This spring, downtown Rochester was taking on the feeling of a half-deserted, dangerous place.

A fatal shooting event on June 6 prompted the immediate rollout of a volunteer-led effort to make downtown streets safer on weekend nights.

Did it work? Did it ever. From June 11 through the seasonal conclusion of the program late last month, police responded to only three assaults and 16 disorderly conduct incidents on weekend nights downtown.

“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” said Bud Whitehorn, one of the organizers of the volunteer group called the Community Engagement Response Team (CERT). “We can confidently say Friday and Saturday nights this summer were safe downtown because of CERT.”

Nightlife took on a different look and feel. Young people were met downtown by positive role models and engaged in some good, clean fun: basketball games, an occasional footrace, free haircuts and food.

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Winter is coming and CERT program will move to an indoor format. But the red-shirted volunteers will be back on the street in the spring. We’re better for it. Thumbs up.

Social-work duo will serve Pine Island

A new duo will help students and staff members stay mentally healthy in Pine Island.

Cait Earle, a licensed social worker, and Tom Horner, the district's mental health and wellness coordinator, are available to help with anxiety, stress and burnout, sometimes through group activities, sometimes by facilitating a group discussion, and sometimes just by lending a sympathetic ear.

We think an investment in mental health will pay dividends down the road. Pine Island is forward-thinking with this program. Thumbs up.

Social media: beyond control?

Here is one thing that puts a dent in young people’s mental health -- overuse of social media sites and adverse interactions on them. Last week, Minnesota parents participated in an online discussion with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, seeking new laws to put more controls on Facebook and Instagram.

"The parental responsibility goes so far but there's too much we can't control,” said Natalie Kennedy, a St. Paul mother of three.

Klobuchar said she was working to advance legislation that would give users more control over the personal data that social media sites can collect, hold the sites liable for spreading inaccurate health information during public health emergencies and beefing up protections for children online. It remains to be seen if those measures will gain full Congressional support.

Thumbs down to the outsized and often negative impact these tech products have on children.

Short timer as a long runner

Gwen Jacobson didn’t start distance running until she was in her 50s, but now the Rochester woman, in her early 60s, has competed in more than 80 marathons.

You could say that she has run around the world, in a manner of speaking. Jacobson finished near the top of her age category in the London Marathon earlier this month. She’s completed the 26.2-mile marathon course in all 50 states.

Do you want to follow in Gwen’s footsteps? She suggests that you get good shoes, follow a good program, and make friends with some runners to keep you going. Thumbs up to this living reminder that age is no barrier to improvement and achievement.