To the editor:
During the 44 years that my wife and I have lived on Valley View Drive, we have seen tremendous changes in our territory: the cow pasture, where we first bought our lot, has become a place for houses and streets, families, births, and deaths. In a word, a vital community was born and grew before our very eyes! Change was everywhere…except for the woods; they remained remarkably the same.
Now I think, it is important that they be kept intact while offering access to them to all the people in town. Apparently, many others feel the same, because hundreds from across Vermillion signed their names to put Initiated Measure B (Crawford Woods Path and Nature Preserve) on the ballot and/or attended city council meetings dealing with the issue.
Because I had much older sisters living in Minneapolis, I have visited that city nearly every year for 75 years. Each time I visit I am impressed that the parks, the lakes, and sometimes just plain vacant land areas have been kept in spite of the city's growth and accompanying traffic problems. In many instances, you can't get from one place to another in Minneapolis without going around some natural preserve.
Apparently, historically, the folks there felt that sometimes the engineer's desire to draw a straight line, a businessman's desire for profit, or the demands for instant travel gratification were not imperatives. You know what? The people there seem to pride themselves with what they left untouched. Now, Vermillion has few such places that can be dedicated as nature preserves, and that's no fault of anyone, just a fact, but what we have left should be kept.
So, I invite everyone to oppose the proposed big, wide road in Crawford Woods (Initiated Measure A) and support public access to the nature preserve (Initiated Measure B). I especially invite the folks in the apartments and those living in Countryside Addition to oppose the road, for they will have remarkably close access to the woods, where they can take their kids, walk the path, and talk about things.
Now, isn't that better than to endanger those children with an unnecessary street or to have them live next door to a convenience store?
I may be wrong, and I certainly don't know everything, but I've been-around-the block a few time in my 80 years, and for this reason I have a strong feeling that to preserve Crawford Woods without a road will give people a good feeling about their city and maybe even a good feeling about themselves.
Please keep Vermillion a good place to live and a place which invites others to come, because, like Minneapolis, we show people that we do try to keep what is good in our town.
Vote 'no' on 'C'
To the editor:
As a pastor of a United Methodist Church I am called upon to be an advocate for the people in my parish, and, along with every other member of my congregation, "to accept the freedom and power God gives me to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves."
As a pastor, I am fortunate enough to have several gay and lesbian people of faith in my congregation. I am fortunate because these folks, just like my other members of the church, are sincere, loving, and devout people of faith who have genuinely tried to live out the call of the gospel in their lives. As I listen and do ministry with many of them, my heart struggles with them as they share with me many of the painful struggles they encounter as gay and lesbian people.
Many face discrimination and prejudice not only in their work place but also within their own family systems. As I hear their stories and begin to walk with them, I marvel at the courage they have to try to live faithful and open lives of integrity while continuing to be painfully misunderstood by the world.
Because I pray and worship with some of these loving folks every week, I'm asking you to please prayerfully consider voting against amendment C in the Nov. 7 election. Contrary to what some say, this is not an amendment about gay or lesbian marriage; it is a blatant and intentional act of discrimination and injustice which is aimed at a group of people already misunderstood.
Please join me and many other people of faith by doing the right thing and voting "no" on Amendment C on Nov. 7.
Rev. Brook R. McBride
1st United Methodist Church
Fitting award for city council
To the editor:
I think the Citizens of Vermillion need to present the members of the city council who voted not to build the extension of Crawford Road down to the Burbank Road a "We shot ourselves in the foot Award" for having done the following:
1. Cancelled the extension of Crawford Road based on an emotional appeal by a few property owners rather than consider the orderly growth of the community that would have benefitted our city's 10,000 residents.
2. Made their decision without consultation with the planning commission, the city engineer, and other city staff, a current transportation study, and then rescinded a plan that had been in place for over 30 years and reviewed as recently as 2002.
3. Gave up their right to state and federal funds that would have paid for this extension without the need for local tax dollars.
4. Continued the partial isolation of city homes and apartments below the bluff from better access for fire, police, and ambulance service at a time when they are discussing putting a fire station possibly on East Main Street to serve the east side of town.
5. Denied pedestrian access to the rest of the community for there is no sidewalk planned or in place along BurbankRoad.
6. Reduced the desirability of lots the city owns and hope to sell at a profit, below the bluff that are adjacent to the golf course.
7. Made it necessary to plan for and build, in time, a new access road east of the golf course that will, without a doubt, disturb some property owners in the area, require the condemnation of property, construction of about 1.25 miles of new road and obligate the community to a substantial expenditures to pay for all, or at least a portion, of this newly needed road.
8. Undermined the public's confidence in the city council to carry out the mission of administering the orderly growth of the community rather than favoring just a few property owners who have been on a 30-year notice that this extension of Crawford Road was needed, and the time is now. Vote "Yes" on Amendment A and "No" on Amendment B.
Young Moore, III
To the editor:
The citizens of Vermillion have an opportunity on Nov. 7 to decide whether Crawford Road should be extended or Crawford Woods Path and Nature Preserve should be created. The opportunity to preserve a natural area and create a bike path is certainly appealing.
However, that appeal must be weighed against the opportunity to divert some of the traffic (including emergency vehicles) from a street that runs directly in front of one of our elementary schools. In my opinion, the safety of our children is far more important than creating a path and nature preserve. Please consider this when making your decision on Nov. 7.
Road would help more citizens
To the editor:
The Crawford Road versus Woods debate is an interesting subject. It contains some interesting data that we as voters need to know to try and make the best decision for our community.
Last week, there was a letter printed about how approving the road could violate state law if it�s designed to boost tax revenue or help a private citizen.
To simplify the debate, perhaps we need to determine that the proposed road either benefits a few people, or quite possibly, everyone.
On April 8, 2005, a family member fell in an accident about one block from the proposed road/woods. My wife and I rushed to the hospital, and can assure you that, in our case, one or two minutes did make a difference.
We were very lucky to have a wide, safe road to travel on, and truly believed it minimized what could have been a worse outcome. There is no doubt in my mind that a good road was a benefit to us.
I write this letter with some reserve, because we have friends that live by the area, and we know it has a definite impact on them. But, I can not help but feel very strongly that every person in this community deserves the best possible route for safety and emergency services, in particular, citizens that are in need.
I do not want to over-dramatize what happened to us, but it is a fact that accidents happen, and I think that every person in this community deserves the best chance to better the odds of receiving help quickly.
The �big picture� indicates to me, and possibly to some others, that finishing Crawford Road would benefit the community.
Principals before politics
To the editor:
I read with utter dismay and disgust about the voting record on South Dakota S Bill 194 sponsored by Kooistra and Gillepsie requiring returning troops to be tested for uranium exposure.
Many Republican legislators voted against this bill. Why? Sounds like part of the Bush, Rummy, Dick (five deferment) Cheney fan club.
If I�m missing something here, let me know. On another note, we need to wake up and realize that a heavy one-party political make-up is never good for the people.
Almost 30 years of one-party control and look where we are: Schools falling apart, teachers still last in pay; an appalling, disgraceful number of families on or below the poverty level; 80,000 people with no health insurance; marginal health care; poor working relations between Indian/non-Indian factions; less than a decent way of life for too many aging citizens; and that�s just the beginning.
Is this what you want to pass on to your children and grandchildren? Not me. It�s time we start doing it right. Vote for a change that is desperately needed.
Matter of life
To the editor:
On Nov. 7, South Dakotans will mark their ballots concerning Referred Law 6. The outcome of our voting literally will be a matter of life or death.
As a denomination, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) recognizes that �the living but unborn are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception� (Job 10:9-11; Psalm 139:13-17; Jeremiah 1:5), and, �as persons the unborn stand under the full protection of God�s own prohibition against murder� (Exodus 20:13).
It is also our desire to see �the fullest protection of law for all human life from the time of conception.� We believe that abortion at any stage of the unborn person�s development takes the life of a living human being and is an act of inhumane treatment toward the most vulnerable and helpless of our society. We abhor the violent acts of rape and incest even as we abhor murder.
However, we cannot justify the ultimate act of violence on the unborn even when that person�s life came into being as a result of rape or incest. We encourage our congregations and members to show special compassion and help for women who experience crisis pregnancies even as Christ showed the ultimate compassion and help.
Because the Bible directs us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (see Proverbs 31:8), we find it �irresponsible� not to speak on behalf of the unborn.
As South Dakota Missouri Synod Lutherans, we support Referred Law 6 and hope and pray many other South Dakotans will also show their support.
Rev. Dale L. Sattgast,
South Dakota District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Vote to protect women
To the editor:
South Dakota House Bill 1215, passed into law, and generally known as the Abortion Ban, coerces the body and insults the consciences of females and families in our state. Fortunately we have an opportunity to say no to this violation of our personal rights on Nov. 7. No woman should be required by society to bear a child against her will.
South Dakota�s extreme anti-abortion law, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest, or to protect the health of women, would result in pain and suffering for many females and families. Defending this unjust law in court would place a severe strain on our state budget. As a result, the state would probably reduce social services for the additional orphans, abused teen-aged girls and single parent families this law would create.
Instead of drafting laws to control women�s bodies, our legislature and governor should work to improve the lives of women and families in this state. We must insist that the rights of even our most vulnerable citizens be protected. Vote no on referred law #6.
Norma C Wilson
Vote no on #8
To the editor:
Next week, South Dakota voters will be asked on Initiated Measure 8 whether we want to repeal the so-called "cell phone tax". The multi-billion dollar, out-of-state cell phone companies are investing huge amounts of money in TV commercials telling us that this tax is unfair. I guess fair has a different meaning in South Dakota than it does in places like New Jersey.
Here's the facts. Instead of the property tax that has been imposed on our regular telephone companies located in South Dakota for more than 50 years, the legislature in 2003 passed a 4 percent gross receipts tax on companies that provide wireless services.
The multi-billion dollar wireless communications companies fought to keep the tax from being passed and have continued to fight it ever since it passed. The combination of the property taxes and gross receipts taxes brought in $23 million to the state coffers last year. The �cell phone tax� portion was nearly $9 million.
Of this nearly $9 million in taxes, about $5.5 million is retained in the state general fund and $3.5 million is distributed to the counties' general funds. Down in our little corner of South Dakota, that amounts to more than $207,000 ($58,678 for Clay County, $93,853 for Yankton County and $54,547 for Union County).
That is more than $207,000 in essential services, like emergency 911 and winter road maintenance and snow removal, that the citizens of Clay, Yankton and Union counties will have to do without ? or we'll have to increase property taxes.
This would be an immediate problem affecting this year for the state and counties, because the repeal would take effect as soon as the votes are canvassed in mid-November.
The cell phone companies are not paying this tax – we consumers of their services are. I checked my cell phone bill and sure enough, there were the costs – �SD Gross Receipts Surchg� and "SD Excise Surchg". With my family�s two cell phones, we pay a total of $3.78 a month for these two items. So for each of our lines, approximately $1.89 of our monthly bill goes to pay this tax.
As cell phone users, we will pay our $22.76 per year for each phone to ensure that this important revenue source is available to help pay for essential services in our county and State.
By the way, my cell phone provider is the second largest in the nation and they are based in New Jersey. Would it be fair for this New Jersey corporation to pay less taxes for providing me with services than my local telephone company has to pay? I don�t think so!
Our Legislature has devised a taxation system that is relatively fair to both our long-standing telephone companies in South Dakota and to the out-of-state multi-billion dollar corporations who provide wireless services.
So, to my fellow South Dakotans, my cell phone provider and the other big cell phone companies in South Dakota – can you hear me now? I will Vote NO on Initiated Measure 8. I hope my fellow South Dakotans do the same.
Get all of the facts before voting
To the editor:
One of the advantages we have in living in this great country is freedom of speech. We can freely think and publicize our personal opinions with total freedom. I wonder though, if it is ethical to lie, distort the truth and break the law in order to promote our opinions?
I have strong feelings about how the city council handled Crawford Road and I have joined a group of local citizens to promote the facts. I am fed up with the contortions and innuendo that those in favor of Crawford Woods have promoted.
They have a right to their opinion, but is it ethical to slander other citizens to promote their cause? I have been personally lied to by members of the Crawford Woods group. I have read their promotional advertisements and cringe at the blatant distortion of the truth.
I wonder why they don�t tell all the facts relating to their land �gift� to the city. I wonder why they have broken the law.
Yes – they broke the law. That�s a fact. They have not reported their campaign financing as required by state law which is a class 2 misdemeanor. They have lied, slandered, distorted the truth and broke the law.
All in an attempt to get us to believe they are righteous people in favor of nature and wholesomeness That�s bunk. They�ve got lots of money to advertise and twist the facts to promote their cause.
I hope Vermillion residents are smart enough to see through the lies, distortion and unlawful activity. Get the facts. All the facts. Then vote what you believe – not what someone tells you to believe.
Crawford Road resident
Vote no on #6
To the editor:
I had an abortion in the summer of 1998. I was a college student: poor, working two jobs, living in a broken down old trailer with holes in the floor and windows that wouldn�t shut, no vehicle.
My boyfriend and I had to borrow a friend�s truck to get to Sioux Falls for the procedure. The women at the clinic were friendly and caring, much different than the protesters holding bloody signs outside the clinic and screaming angrily.
No one wants to have an abortion; no one is pro-abortion. But I knew that my decision to have the abortion and to get my life back on track was the right thing to do.
I have since finished school, have a good job and my own business, and I have a happy and healthy 4-year-old son and a positive relationship with a good man.
I know a lot of women with similar stories. Keeping abortion safe and legal helps many, many more women than it harms. Those who claim that abortion hurts women and their ban will protect women – those people would disempower women and take away women�s own right to protect themselves and make their own life decisions.
That, and my personal experience, are the reasons I strongly oppose the extreme abortion ban. Vote NO on Referred Law 6!
Rebecca M. Terk
Take a stand
To the editor:
The abortion issue may or may not be a moral issue depending on your views, but it seems to me that it definitely is a human rights issue.
Our constitution guarantees the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Forty million people have been denied the right to life by the abortion industry in this country. You can argue about when life begins, but you can not argue the fact that abortion ended the possibility that these 40 million people would live in liberty and pursue their dreams.
Abortion is also a feminist issue as in more and more countries and perhaps even in the United States, mothers are choosing to abort their babies simply because they are not boy babies.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library there were six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. People continue to be murdered in genocide in some African countries. All this was and is horrible.
So is killing millions of potential human beings each year simply because they are an inconvenience.
As you go to the polls, think about the 40,000,000 lives snuffed out by abortion. Think about the 900 babies a year killed in South Dakota. We need to take a stand. Maybe someday when abortion is banned everywhere, people will applaud the actions of the people in South Dakota who started it all.
Crawford assertions are wrong
To the editor:
The proposed $1.3 to $1.7 million Crawford Road extension would not open up access to one new building lot in Vermillion.
In a recent Plain Talk the retired city engineer exhibits total recall on all of the project�s past history, but is wrong about some current facts.
He wrote that my back lot B-H could be developed for two homes. Nope. There are permanent covenants and deed restrictions recorded on that land prohibiting, among other things, vehicular access from Crawford. That land will never be developed, road or no road. (These restrictions are separate from the binding offers recorded by homeowners to give the city land for the bike path/nature walk and donate property rights to create the preserve if the path and preserve proposal passes.)
He wrote that the other back lots could be developed if the homeowners chose to. Nope. Even if there was enough land left after condemnation proceedings, and even if the lay of the land allowed a practical, saleable building site, (neither of which are likely) there are restrictions included in the original deeds of those lots prohibiting building on them or severing them from their adjacent lot above the bluff.
He wrote that the project was listed on each city comprehensive plan since 1965. Well, maybe. Sort of. I understand that there were times when the project was not mentioned in the plan, but I have�nt seen all the documents to be sure. A former city alderman from a few years ago did tell me, �We told Joe Gillen 'We don�t want that road!�� Elected officials come and go, but I guess staff is eternal.
(Plans do change though. The 1965 plan also recommended a city park downtown. Where the engineers ended up building the water plant instead.)
According to what the Vermillion city attorney has said, the most recent comprehensive plan adopted six years ago did�nt authorize the project. The plan only suggested considering it. Specifically, the wording was Consider extending Crawford, only after a comprehensive analysis and input from affected residents. Since then the city did the study, heard from affected residents (and non-residents), and then the mayor and council voted twice this spring to kill the out-dated project.
Finally, last week�s letter makes it sound like there would only be one 30-foot wide ribbon of concrete and everything else would be left as is. Phooey. What about the curbs, sidewalks, street lights and bank cuts to control erosion? The city's map of the project shows the right of way expanding from 80 to 120 feet in places. And in the northern part of the project the center of the right of way is on the high eastern side of the ravine, apparently in an effort to miss houses on Crestview. Maybe these are some of the reasons a short stretch of road would cost so much.
Campaign breaks law
To the editor:
Recently, my NO on 6 yard sign was vandalized. It was ripped from its wire frame, crumpled into a ball and thrown in my yard. None of the other signs in my yard were touched. I later found literature in my mailbox from the Vote Yes on 6 campaign. I am disappointed that people felt it was necessary to ruin my personal property, and to impede my rights to free speech.
When I mentioned the incident to a friend, I found that she was told that there were people in Yankton putting literature in mailboxes for the same campaign. As far as I know, no campaign is allowed to put anything in mailboxes, since they�re reserved for use by the U.S. Post Office. Placing campaign literature in mailboxes is a federal offense. I did some further research on the issue, and found that there were allegations that the Yes on 6 campaign was claiming exceptions in Referred Law 6 for rape and incest, even though Attorney General Larry Long clearly stated that there are none. In South Dakota, it is illegal to mislead voters about a ballot question. Apparently, the Vote Yes on 6 campaign thinks that laws don�t apply to them.
Why is this campaign allowed to repeatedly break the law with no consequences? I was raised with morals and values which tell me that lying is wrong. It�s unfortunate that our state has chosen to not enforce its own laws. If one campaign has to follow the law, then everyone should.
Don�t buy the lies. Vote No on Referred Law 6!
Road will improve safety
To the editor:
A school bell rings at 3:30 p.m.; kids are rushing out of school and crossing the street. Out of nowhere, a child, hidden by a parked car, runs out into the street.
Tires squeal as people look up to see the child lying on the ground. The driver rushes out of the car and as onlookers rush to the child.
An ambulance is called and arrives but it is too late. A sheet drapes the child as they put the gurney in the ambulance. A mother sits on the ground where she collapsed next to a pool of blood from her child. People try to comfort her as the ambulance drives away with her child in the back.
A victim of the heavy traffic that only grows heavier as it flows past Jolley School. If anyone has ever driven past the school before or after school, one can notice that it is hard to see kids sometimes because of parked cars.
The students don�t all use the cross walks. We need to help lessen the traffic going past the school. It is not a matter of if, but when this will eventually happen. And it could be your son or daughter laying on the road or the son or daughter of someone you know.
I do not want to see this happen. Vote for YES to the road and NO to the path and preserve. A bike path can always be put next to the road. Safety for our children would be assured with a road to lessen traffic that has to take University when coming from or going to below the bluff.
I also feel that if those that want the bike path and preserve want something we could be proud of, maybe they should work to get the city and state, since I believe it is up to one or both of them, to develop the campsite west of Vermillion and advertise it more.
It could also bring more people to Vermillion than a bike path and preserve on the east side of town. That is a preserve that is worth working towards!
To the editor:
Practicing law for over 35 years has made me realize the importance of good judges to all of us. I also believe that attorneys should express their opinions during an election regarding whom they feel would most effectively serve the public.
On Nov. 7, you will be voting to fill a vacancy for circuit judge in the First Judicial Circuit. It is my opinion that Tim Bjorkman of Bridgewater/Canistota is the best candidate for that position. This is also the opinion of more than 60 attorneys in the circuit who have endorsed Attorney Bjorkman in the November election.
Tim Bjorkman has the experience, integrity, moral character and work ethic to make him an excellent member of our esteemed circuit court bench. I would urge your support and vote for Tim Bjorkman on Nov. 7 for circuit court judge in the First Judicial Circuit.