Letters to the Editor

EDITOR'S NOTE: The River Reporter welcomes letters on all subjects from its readers. They must be signed and include the correspondent's phone number. The correspondent's name and town will appear at the bottom of each letter; titles and affiliations will not, unless the correspondent is writing on behalf of a group.

Letters are printed at the discretion of the editor. It is requested they be limited to 300 words; correspondents may be asked to cut longer letters. Deadline is 1:00 p.m. on Monday.

Letters can be sent by e-mail to editor@riverreporter.com

A re-vote might be a good idea

To the editor:

With the additional damning information gleaned from the March 3 hearings on casinos under Bonacic’s direction, people who care about their homes in the counties of Sullivan and Orange may rest assured that the Sullivan County Legislature was highly irresponsible in voting prematurely for Pataki’s “Five Fiasco.”

On the day of the vote, Legislator Ron Hiatt encouraged leaders to not rush into a “yes” decision before having substantial written information from all parties involved. Too many questions and concerns had been left to fester unanswered, agreed Kathy La Buda who moved to delay the vote. Chris Cunningham and Rodney Gaebel joined in the call to delay the vote until after the hearings, which would reveal essential information from experts. Hiatt and five of his colleagues cast their “yes” votes when the wait was denied.

Now that Bill Pammer, Sullivan County planner, Sam Yasgur, counsel for the legislature, and Steve Lungen, district attorney have spoken, anyone would reach the conclusion that we are in big trouble. The legislature should either revote or call for a county-wide binding referendum through voices of the electorate. Let our representatives, laden with questions, see the sense in the people’s vote.

I congratulate Barry Lewis for his March 10 article in the Times Herald Record, “Am I missing something here?” in which he asks the governor to sit him down as if he [Barry] were a four year old and to simply clarify the absurdity inherent in Pataki’s push for such a bill. How will his idea work given the information about insufficient funding, indemnification, filled to capacity schools, a Route 17 that will not be enlarged for many years, lack of housing for thousands of new workers and the promise of increased crime?

Chris Cunningham delivered an eloquent summation on the 6-3 day, stating he is not against casinos but rather the lack of information. Research is an essential factor in being informed; and then and only then comes the privilege to make an intelligent choice.

The article “Hindsight is 20/20” from the March 10 issue of the River Reporter is such an encouraging find. I have found such an editorial nowhere.

Linda Solcolaursh
Swan Lake, NY

Finding creative solutions

To the editor:

Regarding the overwhelming defeat of the proposed seventeen million dollar expansion project for Sullivan BOCES, Dr. Handler said in the last paragraph of the article written in the Times Herald Record of Friday, March 18 2005: “We’re going to have to go back and figure out how to educate the kids,” without the new space, Handler said.

My suggestion, as with many others in the county, is for him and his advisors to work with the other school boards in the western part of this county. Sullivan West has existing building space—a school building in Narrowsburg, which was renovated at a cost of millions to the taxpayers some five years ago, and is now running at low capacity with the risk of being closed.

It is irresponsible and a waste of good space and taxpayer’s money if those buildings become dormant without further investigation into those possibilities.

Anthony Ritter
Narrowsburg, NY

Sullivan West basketball is not sponsored by Landers

To the editor:

In response to a letter in the Sullivan County Democrat by Dawn Erlwein, I would like to clarify two points of misinformation that relates to our business. The Sullivan West boys’ 6th grade basketball team is not sponsored by Lander’s River Trips, but is a true Sullivan West basketball team. (They wear bulldogs on the shirts that each child purchased and represent the district in their games.) I volunteered to organize the activity and Mr. Derry approved it, provided no tax dollars were involved. Mr. Walsh and Mr. Ferragher volunteered to coach the boys and registration letters were then forwarded to all three elementary buildings. Every student that wanted to be a member of the team was included and they just ended their season with a parent versus student basketball game and pizza party. They had a very successful season (11-2 record) and played Damascus, Roscoe, Honesdale and Eldred. I do hope that next year we also are able to have a sixth grade team.

In response to the SW soccer dome team, there isn’t any that I am aware of. There are a group of friends, in grades four through six, who decided after soccer season that they wanted the season to continue. They got together and Lander’s River Trips purchased their shirts (no bulldogs involved) and they do play at the soccer dome near Scranton. Each child is responsible for his/her registration fee and we have a parent coach. The soccer dome is open to any and all students that wish to increase their soccer abilities. There are other SW students that play on different teams at the dome.

I have spoken with Mrs. Erlwein and she has apologized. I do hope this clarifies the statements in the article.

Lisa Lander
Narrowsburg, NY

Looking for accountability and a good education

To the editor:

I just received an invitation to come and help with the school budget. I just want to respond, by saying “Sorry I can’t make it; I’ve got to work to pay my taxes.”

I’m spending how much a year to have someone do the business of administration for the school? I realize the only reason you’re inviting me is to have someone else to blame for the troubles you’re in. You’ll have your meeting, talk for a few hours and print in the paper what happened. Then you’ll raise the budget and tell us we didn’t come up with any ideas or any that would work.

In the real world, people in business charge for services by what the market is willing to pay for that service. The schools tell us what we’re willing to spend and we pay or you take our house. For the school district, the problem isn’t how much we’re taxed. We’re already paying too much for too little. The district needs to spend less.

In my business, if income goes down and I want to still pay my bills, I spend less. I can’t expect my clients to make up the difference. They have a choice of providers for service. Now if we had school choice instead of the socialized educations system that we have now, then I would feel empowered to work on the schools issues. It would be my school of choice.

As you should know, personnel is the most expensive part of business. Instead of a few administrators spending a lot—get one who can budget. Teachers may need to be let go, like the ones who call our children idiots and stupid. Buildings are not as important as the tax bill of the locals.

I know we can’t undo what is done, but it was better when we were smaller and had a little more accountability and community. No one really cares what we think, they just want us to think they care.

Timothy Morse
Narrowsburg, NY

Suggestions for Sullivan West

To the editor:

Since Mr. Handler chose to ignore me Thursday night at the Sullivan West Board meeting, the public will hear me one way or another! I will be heard, Sir!

Restructure? No! Not on your terms! Selling off the Narrowsburg and D.V. buildings would be very irresponsible. In a very short time, not only would we be facing a growth period from new construction and sales in every area of our district, but if Mr. Pataki has his way, the growth rate in enrollment will be spiraling and we’d be faced with building another new school, as there would be no extra room to fall back on.

Now! Suggestion – why can’t the 7th and 8th graders that are currently in Jeffersonville be returned to their respective schools and if needed the seventh and sixth grades of Jeffersonville could be transferred to the high school?

Rent out Jeff school and the Youngsville school to BOCES. It’s closer for them, and with the failure of Mr. Handler’s vote, he may be thinking differently, right now! It could reap monies from two schools plus a huge savings on buses.

Didn’t BOCES rent Youngsville School as an additional space a few years ago? I believe they did, right after Youngsville merged with Jeffersonville.

Also, there’s the matter of an empty bus garage in Narrowsburg, just taking up space and absorbing sunshine! Rent it out to the bus company. Currently, the buses are sitting outside in the weather, rusting and needing warm-up time as well as de-icing in the winter. Result? More income!!!

It was asked by one Narrowsburg resident last night, how long would a bus ride be from Beaver Brook to Jeffersonville for the kindergarten through sixth grade students? She was not answered. I would like to answer that. Approximately one hour and 15 minutes, to one and a half hours, one way, including stops. This would put children on that bus for two and a half to three hours daily! Teachers would just love handling crying, tired, kindergarten, first and second grade students, now, wouldn’t they? Just how much time is there left for an education?

I believe I read, or heard, at one time or another, that a child is supposed to have around five or five and a half hours of instruction daily on full school days.

Homework for the students as far as time goes would be prohibitive.

I think, it is recommended that at most, a child can have a half hour of homework per each grade level. When would these children have time?

You complain of obese children. Would they have time to play outside at all? Oh! That five to five-and-a-half hours of education, has to be figured minus any lunch or recess time! They couldn’t possibly keep up enough to pass the grade.

Now, I ask all of you, is this really what you want, if that child were yours?

I’m sure Delaware Valley would have the same problems with the travel time, although I have not taken out the routes to figure theirs out. Sorry.

You see, Mr. Sandler, I’m not out to embarrass anyone, or point toward anyone for blame. I just want to be heard!

Maybe, the next time the chair will recognize a raised hand instead of ignoring it!

Flo Graham
Narrowsburg, NY

Protecting our quality of life is ever vigilance

To the editor:

There is urgent concern regarding the property in Narrowsburg owned by Steve Sklar. It seems Steve has a new partner in his property, Mr. Gestetner.

At the town meeting of 21 February, Steve’s partner, Mr. Gestetner, was asked directly about the intended use of the property such as how would they be breaking up the lots, and for what purpose. Mr. Gestetner had a difficult time coming up with clear answers. Steve Sklar’s responses as to the intended use of the property were inconsistent as well.

Many questions must be answered: Are there written plans and drawings? Will all 240 acres be developed? Will this property become a religious retreat or bungalow colony? Will the property become a camp? Will the property come off the tax rolls and become tax exempt? How will this development affect traffic flow? What additional demands will the development put on our community services?

There are also important environmental issues to consider, such as wetland restrictions, and the displacement of our wonderful wildlife. Irresponsible development of this property raises the specter of destroying the habitat of endangered species.

As part of this special town we are all stewards, with the responsibility to help preserve the peace, tranquility, and integrity of our beautiful hamlet!!

We urge you to attend all future meetings about the proposed development by Steve Sklar and his new partner, Mr. Gestetner. If you are not involved in the process, you will have nothing to say. Let your voice be heard! Remember, these could be your tax dollars spent!

Susie Forzano and Richard Norton
Narrowsburg, NY

Let’s not forget our troops

To the editor:

I wish to thank everyone who attended the ceremony held by Waynepeace, honoring the fallen troops on Saturday, March 19, the second anniversary of the start of war with Iraq. Approximately 1,800 names were read non-stop for an hour and a half starting at noon. The list included U.S. troops who gave their lives in Afghanistan and coalition troops who have died in Iraq. It did not include the estimated 100,000 Iraqis dead, up to 19,432 civilians, or the 11,344 wounded U.S. troops, the official number from our government as of March 18.

The people attending the ceremony took turns reading the names. Wayne Peace and American Legion member Chuck Heyn spoke movingly at the end about the tragic reception Viet Nam veterans met upon their return from that war and how they have suffered homelessness, suicide attempts and neglect. Heyn served as a medic in that war. Bob Simons then played taps. The sound filled all of Honesdale’s Central Park.

I had the task of printing out the names so they could be read that day. It was a sobering experience watching page after page come out of my printer, each name representing a human being loved by parents, and in many cases, husbands, wives and children.

I need to say this: our soldiers and the people they are fighting are being poisoned by radioactive uranium 238, otherwise known as depleted uranium used in U.S. munitions and armor. This stuff is deadly and illegal under the rules of war. Its use is an act of terror and will haunt our troops for the rest of their lives, and thus should haunt the rest of us here at home. It was used in Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan and in the two Iraq wars. We are waging nuclear war by stealth. The recruiters don’t know or don’t tell our children this.

Katharine Dodge
Lake Ariel, PA

Liberty and justice for all

To the editor:

The President’s budget is now before Congress. Previously our President gave huge tax cuts that benefited the very wealthy and large corporations. These tax cuts created a loss of revenue and, coupled with the cost of the Iraq war, have created huge deficits. The new budget seeks to make the tax cuts for the rich permanent. It also calls for large cuts in spending for Medicaid, a program that serves senior citizens and the working poor. The budget slashes education funding, especially funds for middle class and low income Americans. It will be much harder for moderate-income Americans to afford college for their children. Even Homeland Security, grants for firemen and policemen—our first responders are cut. So, the rich will pay fewer taxes; the middle income and poor of our country will have less services and programs. The deficit will grow. Is this fair? Is this right? I ask our government to be fair to all her people. We have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Let the budget reflect this.

Judy A. Hildebrand
North Branch, NY

How many lives does peace cost

To the editor:

Last Saturday, March 19 was the second anniversary of our invasion of Iraq. Nearly 40 persons, among them war veterans, turned out in Honesdale’s Central Park to honor those coalition soldiers who have died in the Iraq war and in Afghanistan. Eighteen hundred names were read outloud at the ceremony sponsored by Wayne Peace. Also noted on the podium, there also were 100,000 Iraqis dead, including nearly 20,000 Iraqi civilians. Do you understand those numbers? Their total is more than those killed in Hiroshima, as I remember. Each one, of course, comes from a family who loved them.

Surprisingly though, I did not feel deeply moved until it was my turn to read some of the names. As I began realizing that these young men and women whose names I read were all victims of the war, I reflected on that truly tragic loss. In reading several names, I found it difficult to do so without my voice breaking in sadness.

Are things turning around in Iraq? Or are we setting up permanent bases there and becoming mired in a “policing” action that is due to last many years, with many more casualties? Personally, I hope and pray for the former, yet I fear the latter.

Two years ago, President Bush was determined to have this war, despite strong evidence from the U.S. and the world community that Afghanistan and bin Laden were where his efforts should be focused, not Iraq. May he be moved now with equal determination to seek peace and resolution.

John Miller
Honesdale, PA

Killing trees is hazardous to our health

To the editor:

Don’t we remember God’s promise? Remember the rainbow? Sure God won’t have to flood us, we’re doing a pretty good job of that ourselves. Well, let’s do a flashback.

At the time of the Flood of ’55, hadn’t this area been logged out? If we keep up at the rate we are going, clear cutting, black topping, building things nobody ever uses it looks like dangerous flooding will happen again. Back, you know when, the valley was full of trees, even just dirt and grass. What was already here could suck up whatever the skies sent down. But now the forests are just supersaturated. There are no roots of anything to suck up the water. We are so foolish. If rocks could absorb the runoff water then I could see putting them along sides of the roads. But I do believe grass and dirt do a much better job!

Help each other, help the forests, help the animals. Let’s live together. I like taking in a full breath of air. Which we will not have much more of if we keep killing trees and blacktopping. Stop killing each other, for soon we will kill ourselves.

Wendy S. Lynn
Rowlands, PA