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Readers’ Views

Community has PERKS

To the Editor:

We at Kinship are thankful for our partnership with our community. We are supported financially by our community. We partner with different organizations to host events and seek opportunities for our mentors and mentees. We are also able to work with different areas of our community to provide resources for our families. And, we have an awesome partnership with local businesses, literally called our PERKs Program — Professionals Encouraging Relationships with Kids.

We have spoken to many businesses and organizations in our area and worked with them to provide cost-effective ways for our mentors and mentees to do things throughout Martin County. Several of them offer a free meal for a mentee if they are with their mentor; a free admission to a pool, movie or race; or even the opportunity to work out with each other at our local fitness centers. We are grateful for their willingness to enable mentors to support our community and its establishments. And, as a way of recognizing those who offer PERKs, we encourage our mentors and mentees to send a thank you after visiting.

If you or your business would like to find a way to offer a PERK to our mentors and mentees, please contact Kinship at (507) 238-4440. We would love to work with you.

Jen Kahler, director

Kinship of Martin County

Fairmont

If it isn’t broken …

To the Editor:

Fairmont is blessed with a strong volunteer fire department. It has been that way since the establishment of the city. In that entire time, volunteers have responded in sunshine, extreme heat and extreme cold for little compensation. They do it for various reasons, but I suspect one of them is that they love this town and it is their way of giving back.

They have elected their officers that entire time. The City Council and mayor have rubber stamped those elections the entire time.

There is absolutely not one good reason to change this. Not one. It works, so why mess with success? As long as the city provides firefighters a station and reasonable fire equipment that is not broken down, the system works great for us all. We get an added bonus – these volunteers also work to raise money and provide us with fireworks displays.

Then what happens? The bull in the china shop (Councilman Tom Hawkins) comes along and wants to screw with this. Yes, the guy for whom everything he touches turns to you know what and costs Fairmont citizens an arm and a leg.

Make no mistake about this: there was a reason the firefighters were at the City Council meeting this week. They were given a heads up on the triad’s new way to bring Fairmont to its knees. Hawkins knew this would not be liked and he did it anyway – because he claims to know what is best for us, whether we like it or not.

Hawkins and his two votes in his pocket want to make it so firefighters have no control over their officers any longer, with officers instead hired through the city’s employee hiring process.

Do not believe even one word of what Tom Hawkins said about what a benefit it will be to Fairmont. He says it is highly recommended by the League of Minnesota Cities and that for liability purposes it is best we get with the program. Our interim city administrator, Mark Sievert, must have wondered if Hawkins was spreading fertilizer because he got on the phone with the League and found: “What they wanted to emphasize was that any of these memos that they put out are their recommendations. They are what they call ‘best practices.’ Sievert added, “In no way, shape or form are they saying what we do is illegal.”

It does not matter what you think of me for standing up against these three bullies in the past. Fairmont is not better for what they have “accomplished” so far. If you allow them to screw with our volunteer fire department, the people of Fairmont will rue the day it happened. We will set in motion a process that, in the end, will destroy our fire department and its volunteer structure. We citizens cannot afford a full-time fire department.

I watched this happen in the town where I was raised — a town not even half the size of Fairmont. They decided they would choose the chief and officers, then got a grant to hire four full-time firefighters who were paid big-city union wages. Before they knew it, there were no volunteers and they had to hire an entire department at excessive wages in a small town in a rural part of the state, and then the grant ran out.

We know that Hawkins has the votes to do what he wants, so if he starts us down this path, we have one of two ways to stop him. The firefighters must agree to stand up to the triad and threaten a walk out or the people of the town must pressure the triad to act sensibly. Waiting for the next election is too long to wait.

Jack H. Hansen

Fairmont

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