HOYT LAKES — East Range Police Officer Jorden Klovstad patrolled the streets of Hoyt Lakes Monday afternoon — on the lookout for individuals to ticket.
Before long, he found two youth deserving of citations.
Veronica Dahl, 7, and her little brother, Josh, 6, were the culprits. The two youngsters were riding their bicycles near the family’s house — and both were wearing helmets.
That’s right — the kiddos were doing the correct thing. And for that, each was issued a “Citation for Good Behavior.”
Well, a treat at the A&W in Aurora, of course.
“These are tickets we don’t mind giving out,” said East Range Police Chief Tim Soular.
Veronica and Josh were among the first children in the Aurora-Hoyt Lakes communities to receive citations via a new partnership of the East Range Police, the White Community Hospital Foundation, and the ever-popular seasonal A&W of Aurora.
The hospital foundation had approached the police department seeking an avenue to “reach out to the community,” Soular said. Officers considered ways to help the youth of the area, and decided to duplicate a statewide project, but on a more localized level.
Law enforcement across Minnesota are already provided with citations to hand out to children, good for a treat at Dairy Queen, through a collaboration of AAA, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association.
However, East Range officers noticed those citations were not being used.
Far too often, parents on the East Range “don’t have the resources” to bring their kids to the nearest location in Mountain Iron, Soular said.
The A&W, however, is within reach.
Most children can safely walk or bike there in Aurora; most families in Hoyt Lakes are able to get there, as well, said the chief.
He noted, however, that if a child receives a citation and is unable find a way to the A&W, an officer will personally bring the youngster there to enjoy the good-behavior treat.
The WCHF committed $150-worth of coupons to launch the pilot program, providing the police department with 50 citations. Tickets are good for up to a $3 ice cream or food item at the A&W.
“As a foundation, we are always looking for things to help the community,” said Jan Moore, WCHF president. The foundation holds six blood drives per year and other events including fundraising bake sales.
“I’m excited to hear how it goes,” she said of the project, while at the Essentia Health-Northern Pines hospital in Aurora Monday afternoon.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what each officer does with the reward,” he said.
Citations will be handed out at each officer’s discretion. Good behavior could be anything from looking both ways crossing a street, to wearing a bicycle helmet, picking up garbage and putting it in a receptacle, or being kind to another person, Soular said.
During the Fourth of July holiday, the chief handed out a few citations. A couple of them went to youngsters “on the sidelines” during a domestic call.
Soular told the two little ones he was proud of how well they were behaving during that very stressful time.
Klovstad also told Veronica and Josh Monday how proud he was that they were wearing helmets. A lot of kids get injured while riding bikes without helmets, he told them.
The siblings smiled. They were happy to receive the tickets, they said.
“It’s awesome,” said Veronica, protecting her noggin with a bright pink, orange and blue unicorn helmet.
“Good!” said Josh of the citation, sporting a very cool, pirate-inspired black mohawk bike helmet, decorated with a skull and crossbones.
The two declared — on this warm, sunny day — they would probably order ice cream at the A&W.
“I love this,” said their mom, Brooke Dahl, who looked on, grinning, from the front deck of their house. “It’s a great program.”
The duo’s grandparents bought her children their bikes and helmets, she said, noting that writing out good behavior citations “is incentive for kids” to do the right thing — like wear bicycle helmets.
“Anything positive is important,” and the citation program is nothing but positive, Klovstad said.
Klovstad added that, as the school resource officer at Mesabi East in Aurora, he knows most of the children in the East Range communities and is glad for the opportunity to see the kids rewarded during the summer.
It will be even more beneficial, however, for children to receive citations from officers they don’t know to build up a positive relationship with law enforcement, he said.
“Positive contact with kids” is what it’s all about, said Soular, adding that officers will especially “focus on the group of kids who don’t have the opportunity to go to the A&W on a regular basis.”
John Rossiter, who owns the mom-and-pop drive-in restaurant with wife, Deanne, said when he was approached with the partnership opportunity, “it was the easiest ‘yes’ ever.”
“We are a youth-driven business,” he said. The A&W of Aurora “is a big part of the community,” and the majority of employees are high school and college students.
“We hope to put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces” this summer with the citations, Soular said.
And later Monday afternoon, Veronica and Josh were all smiles, sitting on the deck at the A&W with their mom.
The family wasted no time cashing in on the “very cool” citations.
But it wasn’t ice cream that sounded best once they got there, said the siblings.
Rather, they enjoyed treats of a burger, cheese curds and mini corndogs.
Not a bad way to spend part of an afternoon — all because of some really good behavior.