Open Forum for week of Sept. 20

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letters will be accepted for the Open Forum for publication in the next available issue after receipt. Letters may be sent to Forest Lake Times, 880 SW 15th St., Forest Lake, or by e-mail to [email protected] Letters should not exceed 250 words and must be signed with the writer’s name, address and telephone number. Deadline is noon Monday. The newspaper reserves the right to edit letters and assure that rules of libel and good taste are not violated.

Vote for Winnick

I have known Ben Winnick for many years. I know him to be a smart businessman, he takes care of his employees, makes a living for his family and generously gives back to the community.

On a recent weekend I saw Ben talking to Forest Lake residents – actually, Ben was listening, not talking. Time after time, Ben would ask questions and listen rather than just give some talking points.

Ben is interested in making Forest Lake a better place to live based on listening to the people in our community. He is not going to city hall with a preconceived idea of what the people want, he is listening. Now that’s what I want for our community!

Ben knows that taxes must be collected to do the business of the city, including taking care of our roads, staff and other assets. Just like in his business, he always looks to the future and spends money that makes sense to accomplish his long-term goals. Ben will be a good steward of the tax dollars that are collected.

Stev Stegner
Forest Lake


Not a Perfect Circle

There are problems with the Hwy. 61-Broadway roundabout.

This statement comes from my accident experience, from others who avoid the roundabout entirely, from a police officer, and from an auto-body shop employee who said, “I love it because it brings so much business our way.”

One day I drove south from Wyoming, saw there were no cars in the roundabout, and began to enter the outside lane at 15 mph. A car seemed to “come out of nowhere” in the inside lane and struck my left front fender. Technically I was at fault because the car already in the roundabout has the right of way, even though the young driver was going too fast, and even though the obstacles in the center of the roundabout prevented me from seeing her car enter  the opposite side of the roundabout.

The officer writing the report voiced his thoughts: “There have been so many accidents here since the roundabout went in. The one in Princeton is one-lane and larger and it works well.  But this two-lane is two small and it’s confusing.  Too many choices… I hate roundabouts. We waste too much time coming down here to deal with so many accidents.”

The roundabout is here to stay, but changes are needed: larger 15 mph signs to cut down on the number of young people zipping through. And something should be done about the vegetation that blocks drivers’ view.

Things are definitely wrong when the people who are happiest are in repair shops.

Catherine Carlson
Forest Lake


Join Lions, Serve Others

Hay Days is now a memory. Thanks to the Sno-Barons for allowing the Forest Lake Lions to set up our booth at the festivities.

I would like to acknowledge all the hard work before the event by Lions Rich Jabas and Dick Reinhardt.  Without their work every year, this event would not work.

Many members of the Lions Club, friends and relatives spent hours and hours setting up for the event and working the days of the event and also the clean up.

As in year’s past, the Lions received a great deal of help from Boy Scouts, sports teams, church groups and community groups. Thanks to all.

We had a local sign up as a new member and help. That brings me to my special invitation to our membership rally. Most people do not know that the Lions are involved with a blood drive, scholarship program, American Cancer Society, Camp Friendship, Camp Needlepoint, Camp New Hope, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, area food shelves, Forest Lake Explorers, Leukemia Society, Safety Camp, Youth Service Bureau, Make a Wish Foundation, Lions baseball, Lions Eye Bank, Diabetes Association, and much more. We are involved either directly with time or with monetary assistance.

Join us at Lakeside Park on Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. We will explain several of the Lion’s programs. If you can’t make it, join us on the third Thursday of the month at the Forest Laker at 6:30 p.m.

Become one of us. Our motto is “We Serve.”

Nancy Immel
Forest Lake


Why Elections Matter

I oppose the Republican-sponsored marriage amendment because the arguments made in its favor are contradictory, erroneously claim the moral high ground, and attempt to use Christian values to equate same-sex marriage and decadence.

The first argument seems to be that government must dictate how people who want a nontraditional lifestyle (same-sex marriage) should live, which contradicts the Republican belief in the principles of smaller government, keep-your-nose-out-of-my-business thinking.

I suppose the view is that Republicans should stop fretting over these contradictory beliefs and stop worrying that they come across as small-minded and bigoted. After all, why pay taxes if not to use them to force people who want to live differently to subscribe to the values that made America great?

A second argument is that the amendment ensures that traditional marriage will continue to define the values that make Minnesota great and which same-sex marriage would destroy. It’s important to emphasize that these values do not include the traditional divorce rate (52 percent), the children of traditional divorce (62 percent), and the Republican do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do tradition (for example, the ongoing extramarital mess in the state legislature). It’s the other values that same-sex marriage would destroy.

A third argument appeals to those who believe in the Christian values of love, compassion, and tolerance – or at least say so on Sunday mornings. These individuals are called to register their opposition to same-sex marriage or be swept away in a tsunami of decadence and decay.

This is why elections matter.

Michael Harwell
Forest Lake


A Vote Against Seniors

At the Sept. 5 Chisago County meeting in Center City, three of the five commissioners (Ben Montzka, George McMahon and Rick Greene) voted not to fund the Chisago County Senior/Community Center in North Branch for the year 2013, yet they decided to fund the Historical Society and the Fair Board.

Are not our seniors just as important? Where are our funds to come from?  How can we keep our great center open without their help? Seniors and citizens of Chicago County, let’s get behind our center and contact these commissioners and let them know how this will affect you and how very important their funding is. If we have to close the doors, as Ben has said many times, where would you be able to get all the center offers?

Our fundraisers consist of the expo, craft sale, Christmas party, dances, spaghetti dinner, defensive driving, raffles and coming up a chicken dinner on Oct. 10.

Our coordinator, Dawn, and her assistant, Jess, do a fantastic job in keeping this center open and have taken a pay cut and they work many more hours without extra pay. We are fortunate to have them.

I wonder how often these commissioners attended a senior center board meeting or actually spent any time observing what this center is all about. Dawn has presented herself many time to the Chisago County Board imploring them to continue our funding, but to no avail.

Everyone, please get on board as we desperately need your help!

Grace Schwaab
Editor’s note: The vote referenced was a preliminary vote. The final vote cast against the funding measure was unanimous.


A Proverb Plays Out

“…The borrower is servant to the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7b

This principle is true for a household, business and/or government.

The United States is currently the borrower. China is the lender.

It is imperative that we elect fiscal conservatives that will make policy changes in order to reduce our federal debt.

Cast your vote for:

• Bob Barrett for State House District 17B

• Sean Nienow for State Senate District 17

• Kurt Bills for U.S. Senate

• Chip Cravaack for U.S. Congress – Minnesota Eighth Congressional District

• Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, U.S. President and Vice President

Help America return to Her former level of greatness. Preserve our nation for our children and grandchildren.

Betty Fisk


Vote Bunn for Education

When our current crop of local legislators voted to borrow from the school districts, a shift that is now $2.4 billion dollars, to balance the state budget, did they think it wouldn’t make a difference to our kids’ education, or did these Republicans just hope that local voters wouldn’t notice?

As Minnesota kids return to the classroom, their schools are operating with a multi-billion dollar hole in the budget.

It did not have to turn out like this. Last summer, Minnesota was dragged through the longest state government shutdown in U.S. history over gridlocked budget negotiations. “Compromise” became a dirty word. When the stalemate finally broke there were no winners, only losers – and the biggest loser of all was our K-12 schools.

Our Republican-led state legislature effectively shifted our state’s financial problems onto our schoolchildren.

As a result, our school districts have been forced to borrow millions to try to make ends meet. Middle-class families have been stuck paying more and more in student fees, even for basic classroom supplies. And our kids have been stuffed into the fourth most overcrowded classrooms in the nation.

Solid funding for our schools is critical, and it is why Julie Bunn is running for Senate in District 39. Julie believes that budget problems should not be solved on the backs of our kids, and that we should expect better than shifts and gimmicks to “solve” our state budget issues.

I recommend a vote for Julie Bunn on Nov. 6.

Judith Screaton


Take a Bow

Thank you to the Wyoming Area Business Association for supporting Wyoming’s annual Stagecoach Days celebration.

The celebration kicked off Friday in Goodview Park with a magician sponsored by Kicks ‘N Flips Swim School and a screening of The Lorax, sponsored by Miller and Stevens, P.A., and was followed by a day full of activities and fun on Saturday, including a petting zoo, pie, and bouncy castles.

It was truly a wonderful experience to see so many members of our community participating and enjoying the day together. Well done, WABA!

Claire Luger


Drawing the Line

Where do you draw the line on who can get married? God says it is one man and one woman. Do you draw it at two men or two women? Why not three? Four? Several people have married themselves. Is this acceptable?

The point is that there is a great deal of societal structure built on what God has ordained and most civilizations embraced. And it really has worked out pretty very well for a very long time.  Marriage is an exceptionally important principle and the trend toward trivializing it is very misguided. It is a sharp and solid line and not one to be blurred.

The constitutional amendment we will be voting on strengthens the existing law by making it harder to cast aside the theological mandate.  This is exactly the liberals fear. Are you willing to stand up and keep the line in the sand? Vote ‘yes’ for the marriage amendment.

Karen Freed
Forest Lake


Filling a Void

If not for the support of youth organizations in Forest Lake like the Forest Lake Area Athletic Association, the youth of our community would have so much less than they have today. The lack of funding for youth activities in general in the Forest Lake area is frankly embarrassing when compared to most of our neighboring communities.

I’ve lived and worked in Forest Lake for 33 years. I have been involved with youth sports locally for 22 years and have been the chair of the Forest Lake Baseball Association for the last six years. Without a doubt the biggest problem we have to deal with every year is trying to run a youth program with almost no financial support from Forest Lake and the other cities and townships that make up our Forest Lake community.

I realize budgets are tighter than ever and there is only so much money to go around, but I do not understand why supporting projects and organizations that help the youth of our community always seems to be at the bottom of the priority list of those that are in charge of running Forest Lake.

Thank goodness there is FLAAA and the many volunteers from all the youth sports within FLAAA, otherwise there would be no quality youth sports or facilities in Forest Lake.

Dale Hager


A Necessary Reply

Mr. Lahd’s letter last week can’t go unanswered.

He took Wyoming council member Yeager to task for voting ‘no’ on the bid to buy the old RiverBank building and the mayor’s “plan” to fix the streets. If Mr. Lahd was paying attention he would realize that Yeager is the only one using critical-thinking skills and asking tough questions.

In many meetings the mayor and council were asked what led them to believe Wyoming was going to grow to 16,000-18,000 residents from less than 8,000. Council member Joe Zerwas stated that the freeway and Hwy. 8 were going to drive the huge growth. This after it was communicated that from 2000 to 2010 the city/township added a little over 400 people. Last time I checked, the freeway and Hwy. 8 were both there during that time.

Also, a group of citizens opposed to the RiverBank building purchase needed 166 signatures to put the plan to a vote. We submitted over 750 signatures easily. Mr. Lahd, maybe Yeager was the only member actually listening to the residents!

Yeager is also asking good questions on the “plan” to fix the streets. She is doing what I expect elected officials to do – making sure taxpayer money is spent wisely.

What I guess Mr. Lahd is looking for from our elected officials is a tax and spend first, ask questions later mentality. I think that is what has our country in trouble financially.

Council member Yeager, please keep asking tough questions. Mr. Lahd, please rethink your position.

Dan Babbitt