LETTERS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
Rivalry between towns serves no good

I am a proud resident of Marion County. However, I am deeply troubled by the recent incidents of conflict between Marion and Hillsboro. These behaviors harm the entire county. I would urge each of us to consider the consequences of our inability to find a common good.

Rather than a long discourse about the strengths and weakness of both communities, I offer the following thoughts on the issue.

A true mark of maturity is creating a county with the ability to put our differences aside and find common ground that will serve all of us.

Young people learn from the actions of adults.

The survival of rural America depends on collaboration and cooperation.

Civil resolution of differences reaps benefits for all parties.

If our communities can’t learn to work together; I fear we will all fail.

We need to think win-win, not win-lose.

Competition creates winners and losers; cooperation and collaboration allow everyone to be a winner.

Collaboration and cooperation require hard work and commitment-it’s not easy!

Marion is a great place to raise children; Hillsboro is a great place to raise children.

The two communities are different. It’s not an issue of good or bad, right or wrong, it’s just different.

Good, hard working, committed people live in both communities.

What’s good for Hillsboro is good for Marion County.

What’s good for Marion is good for Marion County.

How long do we need to continue to trade blows with each other? Who has the courage to stand back and say let’s find ways for all of us to prosper?

Working together we can achieve more than working against each other.

I would encourage community leaders to focus on creating healthy environments in which our communities can flourish together.

Gordon Mohn, superintendent

Unified School District 410

Hillsboro

Are good deeds for our own justification?

Kathy Ehrlich’s letter (Feb. 21) about character and integrity inspired me to write. She makes reference to “the truth” as the ultimate virtue.

What is the truth? Is it not that God as my conscience is good and I, in my natural self am evil? If that is the truth, then what are my good deeds? Are they not for self-justification?

If we wouldn’t have rejected this principle of conscience, none of these problems in society would exist. A wife would honor her husband as lord and a husband would love his wife as his own self. And each man would esteem others better than himself.

For all the effort and good intentions put forth by government and individuals in our society to help others, does our world get better? Look at all the broken homes, children without mothers or fathers, distrust, intolerance, hate, and violence. We see it in the dissension between our local communities. How do we make something better if we ignore the cause?

We must recognize that it’s not our good works but it’s the work of conscience in each of us that can make the world a peaceful place.

Jerry Plett

Lincolnville

An apology for using profanity in remarks

I am writing this letter concerning an article in the Hills­boro Free Press (Feb. 14) where in I was quoted as making several comments concerning critics of the jail proposals being studied/presented by thecounty commission.

Two statements attributed to me included the use of profanity. The reporting was accurate and I sincerely regret the use of that sort of language. There is no excuse for it and I will not try to make one.

I have always believed a public official should be held to a higher standard, and in this instance I fell short. Please forgive my lapse in judgment and accept my apology.

Also, I harbor no ill will toward the Free Press for the article. It was reported accurately and I alone am to blame for its content. Again, please accept my apology.

Commissioner Dan Holub

Marion

New jail could impact this area’s desirability

I am concerned about what I have read in the Free Press about the possibility of an increase in Marion County taxes to fund a new justice center.

When it comes to raising taxes in Marion County, it seems as if the focus is always on business, and there is less concern about the desirability of Marion County as a place to live.

My husband and I moved to Hillsboro last year and I must admit that the increase in taxes in just the short time we have been here has me thinking that it might be more economical for us to move to another county. I wonder if others might be thinking the same thing.

Since we attend a rural church the other side of McPher­son, McPherson County might be inviting to us, or we might opt for the better shopping and closer proximity to Wichita that Harvey County offers. (I already miss my McDonald’s iced tea.)

If people hesitate to move to Hillsboro or leave here, it will definitely affect housing values and local businesses while distributing a large tax burden among fewer households.

I am not against taxes to support services that are needed by the residents of the county. In fact, I would favor tax increases for some things such as road and street improvement.

Coming from Wisconsin, where they know how to remove snow, I am acutely aware that we often do not get as much for our tax dollars as we might like, and the prospect of having those dollars used to pay off a huge debt for construction of a facility that the county does not need, much less the cost of operating it, does not encourage me to continue to live here and pay Marion County taxes.

Furthermore, I have worked in the criminal justice field in both Michigan and Wisconsin and I know something about it. In the future, as our population ages, we can expect lower crime rates and shorter sentences for offenders. This should be considered in planning for the new facility.

Also, as the prison population ages, it becomes more expensive to house prisoners, and other jurisdictions would be likely to try to send their most expensive and most troublesome prisoners to distant facilities. (The average prisoner is biologically about 10 years older than her/his chronological age.)

California has twice nearly driven itself to bankruptcy by building new prisons when the prison population has been in decline. (The prison-supply industries and corrections officers union have very powerful lobbies in California.)

In addition to the cost of living, I have one other concern. If for-profit prisoners were to be brought to Marion County for longer than a few months, it is entirely possible that family members might move to the county to live near their incarcerated relatives (and I wouldn’t blame them).

When I lived in Michigan a woman who had moved to the area to be nearer to her incarcerated husband lived across the hall from me, and I understand that Stanley, Wis., has recently experienced an influx of members of prisoners’ families moving to be near relatives who are in a newly constructed state prison.

If this were to happen in Marion County, it could put additional pressure on what is already a tight job market and might even tax the resources of our social service agencies as some of these families might need assistance.

I also believe that in the future, all jurisdictions will move to using electronic monitoring devices instead of jail to control the movements of more and more offenders. There is little to be gained from having nonviolent offenders in prison when they can be monitored effectively while living in group homes or half-way houses, or with their own families.

With electronic monitoring, a prisoner may also continue to earn a living, take advantage of educational and job training programs, or receive the substance abuse counseling or mental health services that many prisoners need to help them avoid future contact with the criminal justice system.

I also question the morality and practicality of taking prisoners away from their families and housing them in distant locations. Having relatives nearby often contributes to prisoner well-being, better prisoner outcomes, and results in fewer problems for prison staff. Prisoners are not commodities; they are people.

I think Hillsboro might have a lot to lose if the new justice center were to be built in Marion County. The county might better use its tax dollars to support current or new business, which would create real revenue and not just a shifting of tax dollars from one jurisdiction to another.

Gari-Anne Patzwald

Hillsboro

Comments drive a wedge between towns

After reading the report of the Marion County Commission meeting, I am compelled to write and express my dismay and concern regarding Dan Holub’s comments as reported in the Feb. 14 issue of the Free Press.

I have read previous reports pertaining to the judicial center and the concerns that were expressed by Hillsboro merchants.

Holub expressed these concerns as “a set of people who want to sit back and throw stones at us.” Also he stated,”It would be nice to have suggestions, and not just criticisms.”

From what I read of previous meetings, there were suggestions, i.e. cut the cost, lower the number of beds, show some facts and figures and studies that support the fact that having 70 beds instead of 40 is a money maker.

It appears that Holub took offense when someone didn’t support his ideas. When someone says, “Let’s take a step back and look at what will happen to businesses if this plan goes through,” does not sound to me like someone throwing stones or criticizing.

Holub was also quoted as saying, “These are the very people who approved a swimming pool for themselves.”

After reading the article concerning the swimming pool and talking with some of “these damn people” as Holub callously refers to them, these people expressed the very same concerns during earlier meetings when funding for the swimming pool were discussed. A different set of standards was not used.

The article also stated that Bob Hein remained silent during the exchange. It seems that some type of comment would have been in order. Perhaps a comment reminding Holub that these people were not holding one group to a different set of standards and that expressing concerns should not be considered as “bitching” as Holub stated.

Perhaps Hein felt that dealing with ignorance was best handled by remaining silent, I don’t know.

I shudder to think that we have an elected official who is unable to listen to valid concerns expressed by constituents in the county and who uses bulling tactics and derogatory name calling when opinions that run contrary to his are expressed.

Dan Holub, if your aim is to drive a wedge between the people of Hillsboro and Marion, continue the bullying tactics and name calling and you may succeed. How sad.

Gordon Wiebe

Hillsboro

God’s gift of liberty is in jeopardy today

As we struggled in colonial days to win our freedom from England, the future prospects were dismal. Tom Paine declared, “These are times that try men’s souls.”

In the troubled world we live in today, we can say the same. We possibly stand at the threshhold of losing everything we hold precious. To mention a few, we are fighting for:

1. The marriage of one man and woman.

2. Parents caring for their children, not the state.

3. Making abortion illegal to save the lives of millions of children.

4. The freedom of religion, to believe in God and worship without interference of the government.

5. Save freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press.

There are nine or more candidates running for president in 2008. Each has a favorite agenda. Do you know that among all the candidates, only one is strongly for the family? He is our own Honorable Sen. Sam Brownback.

Our form of government has always been for the people, of the people and by the people. Yet many Americans have discharged themselves from the job of being a citizen. They need to awaken! The time is now to grapple with the moral issues correctly, or our freedom will disappear.

Are we still a people who want to sustain God’s gift of liberty? Or do we bury our heads and allow our nation to crumble?

Mildred E. Karnowski

Hillsboro

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