05-16 letters


Last week’s Foto News article entitled “Citizens Speak Out on Walmart Proposal” stated that the current Walmart has been here for 23 years. I wonder how a 120,000 square foot new Walmart is going to help Merrill; as the current store hasn’t done much to “move Merrill forward” in 23 years!

This city needs manufacturing, industry and more restaurants. We have so many artisans who create beautiful things as seen at the Center for Arts and Crafts in the Merrill City Center. Central Wisconsin has many medical facilities we could work with to manufacture medical supplies in the deserted factory buildings that exist in Merrill. Our city leaders need to think outside the box, not bring in big box stores.

Carolyn Householder


Public Apology:

At a recent public presentation put on by the Merrill Fire Department; Pine River Volunteer Fire Chief John Uttech made it known publicly and to me his displeasure of my comments in the training section of the “Merrill Fire Departments – 2011 Annual Report.” After reading my comments and looking at them more critically, I realize how they may have been taken in the wrong context by area fire departments and their personnel, including Pine River, Russell, Corning, Tomahawk and/or any others. I am sorry to all those that I may have offended by my choice of wording. It was never my intention to put anybody down. Rather, my words in the report were in an effort to promote our department to the individuals who control our staffing and budgets. I am taking this opportunity to apologize publicly for any harm I may have caused. The fact of the matter is that I realize the benefits of the area volunteer departments and have worked at getting mutual aid departments together to train with each other the past few years.

I understand that their training and manpower is a valuable resource for us to utilize in times where our resources are exhausted, the most recent example being the tornado last year, and as I stated at the presentation that evening “we are fortunate to have them.”

In the future I will choose my wording more carefully and look forward to working together with the area fire departments in efforts to keep the Merrill area community safe.


Steve Hintze

Assistant Chief-

Merrill Fire

Dear Merrill Public School residents,

I wish to thank the students, parents and all participants in the district. We had a final presentation and vote on the Pine River School closing last week. I want to thank the Board for allowing us to open the issue for a third time, it was a kindness they extended they did not have to; I respect them for the opportunity and commend them for their efforts. I am sorry the vote did not go the way many of us had hoped, however I believe we all appreciated one more chance to have our views heard. The presentations of the parents and students along with the public input was fantastic, however the final vote has been cast, and now we must move forward.

Our efforts were not wasted. The public’s involvement and actions confirmed we can take on tough issues, work together to a resolution and move ahead. Now we must work together to make the transitions before us as beneficial as possible for the students, parents, families and teachers. Many of our students are going to see new classmates, teachers and transportation issues next year. The commitment of the teachers, administrators and Board is to make these changes as easy as possible for the students.

We may need to alter some after school programs to accommodate these changes along with coordinating other efforts to make these moves successful; however we cannot do it without the public’s constant input and assistance. Please help us during this transition by keeping in contact with the teachers and administrators if a problem develops. As we all work together our number one focus is the proper education of all our students. We need to keep their best interests, learning potential and safety in mind as we move forward. We can and will do it.

We have all experienced a couple of tornados in our lives, but we always rebuild to make it better and move ahead. We will handle this too with a professional approach and make the outcome better for our children and community.


Kelly Collins


Merrill Board of

Education member

Dear Editor,

I am a tax payer, a resident of the Town of Pine River and a proud parent of Pine River Elementary. I am one of the many parents that are very saddened by our school closing at the end of this year. I still find it UNBELIEVEABLE that with all the RIGHT FACTS from the public (tax payers and parents) that the School Boards vote was 7-2 in favor of closing Pine River Elementary and redistricting the whole town. Didn’t the School Board listen to the parents and the rest of the public on what we wanted, NO!! We didn’t even get the respect we deserved, especially from Mr. Kanitz and Mrs. Prebeg, they could have stopped writing notes and whispering to each other. They could have made eye contact with us when we spoke, instead you ignored us. HOW DISRESPECTFUL!! We deserved your attention even if you didn’t agree with us. All we wanted was for the School Board to STOP and RETHINK everything and not be in such a hurry. So what is the rush?? Loretta and Kelly hit the nail right on the head, the vote should have been 9-0 in favor of what the community wanted. The tax payers. It should have been a no brainer. I cannot believe we have this School Board running our district. The School Board has lost all my trust for a long time. Last thing I want to say is Thank You Loretta and Kelly for trying to do the right thing.

P.S. I think some Board members need to be recalled….

Linda Yingling


Dear Editor,

While supply and demand are the basis of any economic system, there are more factors to energy production than simple economics. Our planet is facing a huge, measurable, potentially devastating environmental crisis, regardless of how many naysayers the oil companies buy.

The Tar Sands in Alberta Canada are a massive deposit. But the environmental cost of developing these reserves is staggering. We have similarly large deposits of oil in shale deposits here in the United States. The damage to the environment and drinking water supplies would be even more destructive since these deposits are even more difficult to process. We also have huge deposits of dirty coal we could mine and burn for power but there would be a heavy price as well. It is something that is never mentioned in the conservative media and the multitude of commercials being broadcast by the oil companies.

Imagine a pristine forest nearly the size of Wisconsin. This is approximately the size of the tar sand deposits in Alberta. First, cut down every single tree, pull up every shrub and bush. Then bulldoze all the dirt and cart it away. Now you have exposed the tar sands.

Processing this material releases 151% more greenhouse gasses than processing conventional oil and requires far more energy to do so. Two barrels of toxic waste are created for every barrel of oil produced and two to four barrels of fresh water are used in the process. This waste contains mercury, lead, sulphur and other toxins that are leaching into the groundwater at the rate of 3 million liters a day. It is stored in massive, unlined, open reservoirs of sludge. When finished, the land is left an open desert where toxic fumes and dust fly with the wind and sicken the people. This type of activity does not so much pollute the environment as ELIMINATE it. Literally, a nuclear weapon could not destroy the land more thoroughly.

The people who live in or near this area suffer from high instances of rare cancers and multiple reactions to the toxins they ingest every day. Local fish are deformed and many people suffer from dehydration as they cannot find safe water to drink. This particular type of oil is dangerous as well. It is heavy and sinks instead of floating on the surface. This makes it difficult to clean up if there is a spill as the people along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan have learned. They are still cleaning two years after a 2010 spill. This type of oil is corrosive to pipelines and increases the risk of catastrophic leaks and toxic spills. Since much of the proposed pipeline is to be underground, a leak would poison vast areas before discovery.

The European Union is passing legislation that will prohibit the import of this oil because of the environmental damage it causes. The Tribes in the area are filing legal challenges to contest the fact that much of this mining is done without consideration of their rights in the area.

Oil production is up and demand is lower due to the high cost of gas and the relatively mild winter just past. So why is the price rising? Speculators! I have always been conspiracy minded and seriously question the rise in prices during an election year. Conservative capitalist interests are using every trick possible to cool off a warming economy in the hope of throwing some blame on the incumbent. None of which is nearly as important as the threat posed by the development of Tar Sands. In the push for ever greater energy supplies, we have to be aware of the damage we do as a result of our actions. The world of resource development has always been guided by the maxim “A dollar now is worth a life later!” We have to be better than that. Renewable energy sources and conservation must be a central focus of our national energy policy, not the short-sighted “Drill baby Drill.”

Doug Curtis


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