Reflections on my columns in 2016

As I look back at what columns I’ve written this past year, I want to stress some actions I hope you will remember.
Remember when we were concerned over what we should do when stopped by a police officer? I had talked with Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts who said, when you see a squad car with blue and red lights flashing behind you, pull over to the side of the road – leaving room for the officer – roll down the window, wait and place both hands on the steering wheel.
Immediately tell the officer you have a permit to carry a handgun and, even though you are not legally required, it’s best to tell the officer you have a gun in the car and where it is located, while still keeping both hands on the wheel. Finally, do not reach for the glove compartment or a purse. Follow the officer’s instructions.
I have written more than one column on the dangers of distracted driving. The Legislature increased the penalty for distracted driving, and I think talking on a cellphone while driving should be banned.
To drive the point home, I quoted a letter written by a Vietnam War veteran, Doug Quick, of Lakeville, who said he felt safer in a war zone than driving on Twin Cities freeways. In one day he avoided three head-on collisions.
Quick offered suggestions I hope you’ll remember before you start to drive: Turn to the radio station you want, turn on the heat or air conditioner to where you want it, and say one Hail Mary to make it back home safely.
I wrote a strong warning to youth football players from Ben Utecht, of Lakeville, a former college and professional football player. He suffered five major concussions, the last one as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Utecht, who slowly is losing his memory, advises parents not to let their boys play tackle football until the ninth grade. He suggests they enroll their sons in a national first- through eighth-grade program of highly competitive, noncontact football. Parents could prevent seven years of head trauma during the most important developmental time of a child’s brain, while allowing the child to participate in a sport that can provide great life lessons, he said.
Good luck, Ben.
Finally, I hope you’ll remember this when spring-cleaning rolls around and you are about to discard “stuff”: Among that stuff will be items needy people can use. Contact the agency nearest you. One I recommend is Bridging in Roseville and Bloomington, reputed to be the largest nonprofit furniture bank in North America. For Bloomington, call 952-888-1105 and Roseville, 651-631-3255.
Happy 2017.

Don Heinzman is
a columnist for
ECM Publishers.

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