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Letters to the editor: Kindness to others actually makes us happier

'War on the EPA' is alarming


On Oct. 11, the PBS program Frontline aired "War on the EPA," an alarming documentary focusing on Trump appointee Scott Pruitt¹s ties to the big oil and coal industries and how he has acted to further their interests as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The day before PBS ran this program, Pruitt had announced the repeal of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which nudged states toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants over the next two decades.

In his brief tenure as EPA head, Pruitt has repealed or blocked many other common-sense regulatory measures protecting public health, such as banning chlorpyrifos, a pesticide shown to damage the brains of fetuses and infants. Chlorpyrifos is manufactured by Dow, and Pruitt vetoed the ban after a private meeting with Dow's CEO.

In a Pulitzer PrizE winning series, New York Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton has publicly exposed Pruitt's beholdenness to polluters, unearthing emails from Devon Energy in Pruitt's home state of Oklahoma with wording Pruitt used verbatim in his protests against EPA rulings.

A climate change denier, Pruitt has obstructed attempts to move our country away from dependence on dirty, polluting energy sources toward renewables. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA fully 14 times to kill regulations that keep America's environment and citizens safe.

Pruitt was also instrumental in organizing Republican attorneys general in other states to fight the change to clean, renewable energy. Eric Lipton, attending one of their gatherings, reported seeing fossil fuel lobbyists openly writing checks to the AGs.

Our Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, another climate change denier, voted to approve the deeply corrupt Pruitt, again demonstrating his bad judgment and enabling what journalist Jane Mayer calls "the triumph of the anti-environmental movement" in the Trump administration.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls

Kindness to others brings happiness


Did you know that kindness to others can literally make us happier?

I just returned from a human services conference in Duluth that over 3,000 people attended. The workshops had new, innovative ideas and information about neuroscience and how early childhood trauma affects brain and emotional development, plus actual video clips of "a thought" turning into a new neural pathway and even more about the neurotransmitters that drive our


Take Dopamine. We all know it, it's the feel good chemical. Dark chocolate can raise dopamine levels 150 percent. Cocaine can raise dopamine 1,000 percent, and methamphetamine can increase it 2,000 percent. It turns out "kindness" can also increase dopamine levels. Wow! What an incredible idea to think about and create a new neural pathway for. What if we could put this into action?

Luckily, we can, and quite simply. On Nov. 9, the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce counties will be asking everyone to engage in united acts of kindness. It's part of a statewide initiative, and here locally, we will come together Nov. 9 with an invitation to do a random act of kindness for another: people, animals and the environment.

Recognizing that kindness can scientifically raise our own dopamine levels, and being offered a simple, concrete way to apply that science for our own benefit (and others), what a wonderful feeling we all would get (at the same time) for consciously being kind to others on United Acts of Kindness Day Nov. 9.

Wouldn't it be exciting to see where that feeling could lead? I'm in.

Linda Flanders

Red Wing

Media is a powerful tool to reach the community


We are writing to express our appreciation to RiverTown Multimedia for working with Healthier

Together — Pierce County and St. Croix County to raise awareness about the key health issues in our communities. RiverTown Multimedia publishes four newspapers that span a two-county area and have a long history of running stories about health issues in the community. This past year, RiverTown reached out to Healthier Together — Pierce County and St. Croix County with a wonderful idea for a series of advertisements and stories to spark a community conversation about the three health priorities identified in the recent 2017 — 2019 Community Needs Assessment: Alcohol Abuse, Mental Health, and Overweight/Obesity.

The campaign kicked off in March 2017 with a "Let's Talk" full page ad at no cost and in a location that could not be missed, appearing on the outside back page of the news section of each of the four area RiverTown papers. Following the initial advertisement, a "Let's Talk" advertisement appeared in the RiverTown papers for each of the health priority topics at approximately two-week intervals. The plans for the entire series of in-depth stories spanned through Fall 2017 and was created in collaboration with Healthier Together Coalition Action Teams. The series not only showed repeated coverage of the role of prevention, but it clearly demonstrated a deep desire to understand the issues and create a greater awareness in the community.

Media is a powerful tool with the ability to reach our community in a way that simply would not be possible without the commitment of RiverTown Multimedia. In recognition of this commitment, RiverTown Multimedia received the 2017 Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA) Media Award.

Thank you RiverTown Multimedia. We look forward to your continued partnership.

Healthier Together — Pierce County and St. Croix County

Court officials need education on abuse


I was in court this week and what I heard was appalling. The official did not hear any testimony from either side. This is an abuse case. The young mom and daughter have been abused by the husband/father. They have been victims in the situation and finally got out only to be victimized by the court again.

The official just lectured the couple assuming that they had a family life when they were children of yelling and that was what they were copying now. The woman comes from a very loving home and I have known them for 17 or 18 years. The young mom is one of the sweetest moms I know.

How can the court send this precious little girl into the home of an alcoholic and abuser without anyone there to make sure she is safe. Please tell me why the court did not listen to anything she had to say. I walked out of the courtroom and just wanted to go home and write a letter to the official, and of course that is what I did.

The court officials need to be educated on child and spouse abuse.

Mary York


Abuse victims punished in court


This last week we witnessed in court an order that a precious little girl not yet in school has to spend every weekend in an unsafe situation with no supervision.

When a young child is vulnerable and cannot call 911 on her own, it is not safe. The court refused to listen to any testimony and would not receive any proof of the situation. The court seemed to have a pre-conceived opinion that it was just a couple that could not get along. This abuse from the legal system has to stop! We tell domestic abuse victims to get out but then the legal system punishes them for it. This was totally disgraceful in our society today! Lord, protect that child!

Darlene Bochman


Classes needed on domestic abuse


Domestic abuse is all over the map and has increased in the last 10 years. There was a situation of a domestic abuse case in St. Croix County that the Court Commissioner made a judgement call on an abusive situation; sending a child back to her father for the weekend in which she has no say or protection from his abuse and alcohol. There was no evidence or witnesses that were able to speak to the facts, because he did not want to hear them.

I think all commissioners and judges should take classes on domestic abuse and what it is, the signs and seeing through the lies.

We need these people educated as to what is going on in homes where abuse takes place, especially with children. Shame on all of us that do not stand up for the child and women who are abused.

Kris Brekke