From the Jan. 12 edition of The Madisonian

Twin Bridges superintendent thanks community for support

Dear Editor,

As many of you know, on Nov. 19, we encountered a life-altering moment while traveling to Fairview to cheer the Falcons on to a soon-to-be State Class C Football Championship. In the blink of an eye, our “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity had faded and the realization of a near-fatal car wreck was soon to sink in. Luckily for me, the injuries I had sustained were very minor and needed no attention; however, my daughter Mara had broken her left wrist and my wife, Melanie, was in critical condition with numerous fractures and internal injuries. It is amazing in a time like this how narrow your world becomes when seconds seem to take hours and hours seem to take days; the focus at this time was to concentrate on family.

Meanwhile, close friends and community members from Twin Bridges stepped into action. I cannot mention names in this case because as easily as I can remember the events of this whole scenario, I can just as easily unintentionally forget someone equally as important that made a difference in our lives. There were so many things that needed attention that no one single person could have handled this situation without the help and guidance and friendship of an entire community! Our house was transformed to assist in Melanie’s transition home. A vehicle that accommodates our entire family was donated for transportation. Funds were established at local businesses and the bank in order to support our family through this time. This was all done before we ever made it home. Please let it be known that such generosity spread well beyond Twin Bridges…individuals and groups from Sheridan, Dillon and Forsyth (just to name a few) were incredibly supportive and gracious during this time. Thank you!

However, I draw my focus back to Twin Bridges. I do recall a “young punk” teenager in the mid-1980s moving from another local school to Twin Bridges. He was very tentative in the move because you simply didn’t transfer from school to school back in the day. It was easier to move half way across the state than to a school within the same conference. Looking back on that move, it too was a life changing moment. The school and community accepted that teenager with open arms and accepted him as one of their own…regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, family background or other questionable attributes. When that teenager needed a home, families throughout the community opened their doors. When that teenager grew up a little and sought out a career in that community, it opened its doors. When that same teenager experienced a life-changing moment that nearly cost him his family…that same community opened more than just its door, it also open its hearts!

I cannot imagine myself or my family in any other place than where we are now. I appreciate all the support from those across the state; those in southwest Montana and most importantl those associated with where I am very proud to call home – Twin Bridges. This community has historically “given all they got” and what’s even more exciting to realize is that they continue to give in the roughest of times! Thank you so much for all you have done…from the Johnson Family, we wish you the happiest of New Year and God Bless!

Chad Johnson
Twin Bridges

Cowboys do know right from wrong

Dear Editor,

After months of reading David Kelley and company’s rants, I can no longer stand by and remain silent.

I believe that all the questions brought up by Mr. Kelly on page 12 of the Jan. 5 Madisonian have been addressed in his failed lawsuit or will be settled by TRS. The opinion made by Montana Attorney General Bullock regarding the use of adult education funds for the new school has also raised some issues that are not yet resolved.

My point in writing this letter is that every issue brought up by Mr. Kelley has either been thrown out, in his failed lawsuit, or is in the process of being worked out by the various agencies involved. These board members do not deserve to be continually tried in the court of public opinion. They are decent human beings and they deserve better. Let’s not forget that they have wives and children living in this town. To me, it appears that Mr. Kelley has ignored the feelings of many in his quest to publicly ruin these men.

I want to clearly state that I personally do not agree with all of the board’s decisions, but I do believe that those decisions were made with the best interests of the district and its students in mind. The nice thing about freedom, Mr. Kelley, is we can agree to disagree but I can still respect those I disagree with and avoid making it a personal vendetta.

I have had both personal and business relationships with most of these board members and will continue to do so in the future. Any decision they may have made as a board member will not change the way I view them as people.

Regarding Mr. Kelley’s reference to the “Last Best Place,” I think that the majority of people who live in Ennis do so because they want to, not because they have to. I learned from my dad and my father-in-law that small towns are great because of one thing, volunteerism. Whether it be serving on the planning board, fire department, ambulance, search and rescue, lions club, rodeo association, 4H, woman’s club, food bank, parade committee, big brothers big sisters, school board, or any other organization that is volunteer led, these people serve out of the goodness of their hearts. I cannot imagine a rational person not having some semblance of respect for the people who donate their time and effort to serve our community. I can guarantee you that in a time of need, these people would be there to do their part in a heartbeat.

I have heard from many that this isn’t meant to be personal, but I hate to break it to you, it is personal, and has been for a long time. I regret not having spoken up sooner, as the mean spirited and hateful rhetoric has gone on long enough.

These issues will all be worked out in time, they are out of our hands and what will be, will be! Like any good cowboy knows, no good can come from beating a dead horse. I urge all of you to become more “educated, informed, involved” to quote my late father-in-law, Bob Cleverley, whose name has unfortunately been brought up in this debate too often. I can say with certainty he would be disgusted by the mud slinging and hate and discontent brought on by Mr. Kelley. Stop letting one person think and answer for you, we’re not sheep! Mr. Kelley’s decision to somehow compare these men and the decisions they have made, to the atrocities of World War II is, in my mind, ludicrous, and a great disrespect to those who served.

In conclusion, let’s not forget what it is that made us all love this town to begin with, a sense of community, people helping people, and respecting one another as human beings. Cowboys do know right from wrong, Mr. Kelley. I fancy myself somewhat of a cowboy, and what you are doing to try and destroy these men is, in my mind, wrong. Just like you, Mr. Kelley, I am entitled to my opinion and it appears to me that you only like it here as long as things are done your way. Please keep in mind that none of us have to live here, there are three exits leading out of this town.

Chad Coffman
Ennis

Clarifying points made in last week’s paper

Dear Editor,

I am writing to clarify and correct a few things that appeared in the two pages of material I had printed in The Madisonian last week.

First, all of the sworn testimony that I referred to in that material is a matter of public record at the Madison County Court House in the Kelley v. Glines file, and the entire material can be read by anyone who wishes to do so. Most of the material is attached to Plaintiff’s Second Motion to Compel dated May 16, 2011.

Second, the date of the critical correspondence sent to Mr. Walsh from the Teachers’ Retirement System was August 4, 2008 as noted in paragraphs 7 and 8 of that material, not August 4, 2010 as stated in paragraph 15. Not only were Mr. Walsh’s so-called “consulting” contracts illegal because they weren’t put out to bid, but this TRS letter made it clear that they were illegal because Mr. Walsh was not an independent contractor.

It is hard to believe Mr. Walsh didn’t know what he was doing, because according to the June 17, 1992 issue of the Plentywood Herald, similar issues arose while he was superintendent in Plentywood. Mr. Walsh did not disclose or discuss this letter with anyone on the board, but instead had the district’s attorney create contracts for him to become the “bus supervisor” and the board went blindly along with it. Mr. Croy, who was supposedly negotiating the contract, didn’t even bother to talk to Mr. Walsh.

Third, Marc Glines signed the 2009 and 2010 bus supervisor contracts as well as the 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 consulting contracts. However, Mr. Walsh’s 2008 “bus supervisor” contract was signed by Jim McNally, not Marc Glines. When asked under oath if he knew why he entered into this bus supervisor contract, his answer was almost identical to Mr. Glines. Mr. McNally answered, “No, I do not.”

David Kelley
Ennis

Friends of the library group to award prize money at science fair

Dear Editor,

Friends of the Madison Valley Public Library will award a money prize at the Ennis High School Science Fair to be held Monday, Jan. 30.

The prize will be awarded to the student who uses book references in the most effective manner. We are excited to see how students use the wealth of knowledge to be gained by using the Madison Valley Public Library books and services for their projects.
The staff at the library is always willing to lend a hand to find references, resources and materials. Thanks to the support of the community the Library continues to stay strong, vibrant and relevant.

Judy Miller
President, Friends of the Madison Valley Public Library

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