t sounds like you put your head in a garbage can and fired a .22. Our newspaper delivery driver nearly jumped through the roof of our van when he started it because it was so loud, as the catalytic converter had been stolen. The thieves came at night with cordless Sawzall’s and were able to remove the converter in about a minute. Since our Chevy Express already has a pretty high clearance they didn’t need to jack it up and just slid under it. These guys may have gotten $30 or $40 for the converter because of the precious metal in them; yet it could cost us $500-$1,000 to replace. We couldn’t justify the expense, especially with the likelihood it would happen again. For around $50-$100 the mechanic just patched the pipe. 

If you read our police reports each week, you know the theft of catalytic converters has been a problem. I know law enforcement state-wide is frustrated. They can stop people with converters in the back seat but really can’t do anything unless they can connect it back to the automobile it came from. The criminal activity won’t stop until they put restrictions on the re-sale of catalytic converters, or better yet, have the ability to go after those who are in possession or trying to resell them. 


Vaccine rollout 

My in-laws are in their 70s and are now receiving their second COVID-19 vaccination shots. My parents just got their first shots last week. It wasn’t an easy process for any of them to get an appointment, but it’s great to see the vaccines being distributed. 

In April 2020, we had a front page story about a White Bear Lake resident who had one of the first cases in the state of Minnesota. In a recent call, Greg Bartz said he’s doing well. Most of the people we know who tested positive for COVID-19 or the antibodies came out of it with no to few lingering symptoms or issues. Of course, many in our senior living community weren’t so fortunate. I pray the vaccines can stay ahead of the new variants and that the infection rates and deaths continue to decline. 

However its not yet time to become complacent. If we want to get back to a normal life and economy, we all still have to do our part to keep each other safe and snuff out the pandemic. Wear a mask, be mindful of gathering in groups, be considerate of others, and be patient.


School and sports 

Thank you to the teachers and staff at our schools who are working to keep the classroom lessons alive. There are plenty of opinions of what should be happening in the schools and teachers have been put at the center of it. Teachers and kids need and want to get back in the classroom. It is my observation that teachers are doing the best they can to stay positive and educate students through the challenges of distance learning and hybrid learning. My kids, one in middle school and one in high school, may not be getting the same education they were a year ago, but they are still learning. They have certainly learned how to be more resilient. That said, we would like to see them get back in the classroom as soon as possible. In the meantime, we as parents need to hold them accountable for the work assigned - they can’t be attending class from their bed. We need to set an example by being positive in our conversations about school to help keep them positive and on track. Complaining parents don’t help their kids stay positive about school.  

I am also thankful that youth sports and high school sports have been able to go on. It is great to witness some live basketball games and ski races as parent spectators. It seems these events have been relatively low-risk, and athletes are benefitting mentally, physically and emotionally by being able to play.  

Carter Johnson is publisher of Press Publications.

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