6-8 letters

Dear Editor:

I support and respect the Board of Education’s vote and decision to NOT ban the book MONTANA. Why are we still wasting time and money on this issue?? Let it go. If you don’t want your child to read the book, then don’t allow them to read it. The End. ENOUGH of wasting the BOE’s time and money… I think we all can agree that they do have more important issues to address.

Amy Brown


To the editor,

I would like to tell the many people who shop at Kwik Trip in Merrill that they are the best! I would like to thank them for so generously contributing to the Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll Drive again this year.

The total amount of money donated by you came to $850.54, an amazing total considering Merrill’s economic problems and the results of the devastation caused by the recent tornado.

It is truly heartwarming for me to see your willingness and compassion to help our citizens who have special needs.

Also, a big thank you to the management of Kwik Trip who have allowed the Knights of Columbus to collect each year. Their employees are always helpful and make me feel part of their corporate family for a few days each spring. Our Merrill council appreciates every business who allows our presence.

Just wanted to let you know how much I personally too appreciate your support and kind remarks over the years and will look forward to seeing you there next year.

Donald MacSwain

Knights of Columbus

Merrill Council 1133


On Friday, May 27, the staff and students of Trinity Lutheran School held a “Bake and Brat Benefit” for victims of Merrill’s April 10 tornado. The event was a huge success, and we have many people to thank. The sale was inspired by Trinity’s 4th grade students, who were planning a lemonade stand, but with just a little encouragement, the rest of the school joined in. Kindergarteners sold muffins, first and fourth contributed lemonade, seventh and eighth provided brats, hot dogs, and buns, second grade brought condiments, third grade offered soft drinks, and fifth and sixth grade happily sold ice cream. All students took turns at the stand, helping to prepare and serve food. Deliveries were made to a variety of local businesses, and we appreciate our volunteer drivers and the students who delivered. 150 brats and hot dogs were provided for tornado relief workers who had traveled from Michigan to help in the clean up and rebuilding. All of this would not have been possible without the contributions of many volunteers who provided baked goods, grilled brats and hot dogs, and wrapped items for delivery. All of the food and drink was donated by school families. Volunteers, including parents, grandparents, teachers, and members of Trinity Church, began to set up before 6 a.m. and didn’t finish until the last Nescoe was washed and the last penny counted late in the afternoon. We are thankful for Thrivent Financial, as they are providing supplemental funding to increase the over $1,500 raised. We especially thank anyone who purchased food or drinks on Friday, for you made this a completely successful day. Each of you who bought a brat, ice cream bar, cookie, or any other item has helped someone begin to rebuild. May God bless each of you! Thank you!

Cathy Page, Diane Schult and Kathy Yahr

Event Organizers

To the Editor and Parents of Merrill Students, curriculum:

This small group of people who seem to have made it a mission to bring our district back into the Dark Ages is getting ridiculous. Banning books? Censorship? What’s next? Will there be no Prom for fear that it might incite sexual behavior? Will girls be banned from sports because they shouldn’t waste time on such things? Maybe they should just focus on learning how to care for their future husbands.


This small group has cost the taxpayers and school district over $10,000 this past year. They fought to disband the original Human Growth and Development committee. They fought and stomped until they got their way. After they “won” and the public was asked for volunteers to form a new committee, NOT ONE OF THEM SHOWED UP! To me, it seems they just move on and pick up a new argument to churn up controversy. And it’s true; it is their right to do this. But when is enough, enough? I was disappointed to hear Ms. Cournaya twisted Mr. Murray’s words into lies and tried to smear his name. ENOUGH! We all need to stand up to this. We all need to say ENOUGH! We need more parents to be involved. We need more parents to say we are happy with our children’s education. We need more parents to support the district. We need more parents to voice opinions. We need more parents to say ENOUGH!

This book, Montana 1948, teaches and reminds us of times we never want to go back to. Racism, privilege, abuse of women, and abuse of power – it is full of lessons. If we do not hold a mirror to what our society has done in the past, we are destined to repeat it. The Bible is full of similar references that are in this book. Some quotes in the Bible are even quite silly by today’s standards but these references are in there. Are we going to ban the Bible too?

Murder and Sex in the Bible? It’s in there!

Esekiel 23:24 “…and they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those shameless sinful women.”

Exodus “Whoever strikes his mother or father shall be put to death” … Do we take this literally?

The Bible also calls for killing someone for working on Sunday and also states a Father should kill a daughter who is physically found not to be a virgin on her wedding night.

Rape in the Bible? Oh…It’s there too!

Exodus 217-11 “When a man sells his daughter as a sex slave, she will not be freed in 6 years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back”…it also says if a man rapes a girl…he must pay the father in silver and marry her…that would be a little traumatizing don’t you think?

My point here is not to beat up the Bible but rather show that reading these things does not make you do them. If we remove all books that have nothing but glitter, butterflies and Unicorns – we will have very little left to teach our children of the horrors this world has faced. My daughter is 12 and I have shared most of the content of this book with her in some form or another. I want her to be armed with this info so she can recognize it and not be ashamed if she needed to ask for help. Personally, I feel if you are truly that worried about your teenager’s ability to handle this material in a mature fashion, I think that speaks more about your parenting than anything else. If you have raised your child to do and act in what you consider to be right and good, what are you so worried about? Why the constant challenges to what MOST parents do not have issue with? Over and over, subject to subject, hunting for a pot to stir – ENOUGH! If you, Ms. Cournaya, and your handful of followers are in that much discontent, you have options. Pull your child from the class, request optional reading materials, Home-school, go private! But please, quit wasting tax dollars on silly thoughts of book banning and censoring MY child from a healthy well rounded education. I do not need you, Ms. Cournaya, to tell me what is best for my daughter. Since up until this spring only two or three families had requested alternate reading materials with this book in the last 12 years, I assume most of the parents in our district agree. Use your ability to opt out and quit wasting time and money that can be better spent on our students. ENOUGH!

Angie Drew

Concerned and

Involved Parent


Dear Editor,

While politicians fight over the federal budget there’s a much more important fight going on inside hospital rooms, oncology clinics and health care centers across America – the fight against cancer.

While the two may seem disparate at best, they are actually intricately linked. Chances are the treatment someone receives in their IV today is the result of dedicated research in years past – research that was made possible thanks to federal funding.

For decades the federal government has been the single largest funder of cancer research in the nation. We’ve lead the way in developing new and effective treatments for some of the most common and deadly forms of the disease – from breast cancer to lymphoma and everything in between – but that progress is now at risk. The U.S. House proposed 2012 budget would significantly reduce federal cancer research funding to the National Institutes of Health. The proposal reduces all “discretionary domestic spending” to 2008 levels. Yet even current NIH funding means fewer than one in six scientists get the money necessary to fund their research – the lowest ratio in at least 40 years. That low success rate inevitably translates to reduced chances of finding the next best treatment for some of the most difficult and deadly cancers to be diagnosed.

Considering fully 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, do you think saving a buck now is worth the risk later? I don’t think so.

David Renaud


Hello Merrill, God’s Greetings,

As my family and I prepare to leave Merrill, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me since I moved here. Since I came to America about 3 years ago, I have met some of the nicest, loving, funny, Christian, hard working, and interesting people. You have all made me feel so welcomed. I have so many good memories since I became an American citizen and since my name was changed to John Weber.

From my time in Scouting, to Troop 503, to Mr. Ed Zahn, you have left a deep impression on me.

To this year’s Freshman football team coaches, players, managers and fans, a big thank you. I had a blast learning American football. Blue Jays #1.

A big thank you to St. John Lutheran School, especially Mr. Todd Pehlke and Mrs. Polly Schneider. I really felt God was there with me when I was going to school at St. John. To PRMS, Mr. John Hagemeister, I know I have big shoes to fill when it comes to you. You have helped me and taught me so much. You’re the best of the best. Your support and encouragement and advice I’ll never forget. Mrs. Seaman you’re wonderful teacher. You are a kind lady too. Mr. Gerald Beyer, you’re a fair and honest man and principal.

My friend, Mr. Pat Wunsch there is something special about you and I’m so happy your family has grown too. I admire you and your wife and how your giving ways has brought a new world to others too. I’m so thankful that none of you were hurt by the tornado. And I’m really glad our Boy Scout Troop came out to help you after the tornado ruined your house. Mr. Todd Zunker, you’ve been a role model to me since I came here. I know I love our country and flag as much as you do too and thank you for being so patient with me as I learned from you about our flag and especially during Drill and Ceremony.

To Rolling Thunder Chapter 4, I never knew how great being a little brother felt until I met you guys. I’d like to be a Pepper too! I salute each one of you.

In memory of Mr. Clifford Sabtake, Mr. Ed Zahn, & Ryan Jopek, Spec. Grant Dampier, I have learned what the true meaning of patriotism and love of country are from each of you; in your own giving ways. Your honorable service has inspired me to keep doing all I can to help our soldiers and veterans.

To Mr. Clifford Maluegge, I know if you were younger or I was older; we’d be best friends. Each time I see a veteran I will salute them with all my heart and think of you.

To everyone from VFW Post 1638 and Ladies Auxiliary, especially Mr. Dennis Brandt, Mr. Russ Ervin, and Mr. Tom Lemmer, (VFW State Commander) and Mrs. Jopek, my memories from the banquet for the Voice of Democracy Essay contest still brings me so many emotions. A special hug to you Mrs. Sabtake. I miss Clifford too. He was my very first veteran I met once I came to America and how I enjoyed meeting and talking to him during each Veteran’s Day Celebration. To be with all of you when I gave my speech about how I think my generation has a role in America’s future was amazing. It was great to see my Dad and Mom had so much fun at the banquet with all of you that night too.

So when I saw my very first American flag it made my heart beat a little faster; it still does. It’s become my friend in so many ways too.

Meeting your parents when you are 12 years old is really quite the experience. We have all cried tears of happy and joy from the moment we met. Knowing someone loved me that much, from the moment they chose me; well that kind of love I never knew before. I used to have hope when I was a boy living in a Russian orphanage. But once I turned 6, then 7, then 8 and 9, then 10 and then 11 years old; hope seemed to fade about me ever having a family of my own. Then I got an opportunity to travel to America and I took it. That’s how I met my new Dad and Mom. She taught me so much from the moment I met her; so did my Dad. One of the first things we did together was I listened to her say the Lord’s Prayer. They taught me church songs from the very first day we met. They read from the bible to me too. Books and a quality education go hand in hand with my Mom. Then there was the exciting and fun times when my Dad took me out in his garage and we spent time just having fun in there. So many tools and it was really cool. I even got to sit in his dragster – extra cool! My Dad and Mom did a lot more than just adopt me, they have educated and disciplined me, they have protected me and they saved my life. They’ve made sure I have a future to look forward to. But the best thing they ever did was make me their son.

So after I spent about a week with my new family in January 2008, I had to return back to Russia. I was so scared they would not come for me; but they promised me. How strange it was I thought that they cried really hard while having to say good-bye to me. Me; I did not show much emotion back then; well I just didn’t. But I knew I found something really special because no one ever cried like that for me in my whole life before them. They asked me to trust them and trust God. Trust was another one of those new words that I would soon come to experience. They asked me to keep praying… so I did.

So I waited for them as I returned back to the life in an orphanage until all their documents were done. Not so much fun having to wait… yet I learned that most adoptions can take well over a year or even two for families to be reunited. My parents made it to Russia in June of 2008; within 6 months of meeting me. Talk about keeping a promise!!!!! Yet every day I wondered if they would really come. I kept looking at the pictures they sent with me of my week with them back in Merrill. Would they keep that promise? How I prayed they would. I was so lonely for them; but in an orphanage one doesn’t show much emotion. So I thought I would teach a few of my close friends at the orphanage to pray too. It made me miss my new family a little less when I did. I told my friends about their promise to come and get me from Russia. Some didn’t think they would come for me; but I think they just wished they would have found good family too.

I told them about Rick Weber who made me laugh a lot and about his smile. I told my friends back at the orphanage that I touched my soon to be Dad’s face; his eyes and his chin and his whole face; and that this man was the kindest man I ever met. I told them about Brenda Weber who cried every time she looked at me and yet I knew they were happy tears. I also told them she was really smart too. I knew she loved me from the moment she looked at me.

I told my friends about pizza and taking a Jacuzzi and drag racing. I told them how nice it was to hold my baby nephew Phoenix and that I had an older sister Anna. I told them everyone from Merrill was really friendly and how everyone kept giving me hugs too. Even strangers hugged me who ended up not being strangers after all. I told them how nice of a place Merrill was and how cool of a library they had too. My Mom took me there a few times when I had visited them and if you know my Mom, me getting a good education from the very beginning was really important to her. I thought our T. B. Scott Library was for kings and queens only; when I first went there. Thank you T.B. Scott Library staff for making me feel so welcome too.

I told my friends at the orphanage that people lived in houses and they took really good care of their lawns. They had pretty things on their lawns too. I told my friends about the good tasting water fountains in so many places. I told them how much fun I had cooking and baking with my Mom. I told my friends about riding in a car and going to a doctor and a dentist. I told them about just going for walks with my family and how at dinner time we bowed our heads in prayer. I told my friends back at the orphanage about us going to church and that I listened to a sermon. I didn’t understand what was being said as I didn’t know the English language yet; but I felt God that day. We all held hands during church and Mom whispered to me she loved me in Russian. You guessed it, she was crying again! So was I; but I just didn’t show it back then.

Just so you know, when I was a little boy I used to dream about being adopted; my dreams were always in black and white. That’s how I dreamed. Then after meeting Rick and Brenda Weber I began dreaming in color. So me and my friends at the orphanage began to pray even more for them to find a good loving family too. First just a few of us prayed and then more began to pray – quietly and secretly – but oh how we prayed. Trust me; you didn’t want to upset my orphanage director. Soon more kids I lived with started to pray. We started getting along better too. The orphanage director noticed that some of us were sleeping better too; but we never did tell him why. But I knew why.

My Mom wrote me all the time and in each letter she reminded me they were coming for me. She asked me if I was practicing my English and she always ended her letters saying Love and God’s Peace to me. I kept praying harder and harder and I kept telling those around me that Americans have big hearts and long arms. Especially 2 of them.

Then came the day, just 6 months after I met my new family in Merrill; there Rick and Brenda (my new parents) stood in front of me in Cheboksary Russia. They looked tired and excited. My feet seemed stuck to the ground; but how I wanted to run to them and feel their hugs around me. I still remember just how tight my Dad and Mom hugged me that day I had to return to Russia. Their tears even got my shirt wet and oh how I loved that feeling. Oh how I loved that they loved me this much. Oh how I was nervous as I wasn’t sure what being a son was supposed to be. The day we went to court in the region I lived in, I remember the Russian judge telling my parents I no longer had the eyes of an orphan because of them. Oh how my Dad smiled and yes oh how my Mom’s tears fell once again. Oh how I kept thanking God that day and how I wanted to run out of that court room and back to America with my new family.

For those that may not know, my new family saved me in many ways by adopting me. How grateful I am that they did. Now that I’m 15, I realize there have been many challenges they faced and they have made sacrifices for me; just to make sure that the promise they made to me was kept. I plan to make them proud of me every day. I think I’ve done a really good job at it so far too.

Happy tears in my Mom’s eyes are something anyone who knows her; is not to be taken lightly. It’s the most sincere heart I’ve ever known; right along with my Dad’s heart. How we have rejoiced being a family and how I continue to thank God; that allowed this miracle to happen. They both have shown such patience and so much love to me. That’s why I tell my American friends “go home and hug your own Dad and Mom every night and remember to say thank you to them too.” Because having good and loving and stable parents deserve that kind of attention and respect.

I realize now what I had in my motherland was called hope, is now called Faith here in America. My own heart tells me that God brought me my new family. But little did I know just how large my family would grow because of all the nice people in Merrill I have met. So many of you have shown me and my family so much support and kindness and it made moving here easier to. There was so much to get used to; so much to learn and it felt like even more things I had to un-learn and once I did, I had to find better ways of dealing with life and then my new surroundings. Trust me, hearing the word ‘no’ and ‘try hard son’ and ‘do your best’ were not common for me to hear at first. I feel like most of Merrill has adopted me in one way or another so I’d like to say good bye and big thank you Merrill. And I wish Merrill Love and God’s Peace especially.

As I complete my Eagle Service Project with my Boy Scout Troop 503 by my side; my project was to replace old or worn American Flags in Merrill. Now 50 new flags fly proudly because of so many of your donations and support. Thank you Mrs. Debbe Kinsey Director of Merrill’s Chamber of Commerce, for being my project advisor too. I think you’re terrific for Merrill too! As I have watched with a lot of interest I wish to thank our Mayor Bill Bialecki for all his hard work to make Merrill even better.

May the new flags I raised inspire everyone to show your pride and patriotism all the time; to the greatest country in the world. The United States of America. May they always be a gentle reminder of what is good in the community and world too and how grateful I am to be a part of it. Please remember to show your gratitude to our veterans and soldiers in little and big ways and not just on Veteran’s Day. I believe that America and all who She is and will be; is counting on us to do so.

Your friend,

Johnny Weber


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