Letters (May 25, 2011)

Make sure all citizens have lake access

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I have always assumed the area at the Marion County Lake inside of Lakeshore Drive was held in trust for the enjoyment of all the citizens of Marion County?a green area kept in an undeveloped state to balance the surrounding development and to insure public access to the entire shoreline and all of the shelter houses and picnic areas.

Now it appears the county commissioners are considering a proposal that would breach this boundary with an encroachment across public access going right down to the lake shore.

This proposal calls for the county to lease up to three sites on which at least 12 cabins would be built by developers. All of this in the name of economic development, job creation and potentially, the return of selected past Marion County graduates to the county.

The proposal would have the Marion County Commission ?sell? (lease for 99 years, or really, give away) the most valuable lots in Marion County for a promise to pay?no money up front, except the county?s money to provide services to these lots at a minimum projected cost of $30,000 per lot if no rock is encountered, more if rock is found.

The county will actually pay for the privilege of transferring de facto ownership of lake front property for no consideration, except a proposal to share a small percentage (2.1 percent) of future revenue from the venture.

Development, yes. But at what public cost?

If the commission is determined to pursue this project, as is apparent since they overrode the Planning and Zoning recommendation, they should do it right?perhaps something similar to what Morris County did at Council Grove Lake. Lease the sites on an annual basis for true market value as building lots for high end homes.

Advantages: money up front, higher valuations (thus more property tax), higher income residents (thus more disposable income to spend in the county.)

At the very least, open this development project to all other possible proposals, to be judged on the basis of economic benefit to the county, and not just sentiment.

I ask the commissioners to reconsider the direction they appear to be going. It is my hope that all citizens of Marion County and their children can continue to have access to all of the county lake.

Marion County citizens need to ask exactly what costs for exactly what kind of progress they want.

Leroy A. Wetta

Peabody

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HHS should fund all important activities

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?Hillsboro takes state!? It is a phrase that is almost cliche. However, in the most recent example of USD 410 students achieving this recognition, it might not have happened but for a group of talented journalism students, a dedicated teacher, an innovative local newspaper publisher and a generous local business.

A couple of weeks ago, the Hillsboro High School newspaper, The Oracle, was named the Class 3A winner of the All-Kansas News Publication Award by the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. The student paper was judged on a number of stringent criteria by professional journalists. It is the first time the Oracle has won the distinction.

The print version of the HHS student newspaper was on the chopping block in last year?s round of ?educational cuts.? The logic was that an online paper would do the job just as well.

I am not a journalist, but even I see that the journalistic integrity would suffer with online publication, and this was certainly obvious to the teacher and students of the journalism class.

That was when Hillsboro Free Press publisher Joel Klaassen and Midway Motors stepped in, offering an innovative solution. Mr. Klaassen agreed to include the monthly student paper in his weekly, and Midway Motors agreed to fund it.

At a time when advertising dollars are so valuable, and demand for sponsorship is at a peak, the local car dealership made the decision to invest in a student-led and written endeavor.

The lesson recognized is that our students excel in many areas of their educational experiences. A demonstration of excellence in an area that allows development of lifelong skills?writing, negotiation, time management, getting along, assertiveness, photographic skills, interview skills, persuasive skills and oral communication?should be at least as important as the other programs in which our students excel.

The Oracle should be funded because our students deserve the opportunity to develop and perfect these skills, which will have lifelong uses.

On a personal note, our son is a proud member of the staff and also won an individual award in the competition. An unlikely candidate for a journalistic career two years ago, he has developed writing skills far beyond his English instruction and has found a love of photography, developed interpersonal and time management skills, and made some of the best friends he has ever had in school. He will not be a star athlete, nor sing a choir solo, but he has developed skills he will use for the rest of his life. He is proof that we have students with a very diverse set of strengths and needs.

We encourage USD 410 administration, board members and patrons to see value in all our youth and protect those who are not in the highest profile activities from being the victims of our current financial situation. Every student deserves a chance to learn, to grow and to shine.

So, congratulations, Mr. Bob Woelk and Oracle staff members, on a job well done and a huge thank-you to Joel Klaassen and Midway Motors for providing this opportunity for these young people. We hope it is around for students for many years into the future.

Tonja and David Wienck Hillsboro

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Report of comments was not accurate

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The May 18 Free Press article about the commissioners meeting reported: ?Tony Epp of Goessel told the commissioners he thinks it is morally wrong to have a sales tax to finance a new jail.?

This report is not true.

Here is what I said to the commissioners (I am printing from my notes I used at the meeting): ?Marion County will pay for a capital improvement by sales tax. Of all taxes, the sales tax is the fairest because it does not cost you anything unless you spend.

?As the new jail is a county-wide sales-tax responsibility, does it now become morally wrong to justify sales tax exemptions? Does it now become the responsibility of us all to shoulder the same burden as our fellow citizens?

?Churches, school districts, governments, senior centers, museums, hospitals, day care and many organizations or persons not listed here, that have sales tax exemptions should consider this.

?A lot of these people in these organizations voted for this (jail sales tax) and think it is morally right to stand back and watch your fellow man pay it while you escape. I call for the commissioners to have a list of all sales-tax exempt organizations or persons in Marion County printed in the local newspapers. I also call for the commissioners to repeal these sales tax exemptions.?

Now you have the truth.

Morality is a word that scares some people nowadays. That is because for several generations we have put our reliance upon intellectualism and government to advance our progress.

This is the problem with Goessel, Marion County, Kansas and America. Our neglect of spiritual and moral life is causing us to disintegrate.

Jerry Engler, if you want to be a reporter, report. Read Psalm 1, and I believe you can do better.

Tony Epp

Goessel

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Set-up required the help of many people

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An event the size of the Tabor College commencement takes many hours of planning and labor to complete. Saturday?s ceremony at Joel H. Wiens Stadium was no exception.

That task becomes even more challenging when another large event was held in the same venue, only hours earlier. It required some of the Tabor maintenance staff to literally work around the clock to make sure all the details were attended to and graduation was held successfully without a hitch. I want to extend a special thank-you to the Tabor staff that worked so hard to make it happen.

A special thanks and recognition goes to the USD 410 employees who also were willing to pitch in and help us get the work done. Keith Goosen, Harris Ewert and Dave Espada deserve a hardy ?thank you? for helping transition the stadium from the site of a regional track meet to the commencement ceremony. We couldn?t have done it without your help.

Also, thanks to the high school students that were willing to serve as ushers for the graduation. We appreciate your help that day. All in all?an event of this size doesn?t happen without community cooperation and for that we thank you.

Douglass Graber

Director of physical plant and maintenance, Tabor College

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