LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – 9-19-2012

I write this letter from several different viewpoints in regards to the Vista Frac Sand Pit that is proposed for the Town of Glenwood.

I am the Town Chairman for the Town of Glenwood, I have a 500 cow Dairy Farm in the Town of Glenwood, I have lived here my entire life and my two boys who are taking over the Dairy are the 5th generation on the same farm with little boys who may continue the Dairy operation as the 6th generation.

In the summer of 2011 information came to me that there were soil borings going on on the north side of our Township to test for frac sand. I became very curious and also felt obligated to educate myself on exactly what frac sand is and what the impact would be on our local community and also on our Township. I have toured numerous sand operations including sand drying plants. I have toured coal mines, copper mines, silver and gold mines as well as several sand mines. I have talked to lifelong residents of the areas of various mines. I have read countless articles and information on mining in general and also specifically to frac sand operations. I have spent many hours visiting with management of the various phases of frac sand mining.

My number one concern was the health of the people that are impacted by an area mine. What is the impact of dust from a sand mine? Who monitors the dust and air quality and water quality and the safety of a sand mine? Who monitors the other natural resources of the communities of a sand mine? Who monitors the traffic created by a sand mine? What is the noise impact of a mining operation? What is the financial impact of a sand mine? Is it truly a positive impact financially on the communities?

So I have literally spent the past year reading and researching and visiting and communicating about mining in general but also about frac sand specifically. In the 1940’s my Grandpa spearheaded a campaign along with many of his neighbors to stop the construction of an electric powerline that would bring electricity to many of the local farms. The main concern was that these powerlines would kill the dairy cattle. I have watched over the years as opposition comes up whenever a change is proposed in our lives. I recently was on a business trip to Vermont. It was very interesting of all the signs that were displayed along the highways on our trip that were opposing powerlines, mining, wind generators, new industry, etc. Many communities had “Anti” signs up to every facet of life.

My conclusion to the Frac Sand mine proposed for the Town of Glenwood is that it will have many positive things for our local Township, our School and our Community.

I will have 6 grandchildren in the Glenwood School System for the coming year. If I had one single concern for their health and safety of a sand mine that will be one mile from that School I would do everything possible to stop that mine. I am totally convinced that dust from that sand mine will not be a safety concern to my grandchildren at the Glenwood Schools or to any of the other students or faculty.

This past March I completed my 9th Mission trip with 6 of those trips being to Haiti. I went to school and classes to learn to drill wells and to repair pumps to bring clean water to less fortunate people of the World. During this past trip I completed my 49th new or refurbished water well. When you consider that each pump we install or repair supplies water to an average of 1200 people, we have been able to impact close to 60,000 people with clean drinking water. When we began to Work with Living Water Intl out of Houston TX 4 years ago, statistics showed that a child died every 15 seconds in the World from drinking dirty water. The statistic today is that a child dies every 20 seconds. So their program is having a dramatic impact.

I tell you all of that to emphasize the fact that clean water is very important to me personally. Again after researching frac sand mining I am convinced that with the Government agencies that we have in place in the USA our water quality is not going to be affected by the proposed Vista Sand Mine.

I am also convinced that all of our Natural Resources will be protected by Local, State and Federal Agencies. I have visited with Scott Teigen and also with R J Sikes numerous times and addressed many of my concerns to them. I am convinced that both Scott Teigen and R J Sikes are genuine individuals and are as equally concerned about the same issues. Again I am convinced Scott Teigen and Vista Sands will be prudent in the mining of the frac sand and the preservation of our Natural Resources. They simply want it done correctly.

The truck traffic is a major concern in the local community. I have toured numerous sand mines and I have watched the trucks. I have seen trucking done poorly and I have seen trucking done very professionally. I toured the Chippewa Sand Trucking and was totally impressed. They are so conscientious and concerned about safety and “Doing it Right” that it is overwhelming. So again after visiting with R J Sikes I am convinced that they will do it right. The very concept of Vista Sands owning their own trucks and having total control of the trucks and the drivers will have a huge impact on the trucking operation to assure it is done safely and correctly.

I personally have a major opinion on the roads that will be used for the proposed Vista Sand mine. I do feel that if we could eliminate traffic through Downing and Boyceville that many issues would be eliminated by avoiding these two communities. By using Highway 128 and Hwy 12 the traffic would be on State and Federal highways. This route would require a Roundabout at the intersection of Hwy 12& 128. Again I have personally researched Roundabouts and they are safe and they work. The intersection of Hwy 12 & 128 is noted as a very dangerous intersection. A Roundabout at that intersection would eliminate that safety concern.

The other opinion I have is that any one of us can get in a vehicle and travel on any road to any destination in the USA at any time that we want to. That is the great part of being in the USA and the freedom that we have. The fuel tax and the License and Road use tax that is collected every year is more then adequate to build and repair the roads that we have. So if I am free to travel on any road at any time to any destination, who am I to say that you cannot travel on that road? Or to specify how many times you can drive over that road? I understand regulations but I also understand equality. There is a fine balance that needs to be maintained on this issue.

The financial impact of the proposed Vista Sand mine is huge. I have watched the various big companies that have been turned away from our local community over the years. Our graduating class of 1971 had 78 students. The kindergarten class for 2012 in Glenwood City is 57. We use to have 5 gas stations, 3 grocery stores, 3 hardware stores, 2 feed stores, a dry goods store, clothing store, drug store, furniture store, 2 car dealerships, 2 shoe repair shops, 2 farm implement stores, 2 creameries, and countless other little Ma and Pa shops when I was a kid in Glenwood City. Last month I went into town at 2pm on a Thursday. There was one car on the entire main street of Glenwood City and that was the owner of one of the businesses. We are a dying little community. When I took over as Town Chairman 9+ years ago we had the most gravel roads of any Township in St Croix County. We have planned and skrimped and budgeted to build a new town shop, to replace the old road maintenance equipment and to pave and upkeep many miles of roads. We have done all of this and stayed within the allowed limit of raising our tax levy 2.5% per year. But the amount of revenue that we need at the Township level to get our roads paved is almost unattenable.

The Vista Sand project would raise the level of our equalized valuation in our Township by over 25% conservatively. Scott Teigen has pledged to donate the first 10% of the revenues that they receive personally back to the local community. This in itself will have a major impact on our School and Churches etc. Vista Sand plans to ship out one million tons of frac sand per year, with a cost of $25 per ton expense to get it to the RailRoad in Dunn Co. A $25,000,000 impact on this local economy is huge. This $25,000,000 includes over $4,000,000 in wages and benefits. If you use the formula of a rollover of 2.5 to 3.0 impact for every dollar that is spent, that creates a $12,000,000 impact to the local economy just from the payroll and benefits. If you use the figure of $25,000,000 that Vista Sand will spend each year in the local economy and roll that over 2.5 to 3.0 times– well you can do the math. Vista Sands is proposing to create 100+ jobs with this new project. This will bring families to the community, These families will rent and buy homes, They will send their kids to school. They have to eat and buy clothes and vehicles and toys. The puzzle comes together quite easily and readily in my mind as to the impact that Vista Sand will have on our Township, our School, the Churches and the businesses of the local communities.

When I was a kid [back in the previous century] when there was a snow storm the roads may not get plowed for 3 days before the grader could make it’s way around the Township. Now the local residents require the roads to be plowed with 6-8 hours and the roads remain passable through every type of weather so that people can commute to their jobs up to an hour away. We have many more luxuries in our homes. We have more vehicles per household. We have lots of toys. All these things require more and more energy. We have become dependent on foreign countries for a major portion of our energy resources. We cannot have it both ways. We either go back to using less energy or we use local labor and use local resources, one of which is frac sand which is found in very few places on this planet, and use this frac sand to get the energy from the good old USA.

As I researched frac sand it is found in such few locations in the World that it is a little mind boggling. Why are they taking this sand from Wisconsin and shipping it all around the World? Because they do not have any other sources. The other interesting fact that one article showed was that this frac sand use to be in Puerto Rico millions of years ago. The Ocean is what made this sand so round and perfect for using as frac. I can only marvel at the orchestration of how this sand was made and how it ended up in Wisconsin.

I have listened to countless numbers of people as we have had informational and Town Board meetings. I had a lady point her finger in my nose and tell me that as an elected official I have an obligation to the people. I DO have an obligation to the people that elected me. And I have an obligation to the people that will be impacted by every facet of the proposed sand project. I do not have an obligation to the people who live an hour away from this proposed sand mine. I have listened to people insult me and talk down to me and belittle me. To those I say like Grandma use to say “Bless their hearts”.

I have visited with those that are opposed to the sand mine and listened to their concerns. Many of their concerns are warranted. Many of their concerns are not inline with what I have researched personally. I have visited with close minded people and also with open minded people. I have encouraged people to visit these various sand mines and tour the trucking company in Chippewa and talk to people who have lived next to a mine for many years.

I have also listened to countless numbers of people who have come to me and asked me to help make this sand project come to fruition. Many Town Residents and residents of the Village of Downing and also the City of Glenwood have approached me and asked me to be sure this new business is greeted with open arms. People are interested in the new jobs that will become available. They are interested in keeping our School and being able to make it a successful and viable School. People are tired of spending 2-3 hours per day commuting to other jobs. People are interested in having local jobs for their kids so that when they graduate they don’t just leave Glenwood City. People are interested in the impact that this new business will have on the local businesses. And people are looking for new opportunities to be a part of the infrastructure of our community whether it be food service or any other new type of business. And of course this new business will have a huge impact on the property tax base and the revenue that will be generated for our local municipality.

So as a taxpayer, a farmer, a businessman, a father, a grandfather and as Town Chairman, I strongly urge that we work with Vista Sand to bring this industry to the Town of Glenwood. There are always two ways to do things. We need to be conscientious and prudent in doing it correctly. We also need to be pliable and flexible to make it work. Bringing a new industry into town requires a two way street of both sides being willing to work together for an amicable solution. Neither side is going to get their way in every instance. If we make it too difficult we will again find one car on main street in 5 years.

Joe Draxler

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A few notes on the proposed frac sand mine just west of our village. We are on the downwind side of the mine, there will be dust problems, they claim will be minimal, this is untrue, talk to people living by other mine sites and get the truth.

Silica sand dust is a health hazard, according to Wisconsin DNR silica sand dust is a caccinogen. Water pollution both ground and surface waters is a real possibility. Chemicals being used in processing may leach into our water supply, we have the best water in the country, why risk polluting it? High volume wells used in sand processing will lower our water table which may result in private wells having to be deepened.

The processing area is only 300 yards from our village boundary. There will be noise from the 24 hr operation, machinery, heavy equipment and trucks. Do we want 200 or more trucks rolling down our main street 24 hrs a day?

Light pollution from 24 hr a day operation will be a factor to consider, they can’t work in the dark, jobs being offered according to other sites are way overstated. Property values in Downing definitely decrease.

Most of us live here because we like the local environment. It takes a hundred years to reclaim a forest. How do you reclaim a hill?

A mine this close will surely change our lifestlye. Do your research, there are websites and printed materials available.

Persons to contact with your concerns are:

Scott Teigen
1274 Rustic Road 4
Glenwood City, WI 54013

Town Board of Glenwood
Joe Draxler
1441 320th Street
Glenwood City, WI 54013

Board of Adjustment St. Croix County
Suite 1200
1101 Carmichael Road
Hudson, WI 54016

Dunn County Board of Supervisors
Steve Rasmussen
800 Wilson Street
Menomonie, WI 54751

Vista Sands
RJ Sykes, Pres.
3549 Monroe Hwy
Granbury, TX 76048

Village Board of Downing

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Before I left Florida, a pamphlet came in the mail on the friend’s ranch I’m staying on.
It was selling electric “windmills” that are only about 4 ft high and are shaped similar to the fan in your furnace. They are supposed to run on only 10% of the wind usually necessary. They sell for about 8 grand and what a business it would create with the millions of houses in the U.S.A.

I’m quite sure we would still need electric companies for big businesses, etc., but think of the billions saved on electric poles, wire, etc.

Just as the cell phone has made the “land line” almost obsolete, I believe you are going to see a revolution in the electric business plus no foreign sabotage could put out the electric in the U.S.

Thanks to creative schooling and free enterprise we can have the latest creations. You won’t see this if you get this country turned into Obamaland. Socialism and Communism have no place in America. It is outdated, destructive to freedom and inactive. It should have died with the dark ages. Socialism is like you using a stone ax to chop a tree down, compared to Americans using a Stihl chainsaw.

God Bless America and keep it strong with people that can think freely.

Russ Franko

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In 2012, December has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays – This apparently will happen again only once every 823 years.

When will we get prayer back in our schools and government?

Ben Bernanke should be sent home to rest and think, along with many other Obama liberals, Biden, Clinton, and more. We need a businessman in Washington, not a talker.

The only thing Obama did was incur our debt another trillion.

I thought Bill Clinton was sharp enough to know how wrong Obama is.

We’ll have more people out of work. Actual unemployment rate is probably double what they report, because a lot of people just quit looking.

Obama promised to be a one-term president if he did not turn it around.

Dick Junkans