As many of you know, the snow storm in April 2018 caused the roof to collapse at the Press Publications building on Bloom Avenue. It has been a challenge for both the process of rebuilding, as well as the insurance claim. My last update was on Jan. 15, indicating that the steel bar joists were being installed and we hoped to be moved back in to the building by the time the grass was green. Well the grass has been green for a couple of months now and we are still navigating an intense and lengthy insurance claim that has held up construction.
We are so grateful to the neighboring church that has been renting us space, our contractor, Don Peltier and Pelco Construction, the city of White Bear Lake and countless local vendors who have helped us along. All the walls are sheet-rocked and painted, offices complete, floors finished and break room, kitchen and coffee pot is up and running. We are excited for the news team to be moved back in this week and the finishing touches to be completed. As the doors are being re-keyed and security cameras being fined tuned, we are thankful for the community support — from the subscriptions and carrier tips from our readers to the kind gestures from local businesses like sending over lunch wraps and pizzas. We hope to have an open house soon to show off your “new” community newspaper office. We are excited to settle back in and learn how to operate again as a team under one very solid roof. Our staff have been inconvenienced this past year. I also apologize for any inconvenience this project has had on our readers, customers and youth carriers interviewing for their first jobs. We could not have done it without you.
This insurance claim has been a huge learning curve for me. It might have been one of the most stressful things I’ve dealt with in my business career. With that being said, I recommend that everyone review your insurance policy. Know what you’re covered for, the limits in each area, and how your insurance company defines it. Businesses should consider whether a policy covers loss of income and what it would take to prove it. Our claim is reaching a level I never expected or predicted. We had some emergency reserves but not enough, and had to take a short-term loan to cover the re-build until the insurance came through. Many thanks go out to our staff and accounting team who keep great records.
On April 12, our governor signed a bill for a Hands Free Law that will take effect Aug. 1. The new law will still allow people to make cell phone calls, use navigation apps, listen to music and text, but it needs to be hands free. This law seems to be a much needed addition to road safety. According to the mn.gov website, a driver cannot hold the phone or use it for video calling, live streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at videos, photos, or non-navigation apps, reading texts, scrolling or typing. You can only hold your phone for emergency assistance when there is an immediate threat to life and safety or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duty.
Distracted driving has been around long before cell phones — fiddling with the first car radios and 8-track tapes, lighting cigarettes, putting on makeup, eating, and drowsy driving, to name a few. In many ways this law is long overdue, but with all new technologies the new laws take time to write, vet and implement. We all know the challenges with the accuracy of voice commands. I have been using voice recognition software for years and have learned, the hard way at times, it’s best to always proof your work. Get to know Siri, Alexa, or “whomever” will be helping you with voice commands on your cell phone. Start practicing using your hands free software, and not while you’re behind the wheel. Begin with simple commands and work your way up to a call behind the wheel. In time you will learn to love the hands-free options to make a call or send a message. Next they might want to consider applying this law to pedestrians, bikers, runners and others forms of non-motorized transportation.
Now if we could all just learn how to zipper merge, smile and be kind behind the wheel, driving on Minnesota roads would be better and safer for everyone.
Carter Johnson is publisher of Press Publications.