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Cemetery Angels appear for Memorial Day

photos by A. Croup for PiCK News

Cemetery Angels Donna Wheelock, Jeannie Priest, Lynette Schaefer, Cheryl Meagher and Ailene Croup honor the military and those forgotten by placing.

Untended but not forgotten, Cemetery Angels dress up graves

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Cemeteries across the United States lay in quiet repose until the last week in May.
Brilliant colors draw the attention of those who rush by on their way to work or to their cabins for a long holiday weekend.
We remember, Memorial Day.
On dewy mornings before the holiday, every brilliant color imaginable will dot the manicured lawns of hidden cemeteries and those cemeteries that boldly salute travelers at the edge of town.

The unimposing miniature American Flags symbolize the reason for the holiday - to honor the military men and women who have died in the service of our country, add order and reverence to the jumble of colors.
Remembering those who have been forgotten or who have no one left to remember them, clearing off untended graves along with a private prayer or a splash of color from an artificial bouquet is the mission of the Cemetery Angels’ and their way of honoring the dead.
For many decades, four or five old friends begin the trek of more than 100 miles from cemetery to cemetery, visiting as many as they can in a day. A car full or sometimes two of old and news friends, with a trunk load of artificial flowers, bug spray and bottled water transport the Angel team.
Donna Wheelock comes all the way from Fairbanks, Alaska. This year Cheryl Meagher, from Minneapolis, joined the group. Jeannie Priest came from Duluth, Lynnette Schaefer, from Hinckley, and Ailene Croup, from Cloverdale.
Relatives’ graves get the first dash of color. Then, the search begins for unremarkable, unremembered graves. Old soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are usually easy to spot by the bronze star that marks each serviceman.
Aging knees bend to view the names and weathered hands clear the debris from the stones.
As the Angels travel, they share memories and sometimes the story of a forgotten soul from years passed or of a favorite teacher. This sends the group on a search to pay their respects and honor the memory of that person. Other times, they happen across the grave of someone from the past and the Angels share memories of that person.
This year, three of the Angels remembered a favorite piano teacher - Hattie Skinner. They talked about her cats and the conversations Hattie would have with the felines as the students diligently went through their scales.
The septuagenarians talked about their jobs. Cheryl is a chiropractor. Her insight into what keeps us upright will hopefully inspire us all to stay healthy for another year so we can continue to be someone’s Angel. What we eat has everything to do with how we feel, she said, as we all indulged ourselves with a fantastic meal at Tobies.
From Finlayson to Hinckley, Danbury to Grantsburg the Angels press on to place the final bouquet of flowers as the long rectangular shadows stripe the ground and melt into dusk.
The Cemetery Angels ask that each person who visits a cemetery this year, and every year, to bring one additional bouquet. Find an untended grave and be an Angel. There is a purpose and a value to every life.
God Bless America and our unending thanks to the military who have sacrificed and served and continue to serve and protect us all.

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Pine County Law Enforcement recognized for valiant service in extreme situation


photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

Above: Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson gave letters of recognition to: (left) Deputy Josh Pepin, Deputy Aaron Borchardt and Conservation Officer Ben Karon at the Oct. 19, 2021 Pine County Board meeting. Below: the board room was filled with citizens in support of the deputies efforts' on behalf of residents.

Deputies'/Officer's exemplary actions acknowledged

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Pine County Deputies along with a local Minnesota Conservation Officer were honored for their precision and command of a deadly and threatening situation a year ago.
At the Oct. 19, 2021 regular meeting, Pine County Board of


Commissioners and Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson recognized four men for their precision under pressure and for their quick response to a situation, which took place on Oct. 9, 2020, that could have meant tremendous loss of life and property.
The call for help came from Grand Casino Hinckley. Officers were dispatched and responded to a domestic involving a gun. The situation expanded and unfolded as officers pursued the suspect’s vehicle which was driving southbound in the northbound lane of I-35.
Sheriff Nelson acknowledged the brave efforts of four men. They are: Deputy Josh Pepin, Deputy Troy Griffith, Deputy Aaron Borchardt and Conservation Officer Ben Karon.
Sheriff Nelson told the commissioners and the public attending the meeting:
“On Oct. 9, 2020, Pine County Deputies responded to a domestic involving a gun call at the casino. The suspect had fled in a vehicle prior to the deputies’ arrival. The suspect was located driving in the area and there was a short pursuit. The suspect’s driving conduct showed that he was willing to injure or kill others to get away. Deputies ended the pursuit when he drove the wrong way on northbound I-35 and then stopped his vehicle. Deputy Pepin proceeded to get in front of the suspect. As he stepped out of his squad, the suspect drove towards him and into oncoming traffic. Deputy Pepin used deadly force to stop the threat to himself and the traveling public. Other deputies and assisting agencies began arriving on scene.
“Once the threat was no longer apparent, Deputy Pepin and Deputy Aaron Borchardt secured the suspect and began rendering aid. Deputy Troy Griffith and Conservation Officer Ben Karon joined in the resuscitation efforts. The suspect did not survive.
“I am not here to suggest, in any way, that we celebrate the loss of any life. I am here to recognize these officers for their role in protecting the public. They showed quick decision-making in a rapidly evolving scene. They showed the ability to process the entire scene, to protect themselves and the traveling public in the chaos of the event with the backdrop of heavy freeway traffic. They showed compassion to the suspect and attempted to maintain his life after he was no longer a threat. Each of these points is worthy of noting - accomplishing all at the same time is truly a feat.
“I want to thank each of you for the professional way you carried yourselves. I am proud to serve with you in Pine County.”

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