In many ways no response is necessary to Chris Klein’s May 1 Waupaca County Post opinion column. While his words carried little weight or substance, he has every right to state his opinions and I respect that.
Ironically, Klein’s May 1 column actually undermines his dam position while strengthening the county’s position and its legal, ethical, economical and ecological merits for its unanimous decision to permanently remove the small dam at Little Hope.
As residents on the Crystal River since the mid-1990s, my family and I are fully aware and respectful of the region’s 19th-century heritage at Little Hope. The Crystal River is where we made a house into a home and raised a family. But with all due respect to Mr. Klein, the citizens of Waupaca County and throughout Wisconsin are most grateful to the Waupaca County Park and Rec Committee’s decision to complete the permanent removal of the dam.
The county’s decision ensures that current and future generations will have no financial, legal or liability issues ever again with the former small dam.
Klein could have chosen less inflammatory words in his May 1 column rather than the words “neglect,” “failure,” and “(mis)management.” Those words were in fact all directed toward Klein’s fellow public servants at the county level whose only sin is doing their jobs on behalf of all of us. Klein yet again fails to present documentation supporting his unfounded accusations toward Waupaca County decision makers in regards to the river’s restoration. My counsel to Mr. Klein would have been for him to stay silent rather than continue to attack good people, questioning their intentions and actions as public servants.
Klein further claims the county is to blame for the impasse between him and his fellow Dayton supervisors. Again, the public record and various media outlets including Fox TV news show otherwise. His decision to pen this recent editorial only adds to the ongoing tension between local bodies of governance rather than coming to terms with the changing times.
Claims that area residents were surveyed on the Little Hope dam issue are of course not true. There were no township surveys about the dam’s status or the river’s restoration, and at no time did Klein approach me, the Parfreyville Methodist Church, or other landowners along County Road K on his hidden agenda for the dam at Little Hope. The nonexistent lake district was never properly formed and has no legal standing. Klein and others greatly exaggerate both the district’s legitimacy and its public support.
Klein’s column also stated incorrectly that “the Little Hope Lake District property owners approved elected commissioners committed to working towards replacing the dam and millpond.” The facts are that Chris Klein, Glen Newsome, and the late Bruce Golding “approved” themselves as lake district commissioners with taxing authority.
There was no election. Dayton supervisors anointed themselves so called lake commissioners by fiat rather than democracy.
Klein’s column brought no new facts to bear, nor did it help build bridges between my township and our parent county of Waupaca. His plea for the county to hand over the dam and hence the fate of the Crystal River for perpetuity to either the township or nonexistent lake district commissioners is surreal. There is no rational reason for the county to agree to his request.
On the facts, the science, the economics, and most certainly what’s in the best interest of the Crystal River and its ecosystem, the river’s restoration has already proven to be the sound and wise decision. In only two spring seasons one need only look east from Parfreyville Road Bridge to witness nature’s restorative healing powers taking hold on this reborn stretch of the Crystal River.
I wish to remind Klein and his fellow Dayton supervisors of Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine whereby all the lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens. Based on the state constitution, the doctrine declares that all navigable waters are “common highways and forever free,” and held in trust by the Department of Natural Resources.
To that end, this community and state owe a large debt of gratitude to Waupaca County officials and staff for seeking permanent removal of the small dam at Little Hope. Future generations will surely praise this wise decision.
Thomas Miller is a resident of the town of Dayton who lives on the Crystal River.