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Confederate flag a symbol of slavery

In response to Don Balyeat regarding the Confederate flag display at the VA Center in Hot Springs, it is well to keep in mind that flags are symbols. At the time of the Civil War, this Confederate flag represented the beliefs of the South that emphasized the importance of states’ rights. The states’ rights that were so important to the South involved the continuation of slavery.

The slave population in the 1860 census indicated that the slave population was nearly 4 million or 13 percent of the population. To ensure the monetary superiority of the slave-owning families who were only 8 percent of the population, 214,938 people lost their lives.

I toured a Southern town recently and as the tour guide was explaining the economic impact of the Civil War, he stated that the demise of the economic landscape following the war was a result of lost “affordable labor.” That loss, my friend, was human bondage in the form of slavery.

Perhaps Mr. Balyeat should reread "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" to fully comprehend a bloody war fought to uphold an ideal that honored monetary gain as well as prejudice, hate and bigotry over human rights which was symbolized in their flag.

Jacqueline Schnittgrund, Rapid City

Are you better off than two years ago?

Mayor Sam Kooiker is a tremendously positive influence in this community. Every metric I can think of is moving in the right direction. Even controversy on the city council is waning. That certainly doesn't sell newspapers, but it is a reflection of good government.

Sam’s bold vision of efficient, open, honest and transparent government is the shot in the arm our city needed for a long time. Having worked under Sam in the private sector, I will tell you that he is a demanding boss. There’s no question about it.

He expects and models the highest level of excellence. In so doing, he earns the respect of his employees and runs an efficient, customer-focused operation. Balanced budgets, responsible accounting, and leading successful teams are nothing new to Sam.

If you desire an invisible or disengaged mayor, look elsewhere -- he’s not that guy. When voting early or on June 4, ask yourself if you are better off now than two years ago.

Did Sam’s veto of the tax increase help your family? Does customer-focused government make a difference? Is personal contact with your mayor important to you? If you answered yes, then Sam has earned your vote.

Thomas Eads, Rapid City

Vote for Kooiker a vote for future

With the June 4 election only four weeks away, we might do well to look at whom it is that we want as our mayor. Since Sam Kooiker was elected, our city government has operated smoothly. Real estate taxes have gone down for two consecutive years.

Mayor Sam spends our money as we would spend it ourselves. He has taken numerous steps to reduce the cost of city government. Departmental strife and bickering appear to have given way to harmony and production.

Yes, there has been some infighting on the city council, and that is as it should be; if they always agreed we would need only one council person.

Mayor Kooiker is an able, honest, reliable custodian of our city’s affairs, understands city government and the importance of family. He was elected by the hard-working, moral people of Rapid City and strives to do what is best for our community.

With your support, he will continue to manage the affairs of the city in an exemplary manner during his next term as our mayor. A vote for Sam on June 4 is a vote for Rapid City and our future.

Richard Hoff, Rapid City

Rapid City should adopt home rule

It has been far evident that the City of Rapid City is in need of a definite change of government, structure-wise. Our current aldermanic form is outdated and does not meet our city's needs for tax revenue or delivery of city services.

Under a new "Home Rule Charter," the city could streamline city administration needs and provide for more revenues to be generated by the autonomous availability of taxation to be created or generated.

One just needs to look at Sioux Falls and their use of the city charter they created and how successful they have been overall.

The use of "Home Rule" as given to South Dakota municipalities is one that is construed liberally in order to give those municipalities the tools they need to be efficient and service-driven to its citizens. We in Rapid City would be wise to follow suit.

Mike Murray, Rapid City

Many good things happening with Kooiker

We need to re elect Sam as mayor of Rapid City. I see many good things happening with his leadership.

I have seen the city's infrastructure deteriorate for many years, with nothing being done. Now I see much-needed street and sewer repair. I also see that Fish Garbage Service did confess to fraud (stealing from taxpayers). I feel that this exposure of fraud has saved the city a large sum of money. Who knows how long this theft was going on, or how long it would have continued, if Sam had not asked questions, after being approached by concerned citizens?

Garbage rates have been cut by 8 percent, and the city has cut 46 committees. This is all being done while staying within budget and not dipping into reserves.

Keep Sam as mayor of Rapid City, so we can continue to see more good things happening.

Gary Denker, Rapid City

Membership in group GOP arrogance

As life long residents of South Dakota and members of the Democratic Party, we are accustomed to the arrogance of many of the state's Republican legislators. The news that the Legislative Executive Committee is proposing that the state taxpayers pay legislators dues of $50 per year to A.L.E.C. (American Legislative Exchange Council) and their travel expense to meetings, about $2,000 per seems incredulous, even for Republicans.

A.L.E.C. drafts legislation to be presented by conservative legislators in every state. Examples would be the Stand Your Ground Law, as well as legislation to privatize education, remove protection for workers and disenfranchise voters.

This is essentially a taxpayer-funded subsidy for corporate special interests to write bills for conservative legislators.

Anyone in this state, who cares about the future of South Dakota, should refuse to vote for any legislator who would vote to short change education, refuse to expand Medicaid for the needy, and vote against working families and then give each and every legislator an increase of $2,050 for such a worthless cause.

Gwenda Morris Matthew, Rapid City, and Thelma Morris Underberg, Sioux Falls

Kirkeby will provide responsible leadership

I have had the opportunity to not only work with Mark Kirkeby for over the last six years but have also truly got to know him. I can verify his personality, his ability, and certainly his credible passion to serve our community.

We work together for The Salvation Army. It truly is an inspiration listening to his testimony as he empowers others to help us provide a little helping hand for the less fortunate. He is more than a motivator, his leadership has significantly increased not only our financial support base, our volunteer team and public awareness is at record levels.

The character of Mark Kirkeby reveals his genuine compassion and sincere dedication to help improve the quality of life for so many in our area. He is loyal, energetic, honest and naturally a man of the highest level of integrity. He goes above and beyond to deliver life changing opportunities.

This is the responsible leadership that Rapid City deserves. Mark is a man of action and a man that you can count on. His heart, soul, and his mind are always focused on doing the right thing. Vote Mark Kirkeby for the future of Rapid City.

Ronda Kreber, Black Hawk

Black Hills VA honors its nursing staff

This week, May 6 12, the VA Black Hills Health Care System honors the dedicated men and women we consider to be the compassionate backbone of the veterans' health care system: nurses.

I am delighted to acknowledge this group of individuals who have mastered the art and science of caring for our nation's heroes with compassion -- a celebration of VA's nursing workforce, professionals comprised of registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, licensed practical and vocational nurses and nursing assistants. I know that veterans truly value and appreciate our nurses and their dedication and devotion as much as I do.

VA nurses truly reflect the theme of this year's National Nurses Week -- Nurses: Delivering Quality & Innovation in Patient Care.

I know of no other group of nurses more dedicated to providing cost effective, safe and quality health-care services as an ever more important component of the health-care system, and a critical component of transforming VA BHHCS into a 21st century organization.

I ask that you join me in celebrating National Nurses Week today, and each and every day. I wholeheartedly thank you all for honoring those who make a difference: our VA nurses.

Jo Ann Ginsberg, RN, MSN, Associate Director for Patient Care Services, VA Black Hills Health Care System, Fort Meade

What is Obama trying to hide?

“The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are the ones who have something to hide.” President Obama, Aug. 21, 2010, speech

Obama’s first order of business his first day as president was to sign an executive order sealing all of his personal papers. Something to hide?

People wounded in Bengazi attacks were place in U.S. hospitals under different names so they couldn’t be interviewed. Something to hide?

Obama and Democrats didn’t want to disclose what was in Obamacare until it became law because they were not fixing our health care problems but taking complete control of it. Hide things.

FBI is concerned with so many Muslim Brotherhood members in the federal government. What’s Obama up to?

Under Obama administration, U.S. Army training instructor in Pennsylvania listed evangelical Christians and Roman Catholicism religions as extremists right along with Al Qaeda.

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Obama has also ordered that no military personnel including chaplains can try to convert others to their faiths. Wonder if there are any Muslim Islamic members in the military?

Anna Phillips, Deadwood

Brad Estes knows about economy

In the Ward 5 election on June 4, people will be looking for the best candidate for the Rapid City Council. Brad Estes deserves your support.

Years ago, Brad served on the City Council here in Wall, He was on several committees, including our airport board. People quickly learned that they could count on him to show up, do the work, keep his promises, and bring fairness and honesty to all decisions.

Because of his background in construction, retail, aviation and hospitality, he knows what makes the economy tick in western South Dakota. He knows business. He knows how to create jobs because he has actually done it.

Brad Estes will serve your city well as a councilman.

Dave Hahn, Mayor, City of Wall

City should allow backyard chickens

A movement of people in Rapid City has become increasingly excited about the possibility of amending the city ordinance to allow backyard chickens in Rapid City. As a supporter of this cause, I have done lots of research and contacted Fort Collins' chief of animal control, who has informed me that since the allowance of chickens in Fort Collins, Colo., it has basically been a non-issue.

I think it would be great to have more involvement in where our food comes from and teach our children about it as well. Many people think you need roosters for hens to lay eggs, and that is not the case. I believe roosters should be prohibited in the city, so the noise would not be an issue.

Many major cities have joined this movement, and I think it is a great way for Rapid City to become more environmentally aware and health conscious. Go chickens!

Brooke Romeo, Rapid City

Kooiker has passion, empathy, honesty

We have two contrasting political figures vying for mayor of Rapid City. One claims to have street cred but actually he has a myopic and distorted view of himself. Case in point was the lead story on the front page of the Feb. 26 edition of this paper. The Journal shows a picture of this fella addressing the state House of Representatives during the last legislative session when he announced to the entire state of South Dakota that he will run for mayor of Rapid City. He must have felt so insecure that he had to use the state platform to bolster his confidence.

Glenn Brenner’s endorsement also was a joke.

Sam Kooiker, on the other hand, has demonstrated the passion and courage to navigate the treacherous political minefield. Remember when the Despicable Six voted to censure him during the aftermath of the investigation that led to the landfill fiasco? The voters vindicated him.

Kooiker’s passion, empathy and honesty are attributes that make it possible for him to connect with people from all walks of life. He has the experience and is more dedicated and his leadership style is predictable. He deserves your vote. He got mine!

George Wallace, Rapid City

Charity Doyle stands up for her beliefs

I first met Charity Doyle when she came to my door asking to participate in a planned neighborhood meeting that evening. I knew then, and told her I thought God sent her to us. We needed her knowledge, her perseverance and her stability.

With her background in engineering and her adversity, she brings sincere integrity to our city council. She has had more personal crises and drama during her first term than most of us have in a lifetime, yet she has remained fair, always composed, and done her best for Ward 1. Her decisions are always well thought-out. Most impressive, she knows the facts to back these decisions.

Charity is a strong woman. Over the years I have seen her in action. She is well-educated and polite but has the backbone to stand up for what she believes. She is an asset to the city and we need to keep her.

Think about it and you too will vote Charity Doyle for Ward 1.

Maren Hansen-Ward, Rapid City

Two reasons for supporting Kirkeby

Mark Kirkeby gets my enthusiastic support for the following two reasons: First, I am glad someone with Mark's outstanding qualifications decided to run for mayor. He has the confidence and the experience which are needed when dealing with high-level business people in Rapid City and those who are considering bringing new business to Western South Dakota.

Second, I will never vote for Sam Kooiker because he ran an extremely dirty campaign against Alan Hanks. His campaign was small-minded, mean-spirited and it contained a lot of false statements. Sam Kooiker's true character was reflected by the way he ran his campaign.

Edie Boulter, Rapid City

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