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Letter: Lack of concern for vulnerable citizens is obvious

No, I don't know the full story, Commissioner Fairbanks, but what I do know is the hardship this county will cause to 180 individuals struggling with drug addiction. The fallout will extend to their wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and most of all their children.

I also take issue with the phrasing used on the Pioneer's front page March 4, "Beltrami County won't renew a host county contract with Northern Lakes Clinic, a move sending 180 drug addicts to seek treatment elsewhere." Is this how the county sees these individuals who are trying to get their lives back, simply as "drug addicts?" How rudely stated and incendiary that statement is, Mr. Swenson.

Though I do not know the full story, the emerging story is that this county and the city is more interested in event centers we can't afford than it is in the citizens and residents who call Bemidji and Beltrami County home. Further evidence of the lack of concern for the citizens of the area is found in a recent plea (letter to the editor dated March 1) urging the county to "fully fund Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center." A mental health center attempting to serve the needs of several large counties with impoverished, underserved and uninsured clients should not have to beg for support and funding.

The need is obvious. But the lack of concern by the county for its most vulnerable citizens is also obvious.

If we can afford an event center would the city need to be charging a street light utility fee to its city residents and the downtown businesses? Furthermore, if we can afford an event center can we afford to fund valuable mental health programs? Here are the numbers: event center bids for concrete work ($1,586,600), masonry ($1,811,050), architectural woodwork ($228,128), drywall ($2,688,800), and doors ($263,779). What is more important? Should we be more concerned about providing quality mental health care and programs to help those addicted to drugs get back on their feet or about drywall, woodwork and masonry?

Bonnie Ekstrom