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Election 2021: White Bear Lake mayor candidates

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Election 2021: White Bear Lake mayor candidates

WHITE BEAR LAKE MAYOR

Dan Louismet

  • Age: 36
  • What qualifies you to hold this position? I am a practicing attorney. My past legal experience includes representing cities, law enforcement, and small businesses. My past involvement in the community includes serving on the Parks Commission and coaching T-ball for the school district. I presently serve on the Charter Commission.
  • What would your top priorities be if elected? (1) Preserve the history, character, and charm of our city. (2) Restore the city’s fiscal policy to the frugal approach that once made White Bear Lake the envy of so many cities across the metro and state. (3) Ensure that residents’ voices are heard by their local government.
  • What do you think is the primary role of government? The primary role of local government it to provide essential services like police, fire, ambulance, water, sewer, roads, and parks in the most cost effective way possible.
  • How would you rate Minnesota’s response to the coronavirus? What would you do differently? The government mandated shutdowns went too far and were in place for too long.
  • Website or contact: danlouismetwbl.com.

Don Mullin

Candidate information not available.

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Front Range retailers hope 2021 holiday shopping season is a little brighter

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Front Range retailers hope 2021 holiday shopping season is a little brighter

Area businesses that have survived the pandemic are banking on the increase in activity and travel to make this year’s holiday shopping season a bit brighter.

Department and big-box stores offered deals on Black Friday while local stores looked forward to Small Business Saturday. The day geared toward independent retailers and other businesses was founded in 2010 by American Express and is cosponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Wheelhouse Gifts on Denver’s South Pearl Street opened in 2020. The store, owned by Jody Fidler, was open for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday last holiday season.

“But because of the pandemic, it wasn’t probably as impactful as it could have been for us,” said Molly Casey, an employee who’s in charge of the store’s social media. “This year, knowing we can be fully open despite the mask mandate, is really important to us.”

Retail analysts and trade organizations say there’s reason for optimism this year. The National Retail Federation said sales rose in October by 1.7% from September despite ongoing labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and rising inflation.

Denver-area shopping centers experienced “a very significant and positive visit trend” in October, according to a statement by Placer.ai, which provides analysis of foot traffic based on data from devices enabled to share the information. Data from Placer.ai showed visits in October to three metro-area shopping centers — Cherry Creek in Denver, Southlands in Aurora and Park Meadows in Lone Tree — were at or slightly above levels for the same period in 2019.

October’s sales numbers indicate people are responding to factors affecting retailers heading into the holidays, said Dave Bruno, director of retail market insights at Aptos, a retail technology company.

“People are shopping early to minimize the risk of supply chain disruptions and inventory outages impacting their holiday gift-giving,” Bruno said in a statement. “The big question, obviously, is whether much of the planned holiday buying is being done early and December sales will suffer, or if this confidence and buying power will sustain strong growth throughout the entire season.”

Charlotte Elich is among Denver-area business owners who hope people turn out in force to support local retailers this holiday season.

“I’m always optimistic. My goal is always to surpass the year before and I’ll say we always seem to have done it, except for 2020,” Elich said. “Now my goal is to at least match 2019 this year.”

To meet that goal, Elich will have to deal with working shorthanded, something businesses from the country’s largest corporations to small mom-and-pop shops are facing as people have quit jobs or not returned after furloughs and layoffs. Elich, who owns 5 Green Boxes gift shop and another store on South Pearl Street in Denver, was struggling to cover shifts when two employees recently quit.

Now, Elich is working in the office during the week and working the counter on weekends. She also has to worry about staffing her store in Union Station in Lower Downtown and an outlet site on the weekends.

“It seems like I had a lot more applicants” in past years, Elich said. “I don’t have a whole lot of people applying these days.”

Elich, who has weathered the ups and downs of the pandemic, has been in business for 44 years.

Shauna Sankey of Colorado Springs started BlackGirlSalsa in August 2020 and hopes to grow it into a full-time venture. She is encouraged by the support she sees for small businesses in campaigns like Google’s Black Owned Friday and Small Business Saturday.

“It wasn’t like a master plan. It just kinda fell into that situation,” Sankey said of her pandemic-born pursuit.

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Medical center in Lafayette hosts test run of humanoid robot

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Medical center in Lafayette hosts test run of humanoid robot

TRU Community Care in Lafayette was the host last week to the unveiling of a brand new technology in the medical field — a humanoid robot that can perform basic medical tasks.

BEOMNI, a remote-controlled humanoid robot, pushes a cart of medical supplies down the hall next to TRU Community Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Wensel during a demonstration at TRU PACE Center in Lafayette on Friday. (Matthew Jonas, Daily Camera)

Beyond Imagination, an AI company based out of Colorado Springs, visited the Lafayette hospice center to test out the robot, named BEOMNI.

“We are excited that TRU sees the almost limitless potential of our humanoid robots in health care and has agreed to run this first pilot study with us. We look forward to partnering with them to bring a highly effective solution to market,” said inventor and CEO Dr. Harry Kloor.

The robot is controlled remotely using VR technology, so that doctors and specialists can see patients who are miles away. However, the physical presence of a robotic aid such as BEOMNI can make up for gaps that are present in current telehealth technology, such as physically touching and administering care to a patient.

As the technology develops, Beyond Imagination is hoping to incorporate BEOMNIS into other aspects of everyday care, offering an alternative to modern-day nursing homes and round the clock care centers.

Annually, the average cost of a nursing home in Colorado can cost around $100,000 for an individual patient; Whereas the cost of a BEOMNI aid would come out to far less than that, says Dr. David Wensel, Chief Medical Officer of TRU Community Care.

The need for a humanoid robot in the medical field is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the staffing shortage in the medical field, according to Wensel.

1638023138 433 Medical center in Lafayette hosts test run of humanoid robot
BEOMNI, a remotely controlled humanoid robot, navigates the its way through a doorway while pushing a cart with medical supplies with TRU Community Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Wensel during a demonstration at TRU PACE Center in Lafayette on Friday. (Matthew Jonas, Daily Camera)

The pilot study took place from Nov. 9-12 in order to determine how the robot would fare in a real-world medical setting. The robot can perform tasks such as taking temperature using a thermometer, looking into a patient’s mouth using a tongue depressor and a flashlight, and even dance with patients — although long-term capabilities are expected to extend far beyond that.

This particular robot is a ‘version one,’ but is equipped with AI technology that will help the robot learn as it goes.

Another plus about BEOMNI humanoids in the health care field? “They can’t get COVID!” says Kloor.

BEOMNI robots are expected to be on the market in the next couple of years. For more information on Beyond Imagination and BEOMNI, visit beomni.ai.

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Denver artisan bakeries start “Bread Club” to keep business rolling

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Denver artisan bakeries start “Bread Club” to keep business rolling

A phenomenon early in the pandemic was captured on social media: people stuck at home were baking — and proudly displaying — photos of their bread.

“We’ve baked bread for thousands of years. It’s one of the oldest staple foods we have,” baker Zach Martinucci said.

So, there’s bread as sustenance. And Martinucci said that going through the steps of making bread might have helped restore a sense of rhythm to days that grew monotonous for people at home with few diversions.

Martinucci talks about cooking during the pandemic with two hats on: He owns the bakery Rebel Bread and studied culinary anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

His new venture, Bread Club, is intended to help local bakers keep their kitchens humming as consumers and businesses continue to adjust to a shifting marketplace.

Five Denver bakeries are members of the club, a market for local artisan bakery orders. The bakeries are Rebel Bread, Moon Raccoon Baking Co., Sugar Bakeshop,  Pandemic Donuts and  Mile High Pie Co.

Martinucci said the bakeries have a big presence at farmers markets, so their summers are busy. Sugar Bakeshop has a storefront. Rebel Bread has wholesale customers and opens a retail counter on weekend mornings at its kitchen and offices on South Broadway. The other bakeries sell online, to some wholesale customers and at pop-up events.

“I’m hoping Bread Club in the offseason provides a reliable way for people to sample and support these different bakeries that might not have regular hours,” Martinucci said.

Bread Club deliveries go out from Rebel Bread and are available in Denver and some neighboring areas. Customers can also pick up their orders at Rebel Bread.

Martinucci said people like being able to customize their orders and sample pastries, breads and pies from the various bakeries.

“The menu rotates and there’s always something new to try,” Martinucci said.

Sugar Bakeshop has been open for about a decade. Martinucci started Rebel Bread three years ago after working in a French bakery and attending the San Francisco Baking Institute.

The other three Bread Club members are pandemic-era startups.

Tanner Burgard quit his real estate job early in the summer of 2020 to return to his true passion of cooking. He “bounced around,” working for friends in the restaurant industry while trying to learn as much as he could. In February, Burgard started Mile High Pie Co. He settled on pies because of his love of savory dishes, like the chicken pot pie his wife makes. He also wanted to make something that could easily be delivered. “Without a storefront or anything, I knew it had to be deliverable.”

Burgard, who has three regular part-time employees, started with the savory and expanded to the sweet. His latest selection included Southern sausage gravy and bacon pie and walnut, whiskey and maple pie. Burgard’s latest favorite is a beef bourguignon pie. It’s made with red-wine braised beef, mushrooms, carrots, onions, potatoes and red-wine beef gravy.

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Fresh sourdough, left, and baguettes at Rebel Bread in Denver Nov. 04, 2021.

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