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Readers’ Views

Office acted diligently

To the Editor:

On July 29, the Martin County Attorney’s Office obtained a conviction of Tyler Richard Byers on the felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide stemming from the tragic death of Myra Guzman. Our office wishes to clear up some misconceptions about the plea agreement that was reached in that case. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Mr. Byers received a stayed prison sentence of 72 months, as well as a six-month jail sanction. As part of that agreement, Mr. Byers was placed on probation for a period of 15 years, supervised by an agent from the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

The community should know that this plea offer was made only after careful consultation with the victim’s family. Our office met with the family on several occasions to talk through the various options that were available if our office prevailed in convicting Mr. Byers. The victim’s family was represented by an attorney throughout the case and, in the end, the family requested that the matter be settled with a stayed prison sentence and a jail component.

We, of course, cannot speak for the victim’s family, but will say that their grace and their desire to forgive Mr. Byers in the face of such a heartbreaking tragedy was moving. Their decision to request a stayed prison sentence was made after many difficult months, and included many serious considerations, not least of which were the needs of Mr. Byers’ and Ms. Guzman’s mutual children.

Our office also considered the safety of the public in reaching this agreement. Mr. Byers will be closely monitored on supervised probation, and if he does not follow the conditions of his probation, which include abstaining from the use of alcohol and other mood-altering chemicals, he could face execution of his 72-month prison sentence.

The Martin County Attorney’s Office will continue to work hard to aggressively prosecute all cases, especially those involving driving while impaired. We will also always consider the wishes of the victims in determining how a case is resolved. This case was a tragedy and our hearts continue to break for Ms. Guzman’s family as they continue to grieve their loss.

Any questions regarding this matter should be directed to our office at (507) 238-1594.

Peter A. Odgren

Assistant County Attorney

Fairmont

Aging is a positive

To the Editor:

What do you think of you when you hear the word “aging”? Does your mind race to the fact that you are growing older, wiser or more experienced? Or do you think of a sore back, needing assistance or not being able to do things you once did?

I’m sad to say that as a society our perception of aging has become negative and many people think growing old is a bad thing. Why has this happened? I, for one, would like to grow old, and believe it’s a good thing.

Recently, you may have heard of the impending “silver tsunami.” When I hear a phrase like this, I think of a catastrophe wiping out entire communities and permanently damaging an area. Is an increase in our older population a catastrophe? No, it’s just the opposite. We are living longer, healthier lives and are contributing to our families, communities and society as a whole.

How do older adults contribute? Like any younger person, they shop, they use services, they pay taxes, they volunteer and many still work. They give generously to charitable organizations and look after their grandchildren. Older adults do housework, home maintenance and yard work, provide transportation and run errands — not just for themselves, but for others as well. They also give emotional support and friendship to other older adults and provide care for spouses, family and friends.

While we need policy solutions to address real challenges of supporting older adults and their caregivers, let’s stop using phrases like “silver tsunami” and take a more balanced approach to the aging population. Now is the time for us to get creative, be innovative and embrace the fact that we are aging. It’s up to us to create a more age-inclusive community and culture and recognize the contributions of all.

Aging is a good thing and we should be positive about it. I leave you with an Irish saying, “You are not as young as you used to be. But you’re not as old as you’re going to be.” Age positively.

Jason W. Swanson,

executive director

Minnesota River Area

Agency on Aging

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