Curry: Contribute to Children

Once again, parents of children enrolled in Prince George's County public schools read news that saddens and frustrates us. I refer to two news articles in the Prince George's Extra, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 1999. Statistics for area public schools underscore the discrepancies among Maryland school systems. Montgomery County, with 20,000 fewer students, spends $2,000 more per student in newer, better schools with twice as many computers available to their students. That system ranks 19 systems ahead of Prince George's County.

A few pages later in the Maryland Notebook, the reporters describe a Prince George's school system rally where Wayne K. Curry (D), the county executive, appeared. Despite a $122 million-plus surplus, he denied county funds to raise teachers' salaries. He was booed by the audience of teachers. He laughed off the booing and again missed an opportunity to show the teachers, parents and children of Prince George's County that he cares about us in any meaningful, creative and collaborative way.

I am also a social worker, and I see the results of the poverty that many Prince George's County children are growing up in today. [Former school superintendent] Jerome Clark spoke about the effect such poverty has on children's ability to learn and subsequently have a life of quality, self-respect and social responsibility.

Mr. Curry, do you ever really think about the children under your political care? If you do, please stop blaming other people and institutions. Make a real contribution to the children and their schools.

Marialis Zmuda

Hyattsville

Speak Up on Wilson Bridge

On Sept. 8, the citizens of Prince George's County were once again afforded an opportunity (possibly their last) to provide input on a new study of 10-lane alternative, in addition to the 12-lane alternative previously selected, to replace the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. This workshop is in response to a recent court ruling that mandated the study.

The citizens of Prince George's County are most affected by the bridge and should seize the moment when an opportunity is presented to make a difference. It has been reported that over 60,000 Prince Georgians use the bridge daily. If only 1 percent of the users would take time to attend the workshop, Prince George's County would weigh in heavily on the decision-making process. It would truly be a blessing if 10 percent of the users made their way to Valley View Elementary to offer up suggestions and participate in a decision that will definitely impact the quality of life for all residents of the county.

I have spoken with a number of citizens, businesses and elected officials, and most prefer the previously approved 12-lane alternative and want it built now. Most feel that a 10-lane alternative would not only be obsolete by the time it is completed, but does not meet the needs of the future. I am encouraged by their enthusiasm over the bridge. . . .

Recently, I have been reading an inordinate amount of letters to the editor where residents of the county have been asking others to "stay out of Prince George's County business" or "let us choose our own destiny," and for once I'm impressed. However, the reality of it all is that we have not shown a propensity to react to our feelings and remove the apathy that runs rampant in the county and "step up" to the plate and deliver. Citizens can rest assured that if they don't participate, "others" will again decide what's best for Prince George's County.

Hubert "Petey" Green

Clinton

Solve Problems Together

I agree with some of the points in [Lisa Frazier's column] in the Sept. 1 edition of the Prince George's Extra.

I think that it's amazing that a county with such a huge population is a nonfactor when it comes to job growth and attracting business and new development. Every day you hear about companies relocating to Loudoun or Prince William counties. You go to Howard County and Montgomery County and you see vibrant, rich communities.

But in Prince George's County, it is as if we're invisible. People from other areas or races don't consider Prince George's County a place to live, although we hug Washington, D.C., and they spend $50,000 to $100,000 more just to live in surrounding counties.

We have no upscale shopping centers, and developers who say income is a factor are just trying to sugarcoat the real issue . . . race. I work in Owings Mills out in Baltimore County and they have a Macy's, Nordstrom and a few other upscale department stores and income levels as well as the cost of new housing is relatively cheap, when compared with Prince George's County, and income levels may even be lower.

To some extent, I think that agreements were made in the past with previous county executives, Wayne K. Curry excluded, to limit the amount of development in Prince George's County. We will be a county of consumers who fuel the economies of Fairfax, Montgomery and Howard counties. Sounds far-fetched, but I would not be surprised.

Look how our prime real estate is occupied with low-end businesses, low-income housing, crime, etc. Furthermore, guess who are the biggest naysayers to the National Harbor Project. Citizens from Alexandria. We've spent billions of dollars on building Metro transportation, but large-scale business and commerce has not followed. Therefore, the citizens are overburdened with paying property taxes for declining communities.

How else do you explain the constant development of Fairfax and Montgomery counties, which has brought increased congestion and crowding to each area. Instead of spreading the development to Prince George's County, to alleviate such problems, they build more, totally disregarding the county's central location and close proximity to the nation's capital.

Developers and business leaders say it's our school system. But that is baloney as well because a lot of investment dollars are being put into Washington, D.C., although its school system has plenty of problems.

However, if there are no upscale restaurants within our communities, then this would be a perfect opportunity for the so-called "highly educated and well-paid black middle class" to create our own upscale restaurants and shopping centers.

We could afford to buy expensive cars and homes, but when it comes to enterprise, we have issues, as if we are afraid to do certain things ourselves. We definitely have enough consumers within the area to achieve such goals. If we pool our resources, we would also have the capital.

Even with our schools, we can have donation drives for our school system to help equip our youth with state-of-the-art computer and technology facilities. Apparently the county and state, for some reason, do not provide enough funding for Prince George's County school-age children. The average spending per child in Montgomery County exceeds $8,000 to Prince George's county's $6,000. Although I have no children, I believe it would be a good idea to start a countywide donation drive to provide all schools, from Suitland and Bladensburg to Laurel and Greenbelt, with quality educational facilities, concentrating initially on schools that are currently inadequate. It is not enough for parents to come out in huge numbers to protest the end of school busing for magnet students, but who are unaware that students at Bladensburg High attend a rat- and roach-infested worn school.

Also, as a last and important note. Frazier mentioned the videos on television that greatly influence our youth.

But as I see it, Robert Johnson's BET is a major deliverer of such junk and his station should be boycotted until he starts to air programs that are more suitable for our youth to view. Especially during prime time. I think he is a major contributor to the exploitation of our youth by the media. If he can't air anything that is suitable, then maybe he needs to start a new business. Robert Johnson's BET needs to be held more accountable for its programming and stop exploiting our youth. I'm not advocating banning hip-hop or R&B videos, but the more ignorant and sexually explicit videos should be reserved for after-hours or after bedtime programming. Had a white-owned media company aired such videos, our community would certainly be complaining about such negative images.

Many may argue that it's up to the parents to regulate their children. But let's be realistic. Many of the children do not receive close attention from their parents, because either they are working hard to make ends meet or they may not have the knowledge to properly raise children. In single-parent homes, that problem is multiplied.

Instead of constantly fueling the youth with videos, provide a balance of programming during prime time that teaches our youth how to solve complex problems, avoid conflict, respect for themselves and others, etc.

Mark A Porter

Laurel

Race Not a Church Factor

As a black member of Riverdale Baptist Church, I can't just sit by and not comment on Hamil R. Harris's article [Prince George's Extra, Sept. 1].

Yes, Riverdale is predominantly white and Way of the Cross is predominantly black, but those facts had no bearing on the failure of the purchase of the church. In fact, Riverdale Baptist School is mostly black. There are many black families at worship and many black children are part of the Awana program that meets on Wednesday nights. What it all boils down to is that Way of the Cross bit off a bit more than they could chew.

There is no shame in that, and most of the matters have been settled. I don't know why a church would want to bury its members in the cemetery of a church they obviously do not own.

Claude Roxborough implies that Riverdale started making trouble when the Anne Arundel County Council balked. What could Riverdale have possibly done to stop the deal if Way of the Cross was making its payments?

Just one more thing. I meet with Dennis Howard once a week in a racially mixed Bible Study and in his job as director of operations, I'm sure there are times he has to make unpopular decisions. However, his love of the Lord and of people cannot be denied.

Steve Thigpen

Bowie

Wal-Mart Not Wanted

I am writing to express my enormous concern about the proposed site of a new Wal-Mart store at the intersection of Highways 210 and 228. I am a 20-year-old university student and have been a resident of Accokeek my entire life. I do not believe that a Wal-Mart store is needed or desired by the residents of the area.

The runoff from the parking lot would drain directly into the Mattawoman Watershed. Aside from the negative environmental impact that such a huge project would have, the sprawl growth that it would encourage is not conducive to the lifestyle that residents in Accokeek and surrounding areas enjoy. Accokeek contains a great deal of green space, and that is 90 percent of its charm. If Wal-Mart is allowed to move in, much of what this community stands for will be destroyed.

The majority of Accokeek residents moved to Accokeek to enjoy a sort of seclusion from strip malls and traffic jams. As time goes on this seclusion is being devastated by urban sprawl. If Accokeek residents wanted that lifestyle they would not have moved to Accokeek at all. This Wal-Mart would be a huge blow to residents trying to preserve their precious way of life.

It is estimated that a Wal-Mart in this location would increase the average number of cars on Interstate 210 by 900 cars per hour, making an increasingly difficult rush hour commute even more atrocious.

Furthermore, the 210 corridor is presently overwhelmed by vacant stores. Many of the existing businesses along 210 would be completely devastated by the proposed Wal-Mart, thus creating even more vacancies. This is not the type of growth we need. This is not smart growth.

Emily Canavan

Accokeek

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