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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 Perham-Dent School Board for doing the best thing for kids and voting in favor of a new levy that will add up to $300 per student to the district’s budget. The action won’t necessarily be popular, as it will mean increased taxes for residents within the district. But it will put money where the district needs it most — its general fund. Perham-Dent remains one of a small minority of school districts in Minnesota without a voter- approved operating levy; these new funds will help level the playing field, ensuring a brighter future for the district and its students.

A Pause to increasing homelessness in rural areas of Otter Tail County and its neighbor counties. Officials at Mahube-Otwa Community Action, which serves the area’s homeless, recently told Forum Communications that its organization helped 657 households, or 1,584 people, last year — “and that is a lot.” Almost one-third of those are children. Of the adults, nearly 80 percent have a major health issue, and about a quarter are employed. While the need for help keeps creeping up, funding for programs that address homelessness is going down. Homelessness is an often overlooked or unseen problem. But with the cold winter just around the corner, now is the time to open our eyes and take a hard look at what can be done.

Applause to the city of Perham’s efforts, along with Otter Tail County, Pelican Rapids and other interested parties, to create a recreational trail that will connect with Minnesota’s statewide trail system, on a route that will likely stretch from Perham to Pelican Rapids, winding through Maplewood State Park. Despite having more lakes than any other county in the country, and plenty of scenic areas to show off, Otter Tail County remains noticeably trail-less. This new, proposed trail would remedy that, bringing Otter Tail County up to speed with other counties in the state. It would also directly benefit Perham, offering another venue for tourism and healthy travel. While the process of making the trail a reality is only beginning, and is expected to be long (if it even happens at all), a genuine effort is underway to try and secure some state funding for the project, and to garner public support for it.

A Pause to the end of summer. With school starting this week and the recent hot spell cooling off, it’s beginning to feel more like fall. And we all know what comes after that. Let’s take a moment to reflect on and appreciate the good times the summer season has brought us, whether it was days on the lake, camping trips, barbeques, family reunions, graduation ceremonies, or some of the area’s many fun summer parades and festivals.