This week, we are debuting a new, but yet old feature on the Editorial Page. The return of a weekly roundup of the good, the bad and the so-so in the community. We call it Cheers and Jeers.
First off, a resounding cheer to the Bemidji community for responding to the needs of 2-year-old Jane Comfort. The toddler has been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, which essentially attacks the part of a person’s nervous system that controls muscle movement. But that doesn’t stop Jane, and thanks to the community, she will have more freedom than ever. A Sept. 15 fundraiser at Lazy Jack’s brought in more than enough for the family to buy a motorized chair for Jane that allow her to get around easier. Jane’s story was featured in the Pioneer on Sept. 13.
“There were people who were complete strangers to us; there were people we haven’t seen for years — it seemed like people kind of came out of the woodwork just to show Jane support,” Jane’s mother, Megan Comfort, told the Pioneer last week. “It was pretty amazing.”
More than enough money was brought in to purchase the chair, the family said, and they now plan to put the additional funds into savings for a handicap-accessible vehicle once Jane grows older.
Another big cheer goes out to Jeff and Sherry Wizner. The longtime Bemidji area restaurateurs have decided to hang up their spatulas and retire. The couple closed their popular Southside Restaurant in Bemidji a few weeks back. The pair has been involved in the local food industry in Blackduck and Bemidji for years, but at ages 63 and 62, Jeff and Sherry say it’s time to retire and spend more time with family. Our appetites will miss you, Jeff and Sherry.
Speaking of retirements, we would be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to our own Pam Wynkoop, who retired Sept. 27, after 49 years at the Pioneer. Say it -- 49 years! That means Pam started working at the Pioneer the same year the writer of this editorial was born. Always going above and beyond, Pam was a constant presence for Pioneer readers and business associates. Her smiling demeanor was always a welcome sight for customers and employees alike. She will be missed more than she knows.
If you didn’t see the end of the BSU-Augustana homecoming football game on Saturday, go find it on the internet. As reporter Austin Monteith wrote online on Saturday: “A last-minute drive. A last-second touchdown. A roll-the-dice 2-point conversion to clinch the win. All amid a rainstorm with Bemidji State University celebrating homecoming on its centennial. Saturday’s homecoming victory was one worthy of the occasion. Trailing Augustana 20-13 with 1:12 to go in the game, the Beavers marched 95 yards in 10 plays for the game-winning touchdown, and 2-point conversion to boot, for a miraculous 21-20 win. Players stormed the waters of Lake Bemidji after the final horn to celebrate BSU’s 10th straight win on homecoming in what was likely the most unforgettable of them all.”
Coach Brent Bolte summed it up well. “This is probably the most remarkable game that I’ve really been a part of, maybe ever. I just keep laughing because I still don’t know how we ended up winning that game.”
Another cheer goes out to Bemidji’s own April Aylesworth. Winner of the Bemidji Sings competition 40-year-old mother of four didn’t stop their. Competing in the Minnesota Sings event in Woodbury, the Bemidji woman took top honors in the age 26 and older field. That lands her a $3,000 cash prize, as well as $1,000 for her sponsor, Headwaters Music and Arts, and her local charity, Support Within Reach. She also receives a five-hour recording session with professional studio musicians. Three other Bemidjians also competed at the event: Kari Grace, Charlotte Saxton and Susannah (Roed) Carter. Congratulations to all.
Don’t forget, on Saturday, Oct. 26, will be the 20th annual Senior Community Clean Up Day. Spearheaded by Northwoods Caregivers, this event helps senior citizens with the raking of their yards in preparation for winter. Available to those age 60 and older, living within Bemidji city limits, the deadline to request assistance is Oct. 11. Call (218) 333-8261.
Speaking of winter, the Blue Ox Marathon weekend awaits. Is that snow in the forecast? That would be today’s jeer.