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Pioneer Viewpoints: Lending a hand during difficult times

The beauty of the great outdoors is a big part of why we live in this part of the country.

The other? Its people.

That was demonstrated again this week in response to several large wildfires in and around the Bemidji area. Sure, firefighters with the Bemidji Fire Department are professionals and they were just doing their job, but helping out fellow communities is what we are all about. “And honestly, if it wasn’t for the Bemidji firefighters, we would not have a home today,” Mary Merchant told Bemidji Pioneer reporter John Hageman. Merchant’s home near Menahga was saved by the efforts of area fire crews, including Bemidji’s, on Tuesday evening. “I cannot speak highly enough about them and our gratitude and how appreciative we are,” she said.

And it wasn’t just firefighters. Stories also circulated about friends and neighbors helping each other evacuate or protect property. The American Red Cross, churches, social service agencies, businesses also stepped up to lend a hand to fire victims.

So, like Mary, we are truly grateful and appreciative that we live here.

N.D. vs. Minnesota

A kerfuffle was stoked last week when the Greater North Dakota Chamber, the state’s chamber of commerce, started a billboard campaign touting its state’s booming booming economy along highways bordering Minnesota. It also takes a shot, some say, at how Minnesota is trying to solve its budget woes, mainly through raising certain taxes, the Associated Press reported.

The signs’ top line reads “North Dakota.” On the second, it says “Open for Business.” Of course, much of the bickering is centered in Fargo and Moorhead, where both communities need one another to get federal funding for flood protection. Still, the Greater North Dakota Chamber’s president, Andy Peterson, told the AP there’s no plans to stop the billboard campaign. He said Minnesota needs to develop a more business-friendly climate, including less repressive taxes.

“As much as the Fargo and Moorhead people think this is about them, it is not about them. It has nothing to do with them,” Peterson told the AP. “It’s about what’s happening in Minnesota that continues to suck the air out of the room.”

And while we may not agree with all the politicians’ plans in St. Paul, creating a business-friendly climate should be a strong goal for all civic leaders.

But, c’mon, North Dakota, no need to kick us when we are down.