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Letters to the editor: RF woman seeks help in finding missing bear lawn ornaments

Christine Engel of River Falls is seeking the public's help in finding four bear lawn ornaments that were stolen from her yard. They are extremely important to her as they represent four children she has lost. "This is way darker than my bears were, mine are light brown with the fourth one a slight different brown. Although mine did have the wings, halo and cross necklace," Engel said. Anyone with information should contact the River Falls Police Department.

The need for an ag agent


I am writing to express my support for the continuation of an agricultural extension agent for

Pierce County. Last week, a reader pointed out all of the programs and services the agricultural

extension service provides in our county so this week I will address the IMPACT those services


I would like your readers to know that it would only cost $22,000 annually to have a part-time

ag agent in Pierce County. This part-time agent would be supporting those involved in

agriculture, which (according to UW-Madison Department of Agriculture and Applied

Economics) generates $88.3 billion annually to our state. And the dairy industry accounts for

almost HALF ($43.4 billion) of this total revenue. $22,000 pales in comparison to the benefits

and economic rewards Pierce County residents and businesses see as a result of a strong

agricultural industry.

I am involved with the Pierce County Dairy Promotion Committee and we rely on the services

the Agricultural Extension Service provides as we carry out various activities in Pierce County.

Our group's purpose is to promote the health benefits of dairy products and educate people on

the importance of this industry to the economy of our county and state. We host a June Dairy

Breakfast which annually provides a visit to a local farm for more than 1,400 visitors. We also

host a dairy banquet in October where we honor Pierce County Fair dairy winners, 4-H dairy

judging teams, area farmers for production awards and we also pay tribute to those businesses

and people who make an impact on the dairy industry in Pierce County. Our banquet is the

largest of its kind in the state of Wisconsin and is attended by 200 people annually. The Dairy

Promotion Committee works to gain donations for the purchase of milk for the Pierce County

Food Shelf. We conduct school visits, participate in Farm Safety Day and contribute to many

other activities in all of the communities and schools in Pierce County. Our committee's reach

and impact would definitely be limited if there were no agricultural extension agent in Pierce


It is imperative that the Pierce County Board votes on Oct. 24 to fund at least a

half-time agricultural agent. I worry that if ag extension is cut, will 4-H, family living and

horticulture be next?

Mary Brand


Stolen concrete lawn ornaments/Pregnancy and Infant Awareness Month


Never thought I would be writing this letter. Some weeks ago, I realized that my four concrete angel teddy bear lawn ornaments were stolen. They were tucked behind my huge hydrangea bush in my front yard, so the person or persons who lifted them had to be near my front door to see them. Each bear weighs around 20 pounds each and is around a foot tall, so to take four...had to do it in various trips or there was more than one person that stole them.

With all the terrible things happening around the world: hurricanes, wildfires, shootings of innocents, the lives lost and damage that has been done almost made me not write this letter, as my loss seems so insignificant in comparison. However, you don't know my story or my pain; this month is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, and that is the reason I decided to share.

Each bear was purchased after a miscarriage I suffered, and the last one was a gift from a special neighbor/friend (who heard I was missing one bear after the stillbirth of my last child.) It was a miracle she was able to find it. Took her a year of searching as the bear was no longer made, but long story short—she found the mold and had it made and painted! The effort touched my heart and completed the number of children I have lost—four. Just writing it now seems incredulous the loss and how my heart still grieves and hurts no matter the years that have passed.

Seeing my angel bears was comforting. Now I just see the white spaces on the stones where they sat. Now I have anger and more hurt on top of a loss I can never truly explain or wish on anyone. Do I think my bears will be returned? Do I really believe the person/s who stole my bears even read the paper? I highly doubt it. Maybe it was just "kids being kids." However, if you see a neighbor with four concrete angel teddy bears (one is slightly a different color,) perhaps you should ask where the person got them from.

Heart Re-broken,

Christine Engel

River Falls

View on Kinni from a distance


Although I am not a resident of the City of River Falls, I've been a fan of rivers all my life. I live in

Viroqua, Wisconsin, and am surrounded by lovely streams and larger rivers, treasures of our natural world. Over the years I've fished the Kinni often, and have sometimes paddled the lower river.

As an angler, I understand how dams can disconnect rivers and interrupt normal natural processes like sediment transport (which fills up impoundments) and fish migrations (not only trout, but many other species). If a dam doesn't have a good reason or purpose, its removal can markedly improve the health of the river. Temperature studies of the Kinni for several decades have shown that the lower river's temperatures are markedly higher than those of the upper river, primarily because of the solar heating of water in the impoundments.

As a bicyclist and walker, I have enjoyed visiting many areas where dams have been removed and new recreational opportunities created. Colfax has a lovely village park where the former impoundment on Eighteen-Mile Creek was removed, now a site for excellent fishing. Cannon Falls (Minnesota) removed a dam on the Little Cannon River and now the town promotes the lovely falls to visitors and bike trail riders. Fifteen years ago, Baraboo took out four outmoded dams on the Baraboo River. Now the trails and parks along the river are filled with recreational users, and paddlers and anglers love the river itself. Those anglers have found excellent fishing where those skunky impoundments used to harbor nothing but carp. And Merrill opened up the Prairie River 15 or so years ago by removing the Ward Dam, the last on the river. Now canoeists, picnickers, anglers and birdwatchers enjoy the river and the adjacent park.

Just think of the value to River Falls of a free-flowing Kinni: a lovely natural corridor, abundant recreational opportunities and spectacular restored falls. I'll be happy to become a regular visitor if your city makes the decision that's best for the river and best for the city.

John Welter


'War on the EPA' is alarming


On Oct. 11, the PBS program Frontline aired "War on the EPA," an alarming documentary focusing on Trump appointee Scott Pruitt¹s ties to the big oil and coal industries and how he has acted to further their interests as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The day before PBS ran this program, Pruitt had announced the repeal of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which nudged states toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants over the next two decades.

In his brief tenure as EPA head, Pruitt has repealed or blocked many other common-sense regulatory measures protecting public health, such as banning chlorpyrifos, a pesticide shown to damage the brains of fetuses and infants. Chlorpyrifos is manufactured by Dow, and Pruitt vetoed the ban after a private meeting with Dow's CEO.

In a Pulitzer PrizE winning series, New York Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton has publicly exposed Pruitt's beholdenness to polluters, unearthing emails from Devon Energy in Pruitt's home state of Oklahoma with wording Pruitt used verbatim in his protests against EPA rulings.

A climate change denier, Pruitt has obstructed attempts to move our country away from dependence on dirty, polluting energy sources toward renewables. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA fully 14 times to kill regulations that keep America's environment and citizens safe.

Pruitt was also instrumental in organizing Republican attorneys general in other states to fight the change to clean, renewable energy. Eric Lipton, attending one of their gatherings, reported seeing fossil fuel lobbyists openly writing checks to the AGs.

Our Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, another climate change denier, voted to approve the deeply corrupt Pruitt, again demonstrating his bad judgment and enabling what journalist Jane Mayer calls "the triumph of the anti-environmental movement" in the Trump administration.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls

American innovation


American innovation has been the leading economic driver of our nation since its founding. Whether it's the lightbulb, telephone or electricity, Americans have led the world for centuries.

Unfortunately that could all change if a handful of mega-corporations get their way.

Efforts have been underway in congress for several years to try and "reform" our patent system

in a manner that would price out the little guy. Corporations hellbent on making it impossible for

average Joe investors to protect their inventions have tried to game the legislative process in

order to make defending one's inventions so costly that only those with extreme means could

afford to challenge corporations that look to steal the ideas of others.

Luckily a bipartisan bill has been introduced in congress that would level the playing field and

put garage inventors at the same advantage as multi-national corporations. The legislation, the

Stronger Patents Act, would ensure American innovation can continue to be a shining light in

our economy.

Unfortunately, our very own Sen. Tammy Baldwin has yet to support this important legislation. Baldwin likes to talk about looking out for the little guy, well this is her chance. She

needs to sign onto this important legislation.

Carrie Falkofske

Town of Oak Grove

Wonderful library exhibit


I would like to encourage people to see the wonderful exhibit that is currently set up in the gallery at the RF Public Library. It is an exhibit of underwater photography done by teen clients at the Northwest Passage in Webster mental health facility as part of their rehabilitation process.

It is truly amazing to see what these young people are capable of accomplishing. At a time when there is increasing concern about how to deal with mental health issues, especially among teenagers, we need to strongly support efforts like this. Learning how to use underwater photography helped them to find ways to express themselves and gives the public an exhibit that is beautiful to see. It is so well set up and will be in place until Nov. 3. Don't miss this exhibit!

Judy Ritger

River Falls

It just makes sense


The Kinnickinnic River is our community's greatest natural resource. No question about it. The Upper and the Lower Kinni are both amazing, cold-water, natural ecosystems remarkably close to home.

And yet today, the full mile of the Kinni in the heart of our community exists in a severely degraded condition. Here the river is impounded by two dams into a horrendously undesirable and unnatural environment.

Over the course of this mile the Kinni is destroyed for its industrial utility to produce less than 2 percent of our electricity. Here the Kinni is drowned out by the flat, stagnant, warm, and shallow waters of our two ponds. This degradation causes warming of the Lower Kinni, so much so that the Lower Kinni is 4-5° F warmer than the Upper Kinni.

This increase in temperature harms the trout populations of the Lower Kinni along with their insect food sources. Combined with observed generalized increasing water temperatures, this thermal pollution positions the Lower Kinni at risk of losing its trout populations altogether.

Dam removal, to restore the Kinni in its entirety and protect the Lower Kinni, is an opportunity to fix all this.

It just makes sense.

A fully restored, free-flowing Kinnickinnic River is a much healthier and natural environment than the currently degraded ponds in town.

The greatest value and highest possible public use of the Kinni is the inherent value of the river in its free-flowing natural form, not the value of a minimal amount of electricity that comes at the expense of the Kinni's destruction.

Nate Dodge

Prescott (formerly of River Falls)

Nothing free about 'Free the Kinni'


There is nothing free about "Free the Kinni." The self-identified "Friends of the Kinni" are asking the city to destroy Lake George, Lake Louise and the profitable River Falls hydro-electric facility. If you have ever enjoyed walking White Pathway with children or grandchildren to feed the ducks, know that the intent of the "Friends of the Kinni" is to destroy our local lakes.

Lake George would be replaced with three man-made holding swamps and a ditch. Lake Louise would become a small river cutting across a large swampy mud flat. Take a look at what happened in Hudson when the Little Falls Dam (located in Willow River State Park) was breached in 2015. Currently, Gov. Walker has allocated $19 million state tax dollars to rebuild the Little Falls Dam. Construction will start in 2019 and take two years to complete. Why repeat the same dam removal mistake here in River Falls?

The only thing free about "Free the Kinni" is the word "Free" on their blue signs and shirt logos. When you see "Free the Kinni" know that a special interest group is asking the taxpayers of River Falls to commit to a project which will cost well over $10 million. You are being asked to destroy your two unique local lakes and your profitable hydro facilities. In 2016, the hydros produced over 2.1 million kWh of renewable electricity with a profit of over $125,000.

Be informed, be involved, talk to your friends and neighbors. Share your thoughts with the the Kinni Corridor Planning Committee. Call Buddy Lucero, Kinni Corridor Project Manager at 715-426-3423, Mayor Dan Toland at 715-426-3404 and/or your City Council representatives. Don't sit back and wait for someone else to make these important decisions for you.

William Hansen

Town of River Falls