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Emails for September 2004

Update on Phoenix reunion

Dear Dave,

The dates for the Minonk gathering in Phoenix in 2005 are Feb. 10, 11, and 12. We have rooms being held at the Fairfield again and plans for lots of fun. Many of those who attended last year will be returning this year. The event is open to all from Minonk - past or present.

Anyone who wants more info should contact me at JLOwensCPA5@msn.com , or at 44-816 Oro Grande Circle, Indian Wells, CA 92210. Just think what the weather will probably be like on those dates in the Midwest --- and then think what is the normal weather in Arizona at that time.

Please join us.

Martha Eikenmeyer Owens

Need a true school consolidation

I believe what we need is administration that our children can trust and respect. When we as parents see and hear the good things that happen in the schools, be it about the teachers, and/or administration, then we as parents will learn to trust and respect our new Superintendant. I am sad to say, but I have talked to many people not only from Minonk but Toluca and Wenona and like it or not, many of them have not been happy with some of our recent administration.

Whether we like it or not we are consolidated and what we need to do is stop all the bickering about the TIF and just get it fixed and Wenona should just pull up their bootstraps and agree to changing it to help out with the consolidation. To me this would be a good step towards becoming a true consolidation. I also believe we should no longer compete in sports. If we choose the proposal where 5th and 6th stay together and 7th and 8th stays together we will no longer have to compete. Then we will be even more consolidated which is what I thought the majority agreed on. I was not of the majority but I have come to realize this is how it has to be and we like many other school districts have to ride out the economy. And I don't know about you but I want as many friends and family as I can have around me during bad times.

Lisa Zimmerman

Remembers the "Rock"

Hey Dave,

I wondered what ever happened to that rock that Joan Schneider donated to the city. It sat in front of Ollie�s trailer, next to Mom�s place for years and years on the corner of 6th .

Ollie dug it up one day while I was up there on vacation. I can�t remember the year, but it had to be late 60�s or so. He worked quite awhile digging it up with a back-hoe. Another �nugget� from the past displayed and remembered. Also, I want to thank you for your hospitality when I came to visit the Minonk Talk office when I was there for our �54 reunion. Looking over the history of Minonk was enjoyable and educational. I learned some things I didn�t know, or have forgotten over the years.

When I come up there again in 3 years for our next class reunion, I�ll �visit� The Rock, too.

Art Kettlehut

Where is the sports?

As an MDR alumnus I like to keep up with the sports program in Minonk. What happened to the sports updates? All I have is your wonderful website to see what is going on and I am having Minonk Football withdrawals...... I'd settle for just a score update.... I'm not hard to please! Its lonely here enough in Arkansas! Get busy Dave..... quench my dying thirst here and give us Minonk ex residents more than a letter to the editor about how the school board is selling Minonk out.... Humor me here and give me something to smile about!

Brian Tull
Class of 76

Editor's reply: Brian, We will resume coverage of news events and sports starting in October. We will have plenty of things to smile about.

Dr. Stagliano's letter of resignation

Dear President Pickard, Fieldcrest Board of Education and Administrative Team:

After unselfishly serving the Fieldcrest Community Unit School District 6, its children and employees for the past three years, I have chosen to pursue other career opportunities for the fall of 2005. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to serve this rural consolidated school district. Therefore this resignation is effective on June 30, 2005.

As I pondered this important decision with my family, I reflected on the many fine people I have come to know both professionally and personally during the past three years. Leading a District in crisis is never an easy responsibility. However, the Board of Education, Administrative Team, faculty, staff, students and concerned citizens of Fieldcrest came together to make the best of a not so good situation. Through this cooperation of the "Fieldcrest Family" the children were denied few opportunities. While the District is not out of the woods yet, the continued commitment of District stakeholders will ultimately insure that the educational and financial climate of Fieldcrest will be changing for the better.

There is still plenty of work to do and I only ask that each and every Board member work together for the improvement of the District as a whole. And for everyone else in attendance this evening, your thoughtful consideration of the $.55 Education Fund tax rate referendum this November 2nd is not only appreciated but very necessary to insure continuing opportunities for our communities' youth for years to come.

Respectfully submitted on this 16th day of September, 2004,

Michael A. Stagliano, Ph.D.
Superintendent, Fieldcrest District 6

CAC seeking work for students

The Fieldcrest Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) is looking for individuals and businesses that are willing to employ students on a part-time basis in order to earn money for extracurricular fees. All extracurricular activities were officially eliminated from the Fieldcrest School District budget as of this school year. The CAC proposed and the Fieldcrest School Board implemented individual fees in order to reinstate extracurricular activities. The purpose of extracurricular fees is to continue to provide opportunities for our students to participate in activities normally associated with the school experience. This includes not only sports but also Music, Student Councils, Scholastic Bowl Teams and all clubs such as Spanish Club, National Honor Society, Art Guild and special events including plays, musicals, Homecoming and Prom.

We're asking the Fieldcrest community to please give our students a chance to earn their way. Many activities are approaching quickly, so any and all opportunities you can provide our students would be greatly appreciated. Examples of part-time jobs include washing windows, raking leaves, general labor, painting, babysitting, washing cars, etc. If you have any odd jobs, please contact our CAC Work Effort Coordinator Darin Klendworth 815-863-5200.

All CAC meetings are open to the public. The next CAC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 29 at 7:30 at the Fieldcrest High School Library.

Another letter from Iraq

Editor's note: The following letter was received by Mary Hallick from her grandson, Chad Ramskugler, who is serving in the military in Iraq. Captain Ramskugler is a graduate of the West Point Military Academy. This letter gives an inside perspective of what is going on in Iraq and also an insight into the dynamics of the Iraqi culture.

Things have cooled off this week to a brisk 108 degrees...compared to 125 last week, its like winter! We are definitely in a nice rhythm now...Turkish and Iraqi construction companies are working on projects all over the place. We're about a month away from completing repairs on the largest bridge north of Baghdad. Three times a day, the Imams use massize loudspeaker systems from 30' tall minerets to call everyone to prayer, chant verses from the Koran, and finish with public service announcements. They have tremendous influence, so our chaplians work with them almost daily. Some of their messages actually encourage support of the coalition...that's huge! Things don't happen quickly in the desert...so I am genuinely impressed with the progress we're making.

You should've seen the night-sky lit up with machine-gun tracers when the Iraq soccer team was playing during the olympics. Its just a different world out here...every household is allowed one automatic weapon, so the gunfire really didn't surprise us. It looks like we'll be finishing the deployment in February and I'll be back in the states by March. So, what do you think about the presidential campaign? There are about 350 soldiers that live at my base camp, and I think the majority will vote Kerry becuase he's promised to reduce the troop count in Iraq. But I don't think thats the best solution right now: we are really stretched thin and deploying fewer soldiers will only make it harder. For instance, one of our key missions is to protect Highway 1 (runs from Kuwait to Turkey), the oil pipelines, and the high-tension power lines -- these are long, linear objectives -- we're talking over 1800 kms just in my sector! Until we mount security cameras to everything, the only way to protect the infrastructure is with soldiers.

Anyway, there are so many interesting things I am learning out here. One is the whole "tribe" dynamic. The only true laws revolve around bloodlines. The amount of loyalty Iraqis have for each other is proportional to how close they are related...so if the strongest ties are with the immediate family, you can imagine that there isn't much loyalty left when we're trying to instill a patriotic, national identity. The best method we've found to influence the population is through consistency. When we offer a project, lets say rural drinking water wells, we get all the resources together, make a solid timeline and actually deliver. It all revolves around money, and to me it seems that we have an endless supply of cash coming from Washington to get the infrastructure rebuilt with a quickness. I think there's close to $10 million in construction going on in our sector right now. There are contractors coming from all over the place; Turkey, Syria, Jordan...you name it.

Well, I hope this message finds you well...take care and keep in touch,


Root Fieldcrest on to victory Friday night


The Knights are 5-0 going into a showdown Friday night at 7:00 (Knight Stadium) against 5-0 Dee-Mack which is ranked 4th in 2A. This will be a game that is evenly matched and should be a good one for any football fan!! I would like to ask everyone in Minonk, Dana, Rutland, Toluca & Wenona to come and support the Knights this Friday night. This is Fieldcrest best start to a football season in history and they have already clinched a playoff spot which is the first time in 6 years. Oh and one more thing it is Homecoming!!!!!

It would be nice to see everyone forget about the financial problems of the school and all the screaming and pointing fingers for the next couple weeks and come support the Fieldcrest Knight Football teams, Freshman, JV (4-0) and Varsity (5-0), which are laying it all out on the field this year and busting their tails to have the best season Minonk has ever seen. Come to the game Friday night ready to cheer and make a lot of noise because the Knights are wanting and probably will make it 6 - 0.


Jason E Buchanan

"Crying Rock"


What a surprise to see a picture of the "crying rock" on your website! My Mom, Diane (Schneider) Durham (Leland Schneider's daughter) always called that rock "her crying rock" because she'd go out and sit on it when she was upset. How wonderful it is now in the park for all to enjoy!!!

Christy Kline

More info on the "Rock"

The rock shows the evidence of glacier or ice sheet action of the last ice age. Several flat sides indicate where it was at 'the bottom' of the heap. There's another large glaciated boulder at the borrow pit near Jct 179/51 just east of I 39. If I recall there are more than 10 'bottoms' to the rock.

Steve Cinnamon

Comments on school issues

This is in response to some of the editorials and a few other emails that I have seen. I do agree that it may appear that the school board is divided by towns, however, I feel that there are a couple of those members that are trying to do what is right for our " School District" and there are more that are trying to do what is right for their "town".

The best proposal was voted down the other night with the reason given to let a new administrator step in and see what can be done. Well, can we as a "school district" afford that? Is this a true honest reason, or is this just an excuse? The referendum is up for vote very soon. Comments have been made that "wouldn't it be funny if we can get the referendum passed and then close Fieldcrest South Elementary anyway." I don't see any humor in that. So, is this what is going to happen or is the issue put to rest definitely until a new Superintendent is hired? The 3 that did vote for this proposal are yes from Minonk or at least the original MDR. However, I feel that they were voting for the best proposal as a district and our children. Not just for Minonk.

I as a parent don't want my 1st grader bussed all over the country. He is on a bus long enough now, only to be at the school 25 minutes before school even starts. Bus routes have always been an issue already. It will become an even bigger issue with closing south and having to get all those students to another town. I would venture to say that this would mean more busses, more gas, more drivers, more expense.....Some kids are already on the bus for over an hour now. As a working mother, I don't have the option of taking my child to school and picking him up. I rely on the busses to do this. And I prefer to know they are safe and home as soon as possible. Homework and extra curricular activities already leave little time for families to be just that, a Family. Instead 3 hours total out of the day would be spent on busses. That's longer then most parents commute to and from work.

Some people think their towns will "die" with out a school. Well this option still leaves a school in each town. And most people would prefer the grade schools to be close to home I would think. If South were to close that will put some families with students in all 3 towns. Can you imagine having to run to all 3 towns to round up your kids? Most schools that I know of have one Jr. High. What is so wrong with that idea? But then even it we get to the point of one Jr. High, there are people that still think that the gyms need to still be used at the other school for games. If we have one Jr. High then lets have one Jr. High. Gym and all.

Already the letters are going out from the CAC because parents haven't, can't or won't pay the fees. These letters are saying that students can't even order a year book or a class ring with out paying this fee. Which I am not sure makes sense because doesn't the parent or student still pay for these items. They are not included with the fees. Those are yet extra expenses on top of that. This is yet another reason that decisions need to be made. The tension and anger are just going to continue to rise until decisions are made that can save our school district money. We need to find a way to reduce the financial burden off the tax payers and parents. This is something that has been talked about for a lengthy amount of time. Then to find out that these savings we are hearing about are probably not right because the expenses can't be figured into it at this point.

We were all given a chance to voice our opinions. What I find odd is that only 169 comments were returned to the school after the open houses in all 3 communities were held. That is not very many people voicing their thoughts or opinions when they are asked. I am sure more then will voice their opinions after the fact. When the changes are made and nothing can be done about them. And for those of you who do have all the answers, maybe you should run for school board and see first hand the job they do and all the countless phone calls and sleepless nights that I know some of them endure.

Kim Barth

Clarification of quote from school board meeting

To Whom It May Concern:

I spoke at the school board meeting on August 19, 2004, concerning the closing of the South Elementary Grade School. From this meeting, I have been misunderstood as well as misquoted on a few issues and I would like to take this time to clarify these issues.

On Minonk Talk under the Board of Education Column, it states that I said Minonk takes all of the blame for the districts population. There is no blame for the population. I stated that Minonk has the largest base of students---why close the school with the largest base? Also, Mr. Pickard felt I was saying Minonk was better than the other communities. I did not say that or try to imply this. I stated that the M-D-R school district was better for me as a Minonk resident. Since we�ve consolidated, the Minonk residents have less now than we had before. It seems whenever a sacrifice has to be made, it is the M-D-R residents who are making the largest sacrifices. For one example, the students from the original M-D-R district get split up during their school years. The others go to school with their classmates for all twelve years of school.

This column also states that Mr. Pickard said �the tax burden is shared by ALL district residents not just Minonk�. I for one am aware of this. It was not the residents that claimed the Toluca grade school was perfectly fine! Nor was it the residents that opted for a town wide TIF! These problems were created by previous leaders. I have a suggestion for Mr. Pickard and fellow board members (that�s out of the box) - get all of the communities to pay the total tax dollars that the school district has missed out on (past and future). After all, �the tax burden is shared by ALL district residents not just Minonk�. It seems that some communities feel that �what�s yours is mine and what�s mine is mine�.

At the meeting on August 19, 2004, Mr. Pickard stated that just because taxes rise, it does not mean the school gets more. He is absolutely correct. In Wenona, the district did not get any increase. My personal 1993 taxes paid in 1994 to the district were $703.02. My personal taxes paid this year for 2003 are $1,842.77. I know if my taxes increased that much, so did everybody else�s in Minonk. Imagine if Minonk had a town wide TIF! How many years ago would the school district have gone broke?

I feel that if we close Elementary South in Minonk you run a huge risk in future assessed valuation causing more burden on the district. Mr. Pickard also stated that this district did better than I stated, that it was five years before an increase not two or three as I stated. I�m not sure what he means here, I stated that it was two years after consolidation when we had our first referendum to tear down the perfectly fine Toluca Grade School that failed. Then after four years this same referendum passed. Did he refer to the fact that I stated M-D-R school district had two to three years in the black? May I remind you of our assessed valuation increase? If we were still M-D-R would we still need an educational rate increase?

Now apparently some people feel these issues are not important. If we could take the monies from the Toluca school, the Wenona roof, the TIF and then add this to the districts bottom line---would we be making these cuts and closing a school?

What City leaders need to understand is that to be a community, schools need residents and businesses, residents need schools and businesses, and businesses need schools and residents. If one cheats the other, they ALL suffer!! We need long-term plans that involve everyone, until this happens we will not have a great school district!

Every generation tries to give their children more than they have and that creates progress. If we keep taking away from the district, we take away from our children. We need to step up to the plate and make a difference.

I apologize for anyone I may have offended-----this was not my intent I just wanted to state some facts.


Scott Hillenburg