01-11 letters

Letter to the editor:

Our economy is in a slow, difficult recovery from a serious recession. While this is our current experience, it will not last forever. Our actions must not treat this as a permanent condition, unless we actually want to make it permanent. As an economist, I believe in fiscal responsibility, but not at the expense of investing in our future. There is no investment with a better long term return than education – at all levels. Our society has begun to treat the education of our children as a financial burden, not as an investment. Access to quality education is what made this country a great economic power, but we seem to have forgotten that. Our newest, strongest competitors in the world have not. We want our community to grow and thrive – to be a place where people want to raise a family, where businesses want to locate and stay. High quality schools are key to attracting both businesses and families.

Of course we have challenges. If we want to solve the challenges facing our education systems, the solutions will be found in coming together as a community to support our students and our schools. Our experienced educators are not the enemy; they can be one of the sources of the great ideas of what needs to change. They are not miracle workers however. Successful students need the support of their families and the community as a whole. If we continue to pit one group against another, we will all lose in the end.

Laura Wind-Norton


Dear Editor,

Whatever one’s political stance, it should not cloud one’s sense of reasoning, ability to negotiate, compromise, or even admit fault. Politicians will tickle our ears, make boastful statements, and applaud individual achievements, only, and only if, it will garner votes. We, as a people, are supposed to vote for one of our own, one who understands our everyday needs and concerns, one who is capable of understanding, truly comprehending, what life as an average American entails. Do ANY of our elected officials pour over monthly bills, grappling with gut-wrenching emotion, as they decide whether to pay, or how much to pay? Have they ever made the call between eating, or keeping warm, or having a roof over their heads at all? I doubt it, and I doubt their ability to truly represent their constituents, when they are living in a parallel world, where an income of $174,000 is paltry. Far more important seems to be the gluttonous desire to feed their ego, improve their standing, and accumulate wealth, while mimicking the actions of a true representative of the people. Wake up, America! We are in dire need of leaders, not professional politicians, feigning sincerity, when they know not who they represent. They are out of touch with the jobless, hungry, homeless, abused, marginally employed, veterans, and otherwise down-trodden individuals that comprise this quilted fabric we call America.

Party lines afford little comfort to me, as I vote for those who understand that we the people, not we the elected elite, must prevail. I am unaware of ANYBODY in Washington that comprehends the plight of common humanity. The R vs. D has stalemated America, causing political constipation, and, quite frankly, public necrosis. It’s time for R&D, research AND development to come from our elected officials. Damn the party lines! Do what’s best for ALL AMERICA! Convince us, once again, that our votes count, for more than expected entitlement in the country club of wealth and excess.

Victor Smith


Dear Editor,

With continuing budget cuts entering its second decade in the Merrill school district, more and more school activities will be on the chopping block as we move forward. Just last week ice hockey was spared, for now.

I never played on the team, the closest I came was as manager my senior year. It was just one of the 20+ activities that helped shape my path post high school. Now, out of college I coach youth hockey and serve on Duluth’s transit authority while I’m not working; activities that can be directly linked to experiences as a high school student.

We as a society need to try to ensure the most possible opportunities are given to the future generations. However, when it comes down to choosing whether to fund education or activities, education should be paramount. We need to rethink how student activities, such as arts and athletics, are supported financially in order to protect them.

It is time with ever decreasing budgets that we need to explore new funding avenues, primarily endowments. Community leaders need to step up to create organizations not to raise money for short-term goals, but for perpetuity. Initially it may take a large fundraising effort, but we can ensure these activities can live on for generations to come, much like endowed scholarships have for Merrill graduates for past generations.

Brandon Maurisak,

Duluth, MN

Merrill High ’05

Student Council

President ’04-’05

Student Representative to BOE ’03-’05


Doug Curtis’s rant against Rep. Tiffany certainly ignores reality or truth, and he’s about the only person I’ve heard about who enjoys his property tax. Truth is the “outside forces” he sees are real, but they are on the union side, not the state side.

The vast majority of our property tax supports our schools. Now we all want a good education for our children. However, we trail the rest of the world badly in all education areas, except cost per student. With their union they have gotten salaries and benefits far past the private sector, and they are not accountable. They even had a set up so their union owned insurance company could steal millions and millions of dollars from taxpayers and call it legal. Public sector employees should have parity with private sector employees.

As far as helping business with tax and regulatory burden, that’s pretty much a stop gap against the real problems they face. Unions have forced wages and benefits to the point where companies either go out of business or move manufacturing overseas. Then the unions howl that they are being treated unfairly. Reality is, if a company can’t make money it ceases to exist – and the jobs cease to exist. Unions served a great purpose in this country when workers were oppressed; but the pendulum has swung the other way. And by the way, those union employees are buying those foreign goods at Wal-mart; because they’re cheaper than homemade stuff.

If we look past the end of our nose, we’d see that regulations are very necessary for our health and safety; but they have to be realistic and as un-burdensome as possible. Unfortunately, that’s something our government has done very poorly and is only getting worse at. We can’t compete in what is a world market with our regulations that greatly exceed other countries. That is a government problem, not a business problem.

Rep. Tiffany seems to be doing a good and honest job of trying to find answers to very complex problems that he didn’t start; they have been years in the making. I wish him luck as he tries.

Steve Dollard


Dear Editor:

I just wanted to talk to you about the School Board meeting that was on Thursday, Jan. 5. I couldn’t believe how unorganized the members were, half the time they didn’t even know what they were voting on. Also on how disrespectful they were to one another. They set a wonderful example to the children that were present. NOT!! And these people are deciding our schools budget and our children’s educational future.

Also I thought Mr. Anderson was very disrespectful. 90% of the time his eyes were on his computer he paid hardly any attention to the speakers. We teach our children to be kind and respectful and listen to what others are saying. But you can’t do this with your face in your lap top.

Another thing that bugged me was that I couldn’t understand how Mr. Jaeger could vote to close Pine River Elementary. Even though both of his children go there and he did at one time. You would have thought his vote would have been different. I don’t even know why they asked for the public’s opinion because their minds where already made up. It felt that what we were saying was going in one ear and out the other.

I do want to put a Thank You out to the four board members that voted to keep Pine River Elementary open. All I can say, is I can’t wait until April comes around and we can vote. And my vote is going to the man who had the 3 to 5 year plan and announced that he was running for school board. I really would like to know who this was, because he’s welcome to put signs up in my yard.

One last thing I want the School Board to know and that is that the Pine River Elementary Family is going to keep on fighting to keep our school open.


Linda Yingling


Letter to the Editor:

My name is John Shull and I am a candidate for the Merrill Area Public Schools Board of Education. I am an attorney practicing in Wausau. My wife, Beth (Olund), is a nurse at the Marshfield Clinic here in Merrill. Beth is originally from Irma. She and her 13 brothers and sisters all graduated from Merrill High School. Beth and I have two children currently attending Pine River Elementary School. As residents of the Merrill area, we all have a vested interest in our schools. Other than parents, our schools and the teachers have the most significant impact on the future of our children. Accordingly, our schools, the teachers, and the parents should all be working together as the decisions we make today will impact the future of our children.

From the outside, it appears some current Board of Education members have broken into factions, instead of working together for the future of our children. Obviously, the Board of Education faces difficult decisions during these uncertain economic times. With decreasing enrollment and decreasing tax revenues, the Board of Education has no choice but to make difficult budget cuts. However, members of the Board of Education should be working together to arrive at these difficult decisions, instead of fighting each other.

With the ongoing structural deficit facing the Merrill Area Public Schools, the Board of Education must review every possible option to arrive at a balanced budget. These options include, but are not limited to, (1) cuts in the number of administrators, teachers, and staff; (2) cuts in compensation and benefits; (3) school/building closures; and (4) sending a new tax referendum to Merrill area residents. Instead of fighting each other over these decisions, we should be listening to each other and considering all options in hopes of reaching decisions that will benefit the future of our children. Instead of knee-jerk reactions, school board members should listen to school administrators, teachers, parents, and all other Merrill area residents to arrive at level-headed, commonsense decisions that benefit the future of our children and the Merrill area.

I cannot make any promises as to how I would vote on specific issues should you elect me to the Board of Education. However, I will keep an open mind, will listen to everyone willing to talk with me, and will exercise commonsense in reaching decisions that impact the future of our children and the Merrill area. In my opinion, listening to others and reaching commonsense decisions is all we should expect from members of the Board of Education. Please join me in my effort to improve the Merrill Area Public Schools and the future of our children. Thank you.

John Shull, Jr.



Last Tuesday I attended the Maple Grove School meeting and the discussion about an announcement that the school was slated to be closed. The room was packed with concerned citizens, parents, grandparents and neighbors that have attended and supported the school and the community for generations. The community in Hamburg has been working diligently with the Merrill School Board to develop a grant to begin an E.L. system.

The E.L. (Expeditionary Learning) program is new and innovative. It is part of a Charter School program being implemented throughout parts of the country with outstanding results for the students, parents, teachers and the community. Two teachers from the Marathon School System gave a presentation on their program. They felt the E.L. program would be a great fit for the Maple Grove school and with the application for the grant being accepted they are excited about moving ahead. Hearing that the school was now slated to be closed was a rude shock and a great disappointment. So they mobilized, met and attended the meeting on Thursday.

At the same time the parents, teacher’s students and community of the Pine River Schools were informed their school was also slated for closure. The students would be shipped to Merrill and divided among the other existing schools. So they had a meeting and also attended the School Board Meeting Thursday.

Both groups gave professional and passionate appeals to keep their respective schools open. Maple Grove prevailed with the Board to keep their school and programs growing. Pine River however lost this round as the school administration has slated to convert the building into an early learning/kindergarten program. The parents, school students and the community had lost. But maybe not.

The Maple Grove school is rated as 9th in the top 10 elementary schools in the State, Pine River is rated 10th. Both these schools are doing an exceptional job in educating, developing and building students’ abilities for their future. Since when in America do we punish our successes, we should be building on our successes, learning from them and working to become even better.

There are budgetary considerations to closing the schools; however the cost of closing both schools was projected to save less than one half of 1% of our budget. Now that Maple Grove will remain open the closing of the Pine River School will save maybe 25% of 1% or .25%. (this savings is also good for only one year). The school will also not be closing, but converted to the early learning school. The Board needs to take a step back and reconsider all options before the closing of any school is finalized.

Two members of the Board stated in the meeting Thursday night that unless “major” changes were made the School Board was informed by a consultant in 3 to 5 years the Merrill Area Schools would need to file bankruptcy. I believe most of us in the crowd that evening were shocked by these statements. We need the administration and Board to come up with a 3 year and 5 year plan that will keep our school system from financial failure. With this in mind, I do not believe closing schools and bouncing kids out of a successful system to shuttling them around town to save less than 25 percent of one percent of the budget is justifiable today. We need a true plan on controlling costs.

I believe everyone has good intentions and are working diligently in addressing this issue. However we must first think of what is best for the students; second what is affordable for the tax payer. We need to wait until we have a fulltime superintendent, and time for the Board and the superintendent to put a real plan together to help save our district, its students, teachers and community from rash decisions. Please contact your Board members or give me a call with your concerns.


Kelly Collins


School Board candidate

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