Thank you to school board candidates, be sure to vote
Several years ago, when my daughters were two and three, my wife suggested that we teach them about spiritual principles, namely through our favorite biblical stories, as we had done with our boys when they were little.
A helpful, harmless enough suggestion, I thought.
Almost on cue, a ruckus broke out over the rightful ownership of a rather impressive doll. (Apparently, the dog got to its twin and, therefore, was a goner.)
Literally, one daughter pulled the doll one way; the other, the opposite way.
It was the proverbial slow-pitch that I couldn’t resist.
“Girls, give me the doll!” I commanded, in my most King-like voice, “One of you go and bring me the biggest, sharpest knife in the drawer! I am going to cut the baby in two so that each of you has half!” (By the way, I didn’t come up with any of this nonsense at all. It comes straight from 1 Kings 3 in the Old Testament and was meant to convey the wisdom of King Solomon.)
Though both were perplexed at first, one daughter marched toward the counter in search of a knife. The other daughter, my youngest, gasped, and in a mortified voice yelled at the other, “Stop! You can have her! Just don’t cut her in half!”
Then she fell to a heap on the floor and began weeping her eyes out, which, even to dense me, was yet another clear signal that I had gone too far, chosen a really dumb approach about which I should have sought advice first, and, as a result, most certainly would be spending the next few nights camping on the living room couch.
That notwithstanding, that’s when I also knew who should have the doll, delivered it to my youngest, and watched my appalled wife help the poor girl to her feet. (A few steps later, my spiritually minded wife turned around and gave me such a strong eye that I nearly turned into a pillar of salt, another Bible favorite, the details of which I will spare you for now.)
I share all of this as both a cathartic confession and an illustration of how not to tell Bible stories to children. I also share it as a plea to vote in the upcoming school board election, specifically for the individuals whom you believe care more about our children and their future than any personal interests.
Like it or not, what’s done is done. Going forward, we need plowshares, not swords; most divine wisdom, not destruction.
A hearty congratulation and thank you to all the candidates for having shown the courage to run.
Jon C. Goodman
‘Outsiders’ important to the life, economy of Ennis
Some people in last week’s paper suggested that the good old days in Ennis have been ruined by a bunch of outsiders who have come here in the last few years and ruined everything. It seems to me to be very foolish to try and divide people by how long they’ve lived here. The money that is the lifeblood of our economy mostly comes from “outsiders.”
How long does a person have to live here before being considered a part of the community with the right to an opinion and the right to ask questions? How far back do we have to go? I’m sure that the original Native Americans of the Madison Valley considered William Ennis to be an outsider.
I moved here 40 years ago and have made friends and done business with practically every single person in this valley. Some of my very good friends are the children of very good friends that I have had over the years. And like me, some of my very good friends have moved here from other places. Whether your family has lived here for generations or has just moved in from somewhere else, we all expect the same thing in the communities where we live: a respect for the law, support for and from our neighbors, and pride in our community.
The search for the truth and just getting answers to questions about how our tax dollars have been spent should not divide us. Demanding accountability is never wrong regardless of where you come from.
All that has happened to our community saddens me.
Take school board questions to candidates, not family
In the past week, many people have come up to my wife while she is around town with our children and started asking her questions about what I would do on the school board. I respectfully request that if you have any questions for me, then direct them to me and not bring up sensitive, and especially negative issues with my wife in front of my children. Please call me at 570-9536 or 682-4035 or send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter
Candidate for Ennis School Board
Candidates respond to comments in Merrill’s ad
Melinda Merrill says she wants you to know the facts before you vote on May 8, but then she offers anything but facts. For example, she writes that the Montana Attorney General’s opinion states that “the (Adult Ed and Transportation funds) could have been used-MAYBE-as long as the new school specifically used portions of the building for Adult Ed and Transportation.” But that is absolutely false.
At paragraph 16 the Attorney General writes that “no amount of adult education funding sources can be used as capital outlay for facility acquisition or construction services. At paragraph 20 he says “the trustees may not budget for or expend property taxes levied to support the transportation fund for new school construction because that is not a purpose for which transportation funding sources were raised.”
To get the truth please go online and read the Attorney General’s opinion at: https://dojmt-zippykid.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/AttGenOpEnnis0203.pdf . You can also Google www.montanawatchdog.org and in the search box type in “Attorney General’s Opinion.”
In regard to the money owed to the Teachers Retirement System, Melinda Merrill says it is a private matter. The Ennis School District is a public school funded by public dollars, which now owes substantial amounts to a public agency. The TRS has found that Doug Walsh and the Ennis School District owe well over $760,000 to the retirement system because of illegal contracts. That is the truth. More than $188,000 of this amount is directly due from the Ennis School District taxpayers. The illegal contracts that caused these problems were paid for with taxpayer dollars that would have been much better spent on educating our students. It is a public matter.
To get the truth please read the full Report of the Teachers Retirement System. You can read it at the Montana Watchdog website by searching Ennis School TRS dated August 9, 2011 or go to: http://montana.watchdog.org/2011/08/05/heres-the-teachers-retirement-system-report-to-ennis-part-ii/.
Perhaps Ms. Merrill hasn’t read either of these documents. As the Madison County Attorney and county commissioners concluded, the audits that were done for our school district were “woefully insufficient.” It is time that we stop all of this nonsense and begin to put our financial house in order. Please exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, May 8.
Candidates for Ennis School Board
Clarifying information in Merrill’s ad
I would like to clarify a few things.
In response to Melinda Merrill’s paid advertisement, she is incorrect about SMOA’s impact fee. The impact fee is charged to new home construction only, not for any additions or ancillary buildings. The monies from the impact fee go to improve the road or roads that accesses the new home. If the road improvement does not cost the total sum of the impact fee, the rest of the monies go to maintain and improve the three common areas within SMOA.
Responding to Black’s letter, newcomers important to Ennis
I am writing in response to Wayne Black’s letter of last week that warns long-time residents to guard against the influx of newcomers to the Madison Valley. I find it ironic that the front page of the very same newspaper highlights a real estate group looking to promote Ennis and the Madison Valley to prospective businesses and residents. Mr. Black’s letter is in direct opposition to this group’s efforts to help a struggling local economy.
According to Mr. Black, the task of “Ennis 2000” participants was to help citizens construct a vision of what they wanted Ennis to look like down the road and how to obtain that goal and at the same time, to encourage businesses so that folks could make a living here. I don’t know where “too much growth and how it can change the entire make up of the valley” fits into that goal or how it helps the community that we call home.
I choose to buy groceries, clothing and sporting goods from local retailers. The mechanics in town fix my car and change the oil. When my family and friends visit my town and me, they spend their money here. The downtown stores seem to go out of their way to please my guests and those guests rave about the service and kindness they receive. My friends hire local guides and buy out-of-state licenses to hunt and fish. All to the benefit of Ennis, the Madison Valley and to Montana.
Ennis became my home in 2004. The law says once residency is established I can hunt, fish and vote. Even if I fall short of being a long time resident, I side with the law, Mr. Black, and am privileged to enjoy the rights of being a resident, which include attending public meetings and voting in local elections.
Window closing means a door opens, thanks to community
Perhaps you have already received the news that Big Timber was selected as the site of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. I learned the news via a phone call at 8 a.m. yesterday morning while on my way to Missoula with Dave Schulz to check out an incredible museum of Western lore. We were hoping that some of these artifacts could be made available to the project in Twin Bridges.
The news that Big Timber won was surprising and obviously disappointing. We had put together an incredible proposal reflective of our community and our history. It was humbling to see so many people who were ready to put offers on the table to help us win. We had what was effectively a four-county bid (Madison, Jefferson, Beaverhead, and Butte Silver Bow) and letters of support from several other counties as well. I received phone calls and emails from all walks of life. It was extremely refreshing to know that our broader community could pull together in such a manner behind a single project. I am very confident that we had the best proposal, which unfortunately did not translate into having the best site in the eyes of the selection committee.
The people that deserve my thanks as well as the gratitude of everyone in southwest Montana are too numerous to name. However, I would like to say a special thank you to Tony and Amie James for offering the incredible gift of the Doncaster Round Red Barn to the proposal. This offer made state-wide news and in many ways brought Spokane back to life. I also want to thank Ruby Valley National Bank, Madison County Commission, Candace Miller Architects, Dan Happel, Paul and Jeanie Moseley, and Iris Dodge. These very generous people and groups went through a rather arduous and bureaucratic process to contract specific gifts to our proposal, which helped make it stronger.
After the phone call, I told Dave Schulz that sometimes when a door closes a window opens to reveal new opportunities. He corrected me by saying that in this case a window has closed and a big wide door has opened. I like that idea. We have too much going for us and too much synergy to simply leave things as they are and go on with life. I hope you will all join me in keeping up this momentum for new projects for our community. I am nowhere near done. I think I have my history correct in saying that Spokane did not win his first few races and then he won the Kentucky Derby followed by the Clark States and the American Derby to win the era’s equivalent of the Triple Crown. We will do the same thing.
Thanks for all your help and support.
Madison County Economic Development Council
Restoring Twin Bridges Museum will take community support
To our friends and neighbors, the Twin Bridges Historical Association is asking for your help with our current restoration project for your local museum. Nearly all the windows in the museum building need to be replaced because of age and inefficiency. Since the estimated cost for this project is around $22,000, we will most likely only be able to do a few at a time, as finances permit.
We would like to begin this summer by replacing the windows in the Veterans’ Rooms (upstairs-rear) and eventually working our way down to the ground floor. The Historical Association has already allocated a large portion of our available funds to paint and refurbish the portions of the exterior, which are most in need of immediate attention, leaving very little for the window project. The local VFW chapter, however, has made a generous donation to help get this project off the ground so that we will at least be able to start this summer, but … we would like to do more.
That is where you come in. We could certainly use all the help we can muster, and, since we are a non-profit, there are certain tax advantages to be gained by your donation to this worthy project.
Every dollar helps, so please give whatever you can. Your donation will go toward a local community betterment project, which will benefit all of us, and further protect the collections both now and into the future.
Please consider sending your donation today so that we better plan our construction for the summer months. If you have any questions about the window replacement project, or any other issues relating to the Twin Bridges Museum, please call me at 684-5264 or 684-5669.
Preserving our past for the future.
With our sincerest thanks,
Twin Bridges Historical Association
Increased coal production vital to Montana
With all the issues surrounding energy and the environment such as the costly “green” energy failures, the Keystone Pipeline, high gas prices, oil speculation and decreased drilling on federal lands making most of the headlines, I would like to mention the Environmental Protection Agency’s new restrictions on coal plants and ask what it could mean for Montana’s and America’s citizens.
With new EPA regulations making it more difficult for coal plants that produce cheaper electricity to survive, wouldn’t this mean higher electric prices at a time when we can least afford it? Wouldn’t more of our coal then be shipped to Asia to be used as their cheaper energy source? And, how would this help the global environment? According to a recent article (Billings Gazette), coal exports from the U.S. were at their highest level in about 20 years due to needs for cheap energy mostly in Asia while coal is “falling from favor” here in the U.S. The article goes on to say that the U.S. Department of Energy data showed our exports more than doubled since 2006 to 107 million tons worth about $16 billion in 2011. So what does it mean for us other than helping to close our trade deficit somewhat with Asia and giving our state a needed source of revenue? Reports say that while coal production has not increased in Montana, coal dollars from taxes in 2011 (federal, state and other taxes) on Montana coal amounted to $118.4 million(Montana Coal Council).
According to an article from the Congressional Research Service, the “EPA’s Regulation of Coal-Fired Power: Is a ‘Train Wreck’ Coming?” Their summary concludes: “Given the central role of electric power in the nation’s economy, and the importance of coal in power production, concerns have been raised recently about the cost and potential impact of regulations under development at the EPA that would impose new requirements on coal-fired power plants. All together, these rules have been characterized by critics as a regulatory ‘train wreck’ that would impose excessive costs and lead to plant retirements that could threaten the adequacy of electricity capacity (i.e., reliability of supply) across the country…”
So to those of you in Washington, my question would be: If we aren’t solving the global pollution problem; or increasing our supply of electricity; but raising the cost of electricity at a time when we can least afford it, then why are we doing this now while our economy is struggling to make a comeback?
Candidate for House District 71