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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

Cheer: Spreading kindness

Kindness and lending a helping hand, even to strangers, is still part of the fabric of our community. A handful of people paid off Christmas gifts on layaway at a local store, without the donors or recipients even knowing each other. One man stopped to help out a woman stranded with a flat tire, then spent the next couple hours fixing it after giving her a ride to work. Those random acts of kindness and good deeds - without the expectation of a reward - show we've maintained our small town values.

Jeer: No more cracks

It's clear more work needs to be done to help military veterans transition to life back in the U.S. after serving overseas. Greg Roberts of Bemidji testified last week about shortcomings in the National Guard's plan to help him adjust to civilian society again after returning from the Iraq war. Minnesota Guard officials implemented an award-winning reintegration program to help soldiers after their service, but more can be done. One lawmaker said Roberts fell through the cracks. We need more changes and resources devoted to the men and women who serve our country so no one falls through the cracks.

Jeer: Too lenient

A former Bemidji EMT received 24 years in prison for crimes against two young girls. While he will serve time and the state will closely watch him, it's not nearly enough to punish 36-year-old Arthur Austin-Ellis Evans of Hackensack for violating the girls' trust and innocence. Because he reached a plea agreement and pleaded guilty, Cass County prosecutors agreed not to file additional charges against Evans for other crimes uncovered during law enforcement's investigation into his behavior. When Evans nears the end of his sentence, he faces possible civil commitment into a hospital for the state's most dangerous predators.

Cheer: Fundraising rally

The Beltrami Humane Society garnered $35,000 in donations in about a month's time - enough to fill its 2011 budget shortfall. The no-kill shelter, 1612 Carr Lake Road SE in Bemidji, will stay open, continuing to serve Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and northern Hubbard counties. Community support for the facility saved it from closing in 2012.

Jeer: Appalling attacks

It's appalling to see the attacks against public officials. In southeastern Minnesota, a Lake City man shot a police officer responding to a domestic violence call last week. And in northeastern Minnesota, a Grand Marais man gunned down two people, including the Cook County attorney, at the courthouse there. Using firearms against others, particularly those sworn to uphold justice, is not acceptable.