Letters AutumnFest '98 successful event

To the Editor:

The Vermillion Chamber of Commerce fund raiser, AutumnFest '98, held on Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Middle School to purchase new holiday street banners was a great success!

The Chamber thanks everyone for attending the event and for their generous donations.

The holiday light decorations and banners that have decorated Vermillion's city streets for many years have seen better days and cannot be used this season. It will cost $20,000 to replace the holiday lights and banners and the Chamber will continue to seek donations for this good cause. For $50 you and your family can sponsor a holiday banner by calling the Chamber of Commerce.

Vermillion's community spirit once more proves that none of us is as good as all of us!

Bonnie Sorensen, Manager

Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce

Public should be encouraged to speak

To the Editor:

I attended the two regular city council meetings in July and at each meeting it appeared that the council is not interested in hearing from the public.

During an advertised public hearing on July 6, the entire council was confused as to the planning commission's role for a special use permit. The mayor asked me to speak and as I started, I was immediately told to be quiet by another member. This member kept repeating the planning commission's minutes on the subject as if once wasn't enough.

At the July 20 meeting the mayor was absent and there were four public hearings. During each hearing the conductor asked for questions and comments for the board members. But during three of the four hearings the public was not invited to speak "for" or "against" the question.

Public hearings are a very important part of our government and the public should be comfortable and encouraged to speak at them. The point is that this is not the way to run a public hearing.

Paul M. Hasse


Governor should clarify use of funds

Letter to the Editor:

When the Board of Regents' employees were brought into the State Retirement System, it cost the employee 10 percent of his/her current salary to buy back one year of credit in the system. Later, the 10 percent figure was changed to 7.5 percent. Although Governor Janklow has reimbursed the state, he should clarify the legality of using state funds to pay one-half of the cost to buy years of credit in the Retirement System.

I don't understand how Mr. Volk can think it is fair that he can use tax dollars to pay for a portion of his retirement. Some of these tax dollars come from members of the State Retirement System, who paid all of their buy-back costs, or who felt they could not afford the buy-back costs.

Now, Mr. Volk could terminate his employment with the state and then withdraw all of his contributions and the state's contribution.

If he is later re-elected to public office, he could again use state money to pay one-half the cost of buying credits in the Retirement System for all years of employment, including those the state one helped buy.

I would like a member of the State Retirement Board to explain how their thinking can change so drastically over a period of a few years. A few years ago, a bill was introduced for an alternate retirement plan for Board of Regents' administration and faculty.

The purpose of the bill was to help recruit faculty. Many faculty members have individual retirement plans at other institutions. If they did not get tenure, and left South Dakota, they forfeited the state's portion of the retirement fund. Thus it was a factor in recruiting.

If new faculty chose the proposed plan, he/she got only a portion of the state's contribution. The other portion of the state's contribution went into the State Retirement Fund, with no future obligations.

I presume the Retirement Board strongly opposed the bill, as it was soundly defeated.

I know some of the board's members felt the bill would ruin the Retirement System.

Now, I understand that anyone can take all of both contributions when leaving the system.

The earlier proposal for faculty would have enhanced the system, but I don't think the current one does.

Cleland V. Cook

Retired USD faculty member

Thanks for helping with St. Jude event

To the Editor:

Thanks to all of the generous Wakonda citizens who sponsored a participant in our Wheels for Life event.

With your help, almost 20 children and adults of all ages participated in raising $465.25.

These funds will benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, America's leading center for the study and treatment of childhood cancer. If through this program we save one child, your support will be rewarded in full.

Thank you very much.

Sharyl Loen


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