LETTERS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
Wearing school colors doesnt define people

I dont normally get caught up in frenzies, but I guess Im tired. You might call it old age or intolerance.

For three weeks now I have encountered rumors, assumptions and accusations about the Hillsboro community vs. the Marion community. Ive watched with astonishment at how pompous both sides have gotten…all because of a basketball game. (Or at least that is the latest topic.)

Its one thing for adults to talk about adults, but its another thing for adults to talk about kids. Both schools have good kids that do good things and good kids that do bad things. To classify an entire body of people as one is ignorant.

I was always taught, and I teach my children, there are three parts to every storyyours, theirs and the truth.

Adults, this was only a game. The fact that I wear red and call myself a Warrior and you wear maroon and call yourself a Trojan is only geography. That doesnt make your character or create integrity.

Character and integrity comes from your lifewho you pray to, how you love your husband or wife, how you raise your kids, how you respect your parents, how you treat your friends and co-workers. That shows who you really are.

Do you realize nobody in the world cares, or even knows, if Marion beat Hillsboro or Hillsboro beat Marion? When I die, no one will even remember the game or if I was there.

But if we made a difference in someones life, maybe people would know about Marion County.

What if we spent our time trying to help those kids who fell through the cracks and help them read at grade level?

What if we figured out a way to provide lunches for kids on weekends who dont get enough to eat?

What if we made an effort to help shut-ins feel like they are still a part of us?

Those are things to remember. Those are things to spend our time doing and thinking about. Those are things that make life special and make life better.

I want to make a difference in the world, but I want to make it a positive difference.

Kathy Ehrlich

Marion

You cant compare a pool to a county jail

To compare an aquatic center to a county jail is ridiculous. With all the laws against child labor in our modern world and the anti-work bias, young people have a lot of free time. The center in Hillsboro might provide an avenue for young people to have wholesome activity instead of idle time.

When it comes to the jail project, first of all, it is a place that houses people who have broken the lawrobbery, damage to personal property, alcohol, endangering another life, etc. So we pay at both ends.

The aquatic center might be a deterent against crime. How do you compare the two? Only government might not see the difference, that one is a benefit and the other costs!

Trying to use a jail to make money for county government is the same as using the lottery for that purpose.

Jerry Plett

Lincolnville

Steps for improving county cooperation

The Marion County Commission recently lashed back at their critics by suggesting they are a bunch of unintelligent complainers who offer no suggestions, only disapproval.

In truth, there are those who work very hard to present concise ideas for local and regional development in Marion County, the City of Marion, the City of Hillsboro and for Marion County Economic Development. They are ignored and despised.

Speaking up in Marion County is risky business. We elect our leaders and they have their cronies. Together, they dont like to be challenged.

Some of our officials are committed to community excellence. Some are table thumping thugs and some use their office in conflict with self interests while actually accomplishing some community development.

Mostly, people dont like to make waves. They prefer to present a pristine picture of their community despite the flaws. Those who believe our leadership viewpoints must be challenged for the sake of protecting our rural lifestyle are put in the crosshairs.

Specific recommendations for change were clearly stated before, but for those who have forgotten or who are not aware of the recommendations, they can be restated.

The days of community isolation are long gone. Communities can no longer go it alone. Not even Hillsboro. Communities must learn to work together or our greater economy will continue to slide.

We will learn this sooner or later and the sooner the better.

From start to finish, the commissions job is all about economic development. Every proposal, every debate, every decision, every vote, every tax dollar spent reflects our economic conditionright down to the roads and bridges.

The criticism of the commission is not about landfills, casinos, swimming pools, a justice center or any other large county project. Its about defining our greater sense of community so that our people connect to the projects instead of trying to connect the projects to the people.

On a community level, perhaps Burns and Tampa illustrate this best.

To begin, we need a regional identitya sense of community defining our diversity in a regionally constructive way. This doesnt mean we hum up some envisionment in the corner of a room. The definition is already resident within our county.

The possibilities are endless, but we are identified with some rather large existing assets that may need our help. The commission needs to be the active agent in engaging the process that identifies the essential parts of what we have and what we need.

How is that accomplished?

First, the commission needs to stop talking and start listening.

Quit talking about large speculative projects involving huge new tax burdens. The best solutions come from the bottom up. Solutions come from people who express their thoughts and ideas as an extension of their lifestyle. How well the commission taps into that energy will determine what people will support for countywide developments.

Second, commit to an 18-month moratorium on all new proposals and be willing to work very hard at a new direction for Marion County.

If faced with regulated updates or required maintenance, present the scale of possibilities. Use worst case/best case and mandate task-force development if necessary. Manage the study of proposals, inform the people, initiate projects and maintain our facilities through wise use of county resources.

Maintain until we can get collectively on our feet.

Third, the commission should immediately begin gathering data that profiles our communities, demonstrates community needs, and establishes community priorities.

How? Some of the information is already in regional planning material, but the mayoral offices are essential parts to this process. Hillsboro is the greatest challenge to get on board because of the dictatorial attitudes of the political forces.

This process would also finally give Marion County Economic Development Council (MCEDC) a constructive role in the developmental process of our countybut only if the commission is willing to train MCEDC in the basics of facilitation for community development.

Fourth, only personnel trained in the basics of community development should be allowed to attempt facilitation.

How would this training be accomplished?

Some of the best training available is conducted by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, located, of all places, in Nebraska. RUPRI is the nations foremost recognized authority on community and grassroots development.

Nebraskas successes are the models we need to emulate. Other good examples to follow include Missouri and Iowa. Check out the Web sites. Its an education in itself.

At the very least, the commission should provide extensive training available through the USDA, Kansas Rural Development Council, Grassroots Community Development, which is built from the RUPRI model.

The commission has persistently refused opportunities to attend community development training or send their MCEDC representatives. Some members of MCEDC have received training, but the commission doesnt know how to put it to good use. And, early attempts to self educate MCED with Kansas Foundation curriculum for the sake of saving a buck failed miserably. Its time to pay for the proper training.

This isnt some theoretical pipe dream. Its being accomplished all over the place. But until the commission recognizes its responsibility in these matters, we will continue to see outbursts of frustration and opposing silence as the commission seeks to cram proposals from the top down.

The four steps outlined above are specific. They are only the beginning of a long difficult process that requires very hard work, but they are essential beginnings for improving our approach to development.

Stan Thiessen

Hillsboro

Thanks for the words of appreciation

Im writing in response to the letter in Feb. 14 issue, by Sonny Collins. My first reaction is: Thank you, Sonny Collins!

As an EMS responder with the Hillsboro-based ambulance, we are not usually applauded for what we do in such a public forum. Your appreciation for the men and women on scene Sunday evening is heartwarming and we, fire and EMS responders, thank you for your words of appreciation.

JoAnn Knak, MICT

Hillsboro Ambulance Dept.

Strategy questioned about bomb scare

I am a parent writing to express my concern about the recent bomb threat and explosive device within Marion County school districts. I understand there have been two incidents within a weeks time.

I understand USD 408 had learned about the explosive through the grapevine. The building supervisor at some point notified the Marion Police Department.

However, I do question several items in regard to how this whole thing was handled. First, neither the children nor the staff were evacuated from the building or the surrounding area.

The police command post was in the building, EMS and fire were in the parking lot.

Consider: A primary explosion would have caused the police, staff and students injuries or death. The EMS crew and fire department would have sustained some injuries.

But it would be the secondary explosionsuch as the gas linesthat would now have caused us to have no police, EMS personnel, or a fire department.

Furthermore, one threat is one too many. Any threat is a terroristic threat that should be taken seriously no matter who or where it comes from.

People want to believe that this only happens in the big city. Statistics show 75 percent of bomb threats occurs in small” towns. All we have to do is remember the Oklahoma City bombingMcVey and Nichols came from small towns.

It would seem that you would want to take any threat to our children as being real. There fore, (we need a) better plan for our schools and city.

The state of Kansas has some excellent resources when it comes to bomb calls. The Kansas Highway Patrol has a bomb unit, which is trained with K-9 units to detect any type of explosives.

Fort Riley and McConnell Airbase have EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) units that will respond. All of these agencies are more than happy to assists other agencies at no cost to the requesting agency.

Terrorism forces us to make a choice. We can be afraid or we can be ready.

Pam Maag

Marion

(Editors note: The above letter was submitted as a letter to the editor addressed to Lee Leiker, superintendent of USD 408 Marion-Florence.)

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