Archived Story

Defeat means no to taxes

Published 9:48am Friday, April 5, 2013 Updated 11:50am Friday, April 5, 2013

The second defeat of the outdoor facilities bond vote within a six month period will hopefully get the message across to the District 544 School Board and Administration that “no” does mean “no.”

If that message has not yet been received, then I sincerely hope that School District 544 voters will see fit to make the needed changes as school board members and adminstrator terms expire.

I am surprised, but pleased, that the voters again turned down the proposal. There may be merit in some of the argument in support (like the bleachers), but viewed overall, I felt “management” was trying to jerk my chain.

The initial presentation of the proposal by Superintendent Ness claiming that a yes vote would not raise property taxes struck me as a slight of hand, lame rationale to vote yes.

Sort of like, you, the taxpayer have already been paying more than this on the expiring bond, now just vote yes, keep on paying and you won’t even notice it. Hey, we’re saving you money.

Another argument presented in favor of a yes vote was to consolidate the athletic facilities to make them more accessible to the students participating in those athletics. That is,less physical effort needed to get to them.

I found this to be a rather specious argument given that I have always assumed that athletics and school “physical education” programs have as their basic intent, providing exercise for physical well-being in support of education endeavor.

The economic argument did not carry the day for me either. If the economic benefits cited in favor of bond approval really had validity, I’d expect that the business community would have readily offered financial support up front to compliment the resources requested from the voters’ pocketbooks to realize the attainment of the proposed facilities modifications.

I saw no information concerning this support nor did I see any compelling supportive information based on studies that would lead me to buy in to that argument. Such information would have helped alter my views and vote.

The timing of the vote as a special election when many voters may not be present in the community came across as another attempted manipulative slight of hand.

I strongly support the furtherance of education and measures that advance it. An underground watering system and resources to expand what I view as unnecessary facilities have minimal positive impact on improving the education our youth deserve.

Let’s put our resources in to improvement of the education they receive.


Tony Vollbrecht

Fergus Falls

  • KLJones

    Sooner or later some things will need to be fixed. It is my understanding that the bleachers at the football field are right now considered to be unsafe. Without a bond, where will that money come from? Perhaps in order to keep money in our greedy little pockets we should also just let everything else in town go too. It will be fun to drive on dirt roads again.

    • J Mullins

      Comments befitting a sore loser.
      Mr. Vollbrecht presents a well ordered and rational analysis of events as they transpired, and the feelings and judgement of the majority of the voters.
      Visit any restaurant or coffee shop or market in town and casually bring up this subject and you will hear people expressing disdain, disrespect, and contempt for the school board and administrator for pushing this measure in the time frame immediately after the voters had said no, and scheduling the election when they knew many taxpaying homeowners would be on winter sojourns.
      There is widespread anger with the people we have elected to office for taking the attitude that the public do not know what is best, and the educrats must rub our noses in their superior posteriors as they ignore our wishes.
      I echo Mr. Vollbrecht in urging the voters to replace the members of the school board who figuratively stuck their thumbs in the eyes of the voters when they forced this election on us.

  • Richard Olson

    Letting things go or failure to perform maintenance is more than passing fancy in this town. In the past it has been the vehicle used to get shiny new things from the taxpayers.

    The old ice arena is an excellent example of that, also the new high school. Hillcrest Academy is an example of what can be done when proper and timely maintenance is the rule rather than the exception.

    Some seem to forget that the primary purpose of school is to learn what is necessary to prepare students for what is the learning experience of the remainder of their life. Too many of those same people look upon school as basic training for the “Major Leagues”.

  • kathleenmae

    Members of the school board showed their real hands over this proposal. No means no, and don’t bring it forth for a vote again. Special elections cost money, and the taxpayers have spent enough. Remember the arena?

  • Grayson

    I remember the arena! I also remember seeing and hearing a bus load of people from Canada who were at the arena and over hearing them talk about how they were going to the mall, Target, Walmart and then going to eat. Oh by the way, they were also staying at the local hotels.
    There’s that no good arena at work again! In addition to that, I see the no good arena will be hosting the state Bantam A hockey tournments this year. What does that mean? That means HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of people will shopping, eating and lodging here. What a worthless arena!!!!!!

    • Richard Olson

      No one has ever claimed the ice palace did not bring people to Fergus Falls. The question is does the new ice palace bring more people who spend more then the people who traveled to visit/use the old ice arena, and does the amount they spend justify the price tag of the new arena. Also comparing the spending habits of Canadians visiting the United States is a red herring. Canadians spend the bejabers out of their dollars every time they visit regardless the reason for their visit. Anyone who doubts that should visit the US side of the border crossing at Grand Portage Minnesota and see the many empty boxes which formerly contained laptops, boom boxes, kitchen appliances etc laying in the ditches, tossed there by Canadians who will swear to the boarder guard that they’ve owned those items for some time. (the neater Canadians use the dumpster at the rest stops along the North Shore)

      But lets move to a more troubling issue…that of the hundreds of families that were going to move to Fergus Falls just so their little children could skate on the fabulous new ice in the ice palace.
      Grayson, the citizens taxpayers were assured/promised on more than one occasion that families would pull up stakes and move to Fergus Falls for that very reason.

      I’ve waited patiently and have yet to meet one single person let alone an entire family who moved here to skate, I don’t know anyone who even knows anyone who fits that description. If you do I would like to hear their name.

      So before you infer or treat the taxpayers like a bunch of hicks who can not recognize a cash cow, perhaps you would like to show a little more substantial evidence then rumors of a bus load of Canadians who ate a burger and bought some cheap Chinese junk at Wal-Mart.

      • Grayson

        Yes teams would not play in Fergus due to the old fair grounds arena. I thought money was money no matter who spends it. Now you are complaining who spends their money in town. WOW!!!!

        • Richard Olson

          Apparently reading is a skill some never develop, I did not and am not complaining about anyone spending money in town. I simply said spending by Canadians is not representative of the hockey teams who drop a few dollars in town. Now if I must dumb it down further…A bus load of Canadians will spend more than a similar bus load of people from Fargo or Wadena or Wheaton simply because of the comparative value of their dollars and the distance to their home. (that means a person from Canada is much more likely to get a motel room than a person from Underwood barring extraordinary events like a blizzard)

          Now if that’s not simple enough for you I can’t help.

  • Riley5030

    My question on this whole thing is – Did the school board or administration take into consideration who would clean, repair, mow grass, or otherwise maintain these new facilities? I didn’t hear anything about hiring additional custodial or maintenance staff or even a small raise for the current staff. Seems to me that the voters in Fergus Falls got this right with a very emphatic NO.

  • Jake Krohn

    One point of correction: I think the intent of consolidating some of the facilities was not to lessen the “physical effort needed to get to them,” but, rather, was to keep more athletes on campus in an effort to lessen the number of trips taken — by car, mostly — to other practice facilities. That in and of itself may not be worthy of a $5.4 million bond, but I think it’s an admirable goal nonetheless, and one that can hopefully be pursued in the future, despite this most recent outcome.

  • krank

    First of all I want to set one item straight I did vote for the Ice Palace. I did it and so did my wife. We did it to show solidarity and commitment to this community that we have lived in and supported for some 15 years now. We are not 3rd generation Fergus Fallians who dropped off the grain car of the train goin through town. Yet we call this place home none the less..My question is..What do you do if you do fix football stadium…Im sorry I had one young second grader at the time we moved here and the first thing I looked at was….The Football Field….I equated it to nasty looking dilapidated Mill that sit Front and Center of this town. What an eye sore..I came from Hibbing Minnesota..The heart of the Iron Range where you wouldnt have seen anything like any of those two building just sitting there…And I put the responsibility of getting rid of this trash solely on the shoulders of people that have been here for 3 generations….Its sick to see. In Hibbing we have a High School up there that was build in 1923 and still looks like the very first day they built it. It doesn’t take much effort over time…but it does take effort and some cash here and there to keep it up…Once you start to cut the budget like this town loves to do the stuff that you built will not stand the weather of time..plain and simple…You build stuff thats behind closed doors and leave the eye sores go to rot in peoples eyes. If all your going to do is whine about your pocket book you have it all wrong. This is future of a town we are talking about and not about the next steak your little selfish one is going to eat. If you don’t want to pay leave the city and stop getting all the conveinances the city offers. As for us we are done..We are done with the selfishness of this city. This vote goes to show you. You people don’t want forward progress. You want full pockets and eye sores on every corner. You reward the teams that have failed and have neglected the teams that have brought home the hardware for this school system…I bet you a dime to a dollar I could ask every one of you except the coach and the team itself who won the first State Title in Fergus Falls history and I bet a lot of people would not have that on the tip of their tongue..yet they neglet them year after year. As for mr. Mullins…You may call our educators names in order to berate them…But I tell you this…You take this school out of town….This town dies plain and simple….As the school goes so does the town…Its the educators who take the extra time to pure life into our students day in and day out that makes them ready for the real world beyond the tiny one of river city… its unfortunate that your to small to see that…then again how good was that steak.

    • Grayson

      Could not have said it better myself Krank!!! What’s that I smell?? Yep it’s steak!

    • Richard Olson

      Krank says…”at the time we moved here and the first thing I looked at was….The Football Field”. Really? Then you need to re-evaluate your priorities and values. First off, just how many football fields does your second grader need? I’m not sure exactly how many football fields there are, but I bet the are at least a dozen in Fergus Falls plus those at DeLagoon Park. Like most other kids I’m willing to bet that your kid can only play on one field at a time. Does he need a few extra fields just standing by in case he has a whim to branch out? Perhaps he needs a stadium like the Vikings? That shouldn’t be much of a problem, just tack it on our tax bill. The sense of entitlement developed by sports parents is just amazing and would be embarrassing in any other parent.

      The empty grain elevator is private property and therefore not subject to the wishes of the general public. By your own admission you’ve been here 15 years, what efforts have you made to upgrade the elevator site? Did you form/start a citizens group to rectify the eyesore? Have you made a financial offer to purchase the property to clean it up? Or is it just like your desire regarding the football field….you want it so everyone else should do their utmost to see that you get what you want.

      I’ve been to and through Hibbing many times, you have nothing to brag about. You may not have a former flour Mill as an embarrassing eyesore, but what you do have is the IRRRB, which we don’t. Perhaps you could use some of your Hibbing connections to get us a grant from the IRRRB.

      This town does a lot of things wrong, and has done so for many years. To say that infrastructure spending and priorities are misplaced would be an understatement. They are not helped however every time some group of self-important sports parents feels that the general public owes their little child tax payer indulgence to better grass, better ice, better wood, better air conditioning and better everything because they (the parent) see great things in their child’s future if only he can have each and every whim granted at taxpayer expense.

      It makes me wonder how the sports legends of the past ever became legends in the first place.

      • Grayson

        Ok, Richard says “I’m not sure exactly how many football fields there are, but I bet the are at least a dozen in Fergus Falls plus those at DeLagoon Park”.

        Richard lets count “football fields” shall we!

        I can atleast count to 10 because that’s how many fingers I have. So here we go!

        1. Main varsity field with lights. (Also used for soccer which is fine)
        2. Smaller football/soccer field by parking lot and across from the Otter Garden.
        3. Football field at the Community College.
        4. Football field at Hillcrest Luthern Academy.
        DeLagoon Park has 3 soccer fields up on the hill.

        Well, that’s only 4 and 1 is for the Community College and 1 is for Hillcrest. Now, I can only assume you are counting all the green space in town where a person could drop the mower deck and burn in some end zones while stepping in goose poop! That’s not a “football field”. If that’s what you are counting then everyone’s yard in town could be a football field.

        Now from my simple finger math the city of Fergus Falls is not even close to a dozen “football fields”.

        • Richard Olson

          I left myself some room to maneuver when I said I wasn’t exactly sure. You missed two at the athletic park at least two on the levee and I think there may be one at that park East of Broadway near the railroad tracks.
          There may be more, I don’t know. Whatever it is it’s more than a second grader needs when he/she can only play one field at a time.

          When you discount “ green space” as beneath your requirements for playing a football game, you make my argument about an entitlement generation. For decades kids and adults have played football on green grass open fields. And they didn’t whine about not having white lines in the grass or bleachers for their fans which stood along the sidelines when I was a kid.

  • krank

    Its funny how when you say one thing it gets taken out of context…When I talked about looking at the High School football Stadium now…Which is usually the crowning achievement of every town in minnesota…You would think a town of this size would have had a primiere Stadium in which a town of this size would take pride in…My heavens sake Its looks worse than Buhl Mn stadium that hasnt received IRRRB funding….You farmer can whine all you want but for years you have secreatly taken in to what equates 10 to 20 times what the IRRRB money takes in but theres only one thing different….I goes straight into your pocket not into projects that will further a city, or get rid of an eye sore like that Mill…That Mill has been here long before i drove into town and even after the Order Cleanup Ordinance it will be in my rear view mirror when I leave this place…You people are all sore because I called out the exact people that need to called out on…This school needs a heck of alot more than a new football stadium….I see noone came up with my sports question so I’ll tell you the answer…The only team to come home with a State Championship is……The Boys Swimming Team….Now do you know what year? And this team had talent. The trouble is everyone on every committee has ignored this program. It has been working tiresly under the Great Head Coach of some 40 Years. Now the equipment is getting so bad they can barely get a swim meet put together. The starter switch is totally gone…. The team and the pool area needs to be totally redone. The filtering system is way outdated. Yes They do deserve the fund…Now all you Farmers out there who get you government check….It’s time to start giving back…or should I head to capital hill and start supporting a bill that put a local governing board over the funds you all receive so there would be another hoop to jump through to get your precious government check….It doesnt take long to live here and see what actually goes on…The so called good people will get helped out by the farmers while the rest are at the mercy….It is a shame…This town could be a top ten in each and every sport. Getting scholarships from colleges all over this nation…Ten times the amount. But when they see the facilities and eye sores they turn away. Who wants to do business in this town? Everyone goes to Fargo or Alexandria now…It is a shame when the High School band can move just a few items and wow they have enough room in our Mall to practice a full Presidential Parade March without affecting any business…Honestly in the last 3 generations nothing has been done to move this city anywhere but further toward a retirement community..Which will eventually start to die like Foxhome or Rothsay. Oh the kids have a lot of grass to run on….but do they have enough stages to really play on them and includes the bands, chior and orchestra. Theres another poor group of hard working kids that badly need a proper place and stage to work on….Again I graduated from Hibbing, 1800 full seat auditorium with a full orchastra pit built 1923. Looks like the day it was built….You know why? PRIDE….WE had pride in our school. We treated that school with honor…Because our parents treated it with honor…When we had a program 5-7 grade…Everyone stayed UNTIL THE END OF THE PROGRAM….Not this Crap OHH MY KIDS DONE …..CYA!!!…..IT WAS CALLED RESPECT!!! I don’t know what gets into these people up here but they have absolutely no Respect for the instructors, fellow, senior and junior classmembers and other childrens parents…….PATHETIC!!!!! I’ve seen it done everywhere in this school district so NOONE is amune to that indigni

    • Richard Olson

      Yes, yes, everyone agrees the dirty old mill was here before you walked on the local stage with your inflated view of what your particular sport should mean to this community. That wasn’t my point, my point is “what have you done since you arrived”? It appears to me the only thing you’ve done is to announce that you don’t like the mill and “You people should do something about it”. Well how about you do something about it. You need not have been here since before the mill was built, you could have made some effort yourself starting 15 years ago. Apparently any pride you have for the place you live was left in Hibbing.

      The remainder of your comment is little more than selfishly berating everyone else because they fail to appreciate whatever your favorite sport is. And because of their failure, they are a bunch of hicks content to rest on their collective butts and collect government checks. It’s a good thing you make your comments using an alias, because I doubt you’ve made many more friends with your haughty attitude.

      • holly

        Wow – AckerRichardMunk admonishing someone for “selfishly berating” with a “haughty attitude” while using an alias? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Earth to AJ/RO/CM – that is what you do on a daily basis.

    • Grayson

      This town is dying a slow death!!

      Might explain why the majority of housing in this town is catered to the old folks. The people that don’t want to spend to money to fix anything sure want to live in the new housing!!!! Oh, by the way, there’re all full!!

      Don’t get me going on the topic of well to do farmers getting big bucks from the government!!!!!!

      • Grayson

        Let’s face it, you are going to have people for and against any project in this town. It’s quite clear the majority of the citizens in this town are satisfied with no change. This town has a lot of potenital being in lakes country, but nothing will come of it! You’re welcome the city of Alexandria!

      • Richard Olson

        This town is indeed dying a slow death. It’s been doing so since the 1960’s, but not for the reasons you suspect. I will not defend crop subsidies going to corporate farms nor subsidies to oil companies.

        However…. Want does “ the majority of housing in this town is catered to the old folks” mean? Do you mean that the majority of new structures have few or no steps or walk-in showers? Do you mean that Condominiums and Town Houses outnumber single family dwellings? What proof do you have? Or is it just some passing observation? How have you determined who lives in what type of housing and how have you determined that your calculation is correct and that “ the majority of housing in this town is catered to the old folks“? 

        • Grayson

          In your opinion why has the city been dying a slow death since the 60′s.

          • Richard Olson

            When you answer the questions posed in the second paragraph of my 12:32 pm comment with some proof, I’ll be happy to answer your question.

  • camobabe

    We all know some folks who have led mediocre , low achievment lives, careers. They long for the golden days of youth when anything was possible, no goal or task unachievable, every one of their fantasies just waiting to come to fruition.
    Now, in middle age or senior status, they live vicariously through their children, grandchildren, and feel IF ONLY those youngsters can win a championship, a trophy, laurels and praise on the fields of athletic contest, it will somehow validate the choices made by the parents to settle for what they could get without risk and sacrifice.
    And, unfortunately, they focus their efforts on world class arenas and fields as the means to assure success by the young athletes, to bring glory to their parents and grandparents.
    The fact that voters have defeated those efforts at expensive self glorification and validation only angers them, as shown here by their attacks on Richard Olson (with whom, incidentally, I generally disagree on most points) as he talks sense about the unbalanced emphasis on Playthings and toys such as fields, grandstands, arenas, while offering sensible suggestions to improve the delivery of the best proucts of our educational system; training in those areas of knowledge to prepare all our students, not just our athletes, in useful skills and information necessary to maake their ways in life.
    Have at ‘em Acker.

    • holly

      AckerMunk does not view this anywhere near the same way you do, Camilla. Liberals like him are always OK with spending other people’s money on their pet projects. But now that you are talking HIS money (and it’s not HIS pet project), he’s morphed into a TEA BAGGER! Daily Journal headline – “Richard Acker Olson joins the Tea Party – fights against higher local taxes”. Too funny.

      • abby

        enough holly, we get it, you don’t like richard. get over it and grow up. we don’t need you chilish temper tantrums every time he makes a post.

  • crucified

    Where’s Larry?

    • Grayson

      It was not that long ago when the uproar was against building another liquor store. The construction of that would just be the end of this fair city!!! Well, how did that turn out? We all survived!

      Change for the better can happen people! Yes, the majority of change will not put money in my pocket I understand that, but it does help the community.

      I don’t even notice the $25 or whatever I’m paying for the 1994 bond. So, I’m not going to notice the same or less for this project. No I’m not rich, but I can easly put $3-$5 a month towards this projet or any other project in the future. I’ll just buy 1 less Happy meal or 2 less Snicker bars.

  • krank

    I thank everyone that has come to my defense….or actually see what I have seen in this town for many years. Everyone knows everyone thats why you can’t say a single word with your name behind it while you kids are still attending school…How sad it is that here I am actually FOR the MONEY for the FOOTBALL field and none of my kids ever played a varsity down on that field…Ohh I have spent my time getting slivers in my rear from the benches but my kids would not gain a penny for getting an upgraded stadium…What may happen is that a few more families may see this town as actually being a viable place to raise their kids and to even imagine having their son (if they wanted to) play on a great gathering space for the community. Thats not without saying anything about our only STATE CHAMPIONS that we have neglected for so many years…Yes maybe my families sport is swimming but do you see anywhere on this bonding bill for a new Swimming area? NO…..You see Olson My pet sport hasnt been on any bonding bill in the last ummm 10 years and now the its so bad that it makes it difficult to even go down and time these swimmers properly because we don’t have the 15000.00 to spend for the new timing devices…Thats it!….state champs…As for the Mill I believe it should have been up people long long ago when it first shut down to do something with it. But thats just one of the many items that is slowing erroding this town since the 60′s…..Olson or whatever your name is, You said it also. And I believe thats a good 2 if not 3 generations of neglect that other towns of this size hasn’t seen. Even with the boom and bust of the mines Hibbing, Virginia, Alexandria, Detriot lakes, and Bemidji have all grown and Fergus Falls is putting up one old folks home after another….And it comes back to the steak….Don’t it Olson? What did you say…umm you wouldn’t have missed that 56 bucks or whatever because what we got out of it was way better than 4 steaks at Mabels…..and Mabels are doing just fine also…Just went there for my birthday and it was packed…..

    • camobabe

      Umm.. Mr (?) Krank.. Was Mabels packed in joyful and riotous celebration of your presence and importance in the community, or was the crowd there only coincidentally?
      And, how could a new field of schemes, as one writer put it, have increased the head count at a supper club when it is only one of a very few and almost all of the quality eating places open on weekend nights already have good crowds?

    • Richard Olson

      You’re learning fast Krank. When you don’t agree with someone or they write things you can’t counter, you accuse them of being someone else.
      Also, I never said anything about steaks at Mables or any other eatery.

      Your last comment, just like the others proves that you just don’t get it. You and your crowd still ramble on and on about being a backward town full of old farmers living in old geezers homes. If not that, you prefer to believe it’s about sports.

      Let me take another opportunity to clue you in, although I doubt it will do any good.

      The issue with this last vote and previous votes are …..priorities, that means the citizens of this community think it is the very acme of willful STUPIDITY to drive on pot marked roads, with cracked and uneven surfaces which cause accidents and damage to our cars, on our way to an ice palace which fewer people use than use the roads. We think roads, upon which commerce depends are a necessity while a new and improved ice palace are nice to have they are not a necessity. Commerce in this town does not depend on a new ice palace, nor new bleachers or another football field.

      The taxpayers/citizens of this community also RESENT THE LIES we were told by your crowd to try and trick us into paying for frivolous and redundant facilities rather than repair our roads.

      My telling you these things isn’t going to makes a dimes worth of difference is it. Because history gives ample proof that your crowd will poo poo what I’ve e said because it doesn’t jive with what is said at the school board/system meetings or in the board room at few businesses. You will blithely dismiss what I’ve said and blunder on with another version of the pig you’ve tried to sell before with a lipstick upgrade.

      One last thing, just where are all those people who have come to your defense? Certainly not here. I suspect it is more like the imaginary, wished for, support your crowd finds for your silly superfluous projects.

      Begin taking care of the basics and maybe you will someday get your pet project.

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