Our hearts go out to the family of Jon Michael Maus. Maus, 50, died on Memorial Day after an explosion at the Verso Paper Mill. The tragedy took Maus’ life and injured five others. It is an event branded in the memories of area residents for surely years to come.
From this tragedy one cannot ignore how it united communities and tested the faith and leadership of firefighters and law enforcement – those called to serve and protect. These men and women deserve our respect year-round.
More than a dozen area fire departments – including St. Joseph – assisted Sartell with the blast on the day it happened. A paper-storage warehouse exploded, blowing out the east wall and flinging debris as far as three blocks from the blast.
The blast happened on a Monday, and media reports say that within a week about 70 departments had extended a helping hand to help monitor the fire during the days and nights after the blast.
It is collaboration like this that should be practiced often and without hesitation. Sure, there are joint city boards and commissions, but working together should be a constant for area communities because without it, progress is stalled.
Not only did area fire departments assist one another, but city officials from various cities offered to help. Area mayors reached out. Nothing brings people together more than when something bad happens. The borders between cities seem to disappear when unfortunate events occur.
Tragedies bring people together. In this case, it was communities that were brought together. The paper mill is more than a plant or business. It is a part of area history.
Sartell is just miles away from St. Joseph. In fact, in a matter of minutes, one can travel between the two communities. Pardon the cliche, but the explosion at the paper mill was too close for comfort. Even though we don’t live in Sartell, we share in its shock and applaud the unified efforts of its neighbors.
Author: TaLeiza Calloway
TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.