

“We as taxpayers, we’re spending at least a couple thousand dollars a month on Mr. Rosenwald.?

Regardless of the cost, the First Lutheran Church says it’s not about the money.

“We as Christian people try to love the gospel and that is to embrace as many as we can, especially those that fall into our laps.?

While crime rates haven't risen, robberies are still an issue for local businesses

DCN Reporter

As Duluth Police officer Ron Tinsley pulls his large frame from his squad car, his long strides move him confidently to a shattered store window. He bends over slowly, and with a knowing eye, looks at the glass.

“That’s definitely not a bullet hole,? says Tinsley, shaking his head, as he looks back over his police report.

He talks briefly to the owner of the store, and gives him a case number for his insurance company.

“There’s not a heckuva lot more we can do,? said Tinsley, “there’s nothing to follow up on.?

Petty crimes, such as a broken storefront window, are becoming more and more common in Duluth. Vandalism alone was up 82 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to the Duluth Police Department Web site. The number of robberies has remained largely the same from 2005 to 2006, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still an issue for some local businesses.

Lee Cummings-Gibbs knows first hand the helplessness of being robbed. On the last Wednesday of October, she was working the afternoon shift when a man came in and robbed the First Oriental Grocery store where she works.

“This guy came in with his hands in his pockets, and a hood on,? said Cummings-Gibbs. “He said, ‘I need to use a phone’ and asked for change. He was looking at the cash register.

“I opened my cash register and he came close, grabbed the $20s and the fives and ran away,? continues Cummings-Gibbs. “I ran to the door and yelled ‘Help me! Help me! I was robbed!’ then I called the police and they came right away. The people were very proactive in helping.?

Despite the experience, Cummings-Gibbs still works daily to provide the community with a unique selection of food.

“I always felt good here,? said Cummings-Gibbs. “The police said ‘please don’t close.’ I’m here to serve the community, and when you’re nice, sometimes you can be taken advantage of.?

Further down Superior Street, an employee at the Super America gas station recalls a manager being robbed just a year ago.

“It was eight or nine o’clock [in the morning], and this guy came in to buy a coffee and a newspaper,? said Jason Turnquist. “He came around the counter and said he had a gun.

“He made off with about 200 bucks,? said Turnquist. “Then he walked casually down the street. They busted him about an hour later.?

The store hasn’t seen any significant crimes since, except for their bathroom being occasionally damaged.

“There are homeless people that wash up in the bathroom,? said Turnquist, “but they don’t really destroy anything.?

While Super One Foods across the street from the Super America, hasn’t had a robbery problem in years they do have an issue with shoplifting and intoxicated people.

“They steal piddly things,? said Super One manager Heather Johnson, "mainly around the steak section. On a good week, the police show up to remove someone probably four out of five days."

“They’re either picked up for shoplifting or disturbing the peace,? said Johnson.

Often times, if they’re picked up by the police on a drunk and disorderly charge, they’ll end up at the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment just a few blocks down the road on Superior Street and 14th Avenue.

Laurie Hall, program director at the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment, says that people the center helps come from all walks of life, from “professionals to non-professionals.?

“A standard stay is two to three days, and we make sure that they are medically detoxed,? said Hall. “They’re brought here by themselves, by doctors and the police. Police will actually walk the people in the door.?

Budget cuts may keep Central Hillside's ice rink out of commission

By Ali Draves
DCN Reporter

As the winter months creep closer, the Duluth community is struggling to keep the tradition of the popular Grant Recreation skating rink alive.

Due to recent citywide budget cuts, the rink’s future is in jeopardy because no one is employed to flood and maintain it.

In previous years, the Duluth Parks Maintenance crew would have been in charge of flooding the community rink.

However, this year’s financial state forced half the maintenance employees to plow the city streets, instead of dedicating their time to the rinks.

“Everyone wants their streets plowed,? said Kathy Bergen, the Interim Director of Duluth Parks and Recreation. “Although it’s important, it leaves us in a bind and we have to pull together our limited resources.?

The rink is vital to the Hillside area, according to Recreational Specialist Chuck Campbell.

“We usually have 30 skaters a night,? said Campbell. “It’s more than just a neighborhood rink, it’s a place for the community to be together.?

In fact, over 1,560 children skated at Grant Recreation Community Center’s rink last year, according to the 2006 Duluth Parks and Recreational Annual Report.

Surprisingly, most children come to the rink without a pair of skates.

Grant, unlike most ice rinks, has an entire room full of skates that children can use for free.

“We have a lot of users,? said Campbell. “Most of the children can’t afford skates, or don’t know how to use them. That’s why we’re here.?

At six-years-old, Kristie Larson is one of those kids.

“Last year, I was here almost every night because I can walk here from my house,? she said. “I want it to be like that this year too.?

Larson and the rest of the neighborhood kids wouldn’t be able to travel to other rinks, making it fundamental addition to the community.

“It would be impossible for a child to walk or take the bus to another rink,? Bergen said.

Realizing the severity of the situation, Grant has enlisted the help of Lincoln Park Citizen Patrol and other volunteers.

“We’re going to get the word out that this rink needs to be maintained,? said Rick Minotte, the head of the Lincoln Park Citizen Patrol. “We know we can help.?

There is a wide range of volunteers involved within the organization and many will be more than willing to help the situation, he said.

“Even if it’s only for a few hours every night, it’s more than what would be available through city funding,? Minotte said. “It will depend on how many volunteers we get.?

Roger Hill, an employee at the Grant Recreation Community Center, is also willing to help.

“It’s going to suck to do it by hand, but I’ll do it,? he said. “Everyone will pitch in because they love the kids.?

Bergen, despite the obstacles, is optimistic about the rink’s future.

“If the community and other organizations pitch in, I know the rink will be up and running,? she said. “I’m hopeful.?

Hillside Community Church welcomes all

DCN Reporter

Volunteers and employees busy themselves around the office with the sorts of tasks that might seem tedious to some, but have a much greater purpose for those involved.

“We just want to bring glory to God, starting with the downtown area and working our way out,? said student ministries pastor Luke Rowan.

When the Hillside Community Church opened in 2001, the mission of the founders was to create a user-friendly church in the Hillside that offered a place for people of all types to come and discover a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pastors go in and out of meetings as volunteers staple together countless packets of information that are to be given to newcomers. It is apparent as each person goes about his daily tasks that the goal is not lost on the workers.

“Everyone here has a passion to go beyond just their duties,? said church administrator Darlene Cook.

Cook and her husband moved to Duluth two years ago and were looking for a new church. She was drawn to the Hillside Community Church because of the youthful vibrancy, powerful contemporary worship and the desire to fill the needs of those who live in difficult circumstances.

She now works for the church, and as director of all non-pastoral duties, she is able to help contribute to those virtues.

“We don’t want to only meet the financial needs of those in rough circumstances,? said Cook. “But we also want to give them a place to go and someone to talk to, a mentor.?

According to an American Religious Identification study, the number of people who classify themselves as Christians in the United States has dropped from 86 percent in 1990 to 77 percent in 2001, a decrease of almost one percent every year.

The people at Hillside Community Church take a practical approach to try to address those numbers.

The sign outside the door on Sunday morning reads “Come As You Are," an idea that is taken to heart by all those involved with the church. That is why pastors will never dress up in more than a pair of blue jeans on Sunday morning.

“We want people to know that it doesn’t matter what you wear,? said Cook. “Everyone’s welcome.?

Attendees of the church take this to heart as well.

“You might see somebody at church wearing a nice shirt and a tie, and then sitting right next to him is someone wearing a worn-out, ripped t-shirt,? said Rowan.

Stefan Sjoberg, a regular attendee of the church, has seen the “Come As You Are? philosophy in practice as well.

“When you go to Hillside, everyone’s equal,? he said. “I know a local judge who comes every week and always dresses really nice, but then you get all the people who just come off the street, too.?

The mission, however, is not limited to Sundays as the church runs many get-togethers, ranging from “Fight Night?(a young men’s group focused on boxing), to “Mothers with Kids Playgroup? (a group for mothers to share and reflect on each other’s life stories).

So whether they’re answering phones, organizing information packets, preparing a sermon, or planning a church-wide outreach event, everyone has the same goal in mind.

And, according to one member, it’s paying off.

“They’re really good at making everyone feel welcome,? said Sjoberg. “They take out a lot of stuff that drives people away from some churches.?

Jitters coffee shop energizes fine arts

Jitters pic skalicky-3.jpg

DCN Reporter

While large corporations donate millions of dollars to national charities, one Duluth coffee shop contributes to the community in a different way. Jitters coffee shop in downtown Duluth chooses to help local artists.

Each month the owner of Jitters, Gary Houdek, dedicates an entire wall in his coffee shop to display the work of a local artist—not only to display great artwork for his customers, but also to sell the artist’s work. Houdek also donates a portion of his profits to help fine arts programs in Duluth.

Generating a relationship with the community is a high priority at Jitters. The customers are usually greeted by name, which is amazing considering the traffic of people that invade the small shop every day. Jitters employees have created a friendly and knowledgeable environment in their shop that enhances their relationship with the community.

“The young worker really knew his beans,? said Don Saari, a recent customer in shop.

“My wife and I came back here, because he really impressed me with how much he knew,? Saari added.

Jitters grinds its own fresh coffee beans daily. Houdek likes to use fresh ingredients in other items, too, such as fruit smoothies and sandwiches.

Places like Jitters face competition from corporations such as Starbucks, one of which has taken residence only a couple of blocks from Houdek’s shop.

“We’re not worried about Starbucks,? Houdek said. Since Starbucks moved in, Jitters has maintained its customers and also gained many new ones.

According to the Starbucks Web site, the Starbucks Corporation gave $36.1 million to charities and nonprofit groups in 2006, but when asked about involvement in the Duluth community, their management was difficult to contact.

The typical customer who walks into Starbucks for a cup of coffee is dressed in business attire. Jitters employee Casey Uland paused before responding on who the typical Jitters customer is.

“Actually, we get a wide variety of people who come here. Everyone from bums to business workers,? said Uland.

“I wouldn’t mind going to Starbucks if their coffee actually tasted halfway decent,? Uland added.

“Gary is really good about who he hires, because they all do an excellent job,? said Eric Horn, a frequent customer who works nearby.

“I enjoy just going in there and talking with the workers,? Horn mentions.

The term “community contribution? has a different meaning to the Jitters coffee shop. They may not have millions of dollars in corporate revenues, but they find ways to make a difference. Whether it’s helping struggling artists, making an excellent café mocha or simply delivering a friendly morning greeting, the shop has attracted regular customers in the downtown area. Their relationship with the community and their commitment to quality has earned Jitters the “Best Coffee Shop? award in Duluth several years now, according to Houdek.

For November, Jitters will display Mike Nordin's photography.

The coffee shop's reputation for quality coffee and community involvement has cemented its business in the Duluth area for generations.

Jitters pic skalicky-2.jpg

ABOVE: Mike Nordin's photography is displayed during November 2007 on a wall inside Duluth's Jitters coffee shop.

Duluth snowboarders find unique ways to practice out of season

DCN Reporter

With the opening of Spirit Mountain still more than a month away, a group of friends take it upon themselves to get some snowboarding practice in before the first snowflake hits the slopes.

On warm fall days for the past few years Tim Miller, Barry Buhr, Bjorn Reed, Eric Christofferson and Morgan Pease grab their boards and their buddies and set up a make-shift snowboarding session at Portland Square Park in Duluth.

“We’ve been doing this for seven, maybe eight years now,? said Miller, who was born and raised in Duluth. “Me and a couple buddies started doing this here when we were still in high school.?

The guys use their trucks and in some cases, cars, to gather snow from local ice rinks that is left over from the Zamboni. They build a small ramp with a jump launching them onto a rail and back onto a landing patch of snow.

“It takes us about an hour to gather enough snow and then maybe another hour for set-up and fine tuning the jump and rail,? Reed said. “On nice days when we have the time this is just way too fun.?

The tricks are small-scale but still impressive and a good way for the boarders to prepare for the much larger jumps and rails at Spirit and other nearby ski areas.

“It’s always nice to get back on a board a few times before hitting up the bigger stuff,? Christofferson said. “If nothing else it works the kinks out of the legs.?

The slopes at Spirit Mountain usually don’t open until around Thanksgiving and in some years, closer to Christmas.

“The Lake [Superior], can help us or it can kill us if it’s too warm,? Buhr said. They can start making snow at Spirit early in November with their machines but if it’s too warm that doesn’t do us any good and we have to wait it out.?

All of the guys have been snowboarding for at least seven years, and a few have been doing it for over a decade.

For all the years they’ve been setting up in the park they have never had any problems with the city or the police.

“We’ve had cops show up and stop to watch,? Miller said. “This isn’t exactly the best part of town so I think they enjoy stopping here to see something cool going on instead of something destructive. This is just good clean fun.?

In a neighborhood that doesn’t have the best reputation, doing something fun for the whole community can brighten days for all involved. The guys encourage young riders to join them and sharpen their skills.

“A lot of the kids around here don’t have a whole lot,? Reed said. “If we can introduce them to snowboarding instead of someone introducing them to something worse, I’m fine with that.?

Unlike skateboarding, there are no city ordinances in Duluth that restrict the use of city parks for snowboarding.

“We try and be as respectful as we can with what we do in the park,? Miller said. “We want to be able to keep on doing this and we don’t want problems with police or the city.?

In the past there have been multiple ramps and rails lining the small hill on 5th Street. Miller remembers having ramps under lights in the park so that the fun could go uninterrupted into the night without the use of generators for their own lights.

“Generators are loud and keep people awake," Pease said. "We tried that once and it just doesn’t work in an area like this with so many houses around. People get pissed."

It’s not often that the guys get a chance to do something like this more than three or four days during the Fall before a fresh coat of powder lures them to the slopes. If it’s raining the rain melts the snow and work schedules don’t always cooperate with the weather.

“There’s usually only a couple of days when we all have the time and weather is nice enough to do this,? Buhr said. “But who knows, it’s been raining a lot lately so maybe it will get cold so we can get a lot of snow too.?

Lakewalk Center construction inconviences some, but benefits many

DCN Reporter

Steel beams and a large crane stand surrounded by mounds of dirt and blocks of concrete. A cement truck rumbles by, overpowering the sound of nail guns and backhoes.

The Lakewalk Center on London Road is in the middle of an expansion that will make room for more offices, but not everyone is happy about it.

“It’s blocking a beautiful view,? said Jessica Rath who lives across the street from the Lakewalk Center. “One of the reasons we got the place was because of the view and now we won’t have it.?

Katie Toumi also lives close to the ongoing project, just a block away. Though, she hasn’t had much trouble with the construction at her own house, her boyfriend’s house, next door to the Lakewalk Center, has been a different story.

According to Toumi, part of the house’s driveway overlapped with the Lakewalk Center property. As a result, the driveway was altered and construction took place very close to the house.

“They tore up the whole driveway,? said Toumi. “Do they not even think about the fact that people live there??

Toumi explained that heavy machinery could be heard as early as 6 a.m. She said that it’s not the construction workers who are at fault, but better planning and communication could have made it easier on residents.

Though troubled with the inconvenience of construction, both Rath and Toumi recognize that the project does come with positives.

“It pulls more people here, and that obviously helps the city,? said Rath.

Toumi likes that the area is getting a fresh look. Several run down buildings have been demolished in the last year or so, and new projects are popping up in their place.

“It definitely seems like they’re making plans to revitalize it,? said Toumi.

Parker Bambenek works at Marine General, across the street from the Lakewalk Center. He feels that the project is a positive for the city.

“This part of the community is more business oriented anyway,? said Bambenek. “It brings more business to Duluth and we need that. If there are a lot more people working and visiting at the Lakewalk, it could bring more people to shop.?

Kathy Marinac works in property and asset management for A & L Properties, the company who develops and leases the expansion. She said that the project has the possibility of drawing more business to the area.

It has already played a role in at least one business setting up shop in the area. A new Italian restaurant, Valentini’s Vicino Lago, is being built right next to the Lakewalk Center.

The restaurant owner, Carol Valentini, said that one factor in determining the location was the expansion of the Lakewalk Center. Also, because the employees of the Lakewalk Center don't have a food service, Valentini hopes it will help in bringing in customers.

As for the view of the lake, Marinac said the space is being utilized.

“Those particular buildings are going to have great views from the building and the tenants get a great view,? she said.

Economic opportunities on the rise in the Duluth area

DCN Reporter

Alright. So there are exactly 50 million organizations in or near Duluth dedicated to attracting and retaining a young population by combating the notion that Duluth has no jobs. That’s right. 50 million.

The issue of economic development has received much attention from mayoral candidates Charlie Bell and Don Ness. They have been talking about their respective plans to revitalize Duluth’s economy in order to attract and retain a young population.

Duluth’s percentage of 24-35 year-olds, at 12 percent, lags behind really exciting places like Dubuque, IA and Grand Forks, ND.

This lack of jobs is a huge problem, right?

“I think if gets hyped up a lot in the media,? said Julie Munger, Community Initiatives Officer for the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. And with baby boomers starting to reach retirement age, Munger said, “it’s just gonna get better.?

Jeff Borling dismissed the perception that there are no jobs for young people in Duluth as “a myth.?

“The way they describe it, it sounds more dramatic than it actually is,? Borling said as he produced a promotional leaflet proclaiming “75,000 job openings is worth shouting about!? Over the next decade boomer retirement is expected to open up more positions than could actually be filled by the generation now entering the workforce. “There just aren’t enough of us.?

Attracting youth is very important to the city’s economic health, Munger said. Cities that can’t retain young people lose their tax bases and school funding. Duluth is trying to create a welcoming and inclusive culture similar to that of Austin, Texas, Munger said. The world is changing, and the people the city hopes to attract are “not your parents’ workforce.?

“Some people work better in the middle of the night than when society tells us to,? said Munger.

As previously noted
, Patrick Nelson, who runs a variety store of vintage and retro stuff out of his house, is a night person. When he and his wife Karen started Obscuriousities last winter they took advantage of a grant from the Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps people start or expand small businesses.

The Nelsons took a training course provided by Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, which was helpful. More importantly, the organization also provides in-store consultations to help with details like credit card readers and display organization, which Karen appreciated.

“I didn’t want it to be a garage sale in here,? she said. “I wanted it to be a store.?

Businesses like Obscuriousities are called micro businesses, said Jim Skurla, acting director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the Labovitz School of Business and Economics. If they can find a niche in the market they can create a more seamless economy.

“They can do some stuff that maybe the big guys can’t do,? Skurla said.

Micros like Obscuriousities aren’t going to have much of an impact on the economy overall, Skurla said. But by creating a business healthy enough to allow them to be self-sufficient, the Nelsons and others like them are freeing up jobs in a city where unemployment rates are typically among the highest in the state and job creation is an obvious priority.

In fact, the Nelsons are exactly the kind of people Duluth is trying to attract. Creative. Enterprising. Involved in the community.


Local grandmother operates neighborhood daycare center

DCN Reporter

Pat Alvar is a grandmother of nine who runs the “Kid Patch? daycare center out of her home on 5th Avenue and 6th Street in Duluth’s Central Hillside. She is licensed for 14 children and works alone.

“I’ve been in the business for so long,? Alvar says. “I love working with children.?

“I started Kid Patch six years ago,? Alvar says. “But I have been involved with daycare for 30 years now.?
She watches the children of families who live around the Central Hillside.

“Half of them are my grandkids,? Alvar says with a laugh.

Alvar works to make sure that the children she watches follow her rules and stay safe.

“One of my main rules for them is no fighting. Kids don’t hurt each other,? Alvar says.

She has a small retaining wall in front of her house which used to get vandalized often. What used to be vulgar words and dirty pictures are now stick figures of children playing.

“I decided that if someone’s going to write on my wall, it’s going to be me,? Alvar says. “So one day I went out there and spray painted my wall so that it has nice things on it.?

Toys litter the floor at Alvar’s home. She says that all the toys were either donated to her or she bought them herself.

“Every year, I buy something new for the kids,? Alvar says. “Sometimes it lasts the entire year and sometimes it doesn’t.?

Alvar also takes the children out on field trips with one of the trips they often make being to the home Roger Hill who owns many reptiles and amphibians.

“Their favorite is Roger,? Alvar says.

“I let the kids see the lizards, they love it,? Hill explains.

“It’s fun to see the excitement in the kids’ eyes,? says Hill who works as a recreational coordinator at the Grant Community Center.

Alvar is active with the children she watches and along with taking them to see Hill, she brings them to movies and to the park.

“It’s always nice to get them out of the house,? Alvar says.

Mandy Miller says it’s nice to have someone she can trust to watch her kids.

Miller is Alvar’s daughter and also uses Kid Patch for her children.

“She loves these kids,? Miller says. “She’s a loving person and she’s not in it for the money. She just cares about the kids.?

Michelle Laughman also uses Kid Patch as a daycare for her kids.

“My kids have been going there for six years now and they love it there,? Laughman says.

Alvar feels connected to the kids she watches.

“I’m like their unofficial grandma. I’ve had most of these kids since they were in diapers.?

Is tattoo for you? A question for the Gen Nexters

DCN Reporter

Tattoos are seen by many as an art form, the body being a blank canvas. Others feel uncomfortable around people with pierced body parts and tattoos. A Pew Research survey done in January 2007 said that over one-third of Generation Nexters (people ages 18-25) have tattoos, while another survey done by Vault said 67 percent of people concealed their tattoos at work. It seems tattoos still have a stigma attached to them that may affect the job opportunities Generation Nexters have. If this is the case, then why are so many people getting tattoos?

Just as there are many different designs and styles of tattoos, there are many different reasons for getting tattoos. Some get tatted because it seems cool and their friends are doing it. Others get tatted to mark a significant point in their life or show a significant aspect of themselves. Nate Scanlon, the main piercer at Dominic’s Downtown, used one of his tattoos as an example.

“My first tattoo was a huge spider on my right forearm,? he said. “I had to cover it up after a while. I got it because my biggest fear is spiders and I thought getting a tattoo might help me get over it. It didn’t work, I’m still scared of spiders so I had to cover it up.?

The different styles themselves can be attractive to potential ink wearers. With many different designs ranging from flowers and cute animals to ghoulish characters peeking through the skin, there’s a tattoo for everyone—maybe even more than one.

The attractiveness of this is that people can keep a tattoo original through its meaning, design or style. For example, Scanlon has a tattoo of two sparrows on his neck that have very special meaning to him. Someone else can make that same design their own by getting it simply because they like sparrows or because it has some other meaning to the person or by changing the style of the tattoo.

It could be the uniqueness that draws people to get tattoos despite the effects on job opportunities. The tattoo’s location may have something to do with it, too. People can put tattoos in places where they can be covered up if need be. Chris Rundell, a client at Dominic’s, talked about the location of a tattoo.
“I think there’s a good reason to have them where you have them, but there’s also a responsibility of where you put the tattoo,? he said.

Another reason may be that Generation Nexters see tattoos as becoming more accepted. The older generation grew up with the stereotype of a tattoo as a bad thing, which is one reason why tattoos affect job opportunities, according to Scanlon. The younger generation, which has generally accepted tattoos, will age and replace the older generation’s position in society, resulting in an acceptance for the next generation’s tattoos.

Whatever the reason for getting tattooed, the practice does seem to be here to stay.



http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=300 -- An article from the Pew Research Center, "A Portrait of 'Generation Next': How Young People View Their Lives, Futures and Politics"

Homelessness is apparent in Duluth

DCN reporters

For most people in Duluth, just walking to their cold car and waiting for it to warm up is a dreaded time. Now imagine sleeping outside in the chilly fall and in the freezing winter. Imagine having no place to call home. Imagine carrying everything you own on your back, begging for change so that maybe you can eat a meal of your choice, rather than what the a shelter or soup kitchen chooses for you.

There are varying degrees of poverty. Not everyone who is considered homeless is sleeping on the streets.

Poverty and homelessness can range from an elderly couple who eat at a soup kitchen to save money, to a family that struggles to have a place of their own, to the severity of homelessness that was painted above.

One of the factors that makes homelessness in Duluth so hard to deal with, according to Al Bergren (view video), superintendent of the Union Gospel Mission, is that many of the city’s homeless are also dealing with alcoholism.

To combat poverty, Duluth does offer some low-income housing, such as the recently opened San Marcos apartments, but these resources are sometimes abused.

“I heard of one guy who was renting a small room. It was a 12x12 room, and he had 18 people sleeping in there with him," said Bernard Holland, a bartender at the Kozy Bar. “The cops busted it because someone got stabbed."
Holland, as a bartender at the Kozy Bar, sees people that are considered impoverished or homeless in Duluth almost daily. Above the bar are rooms that are rented out, usually to people with low incomes.

“A lot of my friends are homeless, I used to let them stay with me, but they abused the privilege," said Holland.

When someone gets evicted and moves in with a friend, they are considered homeless, according to Holland. He feels that everybody should be doing a little bit more to help the situation.

“At this time last year you could walk down to the Lakewalk [from the Kozy Bar] and see 30 or 40 people sleeping in the bushes," said Holland.

There are a number of different resources available in the city that work to raise awareness and counter the ongoing issue of homelessness. The Union Gospel Mission, located on Second Avenue East and First Street, has been serving the city since 1922.

The Union Gospel Mission is just one place where people can find a hot meal and, in an emergency, a place to sleep for the night. With employees and volunteers working seven days a week, the Union Gospel Mission is always willing to help those in need. Many of the employees and volunteers at the mission have their own personal experiences with homelessness. Chuck Rogers (view video) was homeless for over eight years before the Union Gospel Mission hired him as a regular employee.

“It feels good to help people," said Union Gospel Mission volunteer Adam Obermann. “People come in here and they get all their needs."

The mission also plans an annual event called “Boxtown" to raise awareness and money for the cause of homelessness in Duluth. This fall marked the third year of Boxtown, an event during which people from the mission are joined by citizens of Duluth to sleep outside in shelters made of boxes for a minimum donation of $25 per person.

“This (Boxtown) definitely helps to further the benefit of helping people and basically get the word of us out there," said Union Gospel Mission employee Cory Bergren.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness stated that we need to create more jobs, but Ness feels that Duluth needs to create more jobs in industries where help is needed, in addition to making housing more affordable.

“Aviation, education, and health care are the core industries in Duluth," said Ness at the candidate forum in October. “If we can create training programs that meet the specific skill and talent needs of those industries, then we’re going to start getting spin-off businesses and opportunities for entrepreneurs to create real value in those industries."

November 1, 2007

Students uncertain whether they should vote

Cindi Buswell, Brittney Silewski, and Kathleen Grigg's blog enteries all talk about whether the students should affect Duluth's future. They also address students or even themselves who are unsure about whether they should vote because they may not even stay in Duluth. If students are going to move away in a year or two, should they be voting in the mayoral election which affects people who may be in Duluth for years to come.

Duluth mayoral election

Whether Charlie Bell or Don Ness will turn out to be the mayor in the city of Duluth is not known yet, but UMD students certainly acknowledge the coming of the mayoral election and have different opinions about it.

A number of students' blog entries address the same assumption about what action--or rather no action--the majority of UMD students would take in this local election: They do not plan to vote because Duluth is not their permanent home. Cindi’s blog and Kathleen Grigg’s not only confirm that the belief is true but also raise an important question and direct us to consider certain relevant political issues. Have the candidates done enough to motivate UMD students to vote? Unlike Cindi who sees students’ lack of political involvement as a challenge for the politicians, Grigg sees it as a chance to question the meaning of voting in our democratic society. Ali’s blog, however, reports that the assumption is merely a myth. UMD actually has a long history of getting students involved in politics. Also, there are some student political organizations that help students become an informed political participant.

If students decide not to vote or don't want to get involved with any political elections simply because they do not feel Duluth as their home, the way they think may not necessarily reveal their long-term, unchanged attitude toward politics. After all, it takes a lot of time for one to learn or understand what it means by being a responsible voter. If some UMD students are asked to read Hanson’s blog, they probably cannot decide whether they should embrace or reject the author’s political standpoint, but it does not mean that they can never do so after they graduate from UMD and continue to live in their home town.

They have the potential, but will they use it?

College students have the potential to choose Duluth’s next mayor.

There are three mid-sized colleges in Duluth adding up to roughly 30,000 potential student votes. Who are these people going to vote for?

Lisa Kunkel
, a UMD student and blogger believes that UMD students will not be a deciding factor during this fall’s election for two reasons. The first reason is that the students just don’t care about Duluth’s Mayor because they feel it has no effect on their lives. Her second reason is that a large percentage of the students feel uninformed on the issues.

Another UMD blogger, Kathleen Grigg, offers a different reason why she and other students may not be getting active in Duluth’s politics. She’s feels no connection to the city. She hails for Rapid City, S.D., lives in Superior WI., and goes to school in Duluth. She’s confused on where it would be appropriate for her to vote.

Contrary to the blogs mentioned above, Ali Draves, another UMD blogger states that UMD has 3,685 registered voters. She feels that UMD is a magnet for young activists, eager to play a role in their new city’s politics.

Whether or not college students vote, one thing is clear: come Election Day neither mayoral candidate will turn down a student vote. And should all college students in Duluth vote, it will be a major factor in deciding our next mayor.

UMD students weigh in on the upcoming elections

With the upcoming mayoral elections days away I wanted to take a look at the new community in Duluth, college students, and their take on the elections. Cindi Buswell, Ali Draves and Amanda Daniels address the issues college students are concerned with in their blogs. Cindi Buswell and Ali Draves talk to students about whether or not they plan on voting and if they feel connected to the Duluth community. Amanda Daniels addresses what college students are interested in, for example housing issues and how the candidates weigh in.

Students don't vote: feel no local connection

Reading through the blogs of Lisa Kunkel, Kathleen Grigg and Cindi Buswell, you are enlightened to the fact that many college students don’t vote in local elections. These students talk about their own experiences and those of other students who say they don’t feel a need to vote in Duluth because it is not their hometown and don’t feel connected to this community.

Student concerns are voiced

I decided to look at three blogs that were different but yet had the same concern-student issues. Julia Davis' blog looked the war in Iraq and how it was affecting UMD students. Amanda Daniels focused on the two mayoral candidates (Charlie Bell and Don Ness) and how they were trying to connect with college students in Duluth. The third blog I looked at was, Dane Benson's. His blog focused on the much talked about student housing ordinance and how it was going to impact UMD students.

Many students impartial to mayoral elections despite housing issues

Lisa Kunkel's and Julia Davis' blogs says most college students are uninterested in the election and its issues. Dane Benson’s blog talks about the renting issue, an issue that has the potential to really affect the way students in Duluth live. A lengthy expose, he describes different aspects of the issue that clueless students should tune into because of the immediate impact on the students’ off-campus housing options. The moral of the story: be awesome to one another. Donna O’Neill’s blog looks at the housing issue, as well, focusing on the relationship between student renters, landlords and neighbors because DARR (a group of landlords) is looking for ways to fix issues in these relationships without the intervention of the city council.