Summer nearly ended and then we had a surprise. Stories always were told that when a big storm comes from the west towards Savage, it comes to the river and veers north. Well, maybe not.

In 1980, a big straight-line wind came through downtown and leveled some trees by St. John’s Church hall and a few homes. In 1989, it came through the bluff line and leveled a big white barn and some trees. Then on Sept. 17, at 3 a.m., we thought a straight-line wind came through but later was designated as a tornado by the National Weather Service.

Now this was serious — the Public Works Department’s roof fascia was ripped off, garage doors blown out and big trees uprooted mostly on a swath from Glendale School to Vernon on Connelly Parkway. As I drove around surveying the damage, it was shocking to see so many big trees uprooted and some on roofs of homes, but it was heartwarming to see neighbor helping neighbor clear out the debris.

Seventy loads of brush was picked up from boulevards on Monday and continuing with 350 tons by the end of week. We are thankful that there were no injuries, appreciative of our public works staff and grateful for the assistance from Prior Lake and Scott County loan of trucks and equipment. Scott County usually sounds the sirens, but with the short notice of the oncoming tornado that was not possible.

When I think of helping one another, it reminds me of a recent project that came to the city council from youth in our city. Girl Scout Troop 27285 presented a program called “Do Your Duty” for their Gold Award. This is a program at O’Connell and McColl parks to encourage dog owners to pick up dog waste.

In my contact with the youth in our city, I find that those who approach me are concerned about our environment. I met Amelia at Night to Unite and she talked to me about no littering, no tobacco butts in our city and says we can do it! We are now pen pals. Ina was in a virtual class at one of our schools where I talked about growing up in Savage and the job of being the first woman mayor. She sent me note with the message, “Don’t give up when you think that you can’t.”

Or then there is Shrey who came to me in sixth grade with the idea of Service Day. About six years into that he sent me a little plaque that says “It isn’t what you say or think that defines us, but what we do,” a quote from Jane Austen. It is on my desk at home and I read it every day. Yes, I believe in the future and our youth.

I also learned this week that a family from Afghanistan moved into our city and the children are in our schools. We continue to be welcoming. Our REDI Task Force starts meeting in October.

There is so much happening in our city that is positive, even in the pandemic. Families are out and about in the parks like never before. I even see them playing pickleball on our new courts at Community Park (they were damaged in the tornado but repaired). Hopefully they continue to pick up litter on our sidewalks and have adopted a storm drain to keep litter out of our stormwater.

Perkins and Bonfire closed at the beginning of the pandemic and now Pan Hau, a Hawaiian Restaurant, is open in the newly remodeled Perkins (be sure to call for a reservation) and Crooked Pint Ale House is opening soon in the Bonfire location. The city reviewed and revised its brew pub ordinance and Loons Landing Brewery is opening in January — a brewery in the Eagle Creek Business Park in Savage. It is gratifying to note that the owners of Crooked Pint and one from Loons live in our city.

Last week I was at ribbon cuttings at NorBella and Stretchly. All types of businesses are opening all over our city. I mentioned the new ice cream shop in my last column and I am hooked. La Michoacana has at least 20 flavors and even ice cream for lactose intolerant.

While I tend to mention new businesses, I want to say that I am proud of longtime businesses in Savage and thank those who were creative and stayed open. I even stopped at Carrie’s to buy a gift the other day.

For those who inquired, we are creating a golf cart ordinance for city streets. We say goodbye to two longtime employees. Bryan Tucker, who was our city planner for 21 years, took a job with a private developer. Jon Allen, who grew up in Savage and has been our Natural Resources person, is retiring after 37 years. He always dreamed of an environmental learning center and it came to fruition!

While the pandemic was good for some businesses, others continue to struggle with lack of employees. Please help out. For those who are apprehensive about winter coming and utility bills, please contact the CAP Agency if you need help.

Janet Williams is Savage’s mayor.