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Your Views: Glad that family farming is still part of landscape

“Harvest Time” by reporter Jim Dayton in Sunday’s Gazette was such a wonderful portrayal of the great American farmer.

Rich Templeton, his son and grandson really show the true spirit of hard work, perseverance and dedication.

Their story reminded me of my own father-in-law who also gave of himself to the earth.

The days of the family farm are fast disappearing from the American landscape. It’s so refreshing to see and hear a part of that lifestyle is still alive.

God bless the American farmers.



Guest Views: How to reduce the deadly toll of opioids

At the end of the 20th century, Americans were worried about the dangers posed by crack cocaine. They didn’t realize that another drug menace would soon eclipse it. Prescription opioids were gaining favor as a tool against undertreated pain. No one foresaw where this would lead: to an epidemic of opioid overdoses that the nation is only starting to confront with the urgency it warrants.

Last year, some 64,000 people died of drug overdoses, most of them involving some type of opioid. That’s more than the total number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War. President Donald Trump recently acknowledged the epidemic by declaring a public health emergency. That step, if anything, understates the severity of this plague.

Earlier, Trump appointed a presidential commission to analyze the problem and propose remedies. The panel has now issued a report stocked with strong recommendations for action, which should focus needed attention.

The death toll is the worst effect of opioid abuse but hardly the only one. It puts a burden on hospitals, emergency responders and correctional facilities, as well as employers. It sunders families and leaves children orphaned or in the care of grandparents.

It even hinders the economy: “The increase in opioid prescriptions could account for much of the decline in the labor force participation of ‘prime age men’ (ages 25-54)” over the past decade, the panel concluded. The annual economic cost exceeds $100 billion.

The commission has some good ideas. One is expanding access to treatment with methadone and buprenorphine. This is the most effective means of helping addicts overcome their dependence, but as the commission noted, “only 10.6 percent of youth and adults who need treatment for substance use disorder receive that treatment.” The grim fact is that many of those who go without treatment will eventually die of an overdose.

The commission credited Trump for tackling federal rules that impede states from increasing access to treatment through Medicaid. It called for changing rules to make it easier for addicts to get treatment paid for through Medicare, the Veterans Administration and the Indian Health Service.

It also urged Congress to consolidate funding for opioid and other substance abuse funding into block grants, giving the states more flexibility in how to address the problem.

One sensible proposal: increasing the use of drug courts, which divert some addicts into treatment instead of punishment. These have shown value in getting offenders to stay out of trouble and work at legitimate jobs. But 44 percent of U.S. counties lack an adult drug court. The commission urged that the Justice Department push states to make them universal.

Another proposal is less promising: an advertising offensive to highlight the dangers of drug abuse. Previous efforts, such as the “Just Say No” campaign of the 1980s, proved fruitless.

The administration and the panel deserve credit for seeking out serious options for combating an emergency that has received too little attention. They may finally impel the American people and their elected officials to make a priority of reversing this epidemic.

“If a terrorist organization was killing 175 Americans a day on American soil, what would you be willing to pay to make it stop?” Gov. Chris Christie, who chaired the commission, asked after submitting the report. “I think we’d be willing to do anything and everything to make it stop.” Anyone disagree?

—Chicago Tribune

Bremel: City mishandling humane society contract

I have a bone to pick with the city of Janesville administration.

To the listening audience of WCLO, most would probably consider me more of a cheerleader than a critic of the city administration. Perhaps that is why the continued friction between the city and the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin is perplexing to me.

If you have not followed the controversy brewing over the last couple of months, it boils down to this: Janesville needs animal control services. The only viable option is the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.

Yet, this simple decision will be under discussion for three months at a minimum before it is resolved. On Nov. 9, the city’s website began displaying a request for proposals, or RFPs, for animal control services. The proposal deadline is Dec. 4. Allow me to make my prediction on how many proposals the city will receive: 0.

That number increases to one if the humane society bows to the process and submits its proposal to do what it has been doing for Janesville residents for years: Accept stray pets and get them to new or existing homes for whatever the city has in the animal control budget.

I’m mystified as to why each budget year seems to equal another dogfight between the city administration and the humane society. It is unnecessary and an insult to the fine work the humane society does.

It is no longer a question of dollars. The city council has approved an amount in the budget that the humane society would have accepted to continue the services agreement. The idea that there is some other equally effective (without euthanasia) and cost-effective alternative is pure folly.

The newest development is the potential addition of a new ordinance in Janesville to be unveiled at Monday’s city council meeting. The ordinance would assess a city-imposed fee to pet owners who have to retrieve their pets from the humane society. This seems to me to be counterproductive as careless pet owners would be less likely to pick up their animals, putting even more pressure on the humane society.

I respect the process in which the city council does not dictate to staff the specific vendors the city uses for services. It is difficult, however, to see anything other than some unspoken underlying issue among city staff as the basis for this annual debate.

The humane society has a budget to deal with as well. In previous years, mutual agreements have been reached by the city and humane society, though Brett Frazier, humane society director, has indicated the fee does not cover the actual cost of the services. As a result, the humane society must depend on area donors and nominal adoption fees to fill in the holes of its operating budget.

Without the Janesville agreement until at least mid-December, it would be no surprise if the humane society budgeted for 2018 without that revenue.

If that happens, I suspect residents will have nowhere to take strays without being charged directly. There is a likelihood of reduced services or staff layoffs as well.

The solution to all this is simple: Extend the 2017 agreement for another year and then, if the city desires to do its due diligence, take bids next summer for the 2019 contract, while there is time for negotiation.