Jim Smith passed away on July 3, 2017. There will be a gathering from 4-8:00 P.M. on Monday, July 10 at Klecatsky & Sons Eagan Chapel (1580 Century Point, Eagan) and one hour prior to the 11:00 A.M. Mass on Tuesday at St. John Neumann.
Jim and his family have been part of the Eagan community for many years. He was on the Eagan City Council from 1972 t0 1987. And when I came onto the Council, he was someone I could always count on for help. He never stopped caring about our community and will be missed.
On Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to tour the new bridge over the St. Croix. It is an impressive structure that is designed for 100 years. It is about a mile long, about a hundred feet wide, and slightly over 100 feet over the water. The bridge connects Oak Park Heights, Minnesota with St. Joseph, Wisconsin
The bridge should open later this summer. For more information, see the website: www.mndot.gov/stcroixcrossing
The Stillwater Lift Bridge will be converted to bicycle/pedestrian use only.
The community gathered on Friday afternoon to say thank you and farewell to Superintedent Joe Gothard. It was held in the new addition of Burnsville High School, a reminder of his many accomplishments as the Superintendent of the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District. Abigail Alt, the Chairperson of the Board of Education served as the moderator of the program. One of the speakers was the Mayor of Savage, Janet Williams. Both Mayor Williams and her husband were graduates of the first BHS graduating class.
Next month, he will be begin his new position as the Superintendent of the St. Paul School District.
I had the oppotunity to hear Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois speak the other evening. She is a very charming and passionate individual, in additon to being very brave. She gave some details of the crash in which she lost both legs. Her helicopter was hit by a grenade and they did a crash landing. It sounds like everybody aboard suffered injuries, but initially the others thought she was dead. Nevertheless, they took her with them as they tried to escape. When the medics arrived, one of the other injured team members insisted that she be looked at first. Someone noticed she was still bleeding, so her heart must still be pumping. She said that action is the reason she survived.
She essentially related that story with the point of not leaving anyone behind. We are very fortunate to have someone with her character and background serving in the United States Senate.
I attended Eagan’s Memorial Day Observance at the Memorial Plaza this afternoon. The Presentation of the Colors was by the Eagan American Legion Post 594 Color Guard. John Flynn was the moderator and provided the invocation.
Wayne Beierman was the guest speaker. He stressed how important it is to pay tribute to those that have sacrificed for our safety and freedom. More importantly, he said that we must set an example so that this obervance is continued by future generations.
After the presentation of the wreath, Joe Swierczek concluded the program by playing Taps.
On Sunday, I attended the perfomance of SWEET LAND the musical at the history theatre. It is the story of Inga Altenberg, a German immigrant, who came to Minnesota after World War I. Extensive discrimination took place against Germans during the war as well as afterward. So Inga arrives to marry a Minnesota farmer and is subjected to numerous difficulties. One being that no minister or judge would perform the marriage until it could be proven that she was not a spy. It is a story about the relationships that existed in a small farm community and the problems they encountered. The music is thoughtful and enhances the story.
It is hard not to compare the discrimination against Germans then to the discrimination that exists in our society today against other nationalities. The question is when will we ever learn?
The play will be going on tour.
The Eagan Women of Note had a great concert this afternoon. Their program paid tribute to leading women vocalists as well as to women important to some of the members of the choir.
Some of the songs included were: Memory from Cats, Children Will Listen from Into the Woods, a collage from The Sound of Music, and Anything You Can Do from Annie Get Your Gun.
I attended a workshop on social security, retirement and other senior issues yesterday.
Some interesting figures were given in the presentation: social security provides 50%of the income for 2/3 of retirees and 90% for the other 1/3, over half of the women over 65 years of age would be in poverty if not for social security, and there are 930.000 people on social security in Minnesota.
I attended a very moving presentation at the Minnesota Humanities Center on April 17. The title of the event was “April 17 – Year Zero to Infinity, the Cambodian Experience.” Many of the people there were either Cambodians who made it to America, had been in the military or had been providing services to the refugees.
On April 17, 1975, Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge. During the five years of fighting, approximately 10% of Cambodia’s 7 million people died. After the fall, hundreds of thousands died or were murdered. One person present said ” April 17 is the day our hearts dropped to the bottom.”
Several people shared their stories of flight and refugee camps. One presenter said he was ten years old at the time when he and his family started to flee. Their father had already been executed by the communists. He was twenty-three when he arrived in Minnesota. People were trying to make it to Thailand, but he said even the Thais were complicit in cruelty to his group.
While the stories are dramatic, it seems that the survivors did not often talk about about their experiences. There is an effort now to capture those stories.