Audacity of EACC's Request
If the Southern Maryland Extra gave an annual award for chutzpah, the 1999 prize would go to the Education Association of Charles County (EACC).
Their efforts to force nonunion teachers into paying "fees," having failed via Del. [Van T.] Mitchell and the elected Board of Education, [association president] Beth Thorsen now has the temerity to approach the Board of County Commissioners [Extra, Oct. 28] with this patently obnoxious request.
The EACC, pointing their fingers at others and awaiting a cash deluge, should have their digits locked in thumbscrews! A courageous Board of County Commissioners should dismiss this request, with prejudice.
Gratitude From Craik
The Dr. James Craik Elementary School community appreciates the coverage in The Washington Post of our school and the highlighting of our work in reading which has led to our success.
There were several points raised in the article that I would like to clarify. Arranging for partitions at the school was not the first thing I did when I arrived at Craik. When I started at the school, I met with the staff and community to look at the building. Together, we decided that we needed to do some rearranging of space to create hallways and eliminate traffic through classrooms. The problems created by the lack of walls was one that both parents and staff felt we needed to address. Partitions were ordered and installed, with the support of the central office, and we now have classrooms where our students are better able to focus and learn.
The article also referred to a writing topic for the day and the senior reading partners program. The first writing topic will be to thank the superintendent, the school system and the Charles County commissioners for the financing of the partitions that have already been funded and installed. The senior reading partners program meets during, not after, the school day.
Our focus on reading and writing mirrors the work that is going on across the county and the large investment the school system and the county commissioners have made in our reading program.
The success of Dr. James Craik during the past several years is a tribute to each student, parent and staff member who has been a part of this school community. We will continue to work to meet the goals of the school system's five-year plan and to ensure success for all students.
Thank you again for featuring Dr. James Craik and our recent school improvement award from the state.
Waste Facility Questioned
On Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Carter State Office Building, Leonardtown (second-floor public meeting room), the St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners will conduct a public hearing on a proposal to amend the Solid Waste Management Plan.
The proposed amendment would allow Waste Management of Maryland Inc. to establish a solid waste transfer station and material recovery facility in Charlotte Hall. A transfer station is where trash, garbage and other refuse is transferred from smaller collection vehicles (e.g., compactor trucks) into larger transport vehicles (e.g., tractor trailers) for movement to disposal areas, usually landfills. A material recover facility is where materials are extracted, by hand or machinery, from the trash, garbage and other refuse for reuse or recycling.
Both of these operations are considered to be industrial and hazardous in nature, and produce a local environment of air pollution, noxious odors, high equipment/machinery noise levels, heavy truck traffic and noise, toxic leachate, litter, pests, and exposure to potential pathogens in the waste.
It is the province of government to protect the general health, safety and welfare of the people. Normally, whenever it is reasonable and cost-effective, I am in favor of the private sector providing public services under government oversight and regulation. However, for the following reasons, I am strongly opposed to Waste Management's proposal:
1. Solid waste disposal is an essential public service with serious potential consequences to public health and the environment. As such, it is rightfully a government function and should not be entrusted to a private company, whose first priority is profit.
2. Solid waste management should be approached from a regional, not county-by-county, perspective. A tri-county public service utility, such as the Midshore Regional Recycling Program on the Eastern Shore or the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, should be created in Southern Maryland. I would be in favor of a government-owned and -operated solid waste transfer/materials recovery/recycling facility to serve the tri-county area, with contractors providing solid waste transportation services. Exclusive government ownership and operation would preclude the importation of out-of-region solid and hazardous wastes.
3. The private ownership and operation of solid waste landfills, rubble fills, transfer stations, and material recovery facilities (except for presorted recycling centers) should be prohibited in order to protect the public and the environment.
4. If Waste Management's proposal is approved, this company will be granted a virtual monopoly over local solid waste collection, recycling and disposal, and local citizens and businesses will be economically defenseless against its price-structure whims.
5. Waste Management's public record of regulatory and legal violations casts serious doubts upon its trustworthiness. These doubts are compounded by the presence within Waste Management's local supervisors of the former manager of St. Mary's Disposal, whose owners recently pleaded guilty to corruption charges in federal court.
6. Waste Management's proposed site in Charlotte Hall, in combination with a retail plaza and commercial park, is totally inappropriate for an industrial operation of this nature. The site fails to meet even the most common sense of siting criteria.
7. Any self-serving assurances by Waste Management personnel and its hired consultants, or guarantees by state and county officials that Waste Management's operations will be closely monitored and regulated to protect the public, should be regarded as utterly worthless, considering the history and lessons-learned from the St. Mary's Disposal experience.
If the St. Mary's County government is going to cease operating a public landfill as a public service, then the need for a solid waste transfer station, with or without materials recovery, is self-evident. However, in my opinion, it would be foolhardy and irresponsible on the part of the county commissioners to depend upon Waste Management of Maryland Inc. to provide this public service.
I encourage all concerned citizens to attend the Nov. 9 public hearing and to voice their opposition to this proposal by their presence, or to do so in writing to the county commissioners.
Cheerful Cleanup of Nicolet
On Saturday, October 23rd, the normally deserted Nicolet Park in downtown Lexington Park was alive with voices and groups of volunteers combing the beautiful woodland for trash. Someone has found a tire and wants to know what to do with it, since it's too big to go in the trash bag. Others have already filled their trash bags and are calling for new ones.
Shouts and grunts emerge from several teenage boys heaving an old refrigerator door up out of the dead leaves, as another volunteer happily seizes on an abandoned shopping cart. It will be useful for transporting trash to one of the park entrances for later pickup. Others voice disgust at what some people throw away and vow never to litter themselves. Others admire the fall colors and the graceful shapes of the tall, 80-year-old oak trees.
Over 75 participants worked in small groups, each with a leader; children were instructed to leave glass and other sharp, dangerous objects alone, concentrating on cans, bottles, cardboard, plastic bags and the like. The "glass specialists" were armed with shovels, plastic buckets, and special thick gloves. Among the largest items recovered were three couches, the refrigerator door, a vacuum cleaner, a motor block and several shopping carts.
After about two hours the cleanup, sponsored by the Interfaith Environmental Group of St. Mary's County, moved into its second phase: Forty of the volunteers gathered in the cleared area of the park near Midway Drive for a picnic. We formed a large circle, listened to announcements, and gave ourselves a big cheer.
After a blessing from the Rev. Charles Demere of St. Mary's Parish, founder of the Interfaith Group, we shared snacks and soft drinks, bread, cheese, covered dishes and hot dogs, expertly grilled by local environmental educator Bob Boxwell. Townspeople, church people, local teenagers and college students mingled, chatted and swapped stories with obvious enjoyment.
Despite the chilly wind, we felt the glow of having made our part of the world a little safer and more beautiful. We had begun the revitalization of Nicolet Park, a resource much too strategically located and beautiful to go unused.
Volunteers repeatedly said they didn't even know there was a park in downtown Lexington Park, let alone such a beautiful one. The St. Mary's College students, particularly, were quick to pick up on the social significance of making it a resource again for the many neighboring families who cannot easily drive to some far-away scenic spot.
We hope that, in cooperation with the community, a safe, securely fenced playground might be built here for the many young children in the area. The trails already running through this lovely woodland could be neatened up and extended for walking and jogging, and a picnic shelter would draw families from around the county. . . .
Unreported Side of FSCC
In response to [the] article on the Federation of Southern Calvert Communities in the Southern Maryland Notebook Sept. 30, I wish to be heard on this newly controversial subject. I had been a member of the Chesapeake Ranch Club (CRC), now Chesapeake Ranch Estates (CRE), since November 1958. . . . I lived in CRC, now CRE, from 1980 to 1998, was a member of the CRE Board of Directors 1990 to 1996, was member and secretary Board of Directors Chesapeake Ranch Water Company 1982 to 1996 and representative and treasurer of the Federation of Southern Calvert Communities (FSCC) 1993 to 1998.
I am now a resident of St. Mary's County, having retired from civic activities in 1998; and have moved to Wildewood Senior Center in California, Md.
The reports in [the] article truly amaze me. [The reporter] apparently interviewed a Mrs. Sharon Dryman of Drum Point, who reported that her husband canvassed 120 other households in Drum Point, and none of their residents knew the FSCC. Did they not know that, with their money, their homeowners association has been paying FSCC dues of $200 every year since 1988? That is $2,200 total. And they don't know the FSCC? Come on! Did [the reporter] ask any elected county officials who are responsible for the First District? [Commissioner] Pat Buehler? Apparently not. [Former commissioner] Hagner Mister? Apparently not. [Former commissioner] Mary Krug? Apparently not. Maryland House of Delegates Rep. Tony O'Donnell? Apparently not. Or did [the reporter] talk to the Drum Point representative on the FSCC? Apparently not. Did she learn that lobbying by the FSCC derailed the plan to build a big Chesapeake Bay ferry terminal in Solomons harbor, which would have massively tied up traffic on Route 760 every day? Apparently not. Did she learn that by lobbying the state legislature the FSCC made it possible for Calvert County to approve Special Taxing Districts where the needs for it could be proven? Apparently not.
I could go on and on. FSCC has done many things in Calvert County, for the benefit of the 15,000 more or less residents of the southern part of the county. However, from the above, you can see that sometimes even a good journalist can be misled by the voices of a few--a wrong few.
SIDNEY O. MARCUS JR.
Voting Records on Abortion
On July 23, 1998, the House of Representatives passed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, with 219 Republicans and 77 Democrats for and 132 Democrats, 8 Republicans and 1 independent against. On Oct. 21, 1999, the Senate voted on the ban, with 47 Republicans, 14 Democrats and 1 independent for and 31 Democrats and 3 Republicans against. Three Republicans didn't vote.
When 96 percent of Republican representatives vote for and 61 percent of Democrat representatives vote against a bill, it disproves the idea that there is no difference between the two parties. Also when 87 percent of Republican senators vote for and 69 percent of Democrat senators vote against, it also confirms that difference and shows which party is in favor of this barbaric procedure.
Please don't trust me. Check http://www.senate.gov/legislative/legis_act_rollcall.html to see how each senator voted and http://clerkweb.house.gov/evs/1999/index.asp to see how each representative voted.
Some people want us to believe that an unborn baby isn't a life. Instead of depending on our own imperfect reasoning, we can turn to God's wisdom. There are 22 times when the Bible refers to a pregnant woman as "with child." In Jeremiah 1:5, God said that He knew Jeremiah before He formed him in the womb, and sanctified him before he was born. And in Luke 1:44 "the babe leaped in my womb for joy." Although people may have different opinions about when life begins, God has the final word. Clearly, He says there is life after conception.
Although all abortions kill an unborn baby, a partial birth abortion is the most gruesome and is probably unnecessary. It is a three-step procedure with a choice at step 3. Step 1 is repositioning the unborn baby inside the woman so that the baby can be delivered feet first and face down. Step 2 is the partial delivery of the baby, leaving only the head inside the mother. Step 3A is to complete the delivery by pulling the baby's head out, resulting in a live baby. Step 3B is to insert scissors inside the back of the baby's neck while the head is still inside the mother. The baby's brains are sucked out, the skull is collapsed, and the delivery is then completed. Both steps 3A and 3B remove the baby from the mother's body, which removes the risk to her life.
If we believe that the main reason for a partial birth abortion is to save the mother's life, then we have to believe that completing the delivery with the baby's head intact is what will kill the mother. Steps 1 and 2 do not risk the mother's life. (It seems that the only reason for those two steps is to position the baby so that he or she can be killed.) It has to be the head passing through the birth canal that kills the mother. Does anyone really believe this? President Clinton does, has vetoed two bans, and will probably veto this one. Some senators and representatives also believe this, because they voted against this ban.
Some senators and representatives were in the awkward position of serving two masters, God and their party/constituents. Their vote on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban tells you if their first loyalty is to God or to their party and the assumed wishes of their constituents. If the latter is true, they have broken the First Commandment by putting their party and constituents before God. When we knowingly vote for pro-abortion candidates, we become accomplices in that sin.
I have good news for anyone (including congressmen and congresswomen) who has had a part in abortions or has been deceived into thinking abortions are not evil. God is loving, merciful and forgiving. If you are truly sorry for your part in abortions, He will forgive you.
Those who refuse to repent of that sin and who continue to support/promote abortions will one day stand before God and receive a righteous judgment for their part in that abomination. I'll pray that everyone makes the right decision about abortions and pro-abortion candidates.
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