Letters to the Editor, April 12

Save Virginia and Nevada Cities

Dear Editor,

More and bigger government! Every time I hear a politician from outside our area start talking about Virginia and Nevada Cities, I see a giant hand scooping the tourism money from our county treasurers and giving it to their pet project.

What’s wrong with Montana creating a tourism district of VC and Nevada City and allowing experts in history, preservation and other like career fields to run this enterprise?

If we can allow national politicians to grab hundreds of thousands of Montana’s beautiful acreage for “wilderness areas,” why can’t our county be assigned to create a real tourist district, able to invest the very money created by the tourism in developing the area for enticement of more and larger tourist crowds.

Lord knows Madison County needs the jobs and the revenue. Why have the best hunting and fishing in the world and then we let these politicians screw up what exists in VC and Nevada City.

Sure, they want another commission – our historical society isn’t big enough to suit the “bigger and worse” minds in Helena!

Use the money and clean up the, “modern trash piles” like that ugly fence with all the trashed trailers and junk by the power coils. Shore up the backs of the stores on Main Street; do something with that RR mess at Nevada City. Use local people to do the renovations. Use students for the Players group as we now do.

Keep the darn politics out of VC and Nevada City. With what the Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks have done with the wolf program, there aren’t enough brains left there to run a poodle grooming shop.

How can we ask for the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Twin Bridges and then allow the “elected officials” to slowly destroy the one tourist attraction that brings those crowds to Madison County?

Keep the politics out of the decisions in those two towns and appoint preservation experts to that commission, not political cronies of the Governor’s. Keep it in the commerce department and let the very people of VC and Nevada City sit on those tourist committees. Just get rid of the pol-cronies.

Bill Hanley

Twin Bridges

Need a fresh start with clean slate

Dear Editor,

I worked for the Ennis School District for approximately ten years. For the last three years I was there I was the bus supervisor. I got to know the teachers, the staff and the bus drivers very well. The vast majority of the teachers are great people and they are great with the kids. The same can be said for the bus drivers. Many of the other support staff are great people as well.

Nevertheless, a lack of transparency on the part of our board and superintendent has covered up a lot of things that needed to come to light. I am grateful to Lisa Frye for her efforts to fix this problem. The people who allowed these problems to happen have also done everything they can to make her efforts difficult.

I am writing to thank Bill Clark and Craig George for running for the Ennis School Board of Trustee’s openings. I have known Bill and Craig for quite some time. I believe they both will be great assets to the board. I know they will support and cooperate with the county commissioners and county attorney in helping us turn over a new leaf and giving us a fresh start with a clean slate.

When the opponents of a full audit say it is too expensive, it doesn’t wash. Just look at the tremendous amount of money coming in from the excess taxes on the non-voted levy for adult education. There is more than $2 million in that fund right now for no purpose. It is also my opinion that, if there wasn’t anything to hide, the board and administration would have been happy to provide a full audit. We should do an audit to regain people’s trust, but they have done all they can to avoid it.

When they see me, many of the young kids at school still smile and holler, “Hi Jim!” I don’t know if we adults can be as good as they are, but I think we have to try.

Jim Huckins

Ennis

George outlines need for transparency at Ennis School District

Dear Editor,

The tax rate in the Ennis School District is too high and needs to be lowered. Consider the following facts:

1. Based on information gathered from the Office of Public Instruction, the Ennis School District now has more than $2.5 million remaining in the Adult Education Fund.

2. With the current $2.5 million in the Adult Education Fund, there is no need to levy taxes for Adult Ed for years to come. Mills levied for Adult Education last year were unjust and placed a burden on the taxpayers. A comprehensive audit will give us a clear picture of our fiscal health. It should enable us to develop a plan going forward that substantially reduces the overall levied taxes for the school district.

3. This year the costs of the Ennis Adult Education program will be approximately $400,000. That is 50 percent higher than the costs of Bozeman’s program. For each session there will be approximately 120 participants. Most of the cost will be paid for by the taxpayers. The Ennis School District’s Adult Education program does not even sponsor a GED program within our community. A GED program should be the hallmark of any Adult Education program.

4. A few weeks ago I met with Steve Johnson, who is in charge of business and accounting for the Bozeman Schools, to better understand the numbers. A comparison of our numbers here in Ennis relative to the Bozeman numbers is enlightening. Bozeman’s Adult Education program has two components: 1) Community Education and 2) a General Equivalency Diploma program. The Community Education program in Bozeman has 1,336 participants. The total cost of the Bozeman program is $254,000. The program costs the taxpayers a total of $154,000. The rest is paid for through participant fees. Bozeman pays for their entire program with 1.6 mills (the Bozeman School District raises approximately $108,000 per mill). The Bozeman GED program is paid for entirely with Federal and State grants.

A careful examination of our reported budgets indicates that both Adult Education and Transportation funds have been unjustifiably inflated. Between the excess mills that have been levied over the last few years and the millions that are now in the Adult Education fund, there is no reason why the tax rate in the Ennis School District should not be reduced substantially in the foreseeable future without any reduction in quality or services.

If I am elected to the Ennis School Board I will work with my fellow trustees and reach out to all sectors of the public so that our community has a better understanding of school financing. Together we can fiscally shape responsible budgets that will continue to build upon the progressive educational needs of our community.

Craig B. George

Ennis School Board Candidate

Ennis

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