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After spending a considerable amount of time on the road this past week, I can assure you that there are plenty of improvements being done on our highways and byways. If you haven’t seen the new state slogan, “Road Work Ahead,” then I can only say that you need to get out more. I don’t believe I have driven on a state highway, interstate highway or county road without traveling through a construction zone. We may get frustrated at times, but this is good for the infrastructure and is also what my wife refers to as job opportunity.

While driving around the city over the 4th I was pleased to see so many folks enjoying our many beautiful parks. There was not a shortage of picnics taking place or people using the many facilities the city has to offer. I know there are always a few unappreciative folks who use a picnic area and leave litter scattered about just a few feet from the trash can. These folks are few and far between and I can only imagine what the inside of their houses must look like. It’s all about respect, and most folks respect these facilities and pick up after themselves, showing that they not only have pride in the community but also in themselves. Future generations will learn from us and if we set a bad example it will be what we have taught them. These are no doubt the same folks who discard their fast food trash and beverage containers on the boulevard, streets and parking lots. I am sure there is a group out there somewhere that would defend these folks by saying they haven’t been taught any different. I believe the remedy for that is what could be referred to as “common sense.”

That’s enough whining about things that bug me; I’m proud to say that our 4th of July fireworks display once again lived up to the reputation that has been established over the past few years. Our community is fortunate enough to have a fireworks display that is recognized as one of the best in the state and we should take a lot of pride in that.

Going back to the parks and picnics; I feel fortunate to live in a community that has so many nice parks for us to enjoy. We also have some nice trails for us to walk and bike on and I have witnessed more and more bikers using the bike lanes on Front Street. I hope a lesson was learned from that person riding in the bike lane on the wrong side of the street. Lucky for that person it wasn’t a deadly mistake.

If you are feeling a little adventuresome the state of Minnesota has something new for bicycle enthusiasts and wannabe mountain bikers:

Minnesota state parks and trails launch ‘I Can Mountain Bike!’

Experience the fun of mountain biking during three introductory “I Can Mountain Bike!” programs on Saturday, July 26, at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Ironton, about 140 miles northwest of the Twin Cities near Brainerd.

These are part of a series of skill-building programs offered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Trails Division.

“We are excited to be able to pilot this all-new program in partnership with the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Club at Minnesota’s premier mountain bike park,” said Pat Arndt, communications and outreach manager for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “It’s a great opportunity for anyone who has ever been curious about mountain biking to give it a try.”

Participants will practice shifting, braking and body positioning in a wide open setting. They’ll also take a guided ride and explore the single-track mountain bike trails.

The programs will be from 9 to 11:30 a.m., noon to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 5:30 p.m. Use of bikes and helmets will be included with the $25/person registration fee.

Reservations are required. Participants must be at least age 10, and participants under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Reservations can be made online or by calling 866-857-2757 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily).

The mountain bike trails at Cuyuna Country opened in 2010. The area features 25 miles of single-track trails for bikers of all skill levels, from beginners to experts. The trails wind through 800 acres of deep-red soil, birch and aspen forests and scenic vistas overlooking turquoise mine lakes.

More information about the recreation area, including a map and video tour, is available online at: Information is also available by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Other programs in the “I Can” series introduce camping, rock climbing, fishing, paddling and archery to beginners.

The “I Can!” programs are made possible with support from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the sales tax revenue and may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

Until next time; enjoy the great outdoors and take some time to go for a walk, take a bike ride or introduce a youth to the great outdoors. We could all take a little time out of our busy lives to step back and take in some of the wonders of nature that we have nearby.

Please take a little time to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today. 

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