Letters to the Editor: 1.10.13

The barn door; closed behind the horse

Dear Editor,

There is a rush to create a new “anti gun” program due to the senseless shooting of all the children and teachers at Newton, Conn.

Unfortunately, the horse has left the barn; those military type weapons never should have been allowed to be sold to the public. Anyone who was on the approval panels should be banned in making any decisions that affect the general public’s welfare and especially our laws.

But, again, unfortunately, we have appointed or voted these “decision makers” in our present situation. When that decision was made, didn’t any of these so-called “intellects” realize that it doesn’t take 30 rounds to kill a deer. Any hunter who needs an AR-15 to shoot an animal shouldn’t be allowed to buy a license to hunt. It’s just plain insanity and only hurts the real hunters and weapon’s collectors.

Now there are millions of these rifles in American’s homes. With the ACLU, and other “civil protection organizations” the Feds will be fought tooth and nail by these people when they try to take these weapons or forbid their sale.

That horse is gone, never to return, but hopefully the public will start to realize these “intellects” have allowed their crowd to pass other laws that are now tearing this country apart.

Whether you agree or not, these issues – gay marriages, legal marijuana, gays in the military, abused USA borders, illegal immigration allowed so a political party can use it – for or against – during elections, open cities protecting aliens, this rifle dispute, blacks against whites, men against women, are all going to have one result. This drive to destroy one portion of our Constitution has one thing with all these issues and that is after they get rid of the Second Amendment, they’ll start to pick apart other Amendments they disagree on.

That sleeping giant; the American public had better wake up before these so called intellects we elect, completely destroy our Constitution and our country in their drive for political power. That’s why they fight a compromise. They are both protecting their turf; they don’t worry about the rest of the city.

Bill Hanley

Twin Bridges


Will only work for the best interest of Madison County citizens

Dear Editor,

Montana, and more specifically, southwest Montana is slowly awakening to the reality that forces beyond our state borders have an extraordinary influence in the land use policies and environmental regulations being implemented at the local level.

We are increasingly being held hostage to policies crafted by state and federal government agencies, run by unelected administrative bureaucrats, enforcing policies written by environmental special interests, and funded with limitless tax exempt foundation money. It is contrary to our constitutional republican form of government to ignore the needs of the folks who have lived, worked, and died on the land for generations, and instead comply with “vision statements” dreamed up by unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. or in the boardrooms of powerful and well-funded tax exempt foundations.

County commissioners are elected to support and represent local interests and to protect the lives, liberty and property of the citizens of their county. As your county commissioner, my duty and allegiance is clear…I am here to protect and serve you, the citizens of Madison County. My purpose is not to defend international, federal, and state programs that are contrary to the interests of Madison County. The federal bureaucracy, state agencies, non-governmental- organizations (NGOs) and tax exempt foundations are more than adequately represented and funded by others.

Isn’t it time that local government stands up and supports the local citizens’ interests instead of overreaching programs and agencies that are making it more and more difficult to make a living off the land? I have been told that we should work with federal and state agencies to get the best deal that they are willing to give us, and that’s the best we should expect. As long as those agencies are representing the best interests of Madison County and our citizens, I will work with them…if not, count me out. We owe better to our constituents than a “go along to get along at any cost” mentality.

With that in mind, Jefferson County Commissioner Leonard Wortman and I petitioned the Agriculture Committee at our MACo annual convention in September to allow concerned commissioners to form a Large Predator Working Group. Our goal was to study how best to support our constituents and deal with the myriad issues of dealing with rapidly increasing numbers of large predators. We decided to ask each interested county to draft their own Large Predator Policy that reflected local issues and to collaborate through MACo to produce a statewide policy that has real impact on the large predator debate.

I drafted a policy for Madison County that I felt represented the local perspective and mirrored many of ideas included in Jefferson, Gallatin and Ravalli County efforts. The text of our Large Predator Resolution includes language requiring the consultation and coordination of state agencies which seems to be a real sticking point for some folks concerned that FWP may not view our actions favorably; thinking us not adequately conciliatory and cooperative with their existing policies and stated goals.  There is a concern that FWP may not like our request for an equal seat at the table in negotiating ongoing large predator policies and may look at us as being entirely too uppity and outspoken to deserve that level of participation. To those folks, I suggest that your Madison County Commissioners are here to represent the citizens first and our cooperation with federal and state agencies is dependent on their adherence to policies that protect the lives, liberty and property of our citizens. Our allegiance should be clear.

Please look for my future letters on large predator policies, coordination legislation, wilderness takings, private property, free roaming bison, natural resource development and other thorny issues confronting southwest Montana.

Dan A. Happel

Commissioner District 2


Thank you for your kindness

Dear Editor,

Thank you to the staff at Madison Valley Manor for the loving care you gave Joy during her stay there. She loved all of you!

Your kindness was very much appreciated.

The Klatt and Schendel Families


Disarm America? What have we learned from history

Dear Editor,

I have been pondering much of the emotional rhetoric that has been flowing from the gun control folks and there are some serious problems with the knee jerk reaction that has occurred over the heinous murders of the innocent.

Before I continue I would like to go on record that there is no way on God’s green earth that I could ever condone the cold-blooded killing of anyone. But to use these murders to punish law abiding citizens for the action of a very small percentage of the population is ridiculous. It’s kind of like disciplining your neighbor’s child for something your own child did.

If we disarm America then we haven’t learned anything from history. Adolf Hitler disarmed Germany in the years prior to the holocaust. The Jews had no way to defend themselves against the horrors that Hitler had planned for them. China and the United Nations would love to disarm us, why is that? Why is it that the states and cities that have very strict gun control laws have the highest crime rates? How come the news media never covers the individual that saved his own life and perhaps others with a gun, but spend months dwelling on these murders that crazy people commit? Why is it that the politicians and the Hollywood types have armed bodyguards, but they would love to take away our right to self-defense? Is self-defense or gun ownership a class privilege? Why are we so quick to move to a military and police state?

We evidently do not learn from history. If we were to allow trained teachers and school employees to volunteer to carry concealed weapons, they could save many lives of the innocent. Our founding fathers gave us the freedoms we have today because they were armed. If they were disarmed we would not have the United States of America. Ponder how different our history would be if our founding fathers never owned guns.

I am thankful to God for this newspaper that allows us to voice our opinions and the founding fathers that made this all possible without fear of being arrested for having an opinion.

Michael Laurin



Grateful for generous hearts in the Ruby Valley

Dear Editor,

I am personally grateful to the generous hearts of those who made the Ruby Valley Giving Tree a true gift to those in need in the Virginia City, Alder and Sheridan areas.

Whether you sent money, took a tag, or donated product, colored tags, or took the time to call me with names, it takes all of us working together to ensure success. Every tag was taken from the Christmas tree at the Ruby Valley National Bank in Sheridan which enabled me to take care of some last minute names of families with children as well as some elderly that came to me after the tags were pulled and Christmas was days away.

There were also many businesses in and outside our area that donated product or discounted items to make it extra special. I’m merely the messenger who is so very appreciative.

Billie Ratcliffe

The Ruby Valley Giving Tree


Nothing but a wilderness bill

Dear Editor,

Please note: this bill cannot make it on it’s own merits and has been attached to Senator Reids omnibus bill.


This bill was never intended to be a forest jobs and recreation act. This bill was written with environmental and logging groups behind closed doors. The people it will most affect were never part of the bill drafting process. The logging industry now has seen through what is going on and wants nothing to do with this bill. Throughout the language in the bill there was never a guarantee that one tree would be cut, the only guarantee is that there will be thousands of acres of new wilderness; which Southwest Montana does not want nor do the majority of the people of the State of Montana want. We can come up with all sorts of numbers about how many people want this bill but the real truth is it is way lower than what we are being lead to believe.


Over the year’s culverts, roads and bridges have washed out and not been replaced or rebuilt, with the reason being there is no money to accomplish these repairs. Many prime hunting areas have become less accessible because of these inactions. Tester’s Wilderness Bill will accomplish more of the same. The Snowcrest do not meet the intent of the Federal Wilderness Act. No mineral assessment has been done in this mountain range. Improvements such as pasture rotations, stock tanks, and integrated weed management by grazing associations in proposed wilderness areas have improved range conditions, water quality for fisheries and forage for livestock and wildlife.


This bill is nothing more than a means of getting livestock off of public lands. The Snowcrest is a prime example of how multiple-useof our National Forests is supposed to work for the good of We the People! If this Wilderness Bill were to pass our small towns, hospitals, schools, and the ranching communities will all suffer immensely. Everyone wants nothing more than to have clean and healthy forests. Our friends and neighbors in the logging industry need to go back to work but this bill does nothing to help them do so. Local sportsman, ranchers, recreationists, will do whatever it takes to improve habitat for grazing, fisheries and wildlife habitat. There is no way Montanans that have worked in and enjoyed the Snowcrests will ever let them be harmed.


We must look ahead; this Wilderness Bill does not accomplish that at all. We need to think about the generations to come; not just think about ourselves today! This bill appears to be nothing more than a legacy for certain people.


Ray Shaw



Treasured the last four years

Dear Editor,

2013 welcomes a new crop of Legislators that will be sworn in on Monday, Jan. 7, to defend and uphold the Constitutions of our state and the United States. It is important as a citizen to encourage, support, and defend their efforts and also call them to account should they fail. As the past four years have brought many challenges to our state, it is important to remember that good government begins with good questions and conversation amongst people of good will.  While no single legislator is responsible for good law, failure and success can be claimed in part by all. Some of the successes I was proud to be part of were:

1. Providing the opportunity of local water owners to privatize the Cataract Dam in Pony.

2. Secure funding, in accordance with the law, to make necessary repairs to the Ruby Dam, the Blaine Springs Bridge, and the Sheridan Sewer System without undermining the integrity of my office by playing politics with the Governor.

3. Beginning the conversation to restore the value of the peoples’ labor by restoring value to our money system (Sound Constitutional Dollars).

4. Educating the people of HD 71 and the State of Montana on the rights and duties of a fully informed juror, as set forth by our founding fathers.

5. Restoration of parental rights in regard to minors seeking abortion.

Some failures that will soon come home to rest are the massive tax increases that will be paid by all for the nearly 1.5 billion dollars of federal stimulus that was pumped into many programs that increased the state’s base line budget, increased the size of government and regulation over our lives, and most certainly will be conversation for future budgets.  Many legislators, as well as constituents were fooled into believing it would be free money.

As a last official act of representation for HD 71, I drafted a bill and submitted it to Representative Shaw that simply requires all public institutions of education to recite the preamble to our state Constitution once a week and provide with existing resources age appropriate lessons to teach the relationship of its content to the laws of nature and nature’s God. I am proud and pleased that Rep. Shaw agreed to carry it.

I would like to thank all the people that have supported and encouraged me. I have met some fine people in HD 71 over the last four years, and I will always treasure the time I served.

Bob Wagner


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