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Letters to the Editor: March 6, 2014

Supports Library Board’s choice

To the Editor:

As a concerned and interested citizen, I would like to share my feelings about the new library.

First of all, I completely support the Library Board and its decision to build the new facility on the current site. It is beautiful, accessible and familiar. Changing from parallel to angled parking would easily accommodate any increased parking needs. I especially like the green energy efficiency aspects.

Secondly, I believe any of the 1926 building restructuring plans would ultimately be more expensive and less desirable, especially if it is a two-story library. It was my impression that the library staff does not support a two-story plan.

Thirdly, because the 1926 building does have some historical significance, perhaps it could be used as a historical or science museum. Even better, it would make a wonderful art gallery. We have several area artists who would love to do showings. The third floor could be remodeled to its former auditorium style for public functions.

As you see, I have given this serious thought and hope the citizens of New Richmond will support the Library Board and vote on the city website for Option 1.

Patricia Herr, New Richmond

Make voice heard at library meeting

To the Editor:

As the March 10 library public meeting approaches, you all have the opportunity to make yourself heard on the issue of the site selection for a new, 21st century library.

I hope to see you all at the New Richmond Civic Center council chambers at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 10.

Other ways to make your voice heard (but you really should attend the meeting)

In addition, there is an online survey at the Friday Memorial Library website:

There are also drop boxes for comment cards at the library, Civic Center and Community Commons.

What Are We Voting For?

I need to say the following about the survey – to my understanding, it was never supposed to be a survey to choose a “final design” for any new Library building. What is being presented are merely concept drawings of what possibly could be built on each site. Please do not base your judgment on what the concept drawing looks like – just the particular site you think we should build on. What we should be voting on is merely the location of a new library building. The concepts presented are not refined nor approved as the final concept for that site.

I also find it objectionable that one site (the Commons) is offering four design choices versus the one design choice for the current site. This survey seems inherently biased, especially since we are not choosing a final design – just a location.

That being said, I think I’ve made it quite clear that I know we should build on the current site. This was the then Library Board’s unanimous recommendation at the April 1, 2013, special/joint meeting with the City Council, as well as the architects’ recommendation.

Why build at the current site?

1. We own the site. It is dedicated to the purpose of a library and park, which use would be preserved.

2. As we look to the future, with the downtown expanding north due to the new bridge, it makes sense to leave our library at the “heart” of New Richmond. Let it be a new jewel at the center of our city as we expand and grow.

3. The current site can accommodate a building that meets the needs of a 21st century library in a single-story structure, thus allowing for maximum staff efficiency and patron safety. (Do you want to be separated from your kids, on different levels, as your family uses the library?)

4. Public libraries work best in modern, open and flexible spaces that meet the changing needs of the library and the community. Shoehorning a modern, 21st century library into an inappropriate 20th century space makes no practical sense.

5. The use of an existing building brings issues of floor loading requirements, building code and accessibility issues.

I urge you to contact me, your alderperson and the library staff to get answers to your questions. I hope to see you March 10.

Bobbie Dale-Wozniak, New Richmond

Please feed birds

To the Editor:

This is one of the coldest winters in over 30 years. Imagine being outside all the time having to forage for food and water that you absolutely needed to make it to the next day or week? Well the birds do, and so do the other critters out there. With over a foot of snow on the ground for many past weeks, it’s impossible to find anything to eat. A bird must eat nearly half of its body weight every day in order to keep its body temperature up and survive. I am writing to remind the readers to feed the birds, and if you haven’t taken up the hobby, this would be a good time to start. This quote from the Internet verifies what I’ve learned: “Birds eat more in the winter than in the summer due to metabolic needs.”

For example, a sparrow can only survive 15 hours without food in 5-degree conditions, but three days in warm summer conditions.

If you want to attract more birds – put out more feeders. I have at least four along with two wire suet holders as well. It is also good to spread seed on the ground as some species feed only there — like the juncos and mourning doves. Keep in mind with suet, you can also break it up and leave it on the ground or mix seeds with it in its plastic case and leave on the ground. That will help those that need that extra insulating fat who don’t go to the high hanging suet racks to eat and stay warm.

Can you imagine going without water for weeks on end? Yes, the birds can eat the snow, but when it is extremely cold, wouldn’t you want a milder drink than a freezing one? Lakes and streams are frozen, remember, and then there are the weeks when there is no snow. I put out a heated bird bath of water, and even in the winter, yes, I endeavor to keep it clean. Cleaning the feeders and water is important, since bacteria can affect the users of it. You could even use a heated dog water bowl, modified so birds don’t fall in. They need water just as much as we do!

My favorite birds to see at the feeders are cardinals; they like the black oil sunflower seeds the best. I am also glad to see the woodpeckers that will eat both suet and hang off of the regular wood feeders to get their food. It is good to have a variety of kinds of seed on the ground, but most ground feeders will eat millet; even bread or toast thrown out will help somebody.

Susan Chapin, Woodville

Inside or outside, who’s right?

To the Editor:

Have you ever heard an argument that revolved around what someone inside an organization has said, and what someone outside the organization has said to prove a point, which was, the problems really lie within?

Recently, a story about members of a research team studying global warming got trapped in the ice in Antarctica and were stuck there for days. The situation became so disparate that a multi- national rescue operation began and on top of that several of the rescuers needed rescuing. Think of the money and the loss of mission goals by the rescuers that had to stop what they were doing to go and help a bunch of idiots that could have simply moved to Wisconsin to study global warming and come to the conclusion that there isn’t any.

It is nice to know that the Russian researchers are just as dumb as most of the American ones. And since we excel at everything, I think we got the market cornered on stupidity.

At this writing it’s Monday morning and we are still digging out from a huge snowfall last Thursday. On Sunday, the sun came out and loosened the frozen ice off of the state road. This morning at 6:22 a.m., a county snow plow went by dragging his blade across the frozen road.

Now only a government expert would tell you it’s much better to plow ice off the road when it’s frozen than when it’s mushy like at 3 in the afternoon. This expert makes his own decisions rather than relying on common sense. But if you talk to this person, he is convinced he was doing the right thing. But that’s because he’s on the inside. Not only that, he explains I’m not privy to the meetings and training he’s had, so how could I know better?

Now let’s look back at that ship stuck in the ice. I would imagine that there was a very competent man on board that ship that knew exactly what was going to happen, and I’m betting it was the captain. But under the terms of an agreement the person in charge of the expedition may have been able to overrule the captain’s decision to leave before it was too late if the captain wanted to get paid. Here is an example of someone who knows more than the people who work there on what is prudent judgment, yet it was based on a need to prove something that can’t be fixed to start with. Mother Nature does what she wants and no human is going to change that.

Looking around our community, I see examples of this very situation. There are people who think they know what’s best because they have some connection with themselves. Then there are a few who can see the forest for the trees, but they will be overruled simply because they are not part of the clique.

Robert Pike, Town of Stanton

Voters’ questions answered

To the Editor:

I was recently asked a question by a voter, which I believe I should address publicly. This voter wondered if the motivation behind my decision to leave a job in the Somerset School District for a job in the Hudson School District in 2012 had impacted my decision to run for Somerset School Board. She asked if I was running because “I had an axe to grind.”

I chose to take advantage of a professional growth opportunity while seeking other avenues of involvement in the Somerset schools because I am committed to engaging in and supporting continuous growth for myself, my family and friends, my colleagues, and my community. It was not a decision made easily or taken lightly. Somerset is where I live and where my children attend school. I had completed my principal and director of instruction certifications, and Hudson leaders contacted me with an opportunity to challenge myself and apply my leadership skills. My current role of K-12 technology integration coach is a district-wide leadership position that does not exist in Somerset. So, I currently work in Hudson while my family and I attend Somerset events, my mom and I volunteer at Somerset Elementary, and my husband and I purposefully kept our tax dollars in the Somerset School District when we purchased a larger home. Neither my employment status nor the results of an election will affect my commitment to or support of our schools and our community. I am running for Somerset School Board because during this time of rapid change, increased accountability, and budget reductions, I believe a school board member with experience in the field of education is an important asset to a school board. As a parent of elementary-age children, I believe I can provide a voice for a currently under-represented population of taxpayers, parents and students.

We have fantastic students, staff and community members doing amazing things in support of quality education every day, but I believe there is always room for improvement as you have seen in previous letters to the editor. I am willing to honestly describe current status, ask tough questions, seek additional information and share positive solutions. Some have characterized this as “having an axe to grind,” but I believe it is part of being an active involved citizen and a leader. Open honest discussion of current status, along with encouragement of and appreciation for questions and different points of view are essential for effective system improvement. My concerns are with process not people. I am running for school board because I want our systems to ensure a voice for taxpayers, parents, students and staff, increase transparency, and better engage our community with our schools.

Although, I was disheartened by this voter’s question, I was very glad she asked it. I have greatly enjoyed my interactions with voters and am looking forward to meeting more of you. Ultimately, I am running for school board to represent and serve you. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me at or 715-513-6798.

Nancy Dressel, Town of Star Prairie

Robert Heebink, in memoriam

To the Editor:

Leaving a positive mark is something few people achieve and Robert Heebink is one of those few who left his imprint on society. In the nine years I knew Robert, I could see how much he was respected by those who had the privilege of coming in contact with him and how much they benefited from his presence. I know I did.

I moved to New Richmond during the summer of 2004 and joined the local Kiwanis Club. At my first meeting I introduced myself and mentioned Fort Pierce, Fla., was my hometown. After the meeting, Robert introduced himself and told me about his experiences in Fort Pierce. I found it interesting that I had ultimately come over 1,500 miles to find a connection to my hometown. You see, during World War II there was a huge Naval Base on Hutchinson Island where many soldiers were trained on making amphibious landings and some soldiers were trained to be SEALS. Robert mentioned many of the landmarks familiar to me and some stories of his time there. At the next meeting, Robert brought me a book to read about his Army unit, the 40th Combat Engineer Battalion and its service during World War II. Part of that book spoke of the unit’s training at the Fort Pierce base. It was then that I discovered Robert was forever the educator. When I returned the book, we had an in-depth discussion about its content. He was interested in my thoughts and not just the fact that I read the book. Through the years Robert would loan me reading material concerning different subjects and when I returned the material, we would have a discussion about it. Robert didn’t just casually discuss things though, he had a way of making me think.

Sometimes, Robert would conduct the program at some of the weekly Kiwanis meetings. I enjoyed his programs because it was always a learning experience. He did not just stand in front of the members and regurgitate information. No sir! We would discuss the subject, which meant the members actively participated. I believe Robert’s main objective was to make us think because there was never any right or wrong. He promoted discussions and differences of opinion. He wouldn’t let a person get away with just stating an opinion either. He would press for the reasons we had to support those opinions. Two of my favorite programs were when he presented the “Cycle of Nations” by Sir Alex Fraser Tyler and when he gave each member an envelope containing a controversial question worded in such a way there was not a yes or no answer. Each person would give their answer to the question and then it was up for group discussions. Robert made learning fun and his programs were always thought provoking.

I only knew Robert in his latter years. What a treat it would have been to have known him for a lifetime! I didn’t know him during his many years as an instructor in the New Richmond School District, but knew him as a member of the local Kiwanis Club. The Kiwanis Club’s primary focus is children, their care, education and leadership training. Robert was always a very active member and age did not slow him down. When there was work to be done, Robert was there doing his share. When he could no longer stand for long periods of time he would bring a chair, but he was faithful to his commitment and the club could always depend on him. There is so much about Robert that I don’t know, but what I do know about him impresses me immensely. He is gone now, but has left his mark on society and on me. Few people stood as tall as he did. I’ll be forever grateful that I knew Robert Heebink.

Charles M. Cadenhead, Town of Richmond