Emily's favorite stories of 2012The year Emily gained a greater appreciation for firefighters
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
I’ve written stories since I was a little kid. When I was eight I submitted a story to a writing contest for Delta Airline’s magazine and won the game Clue.
I love being a storyteller and fortunately for me Rosemount has a lot of good ones.
While Rosemount is a small town, it’s full of interesting people and organizations. They keep me busy doing what I love to do and I’m grateful for that.
Here are some of my favorites from 2012.
There are some things that are more fun to say you did than they are to actually do. That’s the way I feel about having gone through the Rosemount Fire Department’s practice fire agility test this fall.
I was glad to have had the experience but it was hard. Participating in the event came on a whim. I was talking with fire chief Scott Aker about the event and at the end of the conversation he asked if I wanted to try it.
Never one to shy from a challenge, I said sure. Somewhere between that conversation and the October day the practice test was held, I found out I was pregnant with our third child.
I thought about bowing out because I generally felt like crap. But I was still running regularly and it was only supposed to take around five minutes. I can do anything for five minutes, I reasoned.
I did ask my doctor and she said if I felt faint or something hurt to stop but otherwise to go for it.
That morning I got up early to eat and try to head off any queasiness. Then I showed up.
Dressed in full bunker gear with an oxygen tank strapped on my back, I climbed three flights of stairs caring 40 pounds of fire hose twice. Then I carried a 40-pound fan around a series of cones; ran with a hose full of water, sprayed it and then hauled a 185-pound dummy some distance. To pass, candidates must complete all of the tasks in five minutes or less. I did it in a little over five minutes.
Wearing all the fire equipment made me feel tough at first and then it made me hot and tired. Bunker gear is heavy and cumbersome.
Additionally, I climbed the ladder truck, which was extended 75 ft. long at a 45 degree angle. I have never experienced any fear of heights but the ladder climb made me nervous. I did climb it, although not in any sort of timely fashion. If I ever got serious about becoming a firefighter, I would have to work on that part.
At the end I was hot and sweaty. But I had a better understanding of the conditions firefighters work under and had done something new. I am really grateful to the Rosemount Fire Department for allowing me the opportunity to participate.
While I did not meet the qualifying standards that day, I feel like with a little bit of training I could.
I am not a particularly fit person. I run three or four days a week and I do yoga as well. But I know I could be much fitter.
If I could do it, there’s no doubt in my mind many others, including women, can. Currently there are no women on the Rosemount Fire Department.
If you’ve ever thought being a firefighter is something you’d like to try, I would highly encourage you to try out. While it’s no walk in the park, it’s doable and a satisfying experience.
The Rosemount Fire Department will be looking for people to join their ranks this spring. They’re a good group of people who provide a valuable service to the community.
One Book One Rosemount
Books have been an integral part of my life since I was very young. My parents are both avid readers and made it a point to make it part of our daily lives from day one.
When my family gathers together, books are always a part of the conversation. In fact we’d be a pretty boring group if we didn’t have books to talk about.
So the idea of a community reading event makes perfect sense to me. One Book One Rosemount is collaborative event to promote reading to people of all ages.
Organizers chose Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpoole for the reading material. It was a delightful read.
The story, set in the summer of 1936, is about a young girl who is sent to stay with friends of her father in a “dried-up, worn out” small town in Kansas, according to the Dakota County Libraries website. Her disappointment turns to excitement when she discovers a cigar box full of letters, trinkets and a map. These treasures send her on an exciting spy hunt even though she is told to “leave well enough alone.”
The Robert Trail Library, the Rosemount Area Arts Council, the Rosemount Area Historical Society and others provided events throughout the monthlong reading campaign. Events ranged from a presentation on prohibition in Dakota County, to a display of model trains to an essay contest. Hundreds of people of all ages participated in the various events. The 2012 One Book One Rosemount was the second time Rosemount has held a communitywide reading campaign.
One Book One Rosemount was fun to cover and I applaud the various groups in Rosemount for making it such a robust event. And for the fact that I got to recommend Moon Over Manifest to my family over the holiday, it’s one of my 2012 favorites.
Moms and Neighbors
I cover a lot of different topics, but writing about the people who make the world a better place is my favorite. Each year as part of my favorites list I try to celebrate a group or people who do just that.
Moms and Neighbors is a small group of women who find deserving mothers and provide hope through unexpected gifts. Church and school counselors refer families to the group for help. Moms and Neighbors provides anonymous packages to the recipient that include gift cards, clothing, or services such as auto repair depending on their needs.
During the Christmas season the group also provides gifts to families and teenagers that have been referred by the schools.
I have been the recipient of random acts of kindness. As a waitress in college, an old man left me a $50 tip once. He dined alone and so the tip was exorbitant. I have no idea why he left it. Sometimes I wonder if it was a mistake. But I will never forget his action and since have tried to pay it forward in my own modest ways.
I firmly believe acts of kindness can change the world for the better and Moms and Neighbors are doing it in School District 196. They may never know the impact they have made in people’s lives but I feel certain the people they have bestowed kindness on will go forth and do the same for others.
I met Yefim Milshteyn on a cold March day at his St. Paul apartment. He doesn’t speak much English so his translator, Susi Yermishkin, met us as well. I honestly dreaded the interview because it’s sometimes difficult to get people to tell their stories even when we speak the same language.
Milshteyn’s powerful story, though, easily broke through the language barrier. He is a Nazi and Soviet genocide survivor. As a teenager and young man during the 1940s Milshteyn experienced the hell of the Nazi regime and then the Soviets. His family was murdered and he personally buried some of his closest friends.
Several years ago, Milshteyn wrote a book about his experiences and he spoke at the Robert Trail Library to a packed room in March.
Speaking with Milshteyn was an honor. He was a sweet and gentle man. His expressions and hand gestures gave context to his stories.
I think Milshteyn wrote his memoir, Journey through Hell, mostly for his children. But keeping those memories alive benefits us all.
As the years pass, finding World War II survivors to talk with is becoming rare. And as they die meaningful stories are lost with them. As a storyteller that’s a hard pill to swallow, but at least in this instance, his story will carry on to future generations and that’s why it’s one of my favorites of the year.
I hail from the great state of Wyoming. I grew up 20 minutes from the top of a mountain and 30 minutes from a large reservoir that provided all the water fun you could ask for.
I spent a lot of time outdoors growing up and it was awesome. In fact, the summer after my freshman year of college I slept more nights in a tent then I did in a bed.
I like Minnesota. I’ve lived here now for 11 years but I really miss the grand outdoors Wyoming has to offer.
I have to admit, though, I haven’t given the Minnesota outdoors much of my time. I’ve been to several places along Lake Superior and some of the big parks in the area including Lebanon Hills, Lake Byllesby and Big Woods State Park. But that’s about it.
This summer I did a series of stories on natural areas in and around Rosemount. As part of my research I spent time walking the Lone Rock Trail, Spring Lake Park Reserve and Carroll’s Woods. I also spent a fun morning in the Dakota Woods Dog Park, off of County Road 46.
Each place offers its own bit of sanctuary in the urban chaos that is the Twin Cities and doing the four part series reminded me that I simply love to explore.
After I completed the series I told my husband we needed to make more of an effort to explore what Minnesota has to offer. He rolled his eyes because he knew when I say something like that it’s going to be a pain for him, but he’ll tag along.
I’ve made a list of the state parks I would like to see. It’s my goal next summer to get a state park pass and start marking them off the list.
While I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same about Minnesota as I do for Wyoming, I figure since I’m here I should scout as much of it as I can.