Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

I grew up in Merrill but now live in New York City. When people ask why I left my childhood home, I fib. “There aren’t any jobs there,” I say….

But to my friends, I’m honest. Merrill, Wisconsin is a beautiful town, but it was a living hell for me. Because I was different, girls threw rocks at me in elementary school. During junior high, my cousin cried after seeing how kids teased me on the bus. Over the years, I got the message: I was not like everyone else, and that was unacceptable.

Recently, there has been a lot of press about young gay people committing suicide around the country as a result of anti-gay bullying. The third leading cause of death among high school students is suicide, often brought on by teasing or bullying that parents and administrators can’t stop-or won’t stop. And, though I’m not gay, I could be part of that statistic. Luckily, a bottle of ibuprofen isn’t lethal.

I realize that not everyone in Merrill is small minded, racist or homophobic, but I guarantee there are kids and adults who feel ostracized for being different. I once heard a friend comment that it would be better to be black in Merrill than to be gay, as if there is a hierarchy of wrongness associated with being both or either of those qualities.

It takes courage to go against the majority. Luckily, a few of my classmates-Holly Fergison and Jen Wyland Borelli-did. These girls were my friends when no one else would be and was teased for it themselves. I’ve thanked them personally for making a difference in my life and giving me the faith to believe it would someday get better. And it’s true.

But I remember how it feels to believe that the teasing will never end, that no one could help, and that I would be lonely, different and alone forever. One of my elementary school classmates told me there’s a new anti-bullying project in the Merrill schools, which is terrific. But it’s up to the adults to make Merrill an accepting town where it’s comfortable for anyone to live or visit. In my heart, I know that’s possible.

Meghan Stevenson

New York, NY

(Formerly of Irma, WI)

Dear Editor,

The U.S. Postal Service has delivered America’s mail in snow, rain and dark of night. However, tough market conditions are creating new challenges for our business. Skeptics say we’re not up to them. It’s time to dispel common myths and assure the American people that we will continue to deliver the mail.

The Postal Service waste taxpayer dollars.

The Postal Service, an independent agency of the executive branch, operates as a commercial entity. We rely on the sale of postage, mailing and shipping products and services for revenue. We have not received taxpayer subsidies for operations since 1982. And we’re required by law to cover our costs.

The Postal Service is inefficient.

Ten years ago, it took 70 employees one hour to sort 35,000 letters. Today, in that same hour, two employees process the same volume of mail. Although our nation’s addresses have grown by nearly 18 million in the past decade, we’ve decreased the number of employees who handle the increased delivery load by more than 200,000.

But driving costs out of our system is our greatest testament to efficiency. Since 2002, the Postal Service has cut its costs by $43 billion, including by $6 billion in 2009. These savings have come through reducing workforce and overtime, renegotiating more than 500 supplier contracts, consolidating facilities, closing administrative offices, and cutting travel expenses and supply budgets.

We’ve also asked Congress to eliminate the statutory requirement that we deliver mail six days a week. Switching to a five-day delivery would help us save more than $3 billion a year while still delivering the mail.

Mail is not reliable.

Independent quarterly surveys confirm that the Postal Service has achieved record reliability. In the third quarter of 2010, on-time overnight delivery of single-piece first-class mail was at 96 percent for the eighth straight quarter, an agency best.

We’re not only punctual, we’re trusted and secure. According to the Federal Trade Commission, as little as 2 percent of identity crimes occur through the mail. Theft of a wallet or purse is responsible for 5 percent – meaning your documents are safer in the mail than they are in your pocket.

Coming next – why mail and the Postal Service is environmentally friendly, and how the Postal Service competes with the private sector.

Lori Rogney,

Postmaster, Merrill

To the Editor:

I was really encouraged by the strong show of support for the Riverfront project on election day. The numbers were close to even regarding whether to proceed with implementation of the entire project (YES vote), or to start with just the riverfront which is “inside the downtown area” (NO vote). Even though the referendum was only advisory, our city council and governmental leaders were affirmed by the vote of their decision to approve the project, add it to our comprehensive plan, and proceed with planning and implementation.

Also, I am encouraged by the fact we will be focused on just the downtown area for now and not run the risk of taking on too much at one time. An incremental implementation plan is a good thing. I think once the community sees the success “inside the downtown area”, they will really be pleased and proud they supported the plan. As a member of the implementation committee, I am anxiously looking forward to determining the boundaries of “inside the downtown” area and getting started in earnest.

Chris Malm


Fellow citizens of Merrill:

A tax by any other name is still a tax.

Near the end of 2009 when I received my electric and gas bill from WPSC I noticed an additional line – Wisconsin 2009 Act 28 Fee, .35. I had never seen anything like this on my bill before. This was supposed to provide a raise for the District Attorneys in Wisconsin.

A short time ago I received my water utility bill with a line – Public Fire, 3.30 – ten times more than the .35 on the WPSC bill and I’m afraid it’s just the beginning of things to come.

I was not aware our Public Utilities could be used to collect taxes and I feel it’s unconstitutional and if it isn’t, it should be.

I then read an article in the Foto News, Oct. 20, 2010 issue “Water & sewer rate hikes approved by aldermen.” The raise of 14 percnt in water bills with an additional 2 percent a year for the next 5 years after that.

I do believe the sewer and water charges should reflect the operating costs each year and that’s what should be on our bills and nothing more.

The article went on to say “Some entities such as tax exempt groups and church will also have to share more in the costs of maintaining the system with the regular taxpayers” – a violation of the principles of the separation of church and state which I believe is unconstitutional.

Furthermore, I believe we should not be taxed to provide savings accounts for aldermen for future lending as mentioned in the article. Are you still with me?

Now we begin to understand what’s going on. In the Wausau Daily Herald issue of 11/5/10 in the middle of the front page it was noted – the proposed tax rate for several cities. With Merrill the highest at $12.46 per $1,000 of evaluation – 50 percent higher than the next highest, Wausau, at $8.49.

They had to figure some other way of getting more money out of us.

What are we going to do about it? We have to lower these taxes and I believe we should start by eliminating the position of City Administrator, which would help us apply in the neighborhood of $100,000 a year to reduce our city taxes.

It would be appropriate to have our current Assemblyman Don Friske and our Assemblyman elect, Tom Tiffany, available for comment on this.

Floyd Lemon


To the Editor:

An open letter to Rich Prange, if you please…

I feel your pain.

I never imagined it possible (at least not until the most recent paid political hate-fest) that one could actually wear out the mute button on one’s TV remote.

One can.

One did.

I approve your message.

In October 2012, just a hint…

turn your phone off.

Or answer en espanol.

Carl Gruett



Elections notwithstanding, there are many differences in the way things are in our community.

A couple of weeks ago I attended an anniversary party for an aunt and uncle who shared 50 years together. A dance hall full of people all congratulating a couple for reaching a milestone that is becoming more and more rare in our society. To say they were able to stay together as a couple is the wrong word to use for they were willing to stay together to run a farm and raise a good family and to take each day as it came. How they did this only they know but to all of us who know them, there is no secret. You take the bad days the same as the good knowing there will be better days ahead. And like everyone else they had their share of troubles but for this one day all troubles were set aside in the company of family, friends and neighbors. Congratulations uncle Bob and aunt Rosemary. God has blessed you. May he give you many more years together.

And then there is the other side of our society. A young woman who became pregnant with a man who then at halfway through her pregnancy decided that he didn’t want to be a father anymore so he left her. Did he decide to become more committed to fun than to the family he once said he wanted? Only he knows that. But it was surprising that the young woman admitted that despite her love and her caring of the child, there is a moment that when the child is crying, she cannot look upon the infant because of the knowledge of a father who didn’t want to be there. It can take over a day and a half to care for a baby everyday. And to raise a child alone can be unbelievably hard to do even with the help of other family members and friends. And many times family and friends have other things to do when they are needed most.

There was a question asked on an internet forum about what should be done about guys who get a girl pregnant and refuse to accept responsibility. The choice of answers were: A) Blame the girl. B) Let the guy do what he did to one girl again and again to other girls. C) Drag the guy through court and force him to pay for every trivial expense until the kid becomes a doctor. Or D) Beat him to death with a frozen turkey leg. It was surprising how popular D was.

It will be interesting how one day if we will be able to follow family histories. Where there was once a family tree, there is a now a briar patch growing.

Patrick Roets


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