My recent blog post about finding opportunities from our experiences this past week to improve Duluth’s disaster plan has garnered a reaction from the city in the form of a Duluth News Tribune article, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m honored that decision makers – both with the city, and with the bigger companies in town – read my blog, and follow my twitter and social media accounts.
They say the “squeaky wheel gets the grease”. I’m over here squeaking.
Since last summer I’ve discussed serious issues facing our city – from our road conditions to the growing heroin problem. Both issues where simply ignored, until I started asking questions and sharing photos of massive potholes and syringes found around our town. In the last few months, the roads that I pointed out have been repaired, and not a week goes by that a heroin dealer – usually from Chicago – is arrested, and the excellent work the DPD is doing shared in the news.
Running for an election has put me on the radar, and I want to use my little soapbox to keep sharing stories and asking questions that will urge the city and businesses to work to improve Duluth – all of Duluth – for all of us. There are a lot of folks in our city that have stories that need to be heard. I will be your voice.
Speaking up is the only way we can spur action to happen. I ask you to continue to share your concerns, write letters to the editor, post on social media, and show up at city council meetings. It’s tough to put yourself out there, you’ll always have those that disagree with you, most of the time these are people that are too scared or ignorant to acknowledge the truth – but the silent majority are cheering you on behind the scenes. And if you just can’t bear to face social media trolls waiting to tear up your thoughts and ideas – send me your thoughts and ideas and I’ll share them. The trolls don’t scare me.
Communicating our concerns is the most important contribution we can make to our city. It will guide our elected representatives and hopefully move Duluth in the right direction.
The last few days have been overwhelming for many in Duluth. After a brief, but vicious storm our city experienced damage that rivals others in recent history. After the skies cleared and damages were accessed, the city, residents, and utilities went to work to get us up and running again.
The city acted by clearning roads and setting up cooling stations around Duluth, including the DECC. Minnesota Power held a press conference, called in additional linemen and trucks and attempted to keep us updated through Facebook and their Outage Map. But, as days went by without power, in sweltering heat, emotions started to rise – concern, frustration, and at times anger – crept into the dialogue of how Duluth was handling this crisis. At this time, nearly 3,500 customers are still without power, and may be for 4 more days.
Lack of communication and updates has been the biggest complaint. While everyone appreciates the hard work that the linemen are doing, living in the dark, literally, and figuratively in terms of knowing when to expect power, has taken a toll. The situation has been an eye-opener for Duluth, and hopefully one that can be used to make improvements before the next natural disaster strikes.
I want to start the discussion, and ask our city leaders – and the corporate leaders that run our utilities, to come together and build a more strategic plan to disperse information and assistance to Duluth residents.
The Mayor made many facebook posts in regards to the events following the storm, but not everyone had access to facebook, or even the internet. I didn’t see any updates from our city councilors, with the exception of a 10AM July 21st post by Em Westerlund sharing what the Mayor had discussed, and Noah Hobbs passing on an FYI to conserve water. Other councilors had time to post about bands, and breweries, complain about cell service, and other personal things, but nothing storm related. They showed an incredible lack of compassion for those that were impacted, and absolutely no effort in being part of the solution during many of our resident’s time of need.
While no disaster or emergency plan can take into account everything that can happen, Duluth can do a better job if this happens again – and it requires some effort by our elected officials and local utilities. I hope they consider these suggestions:
Most communities have a community center, park, or other city owned structure/building that could be used as “home-base” for those neighborhoods. The city staff and elected officials should open these during disasters to provide a space for locals to share and receive news, offer help or receive help from neighbors, and they would make good drop areas for help from organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Some residents could not get to their vehicles or aren’t physically able to leave their homes and travel to the DECC for water and relief.
Residents who have less damage or have already dug out, could post their name, number, address and how they can help, so those needing help can find them. For example if one person is handy with a chainsaw and willing to help, a neighbor could track them down and ask for a hand. A list of vulnerable adults or families could be posted and monitored to make sure they were being checked on and receiving the help they need. Those that can’t clear the damage could volunteer to check on these folks.
The local media could do a better job of sharing information. It was days before news was showing up on social media. TV crews could have used cell phones to record and share updates to their station’s Facebook pages immediately, and throughout the days they were offline.
Minnesota Power could improve their Outage App/Map to include a place to view press releases, instructions on what homeowners should do, and advertise when they will be making their bigger daily announcements about progress so people don’t get frustrated checking the app mulitple times each day and finding the same information, unchanged. They should also make that information easy to discover in the app and website.. Minnesota Power could also create an alert system where people could register for text or recorded phone message updates on progress for their area. The alert could let them know if they should have power back, and if they don’t, who and where to call, providing useful information for the crews on the scene.
Each weather related disaster will teach us new ways to be prepared – let’s take our experiences from this storm, and use them to make improvements for the next time.
Photo credit: Minnesota Power Facebook Page
In the hearts and minds of each child is the potential for greatness. With the right guidance and influence even children brought up in the most dire of circumstances can accomplish amazing things.
Parents are crucial influencers, but teachers and coaches expand that perspective – building relationships, and a way of interacting, that will serve them well throughout their lives. The kids get to be led, they get to take direction, they get a chance to ask for more responsibility, they get to be counted on by classmates and teammates, and all of that will set the foundation for being a championship citizen.
In a few short weeks some of these future championship citizens will be headed to Missouri to be a champion in their sport – boxing. Evan Wrazidlo, Jesse Walters, and Simon Walters are preparing for the 2016 Ringside World Championships. The tournament marks their first chance at being world champions. The team will be accompanied by Coach Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters of Jungle Boy Boxing Gym.
It’s been 5 years since I’ve passed the Horton’s Gym, now the Jungle Boy Boxing Gym, down to Zach Walters, one of my boxing students, and I’m happy to see the success of the gym and its young boxers – building the skills to be worthy of participating in this type of tournament.
I think it’s important to invest in the future of kids in our community. As a mentor we shape athletic ability but also confidence and responsibility – and that is what Zach is passing down to these boys.
The trip to a worldwide tournament is expensive at over $2000, but worth it. The experience will give these young local boys a new perspective of our country and a chance to meet people from all over our world. You never come back from a journey the same person.
My own mentor, Jack O’Brien, was a friend, confidant, and spiritual council – it is only fitting, that in his memory, I’m thrilled to support these young boxers in their fight to be champions by donating to their GoFundMe page. If you can, I hope you’ll support them too. Learn more about their trip, and follow their progress on duluthboxing.com.
Help them get there by donating here: https://www.gofundme.com/2dvbbmc
About Chuck Horton
Chuck Horton was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Chuck cares about his community and the people within it, leading him to focus on giving the Duluth community them a fighting chance, as a mayoral candidate, and now in his current position with Partners In Recovery, LLC. His passion for Duluth remains steadfast as Chuck channels his energy to help the city he loves so much, and his clients, as they work to rebuild themselves through mental health and addiction counseling he provides through his role at Partners In Recovery.
Chuck comes from a boxing family, and frequently spent his time at his father Archie’s gym, the West Duluth Boxing Club. While members were welcome to learn how to box competitively, Archie focused more on teaching children how to defend themselves, an unfortunate necessity given Chuck’s experiences with bullies. The defense-skills Chuck learned from his father stayed with him throughout his life, and in many ways, shaped it.
Chuck’s interests moved in a different direction than his father’s; he went on to pursue a career training highly-decorated boxers once returning from military service (1985-1993). His primary focus was to train clients and better the boxing community as a whole at his business, Horton’s Gym. At the time of his mayoral run in 2015, he handed the reins of Horton’s Gym to his protégé, Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters, changing the business name to Jungle Boy Boxing. Post-run for mayor, Chuck continued to remain incredibly active in the Duluth community. He gained experience working with several non-profits and as a community organizer, getting kids off the streets and to Jungle Boy Boxing instead, where they learned the same diligence and discipline that his father had once passed down to him. Chuck not only found a way to help Duluth and its citizens, but also put the time in himself to ensure that these changes persisted.
Now, Chuck is able to help Duluth and the surrounding area by working with mental health and addiction counseling outpatient clinic, Partners In Recovery LLC. While Duluth is steadily improving, Chuck won’t rest until the work is done.
Immediately following high school, Chuck Horton enlisted in the United States Army. This took him all across the globe, beginning in Columbus, Georgia, before being deployed in Korea, Iraq, and finally Fort Bliss, Texas. He served as a Recon Scout for eight years, beginning in 1985, and then transitioned to a training position where he provided Mexican border patrol with combat techniques to help catch and dismantle the illegal drug trade.
In Korea, Chuck patrolled the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea as a member of the Blues Platoon, and then later traveled to Germany. From Germany, he was deployed to Iraq for the First Gulf War. In 1991, while Chuck was serving in Iraq, he became involved with the infamous friendly-fire incident involving an Apache helicopter. He thankfully was not injured at the time, and arrived home safely following his tour.
After returning home from the army, Chuck Horton opened Horton’s Gym in 1994, where he trained professional boxers, several of whom became State Boxing Champions. The more time went on and his boxers’ experience grew, he found himself wanting to spend more time with the athletes, and provide them with more support than was currently available. For this reason, Chuck himself became a professional boxer, and later promoter, to market the amateur boxers he’d taken with him once going pro.
Chuck later ended his professional career, and devoted himself to training professional boxers full-time. In order to do this, he passed down his gym to a former athlete that Chuck himself had trained, Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters. With a similar passion and persistence Chuck recognized as two of his own best qualities, Zach was the obvious choice for the job.
on to the professional ranks, he didn’t know where to refer them. In his eyes, there were no professional trainers in the area that could do his fighters justice. As a result, Horton decided to go professional as well, taking multiple amateur boxers with him.
Originally, the transition to professional boxing was tough. No one wanted to host Horton’s boxers on their card without a very large disbursement to the promoters. Seeing no other alternative, Horton chose to take things into his own hands and become a promoter as well. Having hosted sell-out amateur crowds throughout Duluth, he had plenty of experience as a promoter. He began talking to the media to get more publicity around boxing in Duluth, and did some marketing of his own, literally going door-to-door to promote fights.
One of Horton’s fighters, Zach “Jungle Boy” Walters, was having a lot of success at the professional level. He ended his career in 2009, amassing a record of 24-5 in the light heavyweight division. Walters asked Horton to sign a friend of Walters’, Andy “Kaos” Kolle. Kolle would enjoy great success professionally; currently holding a record of 26-4 in the middleweight division. Andy “Kaos” Kolle has had huge success under the training of Chuck Horton.
After his fighting career was over, Walters began training amateurs as well. Soon Horton wanted to commit all of his time to the professionals. He realized that the everyday grind of running a gym was taking time away from working with his professional boxers. As a result, Chuck Horton passed down his gym to Walters. Horton felt Walters was the best man for the job due to his passion and persistence.
Chuck Horton ran for mayor of Duluth in 2015, in hopes of making Duluth a thriving town once more. He listed his diligence, experience in achieving his goals, passion for Duluth, and for bringing people together as several of the key qualities that made him the best candidate. Just like his father, Chuck’s desire to help others, particularly through youth outreach, helped him to stand out from the other candidates.
While Chuck Horton was not elected as Duluth’s mayor, these same qualities are what moved him onto his next endeavor: Partners in Recovery. Wherever his office is, be that in City Hall or his boxing gym, Chuck puts his entire focus in improving his current environment, and serving the people within it.
Currently, Chuck Horton feels most able to serve the city of Duluth by his involvement with Partners In Recovery. This outpatient treatment program works with people suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues. As an advocate for Partners In Recovery, Chuck strives to establish and foster relationships within the community to offer their clients as many support services as possible. Partners In Recovery provides numbers of services, all for the purpose of helping clients re-build their lives and ensure they receive the help they need to succeed, long term.
Partners In Recovery employs a six-step process: Connect, Identify, Covenant, Implement, Measure and Sustain, while providing support for the client working through the process. Partners In Recovery’s focus is on just that – Recovery.
As a person in recovery for 21 years and now actively involved in the field, a former soldier, and former boxer and trainer, Partners In Recovery’s mission statement rings true for him, as well as for the clients they serve.
PARTNERS IN RECOVERY provides effective, innovative substance abuse and mental health services preparing clients to think critically and act wisely to better serve themselves, their families and community.