Letters Pitching ideas

To the editor:

I would like throw out three ideas for consideration to the public for discussion concerning local government in Vermillion and Clay County.

We now have the Vermillion Police Department, Clay County Sheriff's

Department, and USD Security protecting the residents of Clay County. Why couldn't we combine these entities into one department headed by an elected sheriff?

We have one of the smallest counties in South Dakota in area size and only 13,000 residents therein. After negotiations to establish protection standards, it would eliminate various levels of bureaucracy and be a win-win situation for all residents and taxpayers.

My second idea involves the establishment of a new city hall. Why couldn't we combine our city library with the Vermillion High School library to establish a county-wide library for all to use?

Build an addition on the west side of the high school where an available parking lot is located; it would be easily accessible. The computer lab (the internet being the greatest library) could be incorporated for the benefit of all.

North Sioux City, Elk Point, and various other towns and across America have successfully accomplished this. The old library could be remodeled to create a new city hall.

My third idea involves utilizing USD in the education of our high school students. In Vermillion, we have a large percentage of our students continuing on to college. Some, as seniors, start college while still in high school, but why not start a program that utilizes this to a greater degree?

Some advanced classes offered at Vermillion High School could be eliminated with the students taking those classes at USD and getting college credit. We have a unique situation here that I feel is not being utilized at all.

It might be that the state Legislature would establish a pilot program at cities in South Dakota with this situation that would help with the tuition.

I'm offering these ideas for discussion. I have not elaborated all the benefits and some of the pitfalls that these ideas have, but we have to come to grips with our situation with the taxpayers. We have to look to unique ways to provide our residents with services and education that they demand and also make it affordable for our taxpayers.

Steve Stewart


Put students first

To the editor:

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. I went to school in this district from Kindergarten through the 12th grade and have been a teacher here the past 23 years. I have been a vocal advocate for this school district my whole life.

In recent years I have stood by and watched this district cut programs and teachers repeatedly in order to meet the budget constraints imposed by legislative action and declining enrollments. I have listened to recommendations by several community committee groups as to what should be cut and have watched the school board refuse to follow some of the suggestions. I was silent at those times out of loyalty to the district. I can no longer be silent.

I understand the decision on cuts rests solely on the publicly elected school board, but I personally have lost confidence in their willingness to make decisions that are in the best interests of our students. How can they continue to cut people who have direct daily contact with our students and yet maintain administrative/operations personnel who do not?

For me to remain silent about this would make it appear as if I have given tacit approval to their decisions and I have not.

If this school board truly wants the people of Vermillion to support the upcoming opt-out election, they need to show all of us that they have our children at heart. I suggest they make some administrative/operations cuts that will go into effect regardless of the outcome of the election. I do not mean counselors and librarians, as they, too, directly deal with students every day.

Additionally, the sports budget has remained relatively unscathed over the years. I do understand the importance of these programs to our students, families, and the community, but I do not consider sports more important than academics.

What kind of message are we sending to our students when programs, classroom teachers, counselors and librarians are cut and yet only token cuts occur to athletics? What are our priorities? Our actions speak louder to our students than our words.

Even though I do not agree with the recent cuts nor do I agree with the process that was used to achieve them, I do care deeply about the students. The upcoming opt-out election is crucial to this district and our students. We are no longer "trimming the budget," we are hacking off arms and legs.

I urge the people of Vermillion to support this opt-out. I also urge the school boards to show us all that they put the students first.

If they had done this in previous years and with previous cuts perhaps we could have opted out now for a lower amount. The election is March 15. Support out children and please vote yes!


Joyce Zimmer


America, the terrorist

To the editor:

As the war in Iraq drags on, more and more people are asking, "Why are we there?" For America to attack a country that did not attack us or pose a threat to us is a crime against humanity. Iraq, 63 percent the size of Texas, had no navy, no air force and a small, ill-equipped army for its homeland security. Sure, we didn't like its leadership, but that could be said about several other countries, also.

So why the preemptive attack? The war on terrorism took us to Afghanistan and President Bush, his people and some media have convinced some Americans that the Iraq war is a war on terrorism. Wrong. The government of Iraq did not attack America. The Iraqi people are doing exactly what we would do if a country invaded us. Fighting to protect their homeland.

America is the terrorist in that country. Frightening children, killing thousands of locals, destroying homes and businesses, disrupting schooling and destroying water, sewer and electrical systems. Letting their museums be looted of items of antiquity and on and on. How many Iraqis do we need to kill and how much destruction of their property is necessary for them to like us?

And who is making the sacrifices during this wartime? Certainly those ordered to fight and their families are. How about back home? What are we giving up? Perhaps those who supported the war should be a demanding a "war tax" to pay the expense in five years instead of paying for twice because of the interest. Oh no, they want a tax cut and have others pay.

How about no outside decorative lighting to save the electricity? The upper midwest is in a five-year drought, the Missouri River is the lowest in years. The six mainstem power plants (dams) generated electricity at 65 percent of normal last year. Electrical rates are poised for big increases.

How about a moratorium on the importation and use of fireworks? Why send billions of dollars to China to celebrate our nation's birthday?

Remember the boy down the street that you watched grow up? In school he played in the band and was on the basketball team, then he married your daughter. He joined the Marines and was sent to Iraq. Then he comes home with both arms or legs blown off or in a body bag or his mind forever damaged. This is happening in our country.

President Bush should be impeached and tried for war crimes.

Paul M. Hasse


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