The Free Press, Mankato, MN


May 12, 2014

Community connection pays off

Why it matters: A phone call from a Waseca woman may have saved her community from catastrophe.

She didn’t mind her own business. She minded what ended up being everyone’s business.

Chelsie Schellhas, 21, did the right thing April 29 by reporting a suspicious person in her neighborhood and as a result the community was protected from a possible massacre at Waseca Junior-Senior High School.

Schellhas went with her gut feeling when she saw John LaDue cutting across her puddle-filled yard and struggling with opening a storage unit across from her house.

Police say that storage unit was full of firearms and explosive materials that 17-year-old LaDue was plotting to use to kill his family, school staff and students at his school.

Schellhas is a normal, levelheaded young woman who the community knows it owes a debt of gratitude.

They have showered her with accolades, flowers and thank-yous.

She seems to be taking all the attention in stride, despite the shock that her few minutes of observation and decision-making, with the help of her cousin Katie Harty, saved lives with one phone call to police.

Residents keeping a watchful eye on what’s going on in their neighborhoods is what helps build bonds within communities.

If people get to know their neighbors, get to know what’s going on in their lives, then unusual behavior is easier to detect.

And concern comes much more naturally. Keeping our heads down — constantly staring at our smartphones in public — connects us to our phones, not to each other.

Not only does it take a village to raise a child; it takes a village paying attention to its children to cement a community.

Schellhas grew up in Waseca, attended its schools, has a stake in the city and its people.

As she has proven that paying attention, being concerned about what’s going on and making one phone call can mean a world of difference.

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