Combating costs

Through golf outings of the Border Battle, Kiwanis, the Monday morning Princeton men’s group and many donations from the Eau Claire community, this year’s Eau Claire Area School District homeless program is off and running.

Last year, 334 district students were served through community fundraising, individual and organizational contributions. Beyond transportation to keep students in the same school (last year more than $65,000 alone), the school provides clothing, mattresses, after-school child care, field trips, class fees, extracurricular activity fees, school lunches, scholarships, backpacks, school supplies, etc. Through contributions, the homeless program seeks to remove the obvious hurdles where possible and protect the education of homeless children.

Currently, the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is taking away the food stamps of half a million children. For many, the problem will get worse. Meanwhile a $2 trillion tax break was handed to big companies and the richest Americans, even though they said they didn’t need it.

Public schools were originated under the goal of providing free and equal education. Many public schools have strayed from that origin. As schools expand their curriculums, many, including Eau Claire, have initiated fees to help with the added costs. The idea that a child must attend school but is levied fees to eat or participate destroys the free and equal mandate and is beyond repugnant to this aging writer.

I will continue to support the homeless children’s program. Going forward I will lobby toward, and be happy when, all fees in public schools are abolished.

For all past and future contributors to the homeless program, my heartfelt thanks.

Charles Kwick

Eau Claire

Water’s value

As a state surrounded by two Great Lakes that provide fresh water, as well as the numerous wetlands and streams Wisconsin has been blessed with, it is important to make sure we practice meaningful water quality management.

In a community where clean water is a resource that is easy to come by, we need to make sure it stays untainted for future generations. Counties in eastern Wisconsin are already experiencing challenges with hypoxia, also known as dead zones, near Lake Michigan’s Green Bay.

Since Wisconsin is one of the most significant leaders of agriculture in the world, it’s important that we’re careful with the nutrients that flow into our streams and rivers. With research done by many of our universities around Wisconsin, one method that was studied at UW-Green Bay stands out: the use of overwintering cover crops to help prevent erosion.

Thanks to generous farmers who volunteered the use of their land for this study, agricultural communities in Brown County were able to see improvement in both water quality and soil aggregate stability. Cover crops, which included crimson red clover, winter rye and tillage radish, grew long roots in the soil that kept root channels open, which allowed corn that was planted the next spring to grow quickly without using more energy to create its own root channels.

Furthermore, the roots and other organic matter help keep the soil packed together and reduce erosion. Farmers interested in this technique can contact the USDA to find more information regarding cost-sharing options and other resources to help them get started since adding cover crops into rotation may take time. There are also incentive programs to take advantage of through the Wisconsin DATCP.

Amy Sturz

Eau Claire