Letters to the Editor
Nice Guys Finish First
We had the good fortune of acting as Team Hosts for the Rugby Panthers basketball team over the weekend and wanted to make clear how much we enjoyed the experience and how impressed we were with the players, coaches, bus driver and everyone we met from Rugby. Your Spirit Award-winning community should be, and we know are, justifiably proud of the team for winning the Class B Boy’s State tournament. You should also be proud of them for representing your city in the best possible way.
As one would expect, the young men on the team were uniformly polite and well behaved on and off the basketball court. But more than that, they were special and were marked by their caring respect for each other, and that behavior extended to us as they welcomed us warmly into their Panther family. This team was disciplined but fun, unselfish, cooperative in practice, serious but teasing; in other words, these young men displayed mature, positive attitudes and great social skills. We were happy to see them realize their dream of a state championship, but sad to have to say goodbye.
The Athletic Director, Scott Grochow, Coach Mike Santjer and his assistants, Mike Heidlebaugh and Brian Olson also made a positive impression on everyone associated with the tournament and served as models for the team members.
A famous baseball manager, Leo Durocher, once declared that “nice guys finish last” when asked about the prospects of one of the teams in his league. Nothing could be further from the truth in the case of the Rugby team. In their case, nice guys finished right where they belong: in the winner’s circle.
Walt and Donna Stack,
Changing Minds about Hospice
Before my personal involvement with the Heart of America hospice program, I envisioned it to be someone sitting by the bed of a dying person, which would be too hard to bear.
As I became deeper and deeper involved in the care of Clara, I knew that I couldn’t go it alone. Becky Hershey, director of hospice at Heart of America Medical Center, stopped by the house to explain the hospice program. lt wasn’t immediately accepted, because we needed to discuss it further, but we finally consented.
As the members of the hospice team became more personal, Clara did so look forward to their coming to the house and she would just light up and momentarily put aside her health problems. The team stopped by three times a week for her bath and shampoo and curled her hair. They even took care of her nails. During the time they were there, I was able to leave the house for errands or lunches, etc. Just from that experience alone was worth it.
As Clara’s health deteriorated, their visits became more frequent. Pastor Don was there at least once a week and sometimes 2 and 3 times a week. Father Tom stopped by to also take care of her spiritual needs, to talk to her and listen to her concerns. Becky was there in an instant to take care of an oxygen machine that quit at 4 AM or to pick Clara up after she had fallen and could not get up. Becky and her crew were constantly monitoring her physical condition and making necessary medical changes and reassuring Clara’s concerns.
But all the while Clara was being looked after, I was also included in their concern.They provided someone to stay with Clara so that time away was available for church or shopping or even out-of-town trips. Becky even brought a cake and ice cream and a card for my birthday and she was so sensitive about my health that she took me to the ER, and as a result I was admitted to the hospital and saved me from greater problems. lt’s the genuine, sincere care that is given, that is so comforting for all.
I changed my mind about hospice when I saw firsthand, the enormity of their care and professionalism; an ear to listen to. We really couldn’t have done it without you. They provided our concerns and a shoulder to cry on when needed. They were so perfect for us.
As with everything else, the program costs money to operate and sustain and survive. At the same time relieving the family of any financial burdens involved. All donations to hospice or inclusions in wills are welcome and needed for a program that is worth every dollar. Thank you for taking care of the dying as well as the living. lt was very much appreciated.
Wednesday was day 54 here at the Legislature. Most committees have finished their hearings and are getting those bills voted out of committee. It looks like next week we will begin conference committees, which involve three members from both the House and Senate who work out any differences made by either chamber.
We heard the bill in the IBL committee that would provide the mechanism for Nodak Mutual to become a stock company. The idea there for Nodak is to be able to raise more capital for future ventures. There are a variety of issues that we need to address, but in the end our committee wants to make sure the policyholder is protected. I think we will get it right, but it might take a little time.
The Senate passed a resolution which will ask Congress to call a Convention of the States for the sole purpose of proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States for a federal balanced budget. There is concern that spending is out of control in Washington with a $17 trillion deficit, which amounts to about $56,000 per man, woman, and child in our country. The thought is that Congress would have to observe this Amendment. I would like to think Congress should be doing this now, but we all know how that’s working.
There’s also some discussion that Congress is not abiding by the Constitution now and whether this would this change anything. I hope it works.
We continue to move cautiously on the appropriations side. As many of you probably know, the oil drilling rig count is now under 100 rigs. That’s down nearly 90 rigs since Christmas. In addition, Bakken crude was selling around $31/barrel this week, which takes into account the big discount applied to Bakken crude compared to other domestic produced sources. All these issues are being considered as we continue to chug along to the end of the session.
It’s day fifty and the Senate has 225 bills and 36 resolutions on which to act. We continue to stay very busy in our respective committees. This week the Industry, Business, and Labor committee has heard bills ranging from how to stop payment on a check (now can be asked for electronically), to changing the powers of the board of podiatry, to prohibiting employer retaliation if an employee discusses their compensation with another person. Our committee will probably have the rest of their bills heard next week.
The big news of the day is the revenue forecast that was released yesterday. Back in January, our own analysts looked at all the issues surrounding our budget and did revise it downward. It was a cautious, but well thought out effort. As it turns out, the forecast came in suggesting that there may be around $130 million more general fund revenue. So, today’s budgeting environment is very close to the January numbers. The oil revenue, however, came in with a $869 million dollar reduction. With the reduction we had in January and the changes today, our entire budget will need to be reduced from the Governor’s projections by about $85 million for the rest of this biennium and $419 million from the 2015-2017 biennium. We have taken a lot of that reduction into account and now, with these final numbers, we will continue to make those tough funding decisions. Keep in touch
Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Dist. 14
USDA Abandons Farm Payment Limit Reform
The Center for Rural Affairs is rebuking the USDA’s “actively engaged” proposal. The USDA issued their proposed rule to define what it means to be “actively engaged in farming,” and therefore eligible to receive federal farm payments.
“The purpose of revising the actively engaged definition was to make farm payment limits more effective,” said Traci Bruckner, Senior Associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. “(The) USDA is, however, clearly more interested in defending the interests of mega-farms by preserving loose definitions that will continue to allow the nation’s largest farms to avoid meaningful payment limits.
“This is not reform,” added Bruckner. “In 2007, while campaigning in Iowa for his first election, President Obama promised to close these loopholes, and so did Vice President Biden. But when given yet another opportunity to fulfill that promise, the White House and Secretary Vilsack took a pass, again.”
“The lack of effective payment limitations has resulted in federal farm programs financing farm consolidation and the elimination of many mid-size family farms.Barack Obama and Joe Biden will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations. They will take immediate action to close the loophole by proposing regulations to limit payments to active farmers who work the land.Every President since Ronald Reagan has had the authority to close this loophole without additional action by Congress, but has failed to act.” – President Barack Obama, writing as a candidate for President in his rural platform – Obama-Biden: Real Leadership For Rural America
According to Bruckner, Secretary Vilsack has said since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill that the bill ties his hands and he can not apply any new rule to farms structured solely of family members.
“We have disagreed with that premise from day one, and this rule does nothing more than say the largest and wealthiest farms structured solely of family members are not subject to this new rule or any payment limitation,” argued Bruckner.
Most of the few farms this rule would impact, those structured as non-family member operations, will surely work with an attorney to reorganize their operations to be structured solely of family members to evade any payment limitations, Bruckner concluded.
– Center for Rural Affairs
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