Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Byron Kuster
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Local heroes recognized with banners


Byron Kuster

Anyone driving around the Moose Lake area in the past few days has probably noticed some new banners and window clings that seemingly popped up overnight like dandelions. All display three short words that carry a powerful message, "Heroes Work Here!" They were put up to acknowledge the front line workers in the current pandemic, and were placed at specific locations in Moose Lake, Barnum, and Willow River. Eleven banners and six window clings have been hung so far. Another four banners will be hung within a day or two at the Moose Lake prison, the Willow River boot camp, the MSOP facility, and the Willow River School. All were paid for by the Moose Run organization.

The Moose Run was canceled this year, but the organizers still wanted to give back to the community in a meaningful way. So they started a fundraiser with the goal of raising $1,600 to purchase the banners and window clings. The goal was reached within about ten days. Any funds in excess of expenses will be donated to the Moose Lake Area Food Shelf and the United Way of Carlton County.

To date, there have been over 130 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Carlton and Pine Counties. Most of them are located within eight miles of Moose Lake because most of them are in the two local correctional facilities. Correctional officers and other workers at these facilities go to work each day to carry out essential duties, and in doing so, take on some risk of becoming infected themselves. Because it's possible to be infected without displaying any symptoms, they or others could unknowingly infect their family members or someone at random like a grocery store worker. In that sense, the correctional officers, grocery store workers, health care workers, and many others in our community are heroes: they provide essential services while taking on a potential risk of exposure of a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. Staff at the local schools are providing services to many of the children of the front line workers. Each of these facilities or businesses has implemented measures to mitigate these risks of infection, but currently there is no way to bring the risk to zero.

It could be argued that all workers in businesses open to the public are front line workers. Providing a banner (or window cling) to each one wasn't practical or affordable for the Moose Run organizers. So they chose some that they felt were the most appropriate. Because providing banners to everyone wasn't viable, the other options were to provide banners to some or to none. They chose some. They hope that the banners' general message is that this community supports and appreciates all of its front line workers.

The banners are located at the Gateway Family Health Clinic, Mercy Hospital, Augustana, the Moose Lake Police Department/Fire Station, the Moose Lake prison, the Challenge Incarceration Program, the MSOP facility, and the Moose Lake, Barnum, and Willow River High Schools. The window clings are located at the Thrifty White pharmacy, the Moose Lake Post Office, the entrance to City Hall, the local grocery store KJ's Fresh Market, and the Barnum Elementary School.


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