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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 at the beginning of every month.

APPLAUSE to Perham's Teacher of the Year, Shawn Stafki, who has taught in the district for the last 19 years. In that time, he’s gotten a reputation as someone who embraces new technologies and consistently works to improve the learning experience of his students.

A Pause to the City of Perham for its lack of control over wastewater pond odors in the past. Information released in November by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency show that the city inadequately regulated industrial discharges and failed to require industrial facilities to pay surcharges when they went over their limits. The result was an overloaded treatment plant that on “numerous instances” exceeded the state standard for acceptable concentration levels of hydrogen sulfide, according to the MPCA.

Ultimately, the city was fined $70,000, and is now required to enforce discharge agreements with local industries. We understand the tough task city leaders face in trying to keep up with Perham’s growth, but there’s a balance that must be maintained between a city’s residential and industrial neighborhoods and the infrastructure that’s needed to support that. In this case, that balance was not maintained. With the expansion project at the plant now complete, let’s all hope this problem is behind us for good.

APPLAUSE to Kevin Kosiak and the rest of the HONK! cast and crew for a show well done, and for reminding us that, when faced with bullies and low self-confidence, “You may find, in your own way ... you’re a swan.”

APPLAUSE for the end of roadwork season. Though now we’re all dealing with snow and ice on the roads, at least there are no more detours and other construction-related headaches. With major projects finished up for the winter in Perham and along Highway 78, it’ll be smooth sailing now - until next summer, of course. Thumbs-up to all involved in those projects for completing them on schedule.