Gene Johnson

I WAS AT my desk in the Press office on Friday, July 3, when most of the staff had the day off. A knock at the door caught my attention so I answered it to discover it was Cal Rolstad.

He came by with a subscription payment for the Quad Community Press which covers Lino Lakes, where he lives.

He has been following my column for years and he reminded me we did a story on his bricklaying career. He still has the clipping in a booklet that he carries with him.

Cal was born to a farm family in Yellow Medicine County 94 years ago and is proud to have 10 years up on me.

I asked him about his philosophy of life and he said, “Just be kind to people. Build friendships that way.” The encouragement gave me a boost for the day.

Cal’s wife died several years ago, but his children live nearby in Lino Lakes, which pleases him very much.

I CALLED MY publisher friend Charley Najacht following the president’s visit and speech at Mount Rushmore for the 244th birthday celebration of our nation on the third of July. He said it was a wonderful, peaceful celebration. He thought President Trump delivered a very serious and meaningful message. The fireworks did not cause fires. Neither did the chemicals (so far) from the fireworks pollute any of the waters in the area as opponents claimed it would. The EPA had given prior approval.

This is the first time a president had been there to celebrate Independence Day. It turned out to be a major kickoff for the tourist season which businesses were concerned about. Three other presidents have visited Mount Rushmore. They are George Bush, Sr., Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

President Trump said, “There could be no better place to celebrate America’s independence than beneath this magnificent, incredible, majestic mountain and monument to the greatest Americans who ever lived.” He went on to say, “This monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”

I agree with my publisher friend Charley that monuments and statues erected all over the country need similar protection from lawless vandals who seek to erase our nation’s history. Charley went on to say, “It was an inspiring speech. It had a nonpartisan message devoid of the usual political attacks on his opponents that are so prevalent in the rallies across the country.”

IF YOU ARE a small business and qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program and did not apply, you may be pleased to know the application period has been extended to August 8.

Our newspaper companies applied and learned that small community banks were the most helpful.

The bill does not allow businesses that received previous loans to apply for the second loan, but it may help those who did not apply because of confusion about the use of the funds.

If the funds are used properly, most of it is forgivable or becomes a loan at a very low interest rate.

So far the Small Business Administration has distributed more than $520 million in PPP loans.

It was mid-June before the SBA and the Department of the Treasury finally published clear guidance on forgiveness of loans for business owners who used them to make up for lost business income.

Gene Johnson can be contacted at