Cochrane-Fountain City Recorder, Cochrane, Wisconsin
Thursday, March 1, 2012
An Open Letter to the Buffalo County Board of Supervisors
It’s been said that what we do today will affect the seventh generation.
Seven generations ago my great great grandparents came from Norway and Germany to settle in Buffalo County. They came with a promise of 160 acres and a better life for them and their families. They cleared the land, established infrastructure, schools and churches while rearing their children to be good stewards of the land and the communities in which they lived.
When they knew better, they did better.
When the lumber barons left after stripping the trees from the land and sending them down the river to build homes and businesses for the nation and when the soil became depleted over misuse of the land used to feed the nation, it was people like my Grandfather, who served on this county Board of Supervisors from 1941 until his untimely death in 1956 ,who worked diligently to restore his farm on Maxville Prairie by replanting trees and implementing soil conserving programs to preserve this land for his children’s children’s children as well us educating others in that practice. When he knew better he did better.
Unlike the trees and the soil that were replaced by my grandparents after effects left by their grandparent’s generation, once the sand is gone from the bluffs and the water tables destroyed, they can not be replenished or replanted. It will for ever change our landscape and the way of life for all who live here now and for years to come. We have always answered the call of the nation and have left it to other generations to somehow manage to make whole what the nation has stripped from our land. This recent call of the nation to strip us of our natural sand resources is our dilemma, our clarion call.
My grand children are my great great grandparents seventh generation. Our county is a small county and a poor county. We need time to step back and look at what other counties are doing as well as examine the effects of this decision not just “figure it out after the mines are in “. We see and hear daily the havoc this sand, our sand, is helping to create once it reaches it’s destination. That in itself should give us pause. We have an advantage over my great great grandparent’s generation in that we live in the age of computers not pony express riders to deliver the news. We have the ability to know better now and we can do better now, not leave it to some future generation.
I’m not a scientist, a politician, a rich person or even a particularly intelligent person. I speak for the average everyday citizen of Buffalo County who helps elect you every time there is an election, with the understanding that you will educate yourself and have the best interests of the most when it comes to making decisions. Please take the time to know better now and do better now. Don’t make my children’s children’s children pay for the greed of a few over all the future for the rest.
Kyle Dawn Hills
A letter from a city administrator
I live in McGregor, Iowa, a small town of 871 people located on the Mississippi River across from Prairie du Chien, WI. McGregor is a historic town, sometimes referred to as the Little Galena. Three blocks of our Main Street are on the National Register of Historic Places as the McGregor Commercial Historic District. As you can see from the attached photos, the District is made up of a large collection of preserved mid‐to‐late 19th century retail structures. Tourism is critical to sustaining our community, with our primary businesses being specialty retail stores, restaurants, recreation, and lodging. Visitors from a 200+ mile radius are easily attracted to the scenic beauty of the area, the Mississippi River, and the history of McGregor and surrounding towns.
Pattison Sand Company owns a sand mine located at Clayton, Iowa south of McGregor approximately 12 miles. Starting earlier in the year an unusually large number of semi‐ trucks hauling sand began to run the Great River Road into McGregor and then down Main Street. The trucks are running through McGregor as a shortcut on their way to Prairie du Chien, WI, where the sand is loaded onto rail cars for transporting to its destination. Driving over 24 hours a day, 7 days a week the trucks can be seen and heard, adding excessive noise and air pollution. At one point it was estimated that there would be up to 200 ‐ 300 trucks traveling through town and then back through on their return trip for 400 ‐ 600 times through town per day. Highway 18 is an alternate route that bypasses McGregor and was built to withstand the weight and volume of semi‐truck traffic, yet Pattison Sand Company continues to run its semi‐trucks through McGregor and over its already‐stressed infrastructure.
The buildings on Main Street, many nearing 150 years old, are located within 8 feet of the highway and experience constant vibration caused by the sem‐trucks. Owners are noting crumbling and cracks in the mortar and bricks of their buildings and other similar structural damages as a result of the pounding of the trucks up and down the street. There are 7 lodging establishments along Main Street alone, and visitors and locals have complained that they cannot sleep due to the constant stream of trucks all night long.
Residents with health concerns have also come forward as they experience increased respiratory problems. McGregor is surrounded by bluffs in a narrow valley, which trap the dust particles. The city streets are covered with fine dust that sifts from the trailers when loaded and blow from the trailer as they return empty and uncovered. Store windows are dirty soon after being washed and cars and homes are covered with dust. At one point in the early fall, looking up the valley, one would have thought they were witnessing the Mexico City smog at its worst. Silicosis is a very real and deadly concern.
The Board of Supervisors see the new jobs as a boom for the county, while those people who have lived and worked here for years, opening businesses and raising families, see their livelihoods and quality of life being destroyed. I see this as an environmental and economic disaster in the making, with many potentially devastating unknowns. Every day there are more stories related to the subject, few with good news attached. I hope those who are in the position to restrict these operations can look beyond the “too good to be true” sales pitch and think about all of the consequences – seen and unseen ‐‐ that may follow in the short and long term.
Lynette L. Sander