Category Archives: Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor – Dave Nelsestuen


Editor’s Note: The following letter was written in response to a letter published in the January 11, 2017 edition of The Progress Review. Click to view the original letter. -MW


I’m responding to your letter in The Progress Review on January 11, 2017, referencing incarcerated prisoners during the holidays. I tried to be compassionate and understanding while reading your letter, and to some degree I was. I don’t know why you are in prison, but because you are it tells me that you did something serious. I say that because confinement in prison is the punishment that courts most commonly impose for serious crimes, such as felonies. The courts usually impose short-term incarceration in a local jail for lesser crimes.
You stated that it isn’t empathy you want, yet your letter felt to me like that is exactly what you were hoping to gain. You said you understand how we (society) sees you, that you aren’t the animal we make you out to be and that you have just spent your second Christmas incarcerated.
Then, for whatever reason, you found the need to reference inmates and people serving their country. Not sure why you associated the two, but they are indeed, my friend, two different things. You first wrote, “I can’t speak for those serving for our country because I have no idea what that is like.”
Then later in the letter you wrote, “we are just as important as those who serve our country or have passed away.”
Let me tell you what it was like being a veteran who spent two Christmas’ in a combat zone, eating c-rations at the age of 18 and 19; It sucks!
Let me tell you what it is like for a parent who has a son in a combat zone, eating MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) not one Christmas, but two Christmas’; It sucks!
Let me tell you what it is like for a parent with another son overseas for two Christmas’; It sucks!
In all three comparisons, and like every other service man or woman, we would have rather been home in the living room with our families, but it was a choice we made. The difference is every service man and woman that is serving their country hopes to return home safely, unlike an inmate. The difference is they made the choice of defending their country, allowing others to be free and make choices in their lives, unlike an inmate.
So, I want you to know and understand you are important as a human-being, but in no way under the present circumstances can you compare yourself to being as important as someone who is serving their country.
I do feel sorry for the bad choices you chose that ultimately got you incarcerated, but I’m not sorry for you because you are incarcerated. I do wish you had taken a different road, but it is too late now.
Speaking for myself, I don’t see you any different from anyone else, other than someone that made a bad choice and is now paying your debt to society. I judge a person on what they do and how they act after their debt is paid to society. Put this mistake in your history book as a lesson well learned and move on with your life…it’s not too late.

Dave Nelsestuen
La Porte City

Letter to the Editor – Patty Beiner


To the Editor:

Did you ever love someone who was disabled? Did you ever have trouble finding them sufficient housing?
John Hansen’s sister Tammy, my best friend died before John could get an abandoned nursing home in Fredericksburg remodeled. Not many people are aware of the desperate need for handicapped accessible apartments in rural areas.
John bought the nursing home in April of 2015 and used all his retirement SAVINGS to purchase the building and some remodeling. Tammy passed away in May of 2016. When Tammy got sick they looked for handicapped accessable apartments, but could not find any in the area. Tammy was looking forward to living in Fredericksburg and being close to relatives.
The city of Fredericksburg has no money to help John and he is in dire need. He has started a GoFundMe page on Facebook. The first $50,000 he intends to start remodeling again as the building will make about twenty apartments.
Honor Tammy with John fulfilling his lost dream for her. Reach John at or send donations to 2977 Odessa Ave, Fredericksburg, IA 50630. Thank you so much.

Patty Beiner (formerly ‘Kate McGuire’ from 92.3 KOEL-FM)

Letter to the Editor – Justin Murphy


Editor’s Note: The following letter was among several submitted for publication in The Progress Review with a request they be published as part of a series entitled “Notes from Prison.” While space constraints and other factors will not allow for the publication of every letter submitted, the following composition draws attention to the challenges the state of Iowa has for managing its prison population. According to Iowa Department of Corrections Daily Statistics, there were 8,335 individuals incarcerated in Iowa prisons as of January 4, 2017. With the capacity of the facilities that house them rated at a maximum of 7,286, Iowa’s prisons are considered to be overcrowded by 14.4%. In addition to those who are incarcerated, there are more than 28,000 other individuals that fall under the Department of Corrections’ Field Services classification, with the majority of these individuals either on probation or parole. Given the current strains on the system, the treatment of offenders in Iowa remains a complex issue, as there are very real human and financial costs associated with the decisions made regarding those who have been convicted of committing a crime. -MW

So many people in the U.S. every year are away from home for the holidays. Whether it be because they are serving for our country, or have passed away, or like myself, are in prison.
I can’t speak for those serving for our country because I have no idea what that is like, but I can speak for myself and prisoners throughout the state and country. I myself, have just spent my second Christmas incarcerated. I’ve made a mistake and put myself in prison. We as prisoners don’t want your empathy. We understand how society sees us. There are many inmates who will spend anywhere from two to the rest of their holidays incarcerated.
Sure they [the State] give us a special meal, something we don’t normally get, and some sort of gift. May it be a candy cane or a 20 cent package of Ramen noodles from the State, it isn’t the same as home. It’s one time of the year when whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and all other races come together. Friend or foe, we come together and keep peace between everyone. It may only be for a day, but isn’t that what the holidays are for, coming together and celebrating?
We are a community of our own in here. We take care of “our own” as we say. The less fortunate, the ones who have no family willing to support them, are helped this time of year by the fortunate. Yes, we are prisoners, but we aren’t the animals people make us out to be. We are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, aunts and uncles, grandkids and even some grandparents. So during this time of year, don’t forget about us. We are just as important as those who serve our country or have passed away. We are all equals no matter the circumstances or past mistakes.
From myself and all of us incarcerated this holiday season, Happy Holidays and a safe New Year. Thank you.
Justin E. Murphy – Newton, Iowa

Letter to the Editor – Don Woodruff

Earn While You Learn in Construction
Ask any contractor what their largest challenge is and 9 times out of 10 they will answer with something related to attracting the next generation of workforce. The shortage of workers in the skilled trades is high, and will continue to grow in the years to come. This shortage has the potential to be a game changer in the construction industry, which is why construction industry leaders and Governor Branstad have teamed up to proclaim the first week of October as “Construction Week.”
The purpose behind Construction Week is not only to promote awareness of the construction industry as a safe, exciting and rewarding career option. It is also an opportunity for those of us in the industry to reach out to our local schools in an effort to educate students, parents, teachers, counselors, and school leaders on the commercial construction industry and the opportunities for great careers within it.
Consider these facts:
  • Skilled labor in the US will not catch up to demand until 2050 – The Hudson Institute
  • Construction spending will continue to rise through at least 2020 – AGC of America
  • Average pay after graduating from an apprentice program – $53,000
  • College debt for those entering the industry right out of high school – $0

Earning while you learn a lifetime skill is a smart career choice and the construction industry holds a tremendous amount of potential for our young people. Becoming a builder could be the best decision a young person could make. It was for me.

Don Woodruff, DBIA | President, Woodruff Construction, Waterloo, Iowa

Letter to the Editor – Brad Peters

Governor Branstad proclaimed this week as Construction Week in Iowa. The construction industry is a place where success can be achieved beginning with various possible starting points, whether right out of high school, technical schools, community colleges or four year colleges and universities.
Iowa has seen a 17% increase in construction employment this past year, the largest increase in the nation! This fact, combined with the reality that many construction workers are nearing retirement, means opportunities now and in the future for skilled workers. The construction industry in Iowa also offers another major advantage: 26% higher pay on average than all other private sector employees in the state.
As a parent or teacher helping to guide someone entering the job market or a student looking for their starting point, becoming a member of the construction industry and earning while you continue to learn, could be the best decision a young person can make. It was for me. I love that my job at Peters Construction allows me to walk away each day with a sense of accomplishment and tangible evidence of what we’ve done. And, we get to be part of a team that is helping build our communities.
Brad Peters, President, Peters Construction Corporation, Waterloo, Iowa


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