Letters to the Editor – July 11

The Board of Directors of the Crook County Fire Fighters Auxiliary (CCFFA) are submitting this letter to clarify a few details in the story of the CCFFA catering trailer carried in the week of June 20, 2013, presses.

CCFFA purchased the trailer from the Crook County Commissioners and it is registered to the 501(c)3.

The monies that were paid to K&K Kustoms LLC of Belle Fourche, SD for the materials used in the construction of the mobile kitchen include $12,101.00 from grants secured by past EMS coordinator Jim Pridgeon and $52,245.07 from CCFFA funds which includes $26,858.46 raised through fund raising efforts of CCFFA members. Additional monies were paid out by CCFFA to Redwater Welding for materials as their time was also mostly donated for the steps. The total cost to construct the mobile kitchen is over $66,000, but the value of the unit is over $100,000.

The cost to maintain the kitchen has been minimized by PRECorp as it is kept at their locked yard in Sundance and checked monthly as part of their contribution.

Both general liability and physical damage insurances were purchased by CCFFA and are kept current. To date, any repairs have not only been minimal, but labor has been donated for those. Any monies generated by the rental of the kitchen will go to CCFFA for continuation of insurance, license plates, repairs and updates. Members of CCFFA clean, inventory and stock the kitchen as well. Logistical assistance and safety classes are provided by Fire Warden Gari Gill.

CCFFA was requested to build a mobile kitchen 3 years ago. The mission statement of the 501(c)3 is strictly interpreted by the IRS and only part of the monies held by CCFFA could go to the construction costs. Late last summer the side steps were completed at which point it became available for use and to that end Fire Warden Gari Gill has been assisting in making the appropriate parties aware of its potential, thus the event June 17, 2013.

The kitchen can only be deployed when requested by the appropriate parties (generally the fire warden, homeland security, etc.) when one or more of the following conditions are met: 1) the fire is large enough that the local resources will be inadequate; 2) the number of fire fighters is greater than local resources can accomodate; 3) the local resources cannot provide due to being threatened by the fire or other disaster. Since the mobile kitchen can feed 150 or more, it cannot be called out for smaller, shorter lasting incidents due to expense and logistics.

Historically speaking, CCFFA in its infant stage, organized and held two major county wide fund raisers in 2001 and 2005, raising nearly $100,000, all of which was donated to the Crook County Fire program. Those monies were all disbursed by the county fire warden and county commissioners.

Any questions or concerns should be addressed to the Board of Directors listed below. We are pleased to provide any and all information privately or in a public forum.

Suzette Moline-Livingston, Chairman; Kathi Driskill, Vice Chairman; Pat Heinz, Secretary; Sandy Neiman, Treasurer; and Mary Sell, Director at Large

Dear Editor:

After the article about the dispute between WYDOT and the City, I felt angst and disappointment at the one-sided version of the incident. Because WYDOT had no comment, their perspective was unrepresented. Last week’s letter from Sheila Christoph further added to my angst and disappointment.

Yes, given the limited details of the article, it does seem ‘laughable’ that the Attorney General has become involved. I would like to remind everyone that if you think a situation doesn’t make sense, seems ridiculous or blown out of proportion… you probably don’t know “the rest of the story”. I don’t dispute the facts as reported, however, understand that the facts printed were limited to what the people interviewed wanted you to know from their perspective.

The young man ticketed is a new and valuable member of our community. Whether or not he was speeding was never in question. He has paid his fine. Let’s not talk about him as if he has no name or identity. Unfortunately, he has been caught in the middle of what has become a free-for-all gossip session.

Let’s take the road of WYDOT and have ‘no comment’ until the time is right for all perspectives to be heard.

Sincerely,

Joyce Speidel

The Casper Star editorial board recently published an editorial piece entitled, “The other F-Word.” The F-word to which the piece was referring was “federal” – meaning federal control over education. While I am reluctant to respond to the editorial, I want to take a moment to address an issue raised.

The Casper Star authors assert that my concern about federal control over Wyoming’s education is nothing more than a “distraction,” “diversion,” and “scare tactic.” Although some may not be overly concerned about a loss of state and local control over education, I refuse to ignore what I view as a subtle and incremental, but very real, attack on states’ rights and local control.

Over the past months I have struggled to understand why some high-ranking individuals in our state government and bureaucracy have made it their focus to marginalize and harm me. Surely these efforts are not related to my work as Wyoming Superintendent, as our state saw unprecedented growth and successes during my two years in office. So what was the motivation? Only recently has the intent of my detractors become clear.

Shortly before SF104 came to light, Senator Hank Coe was quoted saying, “Clearly we took some stuff away from them today. Get on the bus, or we will do something else.”

At the time Senator Coe made that comment, I was not sure what he meant by “get on the bus.” After the passage of SF104, his comments and intent have become clear. The bus to which he was referring is one headed to Washington, DC. It is a bus driven by a few legislators, the governor, and his advisors. That bus is headed to a faraway place where education standards, content, policies, and practices are imposed on the children and people of Wyoming by individuals and groups with no personal interest or investment in the success of the children of our state. That bus is bound for a place where high-paid consultants, special interest groups, and the federal government decide how schools should operate and what our children should be learning. When this bus stops, the children of Wyoming will be unceremoniously dumped at the indifferent feet of Washington, DC policymakers, contractors, consultants, and bureaucrats.

I had to be removed because I stood in front of this bus. I stood in the way of this concerted and calculated effort to federalize/nationalize Wyoming education.

The Casper Star asserted that there is no proof of such a plot. Let me provide some the most recent and obvious actions taken to further this agenda.

Days after signing SF104 into law, Governor Mead boarded a plane bound for Washington, DC to meet with federal education officials. The nature and purpose of this trip is unclear; however, shortly after returning, the governor’s newly-appointed interim director of education engaged the federal government to initiate an effort to receive the federal NCLB waiver. I had resisted this action because I believed it was unnecessary and would cause Wyoming to become further subject to federal requirements, mandates, and control. As we know, all agreements with the federal government come with strings and conditions.

Shortly after my removal, the new interim director of education and the State Board of Education further obligated the state to one of the national testing groups that are working toward developing and implementing a national test. This national test will replace Wyoming’s current test that is specifically developed to measure Wyoming standards and further Wyoming values and objectives.

Possibly the most telling action of all, however, was that the WDE employees who spoke out most strongly against me after I was removed are those working in the federal programs division at the WDE. This group of employees manage federal programs and are paid by the federal government.

Is there an agenda by some to allow the federal government and national influences to dictate education in Wyoming? I’ll let you decide.

Cindy Hill, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction