Saturday, December 22, 2007

THE PEOPLE SPEAK - Letters To The Editor

We hope you will print this letter to the editor in your next addition of your paper, The First Capitol News, regarding  comments by Charles Hill.
Bob and Clara Scott, WWII veterans and proud to have served our country when the need arose.

Subject: Disparaging Comments on St. Charles Veteran’s memorial

An opinion piece bearing the authorship of “Charles Hill” in a local publication not only disparages $300,000 spent on the St. Charles City Veteran’s Memorial, but also incorrectly states that the “monument was spearheaded by a group of self-serving veterans who felt they deserved a statue.”
No veteran in St. Charles ever asked or lobbied for this monument. None of us feels that anyone owes us a statue. A unanimous resolution by the members of the City Council for erecting the monument led to the Mayor placing it in the City budget. An amount of $300,000 was unanimously approved by the Council. This was an action taken by the duly elected representatives of the people of St. Charles, not a special interest group of “self servers.”
Leo Zerjav, a local architect and not a veteran, designed the monument. He donated his services. It didn’t cost the City a dime.
The lowest bid for erecting the memorial came in at $330,000 or $30,000 over what the Mayor and Council had budgeted. A Veteran’s Memorial Committee, appointed to provide oversight for the project, did not go back to the Council to ask for additional funds. It was determined to cut costs and/or find alternative funding sources. The St. Charles Lions Club and Councilman Bob Hoepfner should receive great credit for providing the flags and flag poles. That was a donation of $15,000. The remaining $15,000 shortfall was made up through value engineering efforts by the prime contractor, Integra. The landscaping was accomplished as a Boy Scout Eagle project.
“Charles” also mentioned that the $300,000 would have been better spent for helping individual veterans. That’s a judgement call and a separate and mutually exclusive concern. The issue that was voted on and approved was constructing a Monument in remembrance of this City’s veterans, not establishing a local veteran’s relief organization.
Interestingly, the veteran’s of St. Charles and their organizations give back over time much more that the $300,000 appropriated for the monument. VFW Post 2866 alone gives back between $50,000 and $80,000 per year to various St. Charles community activities. Every penny, for example, that we raise at our annual Buddy Poppy sale goes to supporting our less fortunate Heroes in our Veterans’ Homes and Hospitals.
The memorial also draws tourists and conventioneers. From 14 - 16 December a conference of the national VFW Auxiliary will be held in St. Charles. The national Auxiliary President will lay a wreath at our monument. Next year a national reunion of the USS Corpus Christi Bay, a Vietnam veteran’s organization is scheduled.  They selected our memorial over all others in the St. Louis area.
“Charles Hill,” continue to visit our beautiful Memorial. All of us Veterans are grateful and appreciative of our generous citizens for providing this quiet and reflective place of remembrance. We are well aware of the financial sacrifice of their tax dollars. Rest assured that we veterans have been will continue to be good stewards of the trust you have placed in us.
Tom Kuypers
Chairman, St. Charles Veteran’s Memorial Committee

Impressed with this community
Thank you. As the campaign chair for the Tri-County Division of United Way of Greater St. Louis for the past two years, I want to let the people in this community know how grateful I am to them.
Because of the record level of generosity in the St. Charles, Warren and Lincoln counties, our division of United Way was able to raise nearly $3.15 million toward the total $68.8 million raised across the region. This means that United Way will put more than one million dollars each week back into this region in 2008. Because of you, nearly 200 local United Way funded agencies will be able to continue to do what they do best – help people.
Out of those nearly 200 agencies, more than 100 of them serve people in our specific region including: Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Charles County; Bridgeway Behavioral Health; Community Council of St. Charles County; Crider Health Center; Emmaus Homes; Family Support Services; Lincoln County Council on Aging; Turning Point; United Services for the Handicapped in St. Charles County; and Youth in Need. In 2008, Almost Home and Life Skills will be added to that list.
As someone who once benefited from a United Way agency, I can tell you that United Way does make a positive difference in lives every day. That it does help build a healthy, strong community for us to live in; that it has a set of standards it expects its funded agencies to adhere to, ensuring quality; and that more than 90 cents of each dollar donated goes directly into programming and services.
You can rest assured that your contribution will be efficiently and effectively used to help build a strong, healthy region throughout the Lincoln, Warren, St. Charles counties and the other 13 counties in Missouri and Illinois.
Brian Bredensteiner
Chairman, 2007 United Way of Greater St. Louis Tri-County Campaign
Bredensteiner & Associates