Open Forum for Aug. 10, 2017

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, 146 N. Lake St., Suite 125, 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. Letters by the same writer will not be published more than once per calendar month.

Welcome back

To all students, parents and community members, as president of the Forest Lake Education Association, I would like to welcome you to the 2017-2018 school year! Thank you for your support of the students, teachers, and staff of the Forest Lake Area Schools. When we stand together in support of public education and ensure our students are respected and have the schools and resources they deserve, we build stronger communities. I am a proud classroom teacher and have spent over 20 years as a social studies teacher at the Forest Lake Area Learning Center. Even more, I am proud to represent over 400 members of the Forest Lake Education Association. Our teachers do more than teach basic skills. They nurture and inspire children. They help students learn essential skills such as critical thinking, conflict resolution, cooperation, problem solving, and resilience. Many of our teachers have spent the summer months taking classes, attending conferences, and reflecting on the past year in order to improve their practice for the upcoming year, all in an effort to create the best possible learning opportunities for all students in FLAS.

We must stand together, support one another, and work to protect and improve public education for all students in the Forest Lake area. Together, we are advancing the common good for the community through strong schools. I invite you to visit our schools, observe Forest Lake educators in action, and learn for yourself how we can work together and contribute to a child’s success.

Allison LaBree Whittlef
President, Forest Lake Education Association

Many thanks

Having been retired for one month from the superintendency of Forest Lake Area Schools, I continue to be thankful for the wonderful opportunities I was part of the past 36 years. I continue to reflect on the many people who continually strive to provide what is needed in our community where all are valued and respected.

Thank you to the city/township leaders of the 12 communities of our district, our law enforcement and fire departments, our medical personnel, business owners, service organizations, school district staff, families and students and community members. These people all work together to solve problems, create solutions and plan for the future.

Besides retiring this year, I am celebrating my 40th class reunion. As many of us reflect on these past 40 years, we have come to appreciate what FLAS provided for us: an education that prepared us for various paths to success.

To say thanks to the school district and community, the reunion planning committee is asking our 1977 classmates to donate to the Community Scholarship Fund and The Education Foundation of the Forest Lake Area. After our Aug. 12 reunion, our reunion planning committee will present our contributions to CSF and TEFFLA to help continue the positive and important work both organizations engage in and support. The goal is to make this an ongoing form of support from the Class of 1977.

We are fortunate to live in a vibrant community that values our history and is moving in progressive and thoughtful ways.

Linda Madsen
Forest Lake

Dick Damchik memory

About 35 years ago, the owners of Castlewood Golf Course decided their tax losses were too low and approached the Town Board with a scheme to trade substantial rezoning and IR bond financing in return for a gift of a smaller executive course. After one season with four managers to further cook their books, they proceeded with their plan to build condos around the perimeter of the original course. Cliff Becker, a Castlewood groundskeeper, and I obtained mailing lists of club members and organized them to appear at Town Board meetings and oppose this plan to partner with the Town Board in destroying the amenity of this decades old regulation golf course. The only member willing to learn was Dick Damchik, who became chair of a committee to explore this issue.

The owners signed a purchase agreement with developer Jim Schilling, who attended the first meeting of the committee and decreed these owners could do anything they wanted and the citizens and town officials had no rights involved nor business interfering. That was all it took to engage ex-Marine Damchik, and attendance at his meetings increased. When the owners saw the damage Schilling’s tirade had caused, they banished him from future meetings, hired a golf course architect and came up with a plan to preserve Castlewood as a regulation course and even add 1,000 yards. I disagreed with Dick on many issues, but he clearly was a bold and solitary Town Board champion of community members on this occasion.

Dale Swanson
Forest Lake