It is always a solemn sight to see the Honor Guard marching in step, into area cemeteries, as family and friends gather to remember, to honor, their fallen loved ones on Memorial Day.
More than one tear spilled over as the National Anthem rang out and some tried to sing along with throats choked up with the pride of patriotism.
“We acknowledge that freedom comes at a price,” began Grace Owens as she offered up a prayer prior to the reading of the names at the Milltown Cemetery, with her grandmother Joanne Juleen shortly after 10 a.m. on Memorial Day.
“And pray that we can have peace and someday, celebrate Memorial Day, as a long ago memory of the time before we started living the peaceful existence you intended for us since the beginning of creation. Let us turn to you Lord in our grief and remembrance of the fallen. Guide us toward a harmonious existence as we honor those who were willing to give up their lives that we may gather here today freely.
“On this Memorial Day, we pray for peace and for those who gave all. Lead us toward a world where no one must give their lives in pursuit of freedom; where we may be receptive to Your guidance; and may we never forget the fallen.”
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Unity School District
By Lynda Berg Olds
Confirmed COVID-19 cases recently doubled in Polk County – from six to 12. And as of Wednesday at press time, there are now 16 cases. It was last Friday, May 22, when Unity District Administrator Brandon Robinson communicated with parents in the Unity School District that he had been notified by the Polk County Health Department that some students and their families had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
The letter, in part, states:
“There are others who are self-isolating for 14 days to monitor for the onset of symptoms. In addition, some Unity employees are isolating because they came in contact with the individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
“As you know, the last day school was in session at Unity was March 13.”
Robinson assured District residents that the necessary health safety precautions are being taken at the school for its employees.
“In addition,” he said, “The school continues to follow the CDC and DPI guidelines regarding health safety precautions for meal deliveries, educational materials deliveries and the pickup/drop off of school items and personal belongings.”
The letter reminded everyone to continue to practice good hygiene, which may be even more important now with folks getting out and about since the Safer at Home Order was struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. To that end, here is the list once again:
Wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces. Avoid touching face. Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of elbow. Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible. Strongly consider using cloth face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit.
It would appear that summer has finally made its way to Polk County. That means more time outside for everyone, and after being cooped up for the last couple of months, being outside is good for both the mind and body. It is also a lot easier to practice good social distancing while getting a bit of exercise.
However, everything comes with a risk, and it can leave a person itching, and it is not just mosquito bites that can leave one scratching.
In particular, there are a number of plants that can leave their mark. Burning nettles are just one thing that can make a person regret brushing up against them. There are other plants, though, that can leave their mark, it's just that the burning pain isn't quite as immediate or intense.
The three poisons one is at risk of coming into contact with around these parts are: poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.
Poison ivy is easily identifiable with its three-leaf stem. Leaf edges may be smooth or notched in the northern and western United States and Canada, poison ivy is a shrub. In the East, Midwest, and South, it’s a vine.
The leaves change color with the seasons: spring – reddish with yellow-green flowers; summer – green; fall – orange, red, or yellow with off-white berries winter – leaves fall off, and the vine appears hairy.
The thing that these three plants have in common is what causes the itchy, burning rash is a compound called urushiol. About 50-75 percent of people have an allergic reaction when they come into contact with the plant.
Unfortunately, people do not develop an immunity after being exposed, in fact, their symptoms may become worse after being exposed to it multiple times. That is because the immune system remembers it and it can produce a very exaggerated response.
The rashes developed in response to exposure can vary from 5-12 days for mild cases, and in severe cases last for 30 days or longer.
These plant caused rashes cannot be spread person to person and it. The rash will only occur where the plant oil has come into contact with the skin. It may appear (to the hapless victim) that the rash spreads when it is itched, but that is only because it appears over time.
Poison sumac inhabits swamps and other wet areas as well as pinewoods and hardwood forests.
It is relatively rare compared to the other members of the family. The rash-causing agent, urushiol, is the same, and it causes the same rashes. While poison sumac is rare, it's found in typical wetland habitat, and there may be quite a bit.
To identify poison sumac, look for a shrub or tree that has fairly sparse leaves, compared to most plants. If you look closely at the leaves, poison sumac has upward pointing leaves and the leaves will be in parallel rows, with leaves directly across the branch from each other. The difference between poison sumac and regular sumac is that poison sumac has clusters of grayish white berries that hang down, and the plants grow exclusively in low, wet, or flooded areas such as swamps and peat bogs. You will not find poison sumac growing up on high, dry hillsides where non-poisonous ornamental kinds typically grow.
And finally, rounding out this trio is poison oak.
While there are other plants which have leaf clusters in threes, both poison ivy and poison oak share this trait, making it best to avoid plants with this feature altogether. What you’ll most likely encounter with poison ivy is a stem with a larger leaf at the end, and two smaller leaves shooting off the sides. The leaves can be notched or smooth on the edges, and they have pointed tips. The plant is reddish in the spring, green in summer, and yellow/orange in the fall. It’s not uncommon to see clusters of greenish-white berries on poison ivy through the spring and summer, as well as green/yellow flowers.
All of these plants cause a similar type rashes because of the urushiol. The question is, how can a person treat these rashes that can drive a person half-mad with their itching, or at the very least make for a pretty miserable time.
Chances are each person could share a remedy that they have heard about or has worked for them in the past.
One idea is to use an over-the-counter corticosteroid steroid cream the first initial few days and then switch to calamine lotion. Sometimes oral antihistamines may prove helpful. And to help soothe what can be a terribly uncomfortable rash, a soak in a cool bath containing an oatmeal product can be quite soothing.
There are other homeopathic remedies out there. Some share that they have had good luck using something like apple cider vinegar, which is said to help dry up the urushiol.
Other natural remedies may include: witch hazel, baking soda and water paste (3-to-1 ratio), baking soda bath, aloe vera gel, cucumber slices, rubbing alcohol, warm colloidal oatmeal bath, bentonite clay, and chamomile and or eucalyptus essential oils.
Just be careful on the next hike out in the woods and know that some plants can leave a person with nasty reminder of their day in the great outdoors.
May 28, 2020
Class of 2020, something to be grateful for
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
Schools across the country have been trying to strike a balance between recognizing the Class of 2020 and protecting students and their families as well as their staff.
The current situation with the global pandemic has made the unimaginable a reality and everyone is dealing with that reality in their own way.
There is little doubt that parents and students were disappointed with the abrupt ending of the school year. No prom, no commencement, and no party to commemorate their accomplishment.
Towns, villages, and school districts have been trying to find ways to recognize their students, but it is a tall order to fill when trying to maintain social distancing and protect everyone involved.
The St. Croix Falls School District held a graduation parade early in the day on Friday and hosted a virtual commencement ceremony later that evening.