Readers’ Views

Matter of Independence

To the Editor:

The news cycle can be dizzying. In just the past few weeks, we’ve gone from trade wars with China, to the Kavanaugh hearings, to stock market swings, to migrant caravans, to pipe bombs. Not that all those issues aren’t important, but they can distract us from local issues over which we actually have control.

Not long ago, a letter from Andy Lucas appearing in these pages highlighted an important issue facing our town – the building and funding of a proposed community center. But in many ways, this issue involves more than simply whether a new government-funded building should be constructed.

Ever since the agricultural crisis of the 1980s, rural communities have been struggling for their independence and today those challenges continue. First, the only way we can be independent is to take independent responsibility for our actions. We are told that the public will not be allowed to vote on the community center issue; we are told that the earlier vote on a sales tax was in effect a vote approving a community center; we are told that the final vote is in the hands of the City Council. But if we can’t have a say over what government does in our town, we can hardly expect to be thought of an independent community.

Second, there is a good debt, and there is a bad debt. Good debt occurs when a family buys a home or a farmer purchases a new tractor, knowing exactly how that acquisition of a necessary asset will be paid off. Bad debt, based only on obscure hopes or promises, inevitably erodes independence, especially in a community struggling to find a source of economic growth. To engage in the kind of expansion required by the proposed community center, without a strong base of economic growth, is to further diminish the independence of future generations, whose freedom will be restricted by the burdens we bequeath to them. Furthermore, the community center investment needs to be considered in the context of other potential upcoming investments required for infrastructure, roads or possibly a new jail. In 1980, the population of Fairmont was 11,506, and in 2017 it was 10,126, so we must realize that commitments we make today will have to be borne by relatively fewer people in the future. Our duty to future generations imposes on us the responsibility to carefully assess what burdens we impose on them today.

Third, the question we must be asked as to whether the proposed community center will undermine the independence of local organizations that already perform many of the functions that the proposed center promises to perform. To undermine these local organizations, operated by volunteers committed to the future of our families and neighborhoods, would be the worst betrayal of our community’s integrity and independence.

Michael Garry


Foster has served well

To the Editor:

After watching Deb Foster serve as Mayor of Fairmont for the last two years I encourage everyone to re-elect her to serve another four years. In her two years served she has proven she has the energy, passion, and willingness to serve. Mayor Foster has served with integrity and honesty. Her actions taken have matched her words. Deb has demonstrated her willingness to ask the questions, get the information, and hear from all sides before forming an opinion. She is strong and willing to work. Her passion to see Fairmont continue to grow is evident in her actions.

My personal experiences working with Mayor Foster have been wonderful. She took the time to sit down and discuss the topic with me. She listens with full attention and confirms she understands. When attending city council meetings I watch her go around the room, welcoming and introducing herself to everyone attending. At one particular meeting some Girl Scouts were attending and I saw their faces light up as Deb went around and shook their hands and called them by name. She is truly a role model for our young female students. Mayor Foster also began “Saturday Mornings with the City” to give everyone an opportunity to talk to the city council and city employees in a casual environment, without cameras and a microphone. These have been held at different locations, making it more convenient for all to attend, and also with different topics and speakers.

Mayor Foster has used the resources around her to gather more knowledge about the city, the ordinances, and the issues that keep us up at night. When she does not know the answer she will let you know, she will find the answer, and she will get back to you. She expressed her top three concerns are the community center, the blighted properties, and recruitment and retention of skilled workers. In listening to her speak she also recognizes child care is an issue that is state wide and knows the right people are working on that and they are supported. I look forward to watching her continue to ask the questions, get the information out to everyone, work with everyone and see where she takes Fairmont in the future. I encourage everyone to vote for Deb Foster, a proven voice for you.

Sara Pierce


Zarling against growth

To the Editor:

When Jim Zarling publicly made the statement to step down as 3rd Ward Council member, I was finally relieved and hoped that we might start a fresh and exciting process of growth in Fairmont.

Then I heard about Jim Zarling making a statement a few days ago that if asked, he would run as a write-in, and low and behold, here it is, just a few days later on the front page of the Sentinel. It is interesting that the one person who asked him to run will not identify himself or herself. And just before the deadline for write-ins. What a coincidence.

His opponent, Randy Lubenow, felt he did not need to spend funds as no one was running against him. Jim Zarling did not even debate, pay the filing fee, and by his own statement, he was stepping down. He reverses himself again and dropped hints that he would run if asked. Jim Zarling has a long history of reversing himself whenever it suited his purpose.

Jim appeared before the Council about 20 years ago and asked that we raise the standard for our building inspections, as we had lost huge sums of money by our attorney in court, and we needed to adopt this method to protect our city. You know the extra cost and expenses that everyone has paid to build here ever since, when the same thing can be built elsewhere at about 20 percent less. I feel that my voting for this action was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made because I bought into Jim’s rhetoric. As everyone knows, I am and have always been for strong growth in Fairmont.

Jim suggested that perhaps Fairmont should stay small and not grow (i.e. building code). This was not the first time he asked this question to council members. I know of two more council members, besides myself, he approached. Jim asked each time that a project was suggested to him, “Do you really want to see Fairmont grow?”

Jim states that he wants new infrastructure in Fairmont. He has had 20+ years as councilman and Administrator and we still have terrible roads and infrastructure that needs to be improved. Why did he not accomplish these tasks when he was Administrator and spent the last four years as a councilman?

My suggestion to anyone living in the 3rd Ward who is interested in seeing Fairmont grow and protect your jobs, and who cares about the citizens of Fairmont, please vote for Randy Lubenow, as we need a breath of fresh air for Fairmont.

Terry D. Anderson


Foster best candidate

To the Editor:

Two years ago I suggested that the best candidate for Mayor of Fairmont was my sister Debbie Foster. I was thrilled and had the honor to be at her side on election night when she was notified that she had been elected to serve. I am now suggesting that she remains the best candidate to fill a full four-year term as Mayor.

Since the election Debbie has proven to be an effective leader. Debbie is always seeking feedback from those she serves and listens to all opinions. She is a deliberative and thoughtful public servant who makes her decisions based upon what is best for the entire citizenry.

Debbie is contemplative, honest, reflective and of the highest moral character. Her reputation is unblemished and she will always do what is right without a single exception. I cherish her opinion, her wisdom and the example that she sets on how to treat others, even those with which you may not agree. As I said in 2016, I often consider Debbie to be my personal moral compass.

As children my sisters and I were taught that it is our obligation to be of service to others. Whether through participating in church youth groups, 4-H clubs or other service organizations, we were expected to contribute to improving our community and assisting our neighbors.

Debbie takes her obligation to serve personally and she is relentless in her quest to improve the day-to-day lives of those she serves. She has consistently contributed to the betterment of Fairmont and its residents. She has faithfully mentored many confirmation students in her church, she served multiple terms on the Fairmont School Board and now she honorably serves as Mayor.

As you step into the voting booth on November 6th, I urge you to once again elect my sister Debbie Foster to continue to serve as your Mayor.

Rusty Wille