Letters to the Editor week of 02-14-08

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Righting a wrong

Dear Editor:

As high school teachers, my wife and I hear our fair share of rumors in the hallways. The high school gossip mill is wildly efficient – able to spread information from one end of school to the other in a mere passing period.

Last week the gossip mill went mainstream when the latest school rumor masqueraded itself as fact and somehow found its way into the local newspaper. The February 7th letter to the editor entitled “Homecoming Queen” depicted an enraged Mrs. Haskell throwing a fit following the crowning of Brittany Hankins as Homecoming Queen.

The letter was eloquent. It was passionate. It was grammatically correct. In fact, the only thing it lacked was truth.

Tammy and I watched the homecoming ceremony from the front doors of the gym, alongside Mrs. Haskell. When the ceremony ended, we exchanged pleasantries with Mrs. Haskell and she walked to her office. There was no storming out of the gym. No posters were harmed.

By now, most students have read the “Homecoming Queen” letter and moved on to a newer, juicier piece of gossip. Such is the nature of high school rumors. Today’s outrage is tomorrow’s afterthought.

However, the public does not always move so fast. The students’ letter to the editor was irresponsible at best and slanderous at worst. It is our hope that the community understands that this situation was a misunderstanding of facts and knows that the faculty and administration applaud our student body for their accomplishments.

Travis and Tammy Martin

Switzerland County High School

Peaceful place

Dear Editor:

Last summer, my wife and I moved to Vevay because it still has what so many other communities are losing, have already lost, or seem all too willing to throw away: a clean rural environment, a lack of traffic congestion, and plain old-fashioned peace and quiet. When we are asked why we moved here and we give these reasons, some Vevay residents look at us funny and wonder if we have lost our minds. We don’t think so. We like peace and quiet.

We used to live in a beautiful place that doesn’t exist anymore. Over the last 15 years we watched the Pennsylvania countryside fill up with subdivisions, the highways and interstates widen, and the flow of traffic steadily increase. For us, the last straw came when a gravel pit and cement plant opened up less than a mile from our house. Overnight, what had once been a quiet, residential street on the edge of town turned into a 12 hour a day construction freeway. On the average 40 trucks per hour drove past our house. The dirt was so bad we stopped using our front door. The noise was so irritating I stopped working in my backyard garden.

We are distressed and dismayed to learn that the Switzerland County Commissioners think a concrete plant “too dirty” for an industrial park, but suitable at the edge of town. Main Street in Vevay stands to lose all the admirable qualities that its merchants have worked so hard to achieve. In her February 7th letter to the editor Martha Bladen states that tourism is an important part of the Vevay economy, and she is right. The American economy is changing. In the long run, tourism will generate more local revenue than local industry. Fill up Main Street with truck and noise and dirt, and the tourists will go somewhere else.

Joni Mitchell said it best – “Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you got till it’s gone / They paved paradise and put up a parkin’ lot.”

Jane and Bill Richardson

Vevay

Fire concerns

To the Editor:

This is in response to the last two week’s letters to the editor regarding fire protection. We, too, have concerns regarding this fire. As HL being a former firefighter for many years, we understand that it is almost impossible to save anything from a house fire that is totally involved. But when the call was called in to 999, there was heavy smoke, no visible fire coming from the house. This is factual, HL among many others, were there at that time.

To my understanding Markland Town Road is plotted off to Jeff-Craig Fire Department. So my question is, why was Jeff-Craig not dispatched to the scene first? If it came up on the 911 dispatch computer screen as Jeff-Craig then why was East Enterprise Volunteer Fire Department called first? Jeff-Craig being seven miles away and East Enterprise 15 miles away.

I agree that in a fire every minute counts, which takes me to the next fact. A member of Jeff-Craig Fire Department heard the dispatch, drove his personal vehicle to the scene, then drove back to Vevay, got a fire truck and came back to the fire, arriving there at the same time as EEVFD or Florence Fire Department’s first truck. According to last week’s letter to the editor the Florence Fire Department’s time was 14 minutes. So in 14 minutes the Jeff-Craig Fire Department member made two trips to the scene.

Had it been paged out as plotted, there would not have been all those wasted minutes, and as it’s been stated, every minute counts. Maybe if we had those minutes, my beloved pets could have been saved and maybe the elderly man that lived next door could be sleeping in his own home or maybe even w e could have had more belongings than just a few burned pictures that I can hold in one hand. This concerned me so I called Switzerland County Dispatch to get the actual dispatch times, but as of today, no one has bothered to return my calls.

The actual 911 call assumingly stated “house totally involved” but the actual dispatch screen assumingly said Jeff-Craig Fire Department to be dispatched. So, again, why was EEVFD dispatched? Favoritism?

This is not about relationships between fire departments. It’s more about what if I had kids or any human inside the house instead of pets? Who would be liable? The dispatch that might have made a bad call? Or the fire departments? Or maybe it would be the landowner and tenants left holding the bag. I think this situation should be a concern to everyone. Is it going to take loss of life to fix this? Isn’t it enough that an entire family lost their entire life history, past and present, and an elderly man also lost his home due to lack of communication or other reasons that I would be interested in hearing.

One last thing, to the EEVFD/Florence/York Township Fire Department member that publicly quoted me as saying I did not want Jeff-Craig Fire Department at my fire, that was an outright lie and I don’t appreciate it. I just lost my home, my pets and everything I owned. I do not want or need the immature drama that caused. Nothing personal against any other fire departments, with a few exceptions, I think you guys make this community proud. But one reason we moved back into Vevay town limits is because we know for sure we are in Jeff-Craig Fire Department’s area and in a crisis, Jeff-Craig is who I want called to my scene, but the question is, do I call the fire department personally or hope dispatch calls the one it’s plotted to?

Bev and HL Gullion

Vevay

In support

To the Editor:

After reading last week’s letter to the editor regarding negativity surrounding Brittany Hankins being named Homecoming Queen, I was very upset. The intention of my response is not to point fingers nor to make assumptions, but rather to point out what the controversy is really doing. It is casting a shadow over a high point in Brittany’s high school experience. This negative attention is in no way deserved.

Brittany is a beautiful person both inside and out. She is artistic and has a style that makes her shine and stand out above the crowd. Brittany looked beautiful in her homecoming outfit and her hair was also styled beautifully. Brittany has been coloring her hair since the beginning of the school year. It was pink for a while and then she changed it to purple several weeks ago. It should not have been a surprise to anyone that her hair is colored. They have been seeing it every day for the entire school year.

Brittany chose her shoes because they fit her personality. Then she searched for the perfect dress to match her shoes. That outfit was perfect, and it fit her personality perfectly as well. When Brittany walked onto the gym floor her smile, hair and outfit were dazzling. She was named Homecoming Queen through a majority vote of the student body. It was a vote that was well deserved.

I am extremely proud of Brittany. She has grown into a beautiful, intelligent and responsible individual. The school is very fortunate to have her as a representative and I am very proud to have her as my niece.

Bobbi King-Marksberry

Vevay

Concrete plant

To the Editor,

Thanks to everyone who took the time to attend the county Board of Commissioners meeting February 4th in reference to the zoning change for a concrete plant at 115 Highway 156. But, in spite of a great turn-out, this isn’t over. The commissioners will address this proposed zoning change again at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, February 19th, at 8:30 a.m.

The commissioners have requested information from Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) regarding the traffic concerns voiced by residents who live on and travel Highway 156 and Tapps Ridge. At this time an environmental impact study has still not been done, nor has one been ordered by the commissioners. Anyone worried about traffic, environmental or property values needs to be at the February 19th meeting to insure the commissioners are aware of their concerns.

It sounds like the concrete plant is a done deal – it is just a matter of where it will end up. So far all locations proposed have been on or near creeks and have been off Highway 156 with less than adequate visibility where they will enter 156. It is up to the residents of Switzerland County to demand that all necessary studies are made and road conditions are corrected to make them more than adequate for the additional traffic before the plant opens. Pollution, dust, noise and the wear additional heavy truck traffic will cause on Highway 156 must be considered and adequately addressed. With resident support, the commissioners could make these concerns a stipulation to any location with a zoning change request.

Don’t sit back and let others deal with this for you. If you can’t make it to the Tuesday morning meeting, send a letter with a friend or family member. The meeting is Tuesday, February 19th, at 8:30 a.m. at the Switzerland County Courthouse in Vevay.

Valarie Bennett

Florence

Neighborhood watch

To the Editor:

“Neighborhood Watch” can be of great service whether organized or on an individual basis.

Recently someone shot at an ornamental glass dome in our yard with a .177 pellet gun. Also the windshield of our van was hit. I know the caliber because I found two pellets.

In addition, the front tires of the van were punctured on the sidewalls (which cannot be patched), and we had to buy two new tires and discard two perfectly good tread tires.

Bill Wiseman

Near Vevay

Homecoming queen

Dear Editor:

I would like to congratulate Meghan Fugate and Kathy Rugg for their letter to the editor concerning Brittany Hankins, the 2008 Homecoming Queen.

I don’t know either of the girls. Thank you so much girls for sticking up for what is right even though you are seniors and Mrs. Haskell is your principal.

Shame on you, Mrs. Haskell. You are to be an example for your students. What kind of example are you?

I don’t believe you belong in a position such as principal. You had no right to rip Brittany’s posters up in a fit of rage.

Brittany was very happy to be chosen as one of the Homecoming candidates.

She was very excited when the found “the perfect shoes” and then she found “the perfect dress” to match the shoes. She had “dress rehearsal” for us at a family celebration. We all loved how cute she looked in her formal attire – yes, formal attire. Not all formal attire is the same.

Brittany’s dress and shoes were different, but still formal attire. Her hair was beautiful lavender curls.

Just what exactly did you mean, Mrs. Haskell, when you said, “Someone like Brittany should not be representing our school.”

Someone like you should not be representing our school.

I agree with the girls . . . you should apologize to Brittany and all of the “guests.”

My health isn’t good any more and I really wanted to see the Homecoming contest. My daughter took me in a wheelchair. I was so excited when Brittany won. She was chosen by her fellow students.

You, Mrs. Haskell, are trying to take my joy away. Well, it won’t work. I feel sorry for you. If you took time to know Brittany you would know that “someone like her” should be representing our school. She is a wonderful girl.

I am very proud atop be Brittany’s grandmother.

Joan King

Vevay