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Bulletin letters to the editor: 3M, Walmart, Cottage Grove City Council, gardening

Take a deep breath before bemoaning Walmart plan

I am responding to the letters that have been written to the Bulletin regarding dissatisfaction with the announcement of a new Walmart coming to Cottage Grove. I would ask for everyone to take a deep breath and see if you can answer these questions:

How many Cottage Grove families already drive to other communities to shop at Walmart?

How many families have a husband, wife, son or daughter who is currently out of work here in Cottage Grove?

How congested is Highway 10/61 during the morning commute when there is bad weather?

Where can local people go to obtain a job to supplement their incomes?

Where can local people go to actually begin a long-term employment career that offers advancement?

How many other businesses actually will have to start competing for our business?

What other businesses will benefit by an influx of shopping in our community?

How much money do people who protest the departure of the drive-in spend at other businesses in Cottage Grove when they have driven here just for the outdoor movie?

What makes some members of the local community think that Walmart will not be a good community partner?

How many of you have Walmart credit cards in your wallet right now?

Where have you seen a Walmart property that detracts from an area when the previous property sat empty the majority of the year?

Is there no landscaping used to enhance Walmart stores?

Most people don't like change, but change is good. I have lived in various areas of the country and from coast to coast wherever a Walmart is developed all things grow around it. It's about time Cottage Grove citizens stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about whether or not you are planning a prosperous area to live out your remaining years, not to mention what you are leaving for your kids and grandkids to have available to them.

I can just hear it five years from now -- Cottage Grove doesn't have much to offer, I'm moving to Florida, Arizona or wherever. Make sure when you go that you leave your Walmart card here.

Cathy Lenihan

Cottage Grove

City should stop rolling over to 3M

Your March 28 story about the proposed expansion of hazardous waste burning at 3M's Cottage Grove incinerator omitted views of the Coalition of Concerned Cottage Grove Citizens (www., the leading opponents of increased burning by 3M. This is unfortunate, because many statements in the story are self-serving and need rebuttal to give a balanced view. I'll just take up one of these: The story states as fact that "...the city has no permitting authority ..."

It is interesting to look at the original actions by the then-Village of Cottage Grove on May 20, 1970. In granting a Special Use Permit for the 3M incinerator, the Village imposed many specific operating requirements including types of waste allowed to be burned, maximum feed rates, minimum temperatures, heating value of the waste and others. Obviously the Village had some "permitting authority."

Of course, we know a lot more about the harmful effects of air and water pollution than we did 40-some years ago. Bad things happen to our health, and especially our children's health, at much lower levels than we really knew then. And we know a lot more of the sad story of the harm 3M was (and is) doing to our air and land and water.

Having looked at the file, I have no doubt that with the information available today, the Village of Cottage Grove would have given a straight "no" to the incinerator. Based on the best information then available to them, Village officials did what they considered necessary to protect the health and welfare of residents. They tried.

Has it come to pass that the City of Cottage Grove lacks the powers to protect residents that the Village of Cottage Grove had 42 years ago? I don't think so. Rather, it seems to me that the present city leadership lacks the clarity of purpose and sense of responsibility that village officials displayed four decades ago. It has made deals and agreements with 3M that have pre-determined outcomes agreeable to 3M but not beneficial to the health of residents.

It would benefit the health and quality of life of area residents if the City of Cottage Grove would stop rolling over to 3M and display some backbone.

Alan Muller

Red Wing

Muller has done consulting work for Coalition of Concerned Cottage Grove Citizens

Feed neighbors with backyard garden bounty

Gardeners are emerging from back doors all over Washington County with seed packages and hoes in hand. They probably imagine crisp lettuce in May, green beans in June, summer squash in July and gigantic red tomatoes in August. The sight of tulips and lilacs, the music of spring birds and longer days bring out a love for our yards and gardens.

As a master gardener in Washington County I, too, feel compelled to get my gardens in order and I always look forward to the peace and enjoyment working outside brings to me. I have produced far too much produce for my family to eat so like all gardeners, I give some away to friends and neighbors. Gardeners love to share their garden gifts.

Do you know that we have some other friends and neighbors who would benefit greatly from the nutritious fresh produce from our gardens? Many home gardeners already share this way and I invite you to join all of us in supporting the gift of fresh local food to Friends in Need, the food shelf that serves our area.

The Community Gardens of Newport grow food which is donated to the food shelf. Guardian Angels Catholic Church provides a wealth of fresh produce each season. Also, many individual gardeners add rows to their gardens each year with the food shelf in mind.

You are invited to join local gardeners in supplying Friends in Need with your produce. As you plan your gardens please grow an additional row of food for others. Join in "planting a row for the hungry."

Some produce items that are really appreciated at the food shelf are tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, peppers, lettuce, beans and herbs. Whatever you like to eat is what others would enjoy.

Your produce gifts can be brought to the Friends in Need food shelf on Mondays between noon and 3 p.m. or on Tuesdays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. You may use the front metal door, which has a canopy over it. Please wash any soil off produce so it is easy to distribute.

Friends in Need food shelf is located at the former VFW site in St. Paul Park. It is on Northern Tier Energy property. Call for information at 651-458-0730

Diane E. Fredrickson

Cottage Grove

Fredrickson is a master gardener

Make sure elected officials not there for political gain

After serving on our city's Public Safety Health & Welfare Commission for two years, I ran for Cottage Grove City Council in 2010, finishing third. As part of my campaign I spent many months studying the public safety project's planning history, along with the city's financial practices and policies. I could not be more impressed with how thorough the staff and city councils past and present have been when it comes to seeking input over many years in planning this important facility. Let me assure you, the majority on the council are professional and passionate leaders.

I spent countless hours visiting with residents as part of my campaign. The vast majority were very supportive of our council and very comfortable with the city's need for an updated public safety facility. They recognized, as I do as a parent, that public safety is the foundation of a vibrant, healthy community where approximately 70 percent of the households have children in the home. Many participated in the public safety project planning, including citizen volunteer advisory commissions and task force members. That's why it is so unfortunate that a few residents continue to present half-truths for reasons grounded in nothing more than petty politics.

That said, after significant review of the facts the council majority did not agree with Lehrke or his partners, who now want to change the way the entire city does business.

Over the last 18 months or so, I have watched as City Council member Derrick Lehrke, his family and others continually attack our City Council. The group supporting Lehrke claimed the open, public process was "the best kept secret in Cottage Grove" and that they were not listened to while unceasingly expressing their opposition in the rudest way possible to council and staff. I personally witnessed how they verbally attacked our council and mayor.

This is your council working for you, your vote. I strongly encourage all citizens to look closely at those they have elected and make sure that the way they represent you are within your values, with your best interest at heart and not their personal political gain.

Angela Chambliss

Chambliss is a former Cottage Grove resident and City Council candidate