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Letters to the Editor: March 27, 2014

Wanted honest answers

To the Editor:

Hiring ex-Roberts Police Chief Dan Burgess was an example of a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Burgess was hired in November 2009. For nearly three years he was chief in Spring Valley, which had a chief and one full-time officer. Roberts had a chief and two full-time officers.

The Roberts Public Safety Board’s top choice for chief was Sonia Kubesh who had been full-time in Roberts since 2000, and acting chief for almost one-and-a-half years. Also, a petition of almost 100 village residents was submitted to the Village Board requesting Kubesh be hired as chief. The Village Board, however, hired Burgess who said it was a high priority of his “to gain peoples’ trust.”

This did not seem to occur as one major point of contention was Roberts’ residency requirement. Burgess was hired with the condition he live within 10 miles of village limits. He was quoted in local newspapers saying as soon as he sold his house he would move to the area. Other than a listing in January 2011, there appears to have been no effort by Burgess to sell his house even though he had been given an extension by the Village Board due to the economic downturn.

In January 2011, the Village Board approved a one-and-a-half inch police policy manual compiled by Burgess apparently based on the River Falls Police Department manual. Seemingly minor infractions of this manual led to the forced resignation of Kubesh in November 2012. Respected police officer Brian Edwards had left the department in February 2012. Crystal Lubich resigned in May 2012 after providing more than 25 years of cleaning service to the village. Then, the expense of almost $15,000 for Burgess to be absent from Roberts and attend a 10-week course in Hudson from February to April, 2013, raised the hackles of many residents.

Myself and others did not want Burgess to be dishonest or ignore misdeeds. We wanted honest answers to troubling questions about how the Roberts Police Department was being operated. Our questions were ignored by Burgess and the Village Board. If the Village Board had heeded the advice of many village residents and its committees, many of these controversies may have been avoided with much less expense to Roberts taxpayers.

Peter Tharp, Roberts


Remember to vote

To the Editor:

Gary Hanson stopped by today while he was out going door to door introducing himself and we got to talking about how his campaigning was going for the Town of Star Prairie seat that is coming up for a vote this April 1. We talked about a number of issues, the lack of public disclosure in their meeting agendas and minutes (like their listing only a general topic like approval of building permits, but including no details) and how they are not getting involved in the storm and wastewater planning group (the only community along the Apple River not involved).

You all remember how the Town Board failed to get involved in the transmission line routing until it was too late to have any input. Well, as Gary explained it, this storm and wastewater planning group is going to have even a bigger impact. Not only for people along the Apple River but every taxpayer in the area. This unelected group is already talking about doing a storm and wastewater tax on every property owner. When the Twin Cities Metro Council pulled this tax in Minnesota, it cost homeowners and businesses hundreds of dollars every year. Regardless if we have any storm sewers or culverts on our property, they want to spread the tax out to all the rural areas, so we end up paying for the cities and housing developments.

Please remember to vote April 1.

Sandra Lewallen, Town of Star Prairie


Knowledge, experience, perspective

To the Editor:

Effective leaders purposefully recruit diverse team members. Business leader and author Seth Godin notes, “Diverse populations solve problems better and faster than homogeneous ones.” If elected, I bring knowledge, experience, and perspective, which are not currently represented on the Somerset School Board.

First, as a parent of elementary children and a child receiving special education services, I will provide a voice for a currently unrepresented population of students, parents, and taxpayers.

Also, I have 14 years of experience in K-12 education spanning all grade levels and many leadership roles. Previously the Somerset School Board has benefited from School Board members with experience in education such as Sharon Germain, Dan Bell and Catherine Cranston. Previous and current board members have shared that having one educator on the board brought essential questions they had not thought of to the table and helped board members better understand issues affecting our schools. During this time of rapid change, increased accountability, and budget reductions, I agree that one school board member with background knowledge and experience in education is an important asset. Through my profession and my participation in regional and statewide educational work groups, I have access to gather ideas from school districts across Wisconsin.

Finally, I have expertise in the area of instructional technology. I am currently a K-12 technology integration coach for the Hudson School District. I work with the management and integration of computers, iPads, Chromebooks, SMART Boards and Google Apps for Education every day. I will provide important knowledge, ideas, and experience on how to better utilize and leverage the dollars our taxpayers have already invested in technology to improve academic achievement, communication with stakeholders and system efficiency.

I value opportunities for open discourse with people whose background knowledge, experience and perspective differ from mine. It helps me develop a broader understanding of an issue and clarify my own thinking. I embrace differences and am comfortable agreeing to disagree. From personal experience, the teams I have worked on which had the largest variation in representation found the most innovative solutions and produced the best results. If you believe increased variation of background knowledge, experience, and perspective is essential for the Somerset School Board, on April 1 vote for Nancy Dressel.

Nancy Dressel, Town of Star Prairie


Re-elect Agnes Ring

To the Editor:

For the past two years, Agnes Ring has served on the St. Croix County Board. On Tuesday, April 1, I ask for your support to re-elect Agnes Ring as County Board Supervisor in District 2.

Agnes Ring has an extensive resume including leadership roles with numerous local community organizations. Her active participation demonstrates that she is someone who is invested and interested in the betterment of our local community. The leadership skills she has attained through her involvement in both community organizations along with years of professional experience is evident in the critical thinking she has demonstrated while serving on the St. Croix County board.

St. Croix County continues to be ranked as the fastest growing county in the state and there are many challenges and opportunities ahead. We need to elect someone who will work hard to make responsible decisions for the long-term best interest of St. Croix County. Agnes Ring has demonstrated during her time on the board that she is open-minded, listens to her constituents, researches the issues in depth and draws from her many years of leadership experience to make sound unbiased decisions.

St. Croix County will be well served by re-electing Agnes Ring to the St. Croix County Board.

Caren Witzmann, Town of Somerset


Vote for Ron Kiesler

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Ron Kiesler for County Board Supervisor in District 13 (southern half of New Richmond).

Our County Board races are very important. Wisconsin is one of just a handful of states that utilizes their county governments to administer state and federal programs. Thus, your County Board has a lot of authority over how, when, where or even if these programs are provided to the citizenry.

Ron Kiesler has 26 years of experience in local government, working with state and federal authorities at many levels. He knows how to navigate these regulatory waters and always has the right questions to ask. His knowledge and public servant heart combine to constantly look for ways to enhance our local services and act as an advocate for the community’s needs, yet he has a constant eye for how to “get more bang for the buck,” which taxpayers will appreciate. I saw this many times over the 14 years that I worked with him at St. Croix County.

In his first term as supervisor on the St. Croix County Board, Ron has asked lots of questions, offered all kinds of solutions, and challenged entrenched ideas whenever possible. He has been a real asset to this community and an advocate for the New Richmond area. I ask you to vote for Ron Kielser for County Board Supervisor in District 13 on April 1 and keep him working for all of us.

Kim Dupre, Town of Emerald


MS Awareness Month

To the Editor:

March is MS Awareness Month. My name is Jennifer Dietzler and I’m one of millions of people committed to a world free of multiple sclerosis.

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. I understand the effects of MS first hand; I have been living with MS since 2005.

There are countless ways to get involved. Some simple things you can do include visiting nationalmsso to learn about MS, volunteering, making a donation to fund MS research, pledging a Walk MS participant or participating yourself. I am an active volunteer for the Upper Midwest Chapter coordinating Walk MS in Hudson. This year’s walk is Sunday, May 4, at the Hudson Middle School. This is a fun, family-friendly event.

I encourage everyone to help create a world free of MS. Whatever you do, no matter how small, it can make a big impact in the lives of people affected by the disease. Please contact me with any questions you have about MS or Walk MS.

Jennifer Dietzler, Town of Richmond


Consistency between words and actions

To the Editor:

On Tuesday voters will choose what they believe is the most important reason to vote for a county board supervisor. Some will decide based on the candidate’s support for a new nursing home just for the people in New Richmond. Some over a building in Baldwin to hold 4-H meetings. Others will choose for more funding of Hudson’s library in order to increase the number of movies being checked out. Each item is nothing more than a local cause, and of little consistent benefit to St. Croix County.

After reading through all the responses in last week’s paper, I do have one question for the hopeful candidates that comes from my experience while serving on the board. What are you willing to give up in order to have all these things? Are you willing to reduce the public safety, human services or transportation budget? Possibly reduce salaries? If you are not going to raise taxes or fees, what are you ready to cut? A quick search of the Wisconsin Court system shows St. Croix County has already had 55 foreclosure filings for 2014, so the bleeding obviously hasn’t stopped yet.

Which brings me back to a remark made in the responses in the Hudson Star-Observer by current supervisor Rick Ottino. One of his listed qualifications was “Integrity: Consistency between one’s words and actions.” Rick has demonstrated his integrity as promised through his words and actions. There is little doubt of his position to protect the taxpayer or how he’ll vote. Can the rest of you say that about your candidate?

Steven Hermsen, Town of Hudson


Harsdorf and the State Senate

To the Editor:

No doubt, the reason Sheila Harsdorf and her Republican friends in the State Senate are spending so much time on laws governing early voting and campaign contributions is that her constituents in the 10th Senate District are clamoring to get action on these issues.

What could be more important than making it easier for lobbyists to contribute money to campaigns? And what priorities might be higher than making it legal for corporations to solicit campaign contributions from their employees? We’ve all heard the loud outcry of Wisconsin citizens demanding a reduction in the hours they can cast their ballots in upcoming elections, right? Forget the laser focus on job creation; these are the blazing issues on the front burner for area voters.

If you sincerely believe this to be true, I’ve got an underwater lot in Florida I’d like to sell you. You could build an ark. Lots of sunshine down there, and more Republicans, too.

Harlen Menk, Ellsworth


A fundamental duty

To the Editor:

We Americans are a proud bunch, but should we be? Sure, we stand up for the National Anthem at ball games, and get all giddy with faux patriotism at Fourth of July parades. We support the troops, as long as we don’t really have to know what they’re doing. Shouldn’t we do more?

How about jury duty? We know this is one of our duties as a citizen, yet it’s not unusual to see some of our fellow citizens trying to duck out of that.

How about voting? Some of us see casting our ballot as a fundamental right of citizenship, like serving on a jury, it should be a duty. Why? Because our elections are a joke and really an embarrassment. They are a joke because we’ve let too many deep-pocketed corporate interests into the process. These people, with seemingly unlimited resources, can have (with the help of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision) negative results for a majority of voters. The Citizens United decision ruled that corporations are people too, and that money is free speech. What could possibly go wrong with that decision?

Our elections are an embarrassment. Why? Because during presidential elections just over 60 percent of registered voters actually take the time to exercise this fundamental duty, and mid-term and local elections not even half of that number show up. “I had to work” or “I was too tired” or “I didn’t want to miss the game.” That’s embarrassing. That’s why I say voting should be a duty. Don’t vote, better have a legitimate excuse, kind of like contempt of court. Don’t vote, you get a fine. The fact is, a lot of us are too lazy to vote, so why are the Republicans so intent on passing laws that make it harder to vote? Don’t say to prevent voter fraud, that argument doesn’t hold water anymore, you just can’t change facts.

Wouldn’t it be great if 90 percent of our registered voters actually voted. That would be something to really be proud of.

Of course the Republicans wouldn’t like that; high voter turnout usually mean Democratic victories.

George Richard, New Richmond