Growing up, the Fourth of July weekend was one of the greatest weekends of the summer. There were fireworks, grilling out, time at the lake and ample importunity to catch up with family and friends. 

For many children it is also a hard break from sports, activities and just a few days to relax from the hustle and bustle of summer. There were also, at least in my case, plenty of fireworks at the cabin (for the sake of this column lets just say they were the legal kind). 

While all of the wonderful parts of the Fourth of July weekend remain true as adults, the weekend also has a bit of somberness. 

The Fourth of July weekend is typically when summer hits its peak. The days gets shorter, the nights get longer and before we know it back to school shopping will hit a fevered pitch. 

It’s the weekend where you need to pare down your elaborate summer plans that we all had back in March, you know that trip you were planning to take but never go around to book hotel rooms for, and face the reality that summer will be over before you know it.

Maybe we are still having lingering effects of everything being shut down last summer due to COVID-19 and we are no longer used to how busy summer can be, but this summer in particular has seemed just busy. 

Now granted there have been times I’ve felt like I was living at the softball fields in Henning as I am coaching my daughter’s 10u softball team, and we started the summer a bit short staffed at the newspapers, but this summer just seems to be flying by.

Hopefully things will slow down a bit in the next few weeks, but with the list of summer celebrations and county fairs filling up my calendar in July and August, I have a feeling summer will be over before we know it. 

Job openings

Count me in as one of the people who is concerned about the amount of job openings in our area. While COVID-19 restrictions have essentially went by the wayside, many businesses are now struggling to find enough help to meet surging demand. 

A few weeks ago I was talking with a high school friend who lives in Warroad, Minn. At the time, he was having a difficult time fielding an American Legion baseball team because some of the bigger companies up north were paying high schoolers over $20 per hour for 60 hours per week (20 of those hours were overtime). He said some of the companies were so desperate for people that they had to pay whatever they could to get enough workers through the door.

Even locally just about every business in the downtown area is either looking for additional employees, or have dramatically reduced their hours of operation. This is being done not due to a lack of demand, but because they can’t find enough help. Heck, for some of the sign on bonuses some of our local employers are offering and starting hourly wages approaching $20 per hour, I might even consider working for them instead of doing this newspaper gig. 

We just hope people will continue to shop locally, shop small and support the businesses in our own community­—even if that means you have a few less hours of shopping to get that done each day. If not, we may not have much left in our town when we finally get enough workers in the community to fill all of these job openings. 

Fourth of July giveaway

Speaking of shopping locally, we would like to thank all of the businesses who sponsored a Fourth of July giveaway recently. The winners were announced in last week’s issue, but the baskets featured brats, buns, baked beans, chips and pop. 

All of the items were purchased locally, and between our three newspapers, we have 64 businesses participate in our second annual contest.

It was amazing to me as we drew for winners and collected the baskets for the entries last week how many people entered the contest. What makes this fun is that we had so many businesses participate in the giveaway. Thanks to those who entered and sponsored a basket this year.