Village responds to zoning bill accusations
The Forest Park Department of Public Health and Safety is responsive whenever a resident or business has a concern about Village services. A Village resident recently complained in the Forest Park Review about charges she encountered in seeking a variation to rebuild a dilapidated garage. The major factor that lead to the higher than normal invoice amount is that this resident went through the variation process twice. After recently receiving a third invoice associated with her petitions, the resident contacted the Village about the costs involved. She was told I would have to collect the invoices, look into this matter and then I would call her back to discuss it with her.
In the standard and customary practice, the Village billed the resident for the expenses associated with her zoning petitions. Since the resident contacted us, the relevant information has been collected and reviewed. I will gladly discuss this matter further with this resident, and if we are responsible for unnecessarily causing some of these expenses, we will respond accordingly. We constantly strive to make our department as open and friendly as possible.
The Department of Public Health and Safety is responsible for, among many other duties, the processing and preparation of reports associated with variances and zoning relief requests. There are certain legally mandated steps that must be followed to ensure these requests are properly processed and publicly heard. By ordinance, these expenses are borne primarily by the petitioner. In an effort to contain such costs, the Village Council recently adopted the Zoning Administrator hearing process. Unfortunately, this resident's case, which would have been eligible to be heard by the Zoning Administrator, was heard prior to the adoption of that ordinance.
The Department of Public Health and Safety looks forward to continuing to try and improve the level and manner of service given to our residents and business community alike. We will continue to strive to improve how our services are delivered, while trying not to lose sight of the small town charm that is Forest Park.
Director of Public Health and Safety
St. John article was one-sided
Dear Rev. Holmes,
I am not a resident of Forest Park, but I am a long time member of St. John Lutheran Church in Forest Park and as such, follow with interest the newspaper for which you write. As you likely correctly deduce, I am writing to you regarding your report headed St. John pastor removed from office.
I am compelled to write because I see your article as less than balanced reporting. You were obviously at the meeting. Much of the piece shows that. What is missing from your report is the following:
• An Agenda was published. Opportunity was made available for anyone with questions on the agenda or procedure to be recognized. Rev. Knapp could see that his speaking was not "on the agenda" and he did not ask to be placed on the agenda when this was clearly the time to do so.
• It was clearly stated at the opening of the meeting that anyone wishing to speak was to present themseif in the front of the assembly, in an orderly fashion to be recognized. This included Rev. Knapp.
• Once the procedural question time was completed, no one was recognized from the audience by their raising of hand.
You followed up your reporting on the meeting by interviewing one party in the issue - Rev. Stephen Knapp. You did not interview the congregational chair, David Walz, nor any other representative of the Board of Directors or Voter's Assembly.
Your failure to complete your assignment by presenting opposing points of view to those of Rev. Knapp resulted in a skewed, one sided report. You quoted from the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report regarding one assessment of the congregation; you did not quote from that same report "should Pastor Knapp continue in his inability or unwillingness to grow in expressing compassion and care of members, that the future of this congregation and school look bleak" or other applicable statements. You quoted Rev. Knapp that "three secret sessions" were held. Executive Session of any governing body is constitutional, a privileged, not a secret meeting. Your reporting would have been better served to have left your two-day later interview out since you did not seek out all the facts.
Did your "collar" influence your report? I would hope not. If so, stick to Mitty and stay away from assignments that require reporting the facts, all the facts.
Kathleen L. Dahlstrand
Discipline is lacking at Middle School
Let me first preface this complaint with the fact that I know first hand that the teachers at the Middle School are dedicated, hard working, and invested in providing a quality education. Unfortunately, that is not enough to educate our children today. A safe environment is critical for education to happen.
With an ever-increasing influx of students coming in from other school districts, it is my opinion that the discipline at the Middle School is ineffective and is in dire need of attention. Our children are at risk. It is true that teachers can not be everywhere at every moment but then again, supervision is a key element in preventing serious problems. Something has to be done.
Knocking students' books out of their arms while changing classes, pushing and shoving, name calling and swearing, stealing lunches, disruptions during class, and on and on does not create an environment that is conducive to learning. Yes, you will find this behavior everywhere but it has become excessive, constant and more frighteningly aggressive. Three children, three different years, three very serious assaults read as follows. The first was pushed into an unpadded block wall during gym and requiring stitches. The second was stabbed with a sharpened pencil with no provocation. Most recently, a student was purposefully tripped down a flight of stairs, causing an injured tailbone, bruised back and a nice size lump on the side of the head. This last incident has me screaming "Enough is enough!" Where is the no tolerance policy when another purposefully injures a child? Where is the assurance that something like this won't happen again? For that matter, where is the apology from the school for not keeping my child safe?
What is desperately needed is a preventive, pro-active plan that inhibits bullying and harassment in the first place. Maybe it is beyond the administration's abilities to control their student body. I personally do not believe enough has been done about keeping our children safe, and it is long overdue.
John, you haven't looked far enough
I am so disappointed to read that John Rice has lost his inquisitive nature [Brief thoughts for a brief month, Feb. 8]. "If I could find another underreported African-American achievement, believe me, you'd be reading about it now." What's that about? Mr. Rice, I work in a library, and I am fascinated by the number of underreported African-American achievements I learn about in that library. I would suggest you try African American Inventors for starters. There is a book by Otha Sullivan, one by Pat McKissack, and one by Fred Amram. They are all full of interesting, underreported genius!
Less legal fees, more recycling
I read with interest the article which described the situation between the village of Forest Park and Lieutenant Steve Johnson of the Forest Park police department. The article appears to document a series of statements, omissions and opinions that seem to boil down to another "he said, she said" scenario that is similar in many ways to the hearings concerning Sargeant Dan Harder.
So, hear we go again. Another political brouhaha which will be debated regardless of the outcome.
Rather than continue to spend funds on legal fees on two situations that will never be clear cut, let's put those funds to good use. One idea would be to buy new recycling bins similar to the garbage bins we now have. This gesture would encourage more home owners to recycle and it would permit those same home owners to recycle without running the risk of littering the environment while doing so.