Pay attention to trail, bus projects

To maintain #WBLcharm: Pay attention to the proposed Bruce Vento Regional Trail route and downtown bus transit stations.

Between the proposed bus transit stations and the proposed continuation of the Bruce Vento Regional Trail (BVRT) through White Bear Lake, there is a lot of change afoot that residents should pay attention to, especially if they want their voices heard.

We and some of our neighbors attended the Oct. 4 meeting to get public input on the Bruce Vento Trail through White Bear Lake sponsored by Ramsey County. It quickly became clear to us that the best route for the BVRT is along Highway 61, but there are some formidable obstacles — particularly the lack of interest demonstrated by BNSF Railway, the owner of the railway track through the city of White Bear Lake.

Bikers prefer this route, because they dislike the inefficiency of the other proposed longer routes (along Lake Avenue or Bald Eagle Avenue). One biker said, “We want to get to town to be in town —  even if you create these more circuitous routes, I wouldn’t use them.”

It’s obvious that what is most efficient for bikers won’t be most efficient for Ramsey County BVT planners. But since bikers prefer this route, and the commercial areas of White Bear Lake would benefit, especially Cup and Cone, Caribou and Brueggers, Subway and others along the Highway 61 railway between Buerkle Road in White Bear Lake and County Road J in Hugo. 

Adding bikers to Lake Avenue would be dangerous. It is already full of dog walkers, runners, pedestrians, and parents with strollers.  Bald Eagle Avenue would be a better alternative, but bikers don’t want to go out of their way.

So the best alternative is to figure out how to route bikers directly through the downtown area of White Bear Lake along Highway 61. There will be another meeting for public input from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the White Bear Lake Public Safety Building, and Ramsey County has more information and invites comments on its website: https://www.ramseycounty.us/residents/parks-recreation/parks-trails/parks-planning-projects/bruce-vento-regional-trail

Hopefully, representatives from BNSF Railway will engage in this discussion. It was disappointing that they didn’t send anyone to the Oct. 4 meeting. Hopefully, one will be present at the Oct. 25 gathering.

Lynn Ingrid Nelson and Mike Keeler

White Bear Lake 

 

Volunteers tackling invasive plant problem

In the Oct. 3 edition of the White Bear Press, there was an article on the discovery of non-native phragmites on White Bear Lake. In August 26, 2013 I reported the presence of this same invasive reed on Otter Lake. I had a very difficult time finding anyone on the state or county level who would give any credence to my report. One “expert” went so far as to say that this was not a problem in Minnesota. As of this date five years later, nothing has been done about it except what I and some fellow volunteers have done each year. While we are not authorized to use herbicide on the lakefront, a group of us go out each year in the late fall or early winter, remove the seed tassels, and destroy them. In this way we hope to keep the phragmites from spreading. So far we have been successful in that it has not moved beyond its current location. In a few weeks we will go out for the fifth time and remove all the tassels. I am encouraged by the promised action on White Bear Lake, and am hoping that next spring the invasive Phragmites australis finally will be eradicated from Otter Lake.

Dr. Harlan M. Baxter

White Bear Township

 

Our community deserves better

As with all election years, we are once again bombarded with political ads and mailers. This year, however, feels different. There have been a slew of negative and sometimes downright nasty ads and mailers targeting Democratic state House candidate Ami Wazlawik. Such ads accusing Ami of instigating mob violence, being a socialist and supporting eco-terrorists are not only completely false but are ridiculous. Is anyone in White Bear or our neighboring communities seriously worried about eco-terrorists? Doing a little research, it is easy to pinpoint where these ads are coming from. Nearly $100,000 has been pumped into our district from outside dark money political PACs. That is why we are now being carpet-bombed with this rubbish.

It is okay to have differing political beliefs and healthy for a community to engage in conversations over our ideals, values and the ways we think our towns, states and nation should be run. Unfortunately, that is not what this race has become. This race is now being tainted with the same hate-filled lies and fear-mongering that has infested our nation’s capital. I don’t know to what degree Patti Anderson, Ami’s GOP opponent, is behind these tactics, but I would encourage her to tell her benefactors that these kinds of sleazy political tactics are not welcome here. How about we have an actual race in which the candidates discuss real issues that the people of our community actually care about and leave the swamp in Washington? Our community deserves better than this.

Joel Juen

White Bear Lake 

 

Nasty negative ads don’t belong in our local race

I was disturbed to see a series of negative campaign ads on TV for a local WBL area race. It prompted me to write this letter.

The ads, complete with grainy B&W images, eerie music and a creepy voiceover are attacking Ami Wazlawik, a candidate running to be our state representative.  

Dirty negative campaign ads may work in Washington, but they don’t belong in White Bear Lake. We should demand better.

Our country is divided enough as it is. We should be looking for candidates who project a positive image. If you’re a candidate running for office, tell me what you are going to do for us, not what horrible things your opponent is going to do.  

Personally, a negative campaign ad tells me more about the person who ran the ad, than the ones they are attacking. Scare tactics and misleading exaggerated talking points always come across as lies —  not leadership!

And who can afford to make negative TV ads for a local race anyway? It seems out of proportion. I see ads like those, and I wonder what mysterious PAC or special-interest group actually funded it. 

I like Ami Wazlawik. She comes across as smart, honest, energetic and sincere. I may not agree with everything she says, but I suspect her heart is in the right place. And that is the kind of person I want in the state Legislature — working for me.  

I’d hire her over the other one. I’m going to vote for Ami.

P.S.: I do not personally know either of the two candidates. Ami simply came to my door and asked for my vote. I got a robocall from the other one.

Craig Sommerville

White Bear Lake

 

Press voter guide out too late

I couldn’t agree more with last week’s Press editorial titled: “Have You Noticed.” However, given our new no reason not to vote early/absentee laws, I’m concerned an estimated one-quarter to one-third of voters were not afforded an opportunity to learn about local mayoral or City Council candidates prior to voting. Early voting started before information was provided to voters by the Press.

Perhaps in the future, getting a Press voter’s guide out earlier would be beneficial to help inform voters and foster an informed citizenry.

Terry Nyblom

Vadnais Heights City Council member

 

Attention district 832 residents

We are writing in support of the upcoming levy for the Mahtomedi Public Schools.

My husband and I grew up in Mahtomedi, and have raised three children in the school district. We are proud of our community. Mahtomedi is a very special place, largely due to strong, longstanding community support.  

As parents, we have seen firsthand the impact of this community’s support for our schools and our kids. As a substitute teacher, however, I know the ongoing struggle our schools face to provide high-quality education on insufficient school funding. This levy will help bridge the state funding gap, allowing teachers and staff to continue to provide the kind of education that we in Mahtomedi are so very proud of.  

By supporting your local public schools, you are supporting the community and the bright futures of the kids who will one day lead this country. Vote yes on Nov. 6.  

Angela and Chris Sellwood

Mahtomedi

 

Support Mahtomedi Public Schools

My family has lived in Mahtomedi for over 25 years. Our youngest daughter graduated from Mahtomedi Schools. And now we have a grandson in high school. We are proud Zephyr grandparents. We are supporting the levy request because we want to help keep our community strong and see the schools continue to thrive. 

We are a family that has spent much of our professional lives in public education. My husband was the president of the St. Bernard’s School Board for 12 years. I was lucky to work for the Mahtomedi School District as a receptionist at O.H. Anderson and the District Office for 17 years. Public education is a value that is central to our family. While we are retired, we have and always will continue to vote yes for the kids.

Having worked for the Mahtomedi School District for 17 years, I can vouch for the passion and energy that my colleagues, both in and out of the classroom, poured into their work on a daily basis. We live among educators that are second to none, and our test scores back that up, putting us among the top schools in the state. Excellence doesn’t just happen—it is something we need to continue to invest in. 

Even if you don’t have kids in the schools, there are other reasons to vote yes. Families throughout the Twin Cities want to move to our school district to raise their children and be a part of our community. Despite the nominal increase in property taxes, this demand drives up property values for all the homeowners in our community, keeps our community thriving and brings additional state aid to our schools.

I will continue to support our schools and I hope you join me in putting our kids first.

Deb Hogan

Mahtomedi

 

Vote for Wazlawik

I am voting for Ami Wazlawik for state Representative in District 38B and encourage you to do the same. I support Ami because she is a longtime resident of White Bear Lake and the Township, graduated from White Bear Area High School (Go Bears!), and currently works for the White Bear Lake Area School District. She knows the White Bear Lake area and will represent us well in St. Paul.

I support Ami because she believes all Minnesotans should have access to high-quality, affordable health care. Ami supports a MinnesotaCare buy-in option. As a small business owner, I get my health insurance on the individual market. Affordable health care options are important to me. The cost of my insurance, as well as my co-pays and deductibles, have increased significantly in the last few years. Having the option to buy into MinnesotaCare and have the negotiating power of the state of Minnesota on my side will help ensure that my health care, and yours, is more affordable. I support Ami because her plan will save us money and give us access to better health care options.

Sheila Kelly 

White Bear Lake

 

Thank you for Loon Chronicles

As the season draws to a close, I would like to thank to Ellen Maas and the White Bear Press for another year of the “Loon Chronicles.” Every week, I look forward to the update on the loons and other wildlife activity on White Bear Lake and appreciate all your time and effort to get such amazing pictures. Have you considered selling prints of them?

Jodene Malmsten

White Bear Lake

 

Don’t be swayed by special-interest groups

MinnPost recently published an article titled, “If early spending is any indication, the battle for the Minnesota House will be fought in the ’burbs.” This article noted that “More than $86,000 has been spent on mailers and cable buys attacking [Ami] Wazlawik by the Minnesota Jobs Coalition and the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses, per CFB records.”

Special interests have taken a special interest in our community. They are spending significant amounts of money from far outside our district to influence our local election. Many of my neighbors have indicated that they received the same scare-mongering mailers that I did, and some caught Sunday morning commercials similarly meant to spread fear and sow discord.

No one should be swayed by these deceptions. A vote for Ami Wazlawik is a vote for one of the brightest, rising leaders in our community. It is also a vote against the special-interest money that continues to infect our political discourse and spread lies about our neighbors who wish to represent us at the Minnesota Capitol and beyond. Please join me in sending a message to special interests, and vote for Ami Wazlawik on Nov. 6.

Stephen Kelly

White Bear Lake

Chair, 38Blue PAC

 

Anderson will bring tax reform

Tax reform is a top priority for Minnesotans this election year. When looking at our local candidates for state Representative in District 38B, we have a clear choice. We need someone who will work hard for our seniors by eliminating taxes on Social Security benefits. Minnesota is 1 of 13 states that tax Social Security benefits. Our representative needs to prioritize making Minnesota friendlier for our seniors. The best candidate would also look to lower income tax rates on all Minnesotans and lower estate taxes. It is important for our state representative to support conformity to the new federal tax code and simplify tax returns for regular Minnesotans. Families work hard for their money; our representative should work to help them keep more of it in their pocket.  

I know of only one candidate who will support us on taxes. This is why I choose to vote Patti Anderson for state representative. Patti is an excellent leader who has a successful track record as a business owner and in public service. I trust Patti to be a watchdog at the Legislature. With her experience, we know Patti will ensure our state is accountable for the use of our tax dollars.

For these reasons, we need Patti in the Legislature. Patti will work to lower taxes, simplify tax returns and efficiently spend our money. Patti can get this done.

Kyle Berndt

White Bear Lake

 

Grant letter distortions

Part of the Huber team, Denny Kaup, is distorting the truth and engaging in mudslinging. First of all, I engage all members of the staff in a congenial manner, from the administrator to the building inspector. Ask any of them, and I certainly have never suggested that any one of them be terminated. What amazes me is how can these wildly unsubstantiated claims can even be printed.  This is the third letter with false claims directed at me. I worked with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to shut down an illicit wastewater discharge from over 300 hydro-vac trucks when the council majority did nothing. At three consecutive meetings three months in a row, I proposed an amendment to ordinance 32.145 that prohibits wastewater discharges within 3,000 feet of a well, and they would not consider it. Subsequently, when I informed the council of the administrative order (fine) to pay $3,450 by the landowner, I was called a liar by Denny at a council meeting. At the next meeting, I included a copy of the administrative order and asked for an apology; he refused.  

I was not ticketed for entering a fire scene. I pulled over on the side of the county road and told the deputy to let my friend, the 80-year-old fire victim, to call me if he needed a place to stay. I have worked hard to bring things that affect Grant citizens, such as protecting their wells, effecting responsible road repair and modifying the comprehensive plan to keep water and sewer out. More information is available at grantreporter.com. The council majority has initiated several lawsuits against citizens and a council member. That’s the pot calling the kettle black, and as a result has wasted thousands of dollars on litigation. I am working to keep Grant rural, and have been a resident with a farm for 25 years. 

Loren Sederstrom

Grant

 

End the City Council circus

I currently serve on the Grant Planning Commission, which is a volunteer position. Two of the other members serving on this commission are John Rog and Jeff Giefer, chairman and vice chairman, respectively. Both of these gentlemen are candidates for City Council positions and I highly recommend them and urge you to support them because they both are committed to the future of Grant and will work smoothly with the other three City Council members to conduct city business. (Wouldn’t that be nice!)

Please vote for Jeff Giefer and John Rog so the lawsuits and the City Council meeting circus can end. Lake Elmo cleared out their deadwood; so can Grant. Giefer and Rog for Grant!

Robert Tufty

Grant

 

Supports Vadnais apartment development

I have found reason to pause regarding my pride as a citizen in our beautiful Vadnais Heights. After witnessing the discussions surrounding the apartment development on County Road F, I have been waiting for the other side of the story to be told. Who is representing the people who are not living there yet? Why aren’t the details of our affordable housing crisis being discussed? Where is the workforce we need to function in this city going to live? Are there aspects of the opposition’s sentiments that are not being brought to light? I hope we can agree that there is more at work than meets the eye. “Not in my backyard” is not acceptable as a sole reason.  

Erin Florin

Vadnais Heights

 

We deserve Karwoski

We have the opportunity to re-elect an interested, experienced and enthusiastic District 2 Washington County Commissioner, Stan Karwoski. Stan has served the public in Oakdale, in community organizations, county committees and as county commissioner. We deserve such a candidate. Please join me in voting for Stan Karwoski for Dist. 2 Washington County Commissioner on Nov. 6.

Mary Hauser, former Washington County Commissioner

Birchwood Village

 

Re-elect Karwoski commissioner

Join me in voting to re-elect Stan Karwoski for District 2 Washington County Commissioner on Nov. 6. It is refreshing to vote for the integrity and demonstrated experience our county deserves. As an outdoor enthusiast and infrastructure designer for over 40 years, I have witnessed firsthand Stan’s passion for the citizens in our county and his commitment to balance the issues surrounding parks/open space and the built environment. Stan brings real-world experience of serving the public in community organizations, county committees and as county commissioner.

Please join me in voting for the integrity, experience and commitment we deserve and vote for Stan Karwoski for Washington County Commissioner on Nov. 6.

Michael Kraemer

Birchwood Village

 

Chamber endorses levy

On Sept. 20 the White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors unanimously endorsed the Mahtomedi levy referendum that will appear on the ballot for the November 2018 election. The endorsement was based on the following reasons: First, our communities need quality public schools in order to prepare our students to fulfill current and future workforce needs. Second, the quality of life in a community is primarily based on the quality of public education. Third, Mahtomedi and the surrounding area needs an influx of younger families and quality schools are a driving force in making that happen. Finally, state aid to our public schools has declined as a percentage of a school district’s operating budget over the past decade. Subsequently, local levies are essential in augmenting a school district’s budgetary needs.

Tom Snell

White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce

 

Stop bus station fiasco

To Commissioner Reinhardt — I need to let you know how opposed I am to your plan to alter the flavor and feel of downtown White Bear Lake by suggesting the construction of a transit hub in the downtown area and transit stops at Boatworks Commons and at Cedar Street.

I really don’t know what brain trust decided this is all a fabulous idea. 

Most of us have real lives and figure that our elected representatives are actually working for us by improving our community — not spoiling it. My guess is that if you put your ill-conceived idea to a vote by White Bear Lake residents, it would be soundly defeated.

Please stop this fiasco now.

I suppose your cronies at the Metropolitan Council are giddy about your efforts to expand their reach into our lives.

Go and put your transit hub over by Walmart at County Road E and I-35E where the traffic is instead of creating disruption for downtown White Bear Lake.

I think that White Bear Lake’s residents who might enjoy dinner at The Manitou Grill or the Washington Square Bar & Grill or be celebrating downtown White Bear Lake on a Marketfest evening would be less than pleased to see buses rolling into and out of town every 10 minutes. 

So much for the small town.

Greg Lees

White Bear Lake

 

Heartfelt letter, bizarre letter

On Sept. 5, the White Bear Press published a letter to the editor written by my husband Lt. Colonel (ret) John Decker. It was a heartfelt letter sharing how our family has been embraced by the Mahtomedi community and our appreciation for the outstanding education District 832 provides our children.  

In the Oct. 10 edition of the White Bear Press, District 832 school board candidate Gary Baumann  responded to my husband’s letter. His letter was so bizarre that I feel the need to reply.

Baumann states that he disagrees with my husband’s view on “(the levy) paying for outside-the-district children.” There was zero mention of open enrollment in my husband’s letter.

While I know my husband agrees that Mahtomedi School District has “great teachers, programs, great environment for children to learn,” Baumann’s quote is incorrect.

It would have been easy to just roll my eyes and ignore Baumann’s ridiculous response but because he is running for school board, I think his letter is important.

Baumann chose to make an argument when there wasn’t one to be made. His letter is irresponsible and causes me to have serious reservations as to whether he would be able to accurately review, analyze and communicate important information. If he is willing to fabricate content to make his point in a letter to the editor, can he be trusted to be part of critical decisions our school board has to tackle? If he is willing to incorrectly quote community members, do you really want to trust him with your concerns and experiences? I don’t.

My husband’s letter was a simple, family-oriented request for our community to vote yes on Nov. 6. I am disappointed in Baumann’s decision to misconstrue his words.

Respectfully,

Susan Decker

Mahtomedi

 

Support incumbents for Mahtomedi school board

As residents of the Mahtomedi Public School District vote for school board members on Nov. 6, it’s important to take time to consider the credentials and priorities of the candidates. Incumbents Mike Chevalier, Kevin Donovan and Julie McGraw are experienced board members dedicated to providing the best education possible for all students. 

These board members are committed to aligning resources with goals, collaborating with the community, ensuring buildings are safe and welcoming, and advocating for the district with state legislators. They understand school finance and its complex system of local, state and federal dollars and are members of a board with a long history of fiscal responsibility. In fact, our school district does more with fewer resources than the vast majority of metro school districts; a full 83.5 percent of its budget goes directly to student instruction. 

More than 60 percent of our residents do not have children in the schools, driving the need for open enrollment to sustain enrollment at 3,200-3,300 students. It is open enrollment that makes available our breadth of academic and extracurricular activities as open enrollment students bring with them their state per-pupil funding as well as other funding sources. Without open enrollment, our district would look very different. We simply could not fund many of the offerings that students and parents currently value. 

We encourage those who have questions about conflicting information presented by school board candidates to reach out to district administrators for information. It is critical that we elect board members who are dedicated to providing the best education possible to our students as well as disseminating accurate information to community members. Recent research from the National School Boards Association confirms that school boards have a significant impact on student achievement in their districts. Indeed, a high-functioning school board makes for a high-achieving school district. Please join us in voting for Chevalier, Donovan and McGraw. 

Carrie Smith Ardito

Mahtomedi

Missy McGlinch Ward

Grant

 

Additional theft safety tips

The article “Thefts from motor vehicles up this summer” (Press, Oct. 10) issued timely reminders for car owners. In addition, the following tips may be of help (gathered from safety flyers written for consumers):

1) If possible, always park your car in your garage, and keep the door closed. This keeps would-be thieves from knowing when you are home or not, and from casing or entering your car.

2) If your garage has a side service door, reinforce it with steel bars to keep it from being kicked in.

3) If you are building a home, consider omitting the side service door from your design plans. You can always enter the big door for access.

4) If your garage door has glass panes built into it, consider covering the glass from the inside with curtains or cardboard.

5) If you must park your car in your driveway, remove your remote garage door opener and take it with you as you enter your house. Keep CDs in a zippered case which can be easily removed at night or during the day when the car is not being driven.

6) When parking your car in a public parking lot or park area, preparing to leave it, don’t be seen by a thief (with or without binoculars) stowing your belongings at that site. Hide valuables before you arrive at your parking space.

7) Invest in a car alarm, or have one installed aftermarket. A flashing red light seen on your dashboard control panel from outside your locked car can be a discouragement to a would-be thief.

8) When having your car serviced for repairs, or when leaving your car with a valet or parking lot attendant, hand over only your car key and not your entire ring of keys. (Some newer cars have a “valet key” which allows the attendant to drive your car to you, but not to open the trunk of your car.)

9) If you see someone from a distance casing or breaking into your car, hit the red emergency button on your key to sound the alarm on your car before any damage is done. (Remember that when you want to silence the alarm, you must enter your car, insert your key into the ignition, and start the car.)

As a longtime Vadnais Heights resident who moved here in 1985 when the population was still 5,000, I’m convinced that people here are trusting and never suspect anyone will take advantage of them. Attention to safety and neighborhood visitors can help us keep our neighborhoods secure.

Sandra A. Waterman

Vadnais Heights

 

School finance facts aren’t subjective

The letter to the editor written by Gary Baumann on Oct. 10 contained misleading and inaccurate information about the Mahtomedi School District operating levy request and our open enrollment practices. While I agree we can all have opinions, school finance facts are not subject to opinion. As the director of business of services, I have a fiduciary duty to provide facts, not opinions, about the operating levy and district financial information. 

I will correct the record and misconceptions portrayed about open enrollment. When a student open-enrolls, in accordance with state law, the state aid follows the student. State aid accounts for 73 percent of the revenue we receive in our general fund. Open enrolled students bring state per-pupil funding as well as other funding sources, including categorical aid, and federal funding. By accepting open-enrolled students, we are able to run our classes and buildings efficiently, offer academic and extracurricular programming we would otherwise not be able to offer, and avoid deeper budget reductions. Effectively managing open enrollment with resident grade progression ratios provides a good deal for both our students and community. 

The inadequacy of state funding is one of the reasons why our district is asking voters in our community to consider our operating levy request. The state is not meeting its obligation to fund Minnesota schools and the basic formula would be over $618 per pupil higher today if it had simply kept up with inflation. This lack of funding significantly impacts the budgeting decisions in our school district and school districts across the state. 

It is difficult to respond to Baumann’s blanket statements about administrator pay increases when those statements simply aren’t true. Claiming administrator pay is among the highest in the state and administrator pay has increased $800,000 since 2016 is patently false. 

I encourage our community members to seek out factual information about the levy request and discourage subjective and inaccurate statements about school finance. 

Bill Menozzi 

Director of Business Services

Mahtomedi Public Schools

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