Letters to the editor March 22

Storms bring out local heroes

Two major storms turned several towns in Sullivan County to disaster areas. Heavy wet snow, sometimes 18 inches deep, fell on the area. This followed a period of warm spring weather and soft ground. The “Perfect Storm.”

Fallen trees and branches, downed power lines, inaccessible roads and the heavy wet snow created a disaster scenario for all residents in these areas of Sullivan County.

Here come the real heroes: hundreds of volunteer firefighters. They are your neighbors, your friends, someone you see in the supermarket, at the gas station. They are living the same disaster scenario you are. Their homes are in the dark, they have no TV or internet, showers or hot water. Except they are providing you with shelter, food, heat, dry ice, and almost any other assistance you might need. They are responding to every emergency call: tree down, wires down, car accidents, structure fires. Their spouses and children are with them, helping to make meals and doing whatever needs to be done.

As a fire commissioner, I am so proud of the volunteers in my district. They kept track of every resident, visited every home, checked on every senior citizen. They assisted anyone that needed to come to the firehouse for a warm respite, a good meal, a hot shower. They made sure those with generators were safe in their homes, had enough food and water. They kept the community informed of utility updates and in many case the lack of updates, and they didn’t stop for several days

Regardless of where you live in Sullivan County, be proud of the efforts above and beyond, provided by your volunteer firefighters. Consider joining them and above all please support them.

Proud to be a volunteer firefighter,

Alan Kesten

Sullivan County Coroner
Past Chief, Monticello Fire Department
Vice Chairman, Forestburgh Fire District
Monticello, NY

America’s ally, Israel

Recently Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference in Washington, DC about the strong bond between Israel and the U.S. He also gave a warning about the danger of a nuclear Iran and stated: “It is especially great to be in America’s capital now that it’s acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Thank you, President Trump, for that historic decision.” He also praised the Trump administration for reinforcing that move with the relocation of America’s embassy, and quoted from the book of Esther about how an earlier Persian (now called Iran) named Haman attempted to exterminate the Jewish people but failed then and will fail again.

Netanyahu warned about “radical tyranny” as the force behind Tehran’s quest to build an “aggressive empire” that includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and more—all seek Israel’s destruction. He also condemned President Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and said Iran is looking for ways to attack Israel. Iran has moved [its] military to Syria to be able to attack Israel and is developing precision-guided missile factories in Syria and Lebanon against Israel. “I will not let that happen.” Congressional support was also clear at AIPAC: “Security of the U.S. is strong when our bond with Israel is strong,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says it’s a different story in the classroom. “I am deeply concerned about what is happening in many college campuses and anti-Semitism.” The Bible tells us that Israel is the apple of God’s eye and all who bless Israel will be blessed.

John “JP” Pasquale
Livingston Manor, NY

Is 21 the right age?

One teenage criminal murders 17 in Florida. Law enforcement had at least one credible eyewitness, reporting of a direct threat of serious physical injury capable of causing death with a gun. Probable cause, but no action.

The state of Florida’s response: make it illegal for every other 18- to 20-year-old lawful sportsperson/hunter to purchase rifles. No matter how reasonable that may sound, or the political winds blow, it is not a reasonable restriction.

The only way it could seem remotely reasonable is if we prevented 18- to 20-year-olds from many other activities permitted at 16 to 20. Fighting our wars being the most obvious. “Old enough kill, old enough to vote.” We wouldn’t suggest taking their vote. Should 25 be the age of adulthood? The age drivers become “safer” and we no longer have a “teenage brain?”

“School shootings are extraordinarily rare. Why is fear of them driving policy?” writes Harvard’s David Ropeik on March 8. “The statistical likelihood of any public school student on any given day being killed with a gun in school since 1999 is roughly 1 in 614,000,000. Far lower than almost any other mortality risk a kid faces.”

Eric Levitz writes on March 1 in New York Magazine, “No epidemic of mass school shootings... there’s more risk to life whenever they ride in a car, swim in a pool, or put food in their mouth. An American lifetime odds of dying in a mass shooting in any location is 1 in 11,125. Criminal victimization in school has collapsed in tandem with overall crime rates.”

Rifles of any type are used in less than 3% of all murders nationwide.

This may do nothing to console or ease fears. It may be considered unnecessary or irrelevant. The Bill of Rights is not.

Timothy J. Manzolillo
Cochecton, NY


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