Hello from the State Capitol,

It has been a tragic start to the year in our communities, as awful events have been making headlines across the state and nation this week.

Days ago, Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson was shot in the head while responding to a call. He remains hospitalized.

We then learned that Owatonna native Pvt. Connor McGurran died while taking part in an Army National Guard training exercise in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

It goes without saying that our thoughts are with their families, and that we continue to pray for Officer Matson’s recovery.

But as I think about these two men, I am so incredibly thankful for their sacrifices — one who set out to put his country’s interests ahead of his own, the other who puts the safety of the community he serves first.

Both of them made the decision that protecting us was going to be their number 1 priority.

It takes brave and selfless men and women to join the military or the ranks of law enforcement. These are difficult and at times dangerous jobs that many of us could not do. These are people who always deserve our support, and our thanks, for making the decision to protect us.

My deepest condolences to the McGurran family. Connor’s commitment to our country will never be forgotten, and we are here to support you.

Our support will also continue for Officer Matson and his family, and I look forward to the day when I can thank him for his commitment to our community.

Please pray for these two heroes, and their loved ones.

Rep. John Petersburg, R-Waseca, is the state representative for District 24A. He can be reached by phone at 651-296-5368 or by email at rep.john.petersburg@house.mn.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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