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Pioneer Viewpoints: Stay cool on the ice

As deer hunting ends, the outdoors focus now switches to ice fishing. Already, ice fishing houses can be seen on some area lakes, including right here on Lake Irving and Lake Bemidji.

But we are only a few weeks into the ice-making season, so we urge everyone to use caution when venturing out on area lakes.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued a reminder recently about ice thickness, noting that six people died last year after falling through ice. Many of us are so used to these warnings, however, they sometimes just don’t register anymore. More often than not, it takes a tragedy or near-tragedy to stir us back to reality. Well, let this be that near-tragedy: A Sartell, Minn., man had to be rescued Nov. 15 after falling through thin ice on Little Rock Lake, about 200 yards from shore, while he was ice fishing, according to media reports.

If we’ve got your attention then: Here’s the DNR’s recommendations for ice thickness are:

● 4 inches for walking.

● 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.

● 8-12 inches for a car.

● 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

So, if you are going out on the ice, please stay cool and be safe.

Deserved honor

Jane Valencia is a fighter. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1994, the Bemidji woman admits she was hurt and angry with her situation, even turning to drugs and alcohol to ease her suffering. But she soon found a clean path for her life, and a new purpose: Educating others about HIV/AIDS, especially young people and those on American Indian reservations.

Valencia’s tireless efforts led her to be recently recognized by a national HIV/AIDS organization. Valencia was named as a member of the POZ 100, a list recognizing people living with or affected by HIV or AIDS who have made a positive impact in their communities.

“I don’t dwell on my illness,” Valencia told reporter Crystal Dey in a story on Sunday’s Page A1. “I’m thriving.”

And while many medical advancements have been made, at its core, HIV/AIDS is still incurable.

It is people like Valencia who give hope to those dealing with the disease.