Rep. Kind listening session in Dunn County

Rep. Ron Kind held a listening session at the Dunn County Community Services Building in Menomonie on Friday.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American soldiers from Syria Friday before a listening session in Menomonie.

Kind. D-La Crosse, said this opens the door for a resurgence by ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria while betraying the Kurdish people, who have been an ally to American troops.

“The president’s decision and withdrawing our support to our Kurdish allies in Syria is a disastrous decision that will live with us for many years,” Kind said. “We will not soon recover from.

“Not only is he abandoning a crucial ally of ours on the battlefront, the Kurds, who have been very effective standing up and fighting ISIS and Al-Qaeda on our behalf and the rest of the world’s behalf, they now feel a deep sense of betrayal.”

Rep. Kind took a trip to both Jordan on the border near Syria and Afghanistan at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Kind met with many Wisconsin soldiers including those in the 127th infantry from Appleton and 115th Fighter Wing with the Wisconsin Air National Guard from Madison. The Eau Claire-based 128th Infantry is set to arrive to Afghanistan soon.

“They take pride, they’re well trained with the best America has to offer,” Kind said of the troops, “and I’m glad we were able to catch up with them to get their assessment of what’s happening on the ground.”

There are war crimes being committed against the Kurdish people, Kind said, as many flee to the desert to escape Turkish forces.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached an agreement with Russian leader Vladimir Putin to have joint control of northern Syria, Kind said.

“Something that Russia has been trying to do for decades the president was able to accomplish for them overnight,” Kind said.

The president announced Wednesday he was lifting sanctions against Turkey after the country had agreed to stop its attack on Syrian Kurdish forces.

Kind said he heard concerns from those in Afghanistan that they felt a similar situation to Syria could arise, where the president would “pull the rug out from under them” by removing troops from the region. ISIS-K and Taliban are already building themselves back up, Kind said.

“This is going to stick throughout that region for quite some time,” Kind said. “Unfortunately our troops are the ones that have to follow the orders under these difficult circumstances. It’s so important that we get this right, not only for their sake but for the security of our own homeland which I think is very much on the line.”

Dunn County shares broadband concerns

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During listening session throughout the Third Congressional District, Kind has heard similar issues from constituents. Questions about the costs of healthcare, prescription drugs and education.

“Some of the best ideas that I hear back home are (at) listening sessions like this, people willing to come out and share their thoughts, and I can take those good old-fashioned Wisconsin values and ideas with me out in Washington.”

Kind said getting quality broadband into rural areas of Wisconsin and throughout the country is a must to revitalize the economies of rural communities.

“It’s crucial that everyone, regardless of where they’re living, going to school or working has broadband access,” Kind said.

Competition, cost and quality are all an issue for Dunn County residents. It’s long past due to provide opportunities for rural communities to participate in the global economy, Kind said.

Kind was appointed to a House of Representatives Task Force on Rural Broadband in May, and its goal is to end the rural-digital divide by 2025.

Dunn County resident Annie Titus, who is enrolled as a non-traditional student at UW-Eau Claire, said getting reliable connectivity can be a challenge, something needed to complete class work.

“It’s really hard to go back to school in this day an age without reliable broadband that’s affordable,” Titus said.

Kind said the private sector is hesitant to invest in expanding to all corners of state because of a lack of return on investment. A partnership with the private sector similar to what occurred in the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 might be needed to fix the problem, Kind said.

The task force is trying to get a Federal Communications Commission representative into the Third District for hearing sessions while it works to create bipartisan support that can be brought before Congress, Kind said.

A critical step to solving the problem is getting accurate mapping of areas of need. Dunn County Supervisor Jim Anderson chairs a broadband committee for the county. Anderson said the broadband maps for county are accurate.

Anderson said he looks forward to seeing more federal and state dollars to expand broadband in the county.

The county hopes to soon be Broadband Forward certified. Broadband Forward is a community certification that shows local government has taken steps to reduce obstacles to broadband infrastructure investment. The county is already Telecommuter Forward certified.

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