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Letters to the editor: Scientifically literate, not liberal; Thank you, plow drivers

Scientifically literate, not liberal


In an April when a series of Alberta clippers keep plunging us into unseasonable winter storm repetitions, it's especially fortuitous that the well-known meteorologist Paul Douglas should visit River Falls to explain how climate change is driving the weather that's driving us crazy.

The event organized by Hope for Creation, an ecumenical partnership of five River Falls churches, drew an audience of about 300 to River Falls United Methodist Church on Tuesday, April 10. The diverse crowd ranged from farmers to city officials.

Douglas's talk was an eye-opener, both factually and for his clear-eyed willingness to break down political and ideological barriers that have kept Americans from uniting to address the emergency of climate change.

Douglas began by announcing himself as both an evangelical Christian and a Republican. He is also a highly successful business entrepreneur. He calls himself a conservative who wants to protect the integrity of God's creation.

He pointed out that conservatives in the United States are almost alone internationally in making denial of climate change a political article of faith. "Believing in climate change doesn't make you liberal," he told his audience Tuesday night. "It makes you literate, scientifically literate."

In place of the phrase "climate change," Douglas prefers "climate volatility" as a more accurate descriptor of the force behind the increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather we've been experiencing. The new trend, says Douglas, is a tendency for weather systems to stall. A rain that would last a day or two in the past now sticks around for a week. Midwinter ice storms, says Douglas, have quadrupled since 2000.

Douglas made it clear that we must heed scientific opinion in order to avert the worst that lies ahead with unchecked climate volatility. Though I differ from him in politics and theology, I recognize his good will. He is doing the admirable work of bridging the damaging and unnecessary divide that has kept us fragmented and paralyzed in the face of both danger and opportunity. I'm grateful to Paul Douglas and the event organizers who brought his important message to River Falls.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls

Celebrating volunteers


It is time to celebrate the River Falls School District volunteers! The week of April 15-21 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. We are thankful for our volunteers every day, but this week serves as formal recognition for their time and efforts.

Volunteers play a vital role in the success of our schools. This year volunteers will log over 14,500 hours volunteering at each of our schools. Volunteers provide a tremendous amount of help throughout the year copying papers, laminating, chaperoning field trips, preparing materials for the classroom, assisting with reading groups, hanging artwork, coordinating and running fundraisers, helping with projects that are just too big for one person ... and the list goes on. The time our volunteers commit to the schools allows our teachers and staff to spend more time in the classroom and less time in the workroom. It also creates an opportunity for them to engage directly with our students in many ways.

We would like to use this week to celebrate our volunteers, to offer our sincerest appreciation for all they do, and spotlight the impact that they have on our schools. Our volunteers include parents, grandparents, community members and students from Meyer Middle School, River Falls High School, Renaissance Academy and UWRF. There are those directly connected to a particular school and those that help across the district. We are lucky to have so many who inspire our students and staff by their actions.

On behalf of the district, we would like to thank everyone who has helped to make a difference in our district and in the lives of our children! Please know that you have made a lasting impact in the lives of many!

Monique Squire

Tara Albores

River Falls School District

Intentional deception?


There are several things that currently stick in my craw. Recently, we had bond referenda that would allow the school district to do two groups of things. Group 1 was mostly maintenance which I suppose ought to be done. The second group was a bunch of things that are pure luxuries. What bothers me about both of these groups is that prior to the vote on the bond referenda, mailings were sent out portraying the cost of each. I believe that these costs did not reflect how much our taxes would have dropped as a result of a retired bond, if the votes were negative. Was that a deliberate attempt to deceive voters? Secondly, we were just informed in the Journal and the Pioneer Press that the Kinnick is endangered. That must mean than something terrible is about to happen. Those new dams are about to create some horrendous calamity. I've been living in and near River Falls for over 50 years and I had no idea that the river was in that bad of a condition. It seems that the dams impound the water and cause the temperature to rise. When did that start to happen? I was kind of wondering, the dams are there to extract energy from the falling water. If that energy was not extracted, where would it go? One of the laws of physics says that all energy eventually becomes heat. If the dams aren't there, what would the temperature change be?

Maybe there is another thought that hasn't been considered. When those dams are removed, how are the Asian carp to be kept out of the headwaters of the river? The carp have already been caught in the St. Croix.

R.W. Stolp

River Falls

Thank you, plow drivers


Normally I stay home unless absolutely necessary during blizzards or storms such as we recently endured; however, this past Friday I found myself having to travel to River Falls for the weekend, where they experienced just as much, and probably more bad weather than we did in Washburn County.

Throughout the entire weekend I watched drivers with plow trucks and other equipment diligently removing snow from the streets and campus of UW-River Falls, trying to keep up with the onslaught. There was never much of a break for anyone. I was constantly watching the weather, trying to decide when the best time would be for me to hit the road and attempt to get back to Spooner on Sunday. The forecast would change by the hour, making planning very unpredictable.

When I got up Sunday morning I saw my chance, and left during a small window of opportunity between storms. The roads were definitely in poor condition, but certainly not because of the attempts of the city and highway crews I passed along my way. They were everywhere, and I waved and gave a thumbs up to every single one of them.

When I finally got back to Washburn County, I was amazed at how well the drivers in our area had also kept up with the roads. In fact, I was behind a highway plow truck on Highway 63 from Shell Lake to Spooner, and I was extremely grateful to that driver for being there.

I am sure the city crews and highway employees are just as sick of the constant snowfall as some of us are. Yet they gave up their entire weekend to make sure the rest of us stayed as safe as possible. Thank you so much for all your hard work. From the city and county workers, to the business owners and private citizens who helped dig their neighbors out, you are all awesome and I appreciate you so much!

Dawn Richter

Shell Lake