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Generally Speaking – Letters to the Editor

The Voyageur Press welcomes letters to the editor. Please review our letters to the editor policy before submitting a letter. Views expressed in letters represent the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the paper itself.


May 5, 2009 Letter

To the Editor:
April 25, 2009, was the Lake Country Power membership annual meeting in Cromwell, Minn. That was my last official duty as a Director for District 1. I didn’t run for reelection due to new employment commitments. While I am no longer representing District 1 on the board, I am and will continue to be an LCP member.

I know from my nine years of experience on the board that about one-half of the board is people that need to be closely watched and held accountable in their job as board members. The 2009 elected officers of the LCP Board, Directors Mistek, Simons and Smith, are the people who get angry when they are held accountable and are defensive when asked questions.

They are the ones in August 2008 that voted to add $100 to their daily pay when a combination of meeting and drive time to the meeting is more than six hours. This adds $100 to the already $450 per day for a regular meeting and $250 per day for other meetings they attend or choose to hold. Evidence shows they make certain they get the additional $100 even if they choose to leave a meeting early and that they can find time to travel and attend many meetings in one month.

Upon his return to the board, Director Mistek’s first words to me as he walked into the board room were that he needed to be paid more because he had a long drive to meetings, etc. His drive was equal to mine, and I didn’t see a need for board members to be paid more. What I saw was a need for board members to come to meetings well prepared and to remain focused on the agenda and get the work done.

Directors Harvey, Simons and Smith voted “NO” on my motion at the December 2008 budget meeting to cut the LCP Board budget by $33,000. This was at the same time they said the LCP budget should be reduced and offered no solutions.

I was able to get a motion passed at the annual membership meeting recommending the LCP Board report individual board member compensation on a quarterly basis in the LCP Newsletter, sorting out per diem from mileage and other reimbursements.

I expect those board members are thinking that because I am no longer on the board, no one will follow through on holding them accountable. I will hold them accountable to the member recommendation. I am an LCP member that expects the board to do its work. I am for compensation, but not when board members take home $1,000–$3,000 in a month in compensation with little accomplished on behalf of the LCP members. I expect results from them. If they choose, they can get the job done for much less money.

LCP has, each year, for six years absorbed the increased price passed on to it by Great River Energy. LCP tightened its own belt through efficiencies, etc. It just can’t do much more. GRE has not demonstrated the same constraints. All we hear from GRE are excuses and placing blame on Congress and legislators. To them, it is always someone else’s fault.

LCP is very fortunate to have a highly skilled dedicated general manager with great integrity. LCP has a dedicated workforce throughout the system who work together to maintain the system so we can have reliable electric service and who in dangerous weather work to return power to the members. They have worked under tight budgets for too many years. More cuts to LCP will result in reduced reliability and longer outages. It will have little affect on rates.

Having served on the GRE Board, I am well aware of GRE’s approach in budgeting and management. The GRE Board voted to get out from under the Rural Utility Service (RUS) program because the CEO complained profusely about RUS. Getting out of RUS meant that the CEO and board no longer were being held accountable by RUS, and the members lost the regulator that worked to protect them.

The best thing that has happened for LCP members in the past year is the presence of LCP Directors Liimateinan and Bruckbauer representing LCP on the GRE Board. They have made some progress. When Directors Simon and Smith served on the GRE Board, all we heard from them is how they couldn’t tell us what was going on at GRE because it was confidential and that was their GRE hat. I changed that line of thinking when I was the representative to GRE. Bruckbauer and Liimateinen have continued the practice of sharing information with the LCP Board. LCP is an owner of GRE, and owners of corporations have a right to have information about the company.

At the LCP annual meeting I was able to get support from those in attendance to recommend that the LCP Board file a formal complaint with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on behalf of all LCP members if GRE does not meet the request of LCP to reduce its 2010 rate increase to zero. The expectation is that GRE will have an action plan by June 2009 to reach reduced rate increases for 2010.

The real purpose of this motion is to push GRE into action or face the consequence of having the MN PUC examine its financials and to determine if its rates are justified. The GRE Board and management are opposed to going before the MN PUC. They don’t want anyone, including GRE member owners, looking at the details of their finances. They give the excuse that going before the PUC will cost money and that Congress and the MN Legislature are imposing all kinds of costs on them through legislation or the threat of legislation.

MN Power and Xcel Energy are rate regulated by the MN PUC. They pay the costs of regulation and their rates aren’t out of whack. They are exposed to the same legislative threats GRE claims to have.

Cooperative-owned corporations like LCP and GRE are organized to have Boards of Directors elected by member/owners to be the regulators and to protect the interests of the customer/member/owner. When those elected boards do not do the job and they give nothing but excuses, then it is time to file a complaint and have the MN PUC take a close look on behalf of the customer/member/owner.

We as LCP members are in a position to demand that LCP elected board members respond to the recommendations voted on by its members at the annual meeting. If they choose not to follow the recommendations, then we can file our own formal complaint to the MN PUC and include LCP along with GRE in the complaint.

LCP members must continue to demand action and transparency from GRE. LCP directors must never forget they are accountable to the member/owners.

— Sue Hankner
Former LCP District 1 Director
Buyck, Minn.

March 10, 2009 Letter

As Americans mourn the loss of broadcasting icon Paul Harvey (September 4, 1918 – February 28, 2009), Pastor Hal Kamppi shares a tribute in Mr. Harvey’s honor.

Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey was one-of-a-kind, never to be replaced. His patriotism, his honesty, his fairness, his unique presentation, his humor and his Christian convictions – these all made Paul Harvey the urbane giant he was in life and in the field of broadcasting.

God blessed Paul Harvey with 90 productive years. He affectionately called his wife “Angel.” She went to be with the Lord last year. He viewed this as a great loss.

Decades ago, Paul Harvey made a statement that I will never forget. In viewing the future prospects for the USA, he said that a day would come when “The fleas will dictate how much blood the dog should give.” Paul Harvey lived long enough to see his prophetic utterance fulfilled.

Our family will never forget the privilege we had in 1969. Paul Harvey was the featured speaker at a Youth for Christ (YFC) convention in Denver, Colorado. He was superb.

The frosting on the cake that evening was that Art Linkletter was in the same convention complex as a speaker at another national gathering. Unannounced, Linkletter came on the platform with Paul Harvey. What a thrill. Art Linkletter confirmed Paul Harvey’s message to the YFC as he tearfully told of his daughter’s suicide because of drugs.

They had the crowd’s attention. We believe lives were Divinely transformed that day – and lives of generations of families to come. They both had the same foundation for building a fulfilling life (John 3:16–17 and John 10:10) – Jesus Christ!

God bless Paul Harvey’s memory to all fellow patriots.

Thank you,
Pastor Hal Kamppi
Moose Lake, Minn.

November 18, 2008 Letter

The senseless, brutal death of man's best friend

Accomplishing a lifelong dream, I escaped the fast lane of the city and headed north to the McGregor area eleven years ago.

My objectives were simple – to purchase a home and own man’s best friend. I wound up with three: a Labrador who now is 11 years old, a three-year-old Brittany named Lucky, and her offspring, Sassy. Yes, I had found peace and serenity in the north country until Saturday, November 1.

As we began our usual morning walk (over 4,800 with Alley) on the Soo Line recreational trail that runs parallel to my property, I noticed that Lucky had disappeared. I searched the entire day to no avail. At dusk, I decided to search one final time in the hope that Alley, my lab, would find her. I suddenly turned to my right and noticed that Alley was less than six inches away from setting off a trap that would have crushed her head. Thirty feet away I saw my precious pet. Her head was grotesquely twisted in a trap, and the cable attached to the tree around her neck indicated a slow, inhumane, painful death.

After removing her lifeless body from the trap with a wire cutter, I contacted the DNR who arrived the next day. After explaining the circumstances, the DNR officers removed Lucky from the trap. It took two fully trained officers an astonishing four minutes to remove the trap from Lucky’s crushed skull. I also learned to my anguish that a mere inch off a county road, Soo line trail, or state property, a trap could be set.

It occurred to me later that day that it could have been a child caught in that trap. My neighbor’s property is less than 50 feet away from the area where this trapping is legal. They have two children and many friends, nephews and nieces who visit often.

I learned that if there were a dozen residential homes or one hundred, it would be legal for these traps to be set and extremely dangerous to children and pets alike. When I carried Lucky back to my car, I promised my beautiful 30-pound companion that her life would not be in vain. These laws must be modified before other pets or children face the same fate as my Lucky. Times have changed, and there are more people living in areas right next to these debilitating traps than there were over a hundred years ago when, most likely these laws were initiated.

I would also like to state that the two DNR officers that came out to my home were very professional, kind and understanding. These two individuals do not make the laws. They merely enforce the outdated laws that are already in place.

– Jeff Hoffman
McGregor, MN

August 19, 2008 Letter

Thanks Big Sandy Water Institue

I am writing to recognize the Big Sandy Water Institute offered in the McGregor area this summer. I grew up on Lake Minnewawa and know the importance of water safety and respect for the environment. My daughters, Mikaela and Angela, attended they kayaking class on Big Sandy and learned so much. They were thrilled to be able to drive the various watercraft and brought home an extensive amount of knowledge. I was very impressed with the information they learned. They even learned about the effects of drinking and driving. It left a lasting impression on them. Thank you to Brenda Hadrich and the other instructors.

I also want to thank the McGregor community and business owners who continue to sponsor this program. Lisa Kruse told me that the businesses contribute generously. My daughters received shirts, water bottles and free admission. I truly appreciate the time and effort it takes to make this program a success for kids. It is well organized, educational and best of all, fun!

– Michelle Lindell (Haussner)
Oak Grove, MN

August 19, 2008 Letter

No more snowmobile trails – closed due to lack of interest, closed due to loss of membership

If these headlines were really true, how would you feel? Would you be concerned? Would you want to do something in order to continue snowmobiling during the winter?

As the Tamarack Sno-Flyers plan for their fall schedule, one of their immediate needs is for new directors for their board. The bylaws allow for a maximum of two terms or a total of six years to serve as a director. Every year, three of the nine director’s positions are open for election.

This year, two of the three cannot be on the ballot; they have completed their six years. If you or someone you know would be interested in being part of the future of snowmobiling in our area, please contact President Darrell Berg at 426-4570, or Secretary Carmen Rinta at 426-4199.

The schedule for the next couple of months includes a cook out on Sunday, August 31st. The holiday weekend can be busy, but the cook-out committee is hoping some out-of-town members will be able to attend. The cook out will be served from 3:30 until 6:30. You would have time to go to the Lions Corn Feed and then come over for a porketta roast dinner with the Sno-Flyers.

September 12th’s regular monthly meeting is the last chance for nominations for the board of directors. Election will be held in October during the annual meeting. Jackson’s Hole will host the annual dinner on October 11.

Enjoy the last month of summer, and hope for a long and beautiful fall. By November we should hear news of the new board directors. Will it be you or your neighbor? We hope our future will include our current trail system. We need “U” in order to have SUCCESS.

– Karen Reid
Tamarack, Minnesota

July 29, 2008 Letter

I recently witnessed an accident south of McGregor on Hwy 65. My original thought was to write an article about an accident; instead, I want to write about the wonderful humanitarianism I witnessed. Nancy Williams from Fergus Falls and Lucas and Jim Belthazar were also present at the accident site. These people called the ambulance and helped with as much as they could.

At one point I looked up and saw my good friend Mavis Oesterch who is a registered nurse, and I am positive God sent her as an angel to help us out. Shortly after Mavis appeared, the McGregor ambulance and fire department arrived on scene. We are so fortunate to have them in our area. After the ambulance and fire department arrived, Dr. Tim Arnold also assisted on the scene. Other people also came, but the names that I mentioned are the ones that stood out to me.

The accident was terrible; Bill and I just happened to be there to witness it. The real story to me is how amazing it was that God put these specific people at the scene. They were people who help people every day and went above and beyond the call of duty to help out those in need.

– Diane Pelto
McGregor, Minnesota

July 29, 2008 Letter

We are asking you to bring us only your good, clean, used clothing. We appreciate all the good things you drop off into our bin at MACC. We have been able to generate lots of funds to put back into our community due to your generosity. These funds have helped so many with our new hospital, McGregor Clinic, our local schools, fire victims, food shelf, scholarships etc.

At the last MACC Board meeting when we went over the financial report from April 1 through June 30, I was appalled to see that we had paid out $213.56 during that time for garbage service. It upset me to think that we have some “Freddy Freeloaders” out there who think we offer them a free garbage service. Shame on them! So if it is junk, soiled or broken, please put it into the garbage can rather than our collection bin. We want to spend our time sorting good, clean, usable merchandise that we can use to generate funds for the community.

I don’t know about you, but I for one would like to see us shave that garbage bill down to the bare minimum. I would rather give $1,000 as a scholarship, rather than a $500 scholarship and a $500 garbage bill! Plus, it is a lot more fun to sort clean, usable clothing than to sort through someone’s dirty laundry.

So next time you head for the MACC collection bin with a bag for us, please don’t be another Freddie Freeloader.

We love sorting through clean things. We hope you enjoy the service of this organization that allows us to give back to our community. We want to thank those who have so generously donated all the merchandise to keep us in business for these past 13 years. It never ceases to amaze us with all the wonderful things we are able to offer for sale at such a minimal cost.

If you haven’t shopped in our store, please drop by on Tuesdays or Saturdays between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Come see what you can find for you and your family. (Sometimes we even have bag sales at which times you can fill a grocery bag for $2.00.) We are located across the street from the McGregor Funeral Home.

– Jerry & Jeanette
McGregor Area Clothing Closet (MACC)

July 15, 2008 Letter

I want to know what gave you the right to take a friend away from us. Walter, our little Chihuahua, was lost on the 4th of July. It was my fault. I let him out to run in the front yard and he snuck away. Wally was always a curious little guy. I found Walter on the side of the road (Co. Rd. 14) a half mile from Sathers. Whoever hit him had to leave the road and hit him on the side of the road. Yes, Walter was a dog, and you can never place the same value as a human being, but Walter was part of our family. Walter traveled the country with us. he had camped in over 40 states. He either rode on the dash of our RV or in our laps as we drove to each adventure. He was there every day I came home. He had to get his belly scratched before anything else could happen. He was my wife’s special reading partner. He had to be in his fleece during reading time. He loved the quiet reading time in his warm blanket with her. He slept in our bed every night for the past six years. The nights seem very empty. Walter and my daughter had a relationshop that is so hard to explain; when those two were together, it was anyone’s guess what would happen. And my big strong son who held Wally in his arms with the softest touch is struggling with this loss. Walter, all eight pounds of him, thought he was the toughest dog in the neighborhood, yet he was the gentlest of friends. Walter was so much to us. He was part of our every day and night, and I will miss him to a level that a person like you will never know.

We have gone up to McGregor for the past 20 years on the fourth of July. That is where we got Walter six years ago on the 4th, and that is where we lost him. My heart is broken. I am sure that when you left the road to hit him, that you thought it was a big joke. I am angry and sad. But most of all, I am confused as to what type of person could do this. I pray that you have a conscience, I pray that anyone who would even think about something like this would pull back the wheel and remember that the pet you are about to hit could be another Walter – a friend and loving companion.

— Randy D. Jones
Shakoppe, Minnesota

May 20, 2008 Letter

What a wonderful article in the May 6th issue of the paper paying tribute to Judy Perrine and her fairly large family – by today’s standards, but quite common a few years ago.

It was very evident that there’s a lot of love in that family, love for God and love for one another with everyone pitching in to help out. Great. That’s how families are supposed to operate.

Daughter Sarah’s tribute to her mother, written a couple years ago, was down to earth, and how mature she sounded at only 19 years old.

In John’s second paragraph something jumped out at me and gave me a flashback to Mrs. Brown’s Sunday school class for teenage boys at the Methodist church.

Mrs. Brown would be Lorena Kelley’s grandmother, a very dear Christian lady who lived for 100 years and 2 months. Lorena and her sister Estrid sang at her funeral. I believe that was Lorena’s first funeral to sing at – about 1958 or 1959. I would guess since then she has sung at about a hundred funerals.

I can still hear Mrs. Brown explaining to us boys that you raise cattle, you raise horses, you raise hogs, but children – you bring them up. There’s quite a difference if you stop and think about it.

You raise livestock – you bring up children.

– George Amundson
McGregor, Minnesota

May 20, 2008 Letter

Do you ever wonder when reading the newspaper what is going on with the kids that beat up folks and steal their money to by drugs? Some of these kids are only twelve and thirteen years old!

It seems to me that the newspapers should print more about the good things that a lot of our young kids do because not all kids do bad things.

As a parent of four kids that are all adults now with children of their own, I am happy that they grew up respecting adults and taught their children the same set of values.

I retired in Aitkin County eight years ago and have neighbors across the road that have two boys ages sixteen and twelve. They moved here from Alaska a few years ago, and I have had a chance get to know the family well. The boys are the type that are always willing to help out a neighbor in need and never ask for anything in return. I have hired both of the boys over the years to split and stack wood, weed whip on my eleven acres, or work with rocks on our shoreline.

One of our neighbors has been fighting cancer for the past few years, and she needed a little help getting the straw from her septic mound this spring, and I mentioned this to the youngest boy, and he volunteered to do it for her.

I know he is only twelve years old, but he has more experience with equipment than most kids his age as he helps his dad on the tractor at their farm, and I had no problems with him using my ATV and trailer to help her out as she live only a few blocks away. I was gone from home for awhile and when I returned, my wife informed me that a DNR officer had followed the neighbor boy to our driveway.

My wife explained to the DNR officer that he was working for us in our yard, and we let him use our ATV to help out our neighbor lady. The officer drove to the boy’s parents’ farm and issued a ticket for $125.00 for their son driving an ATV under age.

I do understand the rules with kids and ATVs, but due to the fact the neighbor lady lived only a few blocks away, I thought having the neighbor boy use the ATV for a short time was a good thing to do to help someone who volunteered to do something good for someone else.

I called the local DNR officer the next day asking if he could cut the boy’s parents a little slack as it was my ATV, and if there was poor judgment, it was on me, not his parents and suggested that maybe a warning would be appropriate for the situation.

The DNR officer said that the parents have options to dispute the ticket, and I assume that going to court is one of those options.

This is one of those good things that was done by a young person, even though it ended up with a ticket. The other nice thing was the call I received from my neighbor lady who wanted to tell me how impressed she was when this twelve year old rang her doorbell and asked, “Are you Mrs. Ziemer? I’m here to pick up all of your straw.”

I did pass this compliment on to the parents and to their son and told him regardless what happens on the ticket, I am very proud of him.

— Gary Rognrud,
Palisade, Minnesota

April 15, 2008 Letter

A good friend, coworker and loved one

Cindi was West Virginia raised as you would know from her southern drawl, which will stay with us all forever.

She could tell jokes about herself as well as anyone else, and her friends thought that was a hoot.

She was an RN in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for ten years before she moved here, and she was great at her job.

Cindi was a hard worker, loved to paint and do odd jobs. She loved being around people and was a person that could be trusted with anything; she took care of pets for her friends and helped with anything that needed to be done, no questions asked.

Cindi was loved by many, with her beautiful smile, contagious laughter, and her stories were never ending, we were always in stitches.

She made everyone feel at home when they walked into Whispering Pines where she worked, and on April 6th, Jackie the owner and very good friend set up a gathering at Whispering Pines, so that everyone that loved her could say good-bye. The turnout was amazing. She was loved by so many, and we will all really miss her.

My 11-year-old daughter took it upon herself, after she heard about Cindi, to write a little song for her, and it really tore at our hearts.

Oh she’s a jolly good lady
Oh she’s a jolly good lady
Oh she’s a jolly good lady
Who now lives in the sky
Who’s making the clouds go by
and who’s telling us good-bye.

For all of us who loved her, look up to the sky, the sun, the moon, the clouds, and the stars. She will always be looking down on us and giving us a huge smile.

We love you, Cindi! From all of your friends, see you again someday.

April 8, 2008 Letter

No one denies it: our nation's finances are in terrible shape. In barely over 200 years, we as a nation, have

• Used up just about all of our valuable natural resources.
• Allowed our beloved dollar to depreciate in value worldwide.
• Given countless benefits to millions, including exemptions from filing income tax returns to lower income people.
• Welcomed IMMIGRANTS, legal and illegal, offering free medical services and education, even paying them social security benefits without their having ever worked.
• Offerered tax breaks and perks so that many wealthy people pay no income taxes at all.
• Allowed corporations to establish ownership overseas, so they are exempt from paying income taxes.

So what's the next move? Even while knowing it would adversely affect them financially, two of the world's wealthiest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, have supported increasing the tax rate on the highest levels of personal and corporate wealth.
Without claiming to be any kind of financial expert, may we humbly suggest that this nation follow Gates' and Buffetts' suggestion: increase federal income tax rates by levying a surtax above a certain amount on an upward sliding scale. This surtax is to apply on all forms of personal and corporate income, salaries, bonuses, dividends,"death" taxes, stock options, etc. Then require that a predetermined set percentage of this surtax apply only toward REDUCING OUR NATIONAL DEBT and UPGRADING our highways, airports, bridges, public buildings, sewer and water systems, to name just a few examples.
Where else can this sorely needed money come from while our national debt continues to increase at the rate of 1 2/3 BILLION DOLLARS PER DAY, and our neglected infastructures disintegrate like Minnesota's freeway bridge collapse last August?

— Lee Bennett
McGregor, Minnesota