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This is a monthly feature of our Columns & Commentary page, in which we either applaud a person, group or event for something positive that we feel is worthy of a little credit (Applause), and/or address something that gives us pause; something that we feel deserves to be addressed in a public forum like the newspaper (A Pause). We welcome rebuttals and feedback. Applause / A Pause expresses the collective opinions of the Perham Focus editorial staff. It is published in the first issue of every month.

APPLAUSE to the city of Ottertail for moving forward with plans to bring classic rock concerts into town this summer.While organizers are still only in the beginning stages of planning, we sincerely hope this project is seen through to the end. With big names like REO Speedwagon, Stevie Nicks, ZZ Top, Kansas, Steely Dan and others all on the list of possibilities, this venture would easily draw crowds - and dollars - into the area. It would also put an underutilized outdoor space (the tractor pull park area) to good use. Not to mention the pure fun of it.You don’t have to be a big fan of 1970s and ‘80s music to appreciate the value these concerts could bring to the area. 

A PAUSE to the handling of New York Mills School Superintendent Todd Cameron’s retirement. Without pointing fingers at anyone in particular, we’ll just say that had the situation been treated with transparency and honesty from the start, the current mess of misunderstandings and mistrust could have been avoided. School board members are elected officials who make decisions that impact local children, families and taxpayer dollars, and thus they must be willing and able to conduct their business in the public eye. Attepts to keep things under wraps rarely succeed. This instance is a good example of why such attempts should never be made in the first place. 

APPLAUSE to Heart of the Lakes Elementary School teacher Lance Rach, who was recently named one of 39 semifinalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Students, teachers and administrators rave about the job Rach does. We wish him luck and hope to hear his name again at the end of the month, when the list is narrowed down once again and the top 10 finalists are announced. 

APPLAUSE to the brave souls who jumped into icy Little Pine Lake for Perham’s annual Freezin’ For a Reason Polar Plunge in February. Those daring individuals raised an impressive $15,500 for the local Kinship program, and by all accounts had a great time doing it. 

A PAUSE yet again to animal cruelty, after the second multiple large animal neglect case in the area in a matter of months. If money’s tight and food, veterinary care and other basic needs of animals cannot be provided for, owners must be willing to make the hard, but right, choice - to surrender their animals to someone, or someplace, that can properly care for them, before it’s too late.