Readers’ Views

Time for referendum

To the Editor:

Recently, it was announced there could be a 6.5 percent property tax increase in Fairmont to support a new community center. This would be in addition to the half-cent sales tax increase already implemented. If this is true, then I suggest the city of Fairmont hold a referendum on the building of a community center.

The “vote” that supporters of the project are banking on was a predominantly internet survey. If you know someone who participated in the survey (maybe you did yourself), ask them how many times they “voted.” Many people who do not have internet access did not contribute to this survey. I do not feel it reflects a true view of whether the community wants a community center.

In the interim, I would like the city to conduct a use study that would look at existing facilities in the community and how we could make them work as a community center. Could we make the former Kmart, JCPenney and Marketlink spaces work collectively? Maybe part of the money could help the Knights of Columbus expand to serve larger events. What if we used part of the monies to enclose the Aquatic Park and make it available year round? Could we develop an agreement with the existing fitness businesses to increase memberships instead of building new?

The YMCA is a great organization, but it is not the only one that can provide quality community programming. What about CER? It already manages more than 1,000 activities throughout the year within our community. Could its capacity be expanded with some of the funds to add programming through its office?

I would prefer to keep our money in town and support local people and their families living and working here.

Here is the list of what we would gain with a new community center, according to Project 1590:

o to develop a place for people to gather

o to build upon youth programming

o an indoor place for numerous activities during winter

o a community amenity to attract and retain people to call the Fairmont area home

o to encourage healthy living

o to strengthen social development within our community

Instead, let’s make our whole community a “center” and save some tax dollars. We already have most of these resources here and available.

Local businesses might support this type of concept knowing their property taxes will not go up an additional 6.5 percent. We could score high with future businesses wanting to locate here because of our innovativeness and wise use of resources.

I think this type of thinking can really bring all factions of the community together to improve the community overall.

Thank you for considering.

Linda Meschke


A positive experience

To the Editor:

I really love when special opportunities come around for students in our community. That’s one reason we love Fairmont. Our kids have many special opportunities that I don’t think they would get in other school districts.

My kids have been able to learn so many life skills: being a teammate and learning how to win and how to lose when participating in sports; learning how to speak/perform in front of others by participating in extracurricular activities such as speech, choir, musicals, band, etc.; learning how important it is to give to others by being active in student council, National Honor Society, blood drives, etc. I could go on but it would take too long to include all that they learn in the classroom.

On Dec. 3, my senior in high school was so fortunate to be part of another unique opportunity. He was able to attend a political gathering and listen to several well-known politicians from a neighboring state and from the country. His friend is trying to get into the U.S. Air Force Academy and two special people in our local school district wanted to help this friend take an extra step to try to make that become a reality by connecting with some important politicians. My son was fortunate to be one of the few students who got to go along. I never would have guessed he would have been able to experience this.

One of the speakers emphasized the importance of getting out and voting in all elections and voting scenarios, no matter how big or small, they all matter. Another speaker mentioned making an educated decision on how you want to vote. My son is old enough to vote and I’m sure he will be much more invested and anxious to participate in the political process now that he has had this experience.

My son doesn’t want to go into politics, but he has learned another important life lesson from Fairmont Area Schools. It is to be active and interested in your country, your state and your community by participating in open forums, general elections, primaries, etc.

This situation that I am writing about is just one of those amazing things my kids are learning from the people working in our district. If we don’t share these stories, people won’t know about them. I know there are hundreds of other stories out there about how district employees are making a special impact on our students. I just wanted to share this one.

It’s important to focus on the positive in a world that can be so negative. I am grateful to the special administrators, teachers, staff, custodial staff, etc., who make up this great district and who teach my children things every day, as well as work hard for the sake of their education.

A special thank you to Superintendent Joseph Brown and guidance counselor Scott Geerdes for taking and chaperoning these students to this event. I never even met my school superintendent let alone took a “field trip” somewhere with him.

Sandy Soelter


Disappointed in Mayo

To the Editor:

In December 2002, I joined Mayo Clinic Health System-Fairmont, known by most as Fairmont Medical Center. I continued to practice as an obstetrician and gynecologist until the end of 2018.

Those were, for the most part, some of the happiest years of my professional life, but over the past few months I have been disappointed in, embarrassed by and ashamed of the Mayo Clinic. There can be no doubt that it continues to be one of the great fonts of health care in the United States. However, many now question Mayo’s degree of concern for the welfare of its dedicated employees, and of ordinary patients, particularly those in the rural Midwest.

I know I am not alone in thinking that Mayo’s shutdown of the Albert Lea hospital was shameful, and they seem to be doing the same to Fairmont, albeit gradually. While all of this is going on, Mayo has been expanding to London, with a clinic providing health screening for executives, and now they have announced plans to open a 741-bed hospital in Abu Dhabi, pandering, it would seem, to the billionaire oil sheikhs, sparing them the trouble of flying to Rochester.

When Mayo Clinic Health System-Mankato staged a takeover of Fairmont some 10 or 12 years ago, I said, half jokingly, “Today, Fairmont. Tomorrow, the world!” I didn’t know how prophetic that was.

Sam Meals


Center would be good

To the Editor:

The decision by the Fairmont City Council to begin approval for a new community center is good. People in Fairmont and the surrounding area will enjoy the benefits this center offers.

I was also glad to see expressions of support from Fairmont Area Schools and 3M. No one can do it alone, and it can and should increase opportunities for vocational training.

I hope that opportunities are given for vocational training in customer service, similar to the vocational training in the industrial arts. Our youth today are reported to have less skill in face-to-face, multi-generational service business interactions. Helping them develop these skills, along with others, seems to be a potentially valuable service the community center could help provide.

Finally, I hope the City Council can find a way to pay for some of these things without continuing to raise taxes. We have other significant needs in the city and county that also will require substantial public funding, such as the needed law enforcement center. It is likely these will also require an increased tax levy. Please don’t pick all the meat off of the proverbial bone before some of these important and possibly more urgent needs are funded.

Joe Loughmiller


Trump abused power

To the Editor:

In response to the recent Sentinel editorial on the impeachment of President Trump: The most powerful elected official on planet earth did several things in the last six months:

1) He withheld military aid for two months this summer. The aid was promised by Congress to help a small country in its fight against an enemy. The small country desperately needed this military aid ($400 million).

2) The President told the leader of the small country to investigate the one candidate who might beat the President in the 2020 fall election. The leader of the small country knew the aid was on hold and that without consenting to agree to Trump’s favor, possibly his country would not receive the needed military aid.

3) Once the President’s action became public, the military aid was released.

4) Once an investigation began, the President required all administration officials not to cooperate.

The President abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress in its investigation of his conduct regarding Ukraine.

Peter Engstrom



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