A dying veteran’s plea for correspondence has gone viral. James Wiitamaki put an ad in a local newspaper saying he was dying of cancer at the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center and would appreciate letters of support.

A great-niece saw the ad and posted it on Facebook. She said the response has been overwhelming, including a hashtag #CardsforJimmy. U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., has been among those sending a card, posting a picture of the envelope on Twitter.

The St. Cloud VA last week confirmed Wiitamaki was a resident at its Community Living Center.

“He’s thankful for all the cards and letters he is receiving,” said VA spokesman Barry Venable.

The story comes as the VA’s National Salute to Veteran Patients Week kicks off, which includes encouraging citizens to send veterans in VA hospitals Valentines, cards and letters.

Anyone wishing to participate can send to: Any Veteran, Attn: Voluntary Services, St. Cloud VA Health Care System, 4801 Veterans Dr., St. Cloud, Minn., 56303. Those wishing to send to the state’s other VA Medical Center in Minneapolis can address correspondence to Voluntary & Community Services, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, One Veterans Dr., Minneapolis, 55417.

Mark Brunswick


Voters reject school bond issue for construction

For the second time in two years, voters in this Le Sueur County city have rejected a bond issue to upgrade the school district’s only school.

By a vote of 557-424, or 57 percent to 43 percent, voters last week nixed a 20-year, $18 million bond issue that would have added a gym, a band room and 11 classrooms to the Cleveland Public School.

The school, with about 560 students, is one of a handful in Minnesota that houses all classes from preschool through senior high under one roof.

Meanwhile, voters in Proctor, just outside of Duluth, approved a $12 million bond issue to upgrade the school district’s athletic facilities. The funding will go toward construction of a new ice arena, installation of artificial turf on the district’s outdoor stadium field and upgrades to athletic fields in neighboring townships.

John Reinan


Company agrees to fine over air quality violation

Hibbing-based Midwest Aircraft Refinishing has agreed to pay a $25,000 fine for air quality violations.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the company, which does paint, interior, restoration, and composite repair work on aircraft, failed to get a required air quality permit before starting a paint line for aircraft and aircraft parts in 2010.

It did not apply for the proper permit until August 2016.

The agency is now processing that application.

Mark Brunswick