On Dec. 15, 2011 upwards of 40 county, township and city officials met at an intergovernmental meeting with WisDOT personnel. United they stood and voiced their strong opposition to building a bridge without ramps at the Hwy. 51/County Rd. C/North Star Rd. intersection. County Board members and town of Merrill supervisors unanimously had already passed resolutions stating the need for ramps.
The WisDOT has adopted a plan called CONNECTIONS 2030. That plan in a nutshell is Wisconsin’s long range transportation plan. Along with that plan another documented plan commits to working closely with local officials to understand and meet their transportation needs. That commitment and process began on Dec. 15. Tomorrow night, Thursday, Feb. 23, at the town of Merrill Community Center, W4594 Progress Ave., from 5-7 p.m. another phase of the process begins by meeting with the public.
Is it realistic for a plan that was put in place in the 1970s to be the basis for rejecting ramps in 2012? Our township has grown to over 3,000 people. Along with more people comes the need for businesses and services. We have built our new Community Center and a business park is being developed. We have a thriving gas station/convenience store on this intersection. There are 222 acres on the north side of this intersection that have been zoned for possible future development.
This intersection is a main tourist access to our pristine Council Grounds State Park, to the MARC center, to Rock Island Resort, Lake Alexander, to Newwood Park and other points along the Wisconsin River. Some tourists use this intersection just for the simple joy of traveling Hwy. 107 to their northern destinations.
The WisDOT has plans in place for the conversion of WIS 29 to become a freeway. In those plans 120th Ave. is designated as an interchange to provide access directly to the quarry on the south side of WIS 29. A quarry gets an interchange but a whole township with 3,000 people and a thriving business does not?
An interesting research paper was published at the University of Minnesota on a review of Wisconsin rural intersection crashes. The basis of the study was for identifying intersections for Intersection Decision Support, commonly referred to as IDS. The crash analysis focused on the US 53 corridor from Rice Lake to Superior. The study involves 6 intersections with an unusually high number of crashes over a 6.5-year period. There were 144 crashes at these 6 intersections. Twenty-one of those were fatalities. How many of those intersections have bridges built over them? You guessed it, not one. The fact is there has been no construction activity at any of those intersections.
Of every gallon of gas we buy, 32 cents goes into the transportation fund. Each year every vehicle registered in the state gets $85 added to that fund. In the 2011-2013 biennial budget passed last spring, $5.7 billion was allocated for transportation. Two years ago Wisconsin also received $529.1 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for transportation. WisDOT personnel have indicated that the $4-6 million it would cost to add ramps is not available. What? $5.7 billion and not a tiny, tiny slice available to Lincoln County. There are walking bridges and bike paths in single projects that the DOT has budgeted more than $4-6 million for construction.
According to the WisDOT personnel, Federal Safety funding in the amount of $2 million has been allocated for building the bridge. It may be good for the WisDOT because the money is coming from the federal government and it is a permanent solution. It is not good for the gas station/convenience store, for tax payers, commuters, tourists, land owners, or future growth of our township and business park.
Please attend the meeting Thursday night and voice your support for ramps. We can all have a respectful and cooperative process that works toward the common good for everyone.
Larry & Lavonne
Merrill Township Citizens
At the Feb. 8 MAPS Board of Education (BOE) meeting, I was mystified by the agenda item “Expectations of School Board Members While Talking to Community Groups.” Unbelievably, this agenda item caused a half-hour discussion about communication between BOE members. Is this what my tax dollars are being used for? Since when is internal communication an issue for official meetings?
Particularly targeted during this discussion was BOE member Loretta Baughan, who had spoken as an individual at a publicly advertised Town of Pine River meeting. It was suggested that Ms. Baughan ought to have personally advised each BOE member that she was speaking at this meeting. Ironically, Meredith Prebig, the BOE member who expressed the most concern about internal communication, accused Ms. Baughan of giving a presentation at the public meeting that Ms. Baughan did not give. Where was Ms. Prebig’s courtesy call to Ms. Baughan? And didn’t former Superintendent Lisa Snyder independently meet with Maple Grove parents last year, unbeknownst at the time to all BOE members? Hypocrisy is always in bad taste, as are double standards. The very idea of enforcing rules about communication between individual BOE members and the public is an obvious attempt at censorship. Do we really pay this BOE to censor and parent each other?
As indicated by the wording of the agenda item, the real problem amongst BOE members is trust, not communication. Trust issues are personal issues to be dealt with on the members’ own, unpaid time. Also, it was offensive to listen to the BOE discuss self-evaluations and codes of conduct as if they have nothing to do with the community that elects them. BOE evaluations take place at the voting booth. As seen at the last BOE election, the community is enthralled by Loretta Baughan’s transparency, trustworthiness, and her genuine service.
It is clear that too many members of the BOE are out of touch with the community and their duty to serve. The BOE marginalizes and excludes the community, making it practically futile for us to express our ideas or concerns. The community is all but silenced at public BOE meetings and has no chance to provide feedback at the conclusion of meetings. Isn’t the BOE obligated to welcome and acknowledge community feedback? How would BOE members react if they were so arrogantly dismissed and ignored? How about evaluating the BOE’s abuse of power and disregard for those whom they swore to serve? A little show of humility could go a long way in assuring me of the BOE’s credibility and worthiness to serve this community.
I have always been impressed and inspired by the generosity of the people of the Merrill area. Even in these turbulent economic times our people come forward time and time again to help their neighbors in distress.
Recently I received a financial donation to the Food Pantry with the accompanying note. I was touch by its simplicity and sincerity. I think it speaks volumes about who we are.
“Wealth certainly is relative. I live a simple life, thankful for the roof over my head and the food and clothing that I have.
“Seeing local people who struggle with their basic needs, those without transportation, or medical and dental care. Having to ask for help to keep their families going – I can’t do much, but I can share a little bit. And I count my own blessings.”
Thank you to everyone for your continued support.
Merrill Community Food Pantry
How much tax payer money is being wasted on trying to oust people that were duly elected by a majority of voters?
Dear Editor and Community members:
On Feb. 13, Kristine McGarigle, president of Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center, informed current and prospective families of Merrill Child Care by letter that Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center and its local board of directors decided to close the child care as of June 15 this year. Merrill Child Care has been serving families in the community for 23 years. This comes as a complete shock. Reason for the closing, as stated by Ms. McGarigle is “we feel we must put all out efforts and related resources into preserving health care delivery for our community.”
The services provided by Merrill Child Care have exceeded my expectations over the years that we have utilized the child care center as a family. The closing of this facility is affecting dozens of families and their children in the Merrill, and quite possible, surrounding communities. In this community, there is limited childcare available, especially that provide services similar to that of Merrill Child Care. With the closing of the center, families are now scrambling within the area to locate alternative childcare. At a parent meeting held on Thursday evening, one parent shared that out of all in-home providers she contacted, there are only 3 openings left! How is it going to be possible for all the families to find child care in this area? Families that utilize childcare are working families.
The mission statement of Good Samaritan states” Our mission as a Catholic health care system is to further the healing ministry of Jesus by continually improving the health and well-being of all people, especially the poor, in the communities we serve.” I understand the reasoning behind the board’s decision in that their focus is on health care, but this states that the mission of Good Samaritan is improving the health AND well-being of ALL people. The health and well-being of a person starts in childhood (physically, mentally and emotionally). If this is not implemented in early childhood, there are long-term effects that can be negative. Merrill Child Care and Good Samaritan promoted the health and well-being of all children in their facility. Nutritious meals and snacks were provided daily. There is a nice playground for physical development. Children were able to build strong bonds with other children and their caregivers. Field trips were often held within the community to Bell Tower to interact with the elderly, trips to the Humane Society, library and Farmer’s Market, among others to help them learn and grow.
With the closing of Merrill Child Care, there is going to be an impact on the community. There are now several employees going to be out of work. Several families looking for quality childcare. There is also a building that does not yet have a purpose and a playground that will sit empty. My hope is that in this small community that has difficulty growing, we do not lose more families and future students because of this decision.
To the board: Where were you when there was a parent meeting held on the 16th? Why was there not a list of childcare providers prepared for families, instead of each family individually having to do this? Why were families not sought out for additional ideas? Why was there no support sought out by the community of Merrill to assist with a transitional period for families or the possibility of another center being opened?
To the wonderful staff of Merrill Child Care: I am forever grateful for the services that each of you have provided over the years to my children, as well as all the other children that have passed through your doors. Sandi Schmeltzer has been a wonderful director and leader for the center and all the employees. Because of you and your staff, there are many, many children that have had quality and happy childhoods.
Cory Durbin, parent
Governor Walker is busy balancing his budget on the backs of the lower and middle income citizens. Wisconsin received $140 million from the federal government to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Our governor then announced that he is taking over $20 million of this money to help balance his budget shortfall. I thought he told us the budget was balanced. Could he have asked his wealthy campaign contributors to help fill the shortfall? Yes. Did he? No. Instead, he took the $20 million from the people who need it to keep their homes. Wake up Wisconsin!
Our home was destroyed by the tornado that struck the Merrill area on April 10, 2011. We have since rebuilt, and taken occupancy of our new home. To celebrate with and thank all who contributed to our recovery, we are hosting an Open-House/Thank-You party on Saturday, Feb. 25, beginning at 1 p.m. and lasting throughout the day.
If you are a friend or neighbor, if you came to help us or our family clean-up and salvage, if you donated time to the demo and construction of our homes, if you prepared or brought food and supplies to our property, or donated to our family’s recovery in any other way, then please stop by on Saturday to see our new house, share a meal and refreshments, and let us thank you in person.
If you can attend, please do not bring gifts, it is our turn to treat. If you cannot attend, then please let us take this opportunity to thank you from the very bottom of our hearts. We will never forget the kindness, concern, and generosity this community has shown our family during this difficult time in our lives.
Tim and Nina Lee
N2722 Pier St.
Letter to the Editor,
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Merrill High School hockey team faced off against the Tomahawk Hatchets. As the Foto News reported, the game went neck-and-neck the first period. The second period Tomahawk pulled ahead only to find our Blue Jays knocking on their door in the third period. Although the game did not end with a “W” for the Blue Jays, our players never gave up.
As part of the evening events, the Merrill Youth Hockey players were invited to attend the high school game free of charge. And, at the end of the game the High School hockey players signed team photos for all the kids, parents and friends who wanted a souvenir of the season.
The Blue Jay hockey season should not be judged by wins or losses, but how these athletes continually took the ice with their heads up and their hearts in the game. It would have been easy for them to “buck” Tuesday night’s photo signing event after losing a game on their home ice. However, our Blue Jays came out of the locker room, once again, with their heads up to greet their fans both young and old. The high school hockey players made this youth night a positive event for all.
Our youth hockey players are fortunate to have high school players who are approachable, friendly and positive role models.
Merrill Youth Hockey Mom
Merrill Lions thank hunters:
The Merrill Lions Club would like to thank all the hunters who donated their deer hides to the Merrill Lions Deer Hide Collection Project. A total of 443 hides were collected.
A special thank you to Lions Steve and Tina Peterson and Peterson Bus Service, for collecting, salting and storing all the hides. A special thank you also to Customer One Coop. for the donation of salt for the project.
The hides were picked up by a buyer the first week of January and were combined with deer hides collected by Lions Clubs all over the state. Over 8,000 deer hides will be collected state wide with a cash value of nearly $60,000. All the money raised is donated to the Wisconsin Lions Camp in Rosholt, WI. The camp is run through the summer for disabled children from Wisconsin.
For more information on the Merrill Lions Deer Hide Collection Project, contact Lion Steve or Tina Peterson of Peterson Bus Service at 715-536-1119 or Lion Dennis Knott at 715-218-1525.
Dennis Knott, Chair
Merrill Lions Deer Hide Collection Committee
People of Lincoln County,
When we elected Don Dunphy to the office of District Attorney, I think we all expected him to fulfill his responsibilities. His job is to rectify wrongdoing committed against the public, gather evidence, prosecute and represent the people. Let me tell you about my situation.
A short time ago, I took my business trailer to a business and asked if I would be able to store it there, which was agreed. Two months ago, I went to retrieve my trailer and it was gone. The owner of this business informed me that he did not know what happened to my trailer. I then went to the sheriff’s department and filed a stolen property complaint. The officer assigned to the case interviewed him and was told that the trailer had been sold, but he could not remember who he sold it to. I asked the officer to accompany me on a return trip to the business to speak with the owner. On that visit he told me that he would tell me where the trailer was if I gave him money for work that was not requested. At that time I asked the officer to arrest him for the unauthorized sale of my trailer and its contents that totaled between $5,000 and $7,000. When the arrest was not made, I became upset and left. I later went in to speak with Mr. Dunphy who said he would look into the matter and call me. I was contacted several days later that they had found my trailer and it was in the impound lot. My business name and logo were painted over with black paint and the police officer and I noticed that the serial number looked like it was obliterated. After the evidence was presented to our District Attorney, he refused to prosecute the individual because he said there was not enough evidence to take it to court. I now ask you, what more does he need to prosecute? This individual admitted to selling the trailer and contents and the individual who it was sold to was included in the police reports, what is lacking?
As a small businessman I am left with having to take this matter to court myself to recover damages and loss of equipment. Where is the justice in this system? Where is Mr. Dunphy’s commitment to rectifying wrongdoing? Why is he representing the criminal and not the people who rely on our government officials?
John G. Johnson