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Open Forum

Honoring Our Service Members on Memorial Day

Letter to the Editor

On Memorial Day, we honor men and women who died while courageously serving in the U.S. military. We also recognize active duty service members, especially those who have been wounded. Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades to thank our service members and their families for their sacrifices.

Policymakers put into place laws and benefits to protect our heroes and their families. For example, Social Security provides survivors, disability, retirement, and Medicare benefits. Not only does Social Security have benefits to protect veterans, we also provide family benefits to protect service members’ dependents.

Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors .

Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T). Depending  on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive benefits. You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information about the application process at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.

Service members can also receive Social Security, as well as military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit doesn’t reduce your Social Security retirement benefit. Learn more about Social Security retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement. You may also want to visit the Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/veterans.htm.

Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare. Learn more about Medicare benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare.

In acknowledgement of those who died for our country, those who served, and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you.

Tammy Fluto
Social Security Manager in Bemidji, MN

Building Bond Referendum Defeated

Letter to the Editor

I am in a grey mood today, like the recent weather. According to the unofficial vote count, the ISD 118 building bond referendum was defeated by a mere 36 votes. So we supporters lost in our efforts to build a new school. Or rather, the students in the school district lost. They will continue to attend classes in an outdated, undersized and unhealthy building. ‘Bandaid' work has been done over the years, which only delayed the ever increasing problems. Minimal work was done because, historically, previous school boards didn't want to impose property tax increases on communities in the school district, communities that were low income to begin with.

Well, now the proverbial chickens have come home to roost. The Northland Community School does not meet state air quality standards, & the school board will pass a levy to raise money for more temporary patches on the building. This levy does not require voter approval. And district businesses & homeowners will pay nearly as much as they would have if the referendum for a new building had passed. But the bad joke is on the district businesses & homeowners. This 'bandaid' air quality improvements levy will only be against homesteaded residents and local businesses. If a new building bond had been approved, EVERY PROPERTY in the district would have been assessed, even the million dollar seasonal & vacation homes.

There is an irony in all this: a sub par school building ultimately translates into sub par property values of homes in the district. Folks who opposed the referendum may get an unpleasant surprise when they try to sell their homes.

Kurt Hoffman III
Outing, MN

Thank You from the Crosslake - Ideal Lions club

Letter to the Editor

The Crosslake - Ideal Lions Club want to thank all the organizations that came out to help clean up Crosslake (Crosslake Fire Department, Ideal Fire Department, Crosslake Lutheran Church, Immaculate Heart Church, Crosslake Community School, City of Crosslake, and Zorbas in Crosslake who donates the refreshments). Plus a thank you to all the special individuals that came out to help. It is amazing what a wonderful group of community oriented citizens can complete when they unite. The event was successful, the day was absolutely perfect, pizza's at Zorbas made the end of the clean-up delicious.

As great as this clean-up was, we will have more roads to clean next year as some of the roads were newly constructed or under construction. We NEED more volunteers next year -- so please NOTE APRIL 30th, 2016 on your calendar for Clean - up for both Crosslake and Ideal Communities. Let's make them shine!!!

If you are interested in getting your group, family or as an individual involved please contact Jerry at 218-380-3670, or Joe at 692-2122. REMEMBER: free pizza and pop, the prizes you find on the road, PLUS A CLEAN COMMUNITY are the special rewards donated to the worker's by the Crosslake - Ideal Lions Club to say THANK YOU!

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Climate Change, Clean Water, Fish and the Sandpiper Pipeline

Letter to the Editor

Climate Change has been identified as a major contributor to the decline of the Walleye population in MN lakes. This headline in the Sunday Minneapolis Star has shocking predications for one of our most treasured resources in MN - our fish. The article went on to name lakes that need to be preserved to support future walleye populations  because they are clean and deep. Lake Roosevelt was one of those named. As a property-owner on Lake Roosevelt imagine how gratified I am with the efforts of property owners like the Gouzes, sighted in the article, for buying lake property to insure the waters will be protected.

Then imagine how horrified I am as a property owner who sees the Sandpiper pipeline receiving OK from an Administrative judge to pass in the near proximity of that very lake that the DNR has identified as extremely important to the future of our clean, deep water and fish.

Reasonable people would suggest protecting this clean lake would not include running an oil pipeline in its immediate watershed. We implore the PUC to collaborate with the DNR in finding a better route for this pipeline - for the future of this, and other, clean lakes.

Mary Kowalski
Mendota Hts, MN

Thank You to the Community Day of Caring Volunteers

Letter to the Editor

Sincere thanks to all those involved in the Community Day of Caring on May 6th. This coordination of effort by Pequot Lakes School Staff, Community members and organizations, and the the 9th to 12th grade students was an amazing project. It was a great example of working together to improve and strengthen our community. We personally worked with six 9th grade female students who helped move firewood to the homes of several elderly residents. They were pleasant, willing, polite and a real credit to their families and community. We noticed students working in parks, cemeteries, and at private homes all around the area. We are very proud and happy to spread the word about this Day of Caring. Abig Thank You to all those involved.

Ron & Joan Johnson
Marlin & June Gens
Tom & MaryAnn Steichen
Ray & Sally Steffens
Gary Landem

No More Wars

Letter to the Editor

We stood up when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and defeated the enemy with a decisive victory. Since then we’ve sent our military off to battle numerous times around the world.

Throughout those wars we’ve become more aware of the true costs involved. We’re less willing to go to war again and more willing to talk our way out of a conflict. Our support for national defense has dwindled and we continue to day dream about a world without wars.

We’re now facing another worldwide threat and unless we’re willing to stand up again we might well get our wish. There’ll be no more wars once everyone is living under Sharia Law. Everyone meaning those that are still alive.

Dick Wilson
Crosslake, MN

We Support the MnSCU Board of Trustees' budget request

Letter to the Editor

It’s time to make those hard decisions surrounding budgets and expenditures as the legislative session nears an end. Our state leaders are facing the same kinds of decisions each of us makes every day: How much money do we have? What are the priorities in spending? What do we value most? Who among us would argue that higher education and job training shouldn’t be at the top of the priority list? Our society diminishes without the skills to    keep the wheels of industry moving, without the knowledge necessary to advance innovation and creation, without the capacity to think critically, to make reasoned judgments, to weigh alternatives and reach valid conclusions.

The argument in the legislature right now doesn’t center around whether higher education is a valued priority. The argument is about how much of our state’s resources we should devote to MnSCU, the chief provider of higher education in Minnesota.

We, the students, faculty, staff and administration of Central Lakes College, support the MnSCU Board of Trustees' budget request of $142 million, which is also supported by Governor Mark Dayton. This allocation would:

• Begin to restore the balance of state appropriation/student tuition funding, from its current 40/60 ratio to a more equitable 50/50 balance.

• Allow for a two-year freeze on tuition, thus opening the door for more students to get a higher education.

• Preserve programs and curriculum that produce our state’s nurses, construction workers, law enforcement officers, manufacturers, and professionals in law, medicine and business.

Our colleges and universities have two primary sources of funding: Tuition from students and appropriations from the state. Thanks to the legislature and governor, we have frozen tuition for the last two years, making college a lot more affordable for students in North Central Minnesota.

With the exception of a funding increase last session, over the past 15 years, state support for higher education has been on a steep decline. Since 1999, Minnesota has cut funding by 53 percent.

We used to lead the nation when it came to supporting our state colleges and universities but now we lag far behind. Once we were 21 percent above the national average and now we’re 20 percent below.

We are optimistic the legislature will endorse Governor Dayton’s vision for a robust MnSCU.

Patrick Spradlin, CLC Theatre Instructor
Anna Stevens, CLC Student Senate President
Deb LaCombe, AFSCME Steward
Myron Stevens, AFSCME Chief Steward
Larry Lundblad, CLC President

On behalf of Central Lakes College faculty, staff, administration and students

Sticks and Stones

Letter to the Editor

My grandpa had me giggling while sitting on his lap as he was reading the comics and cartoons to me from the Sunday paper. I was 3-5 years old during those days and always looked forward to Sundays.

Some of those cartoons might have offended a particular group or another and should be banned from print. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Porky Pig come to mind because they offend mice, ducks and pigs.

I’m just kidding. I was always told that sticks and stones might break your bones but words will never hurt you. The pen should never be taken from any writer, and there should be no exception to that.

Oops, I take that back. Maybe there should be one exception. Maybe the pen should be taken from our president in order to stop the executive orders that bypass congress and the vetoes of the bills that the majority of the people want.

Dick Wilson
Crosslake, MN

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