8-11-10 Letters to the Editor
On July 30th through August 3rd Merrill’s historic Athletic Park was site of the American Legion State AA Baseball Tournament. Merrill’s Edward Burns Post 46 would like to thank all those responsible for this wonderful tournament. While there are many individuals who deserve special recognition we would like to thank them through their respective organizations. First, a big thank you to the Merrill Park and Recreation Department. The park was in excellent shape with even the smallest of details taken care of. Many of the fans commented on the excellent facility. Second, The Merrill Baseball Booster Club for running the concession stand, manning the announcer booth, and providing the ground crew. Without their support the tournament would not have been possible. Third, the umpiring crew which kept the games well in control. Finally, we would like to thank the fantastic fans from Rhinelander, River Falls, Beaver Dam, Kimberly, Menasha, Merrill, Milton, and Holman who supported our many concessions. It was a great tournament and we hope to be able to host such fine baseball in Merrill again soon.
Mike Van Lieshout
The anticipated shortfall in the highway department varies from $500,000 to $900,000 and now a new tax needs to be found, at the highway committee on June 3, 2010 a request for $500,000 was approved to be brought to the county board, but on June 10, 2010, a special meeting was called and the motion to ask for the $500,000 was rescinded. What happened in this time? Was the possible appointment of Scholz to Administrative Coordinator the reason? Why all the secrecy? If a person is the most qualified for a job, post that job publicly and he/she will be hired, then if nay questions arise they can say they were chosen of x number of applicants.
Now to some specifics of the highway department, Scholz was hired as a laborer and moved to different job positions as they opened.
He had zero supervisory or management experience when hired for commissioner. Some previous requirements were discarded, one that could be considered major would be an engineering degree. In the seven years as commissioner how much has been spent hiring an engineer? Is his pay as commissioner the same as one with an engineering degree? Is his criminal science degree relevant to either the highway commissioner or administrative coordinator position?
What about the incident with the shop foreman in Merrill? The same type of thing happened a few years earlier and the money it cost the county was never published, where did that money come from? How many other costly expenditures have not been disclosed? How come Lincoln County Highway is doing so poorly? I know there is good equipment and very good workers. Neighboring counties are doing well.
Instead of raising taxes or trying to find new ways to get money from the citizens due to failures at the top, it’s time to hire someone competent as highway commissioner without moving him to administrative coordinator.
LCHD crew foreman 1995-2005
Current Shawano County Highway Dept. paving foreman
Merrill High School students, parents and teachers have experienced a school year of the Flex 14 schedule. There have been many concerns with this schedule such as lower grades, unresolved conflicts, utilization of resources, schedules not allowing a lunch break, lack of consistency, among others.
In light of the detrimental effects the Flex 14 schedule has on the students, parents and teachers, we are circulating a petition requesting that Merrill High School discontinue the Flex 14 scheduling system. We will be presenting our concerns to the school board at their next meeting on Monday, Aug. 16, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. at the MAPS Central Office on Sales Street. Please note the meeting was changed from Aug. 23 to Aug. 16. You are welcome to attend.
If you would like to sign this petition, but haven’t seen anyone approach you about it, please feel free to call any one of us by looking us up in the phone book.
Jim & Mary
Tim & Pam Moat
Bill & Nancy Zeitz
Editor’s Note: The MAPS Human Growth and Develoment Committee meeting referenced in Karen Cournaya’s July 28 letter has been rescheduled from Aug. 17 to Friday, Aug. 20 at 10 a.m. at the MAPS Central Office.
I had fully intended to attend the annual MAPS budget meeting of 7/26/2010 but I wound up working much later than I expected that evening and missed the meeting. Thankfully I still have a job… but it appears more of my hours of toil will be devoted to supporting the opulent healthcare and retirement plans of the MAPS district employees, as well as the many recreational student sports programs.
Not that my presence could have actually made a difference. Under the leadership of board president Jeff Verdoorn, the MAPS board did the only thing they seem to be capable of doing… voted to raise our taxes again.
The most frustrating thing about this latest budget debacle is that the school administration and the board know quite closely how much money they can expect to receive each year. Yet time after time they continue to purposely set the budget higher than what they are allocated. Then they come back to the cash strapped local taxpayers and cry that the State didn’t give them enough. Oh, by the way Mr. Verdoorn, that money is not Madison’s… it’s the Wisconsin taxpayers money! Repeating the same failed strategy over and over, expecting a different result each time has been identified by some as the definition of madness.
When the good citizens of this district defeated those two operating referendums by super-majority margins, they were not saying we don’t care about education. What they were saying is that the public school system has to live within its means… like everyone else should. But apparently the vote of the people means nothing… not when the school board simply does an end around and raises the tax rate with impunity. End of discussion.
I recently came across a statement I hadn’t read in a long time: “all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” Recognize that one? You should… it’s from our own Declaration of Independence.
When a small board of misguided individuals has such dominion over the vote of the citizens, it is time for action. Funding a bloated public education system is not the only reason God put us on this planet. Our forefathers did not tolerate despotism… neither should we!
The members of the Merrill Fire Department would like to take this opportunity to address some of the inaccurate comments that have surfaced recently. To start with, we would like to address issues from the July Personnel and Finance Committee meeting. At the meeting, the mayor commented that the Merrill Fire Department is the highest paid department in the state. Those words were grossly inaccurate. In fact, we are not even close. Minutes from the meeting show that the mayor referenced a magazine article from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. He indicated that the article showed the Merrill Fire Department is the most expensive per capita fire department in Wisconsin. Once again, this is not an accurate report of the facts. In the article, the Taxpayers Alliance portrays Merrill as having a 25 member fire department staff. In fact, since 2008 we have had only 23 members. If you further clarify that fact, it is important to note that the city of Merrill has a contract with Lincoln County for ambulance coverage. In that contract, Lincoln County pays the city of Merrill for 9 of the 23 Merrill Fire Department members’ wages, benefits and overtime costs. Therefore, with the county paying for 9 members of the 23 member staff, it would in fact bring the city’s portion of the fire department budget to an equivalence of 14 positions. If the exact same report were generated using a 14 members staff (which is what the city essentially pays for) instead of 25 members like they did, there would be a significant drop in the city’s cost of the Merrill Fire Department per capita. The Taxpayers Alliance report does not accurately represent the value that Merrill citizens are receiving. Furthermore, the city of Merrill has a contract with the towns of Merrill, Scott and Rock Falls for fire protection. This revenue generates $200,000 per year. This revenue money goes into the city’s general fund… not the fire department’s budget. In essence this $200,000 is used by all of the departments within the city of Merrill, not directly to the budget for which it serves.
In addition to making inaccurate comments about the cost and wages of the Merrill Fire Department, the mayor has also falsely reported on other fire department issues. Recently the mayor and a member of the Police and Fire Commission, Kurt Helmsteader, visited the Antigo Fire Department. They went there anticipating to gain operational information on Antigo’s fire department. The mayor mentions learning that the Paid-On-Call (POC) program is working very well in Antigo and needs to be used additionally in Merrill. In fact, what the mayor was told by Antigo Fire Department personnel is quite the opposite. Antigo’s POC program allows for both ambulance and fire POC employees. To date, they do not have one POC who is qualified in their department to function as a firefighter. Of the POC employees who function as ambulance personnel, they have had issues with POC’s inappropriately wearing fire department uniforms outside of the work environment, being involved in department vehicle crashes and driving the wrong way on local roads. The mayor fails to mention any of these issues of concern occurring in Antigo. Point of fact is that the current labor contract between Merrill Firefighters Local 847 and the city has an article that allows for POC EMTs to staff non-emergency hospital-to-hospital transfers. However, since creating that provision in the contract, Merrill Fire Department has had only one POC employee maintain her current operational status.
Rest assured, we are not against looking for ways to save the city money. We would welcome our mayor to sit down with us and discuss options and ideas. There is much information and protocol that is unfamiliar to the general public. Nevertheless, our first and foremost objection will always be the safety and well being of you, the citizens of the city of Merrill.
Members of the Merrill Fire Department