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Letters to the Editor

August 07, 1998

To the editor:

I would like to start the letter by getting right to the point. My husband is not a child abuser. They have one of the closest relationships between a father and son that you would ever want to see.

He agrees that the way he talks to him on occasion is too harsh but he now says "I have been talking to him like he's a man and now I realize he's only 11 years old." He also hopes this will set a example for other fathers. Chris just wants the best for Jeremy.

Jeremy is a very talented ball player. Last summer when the story was filmed Jeremy was 10 years old playing with 9- 12-year-olds. He batted fourth in the league with a .548 average. So maybe Chris being tough on him isn't all wrong.

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Now let me tell you about ABC. They approached me the first day they were there because Jeremy was pitching and doing a very good job at it. Then they talked to Chris and found out how close they were.

They asked permission to follow Chris and Jeremy because they said the story was about baseball and families. They went to Jeremy's school, back yard practices, a fishing trip and even went to work with Chris. This was filmed all summer and towards the end of the summer they heard this one bad moment and knew they could capitalize on it at our expense. My family did not deserve that. And if Peter Jennings was so concerned why didn't he do something a year ago?

I also would like to thank everyone that supported us through this, especially our friends at National Little League. And to the people that called and threatened my husband, they probably have worse skeletons in their closet.

And to end this letter we just came home from a All-Star game that we won. Jeremy had a single, double and home run. So he's not letting the story get to him. He's a great kid. I also have a great husband and daughter.

Lisa McAfee

Hagerstown

To the editor:

It is my opinion that the mayor and city council of Hagerstown are getting bad advice from their lawyer on the subject of the roundhouse. They are being frightened to death by legal issues that are far less serious than they and we have been lead to believe.

The big concern seems to be environmental issues, a concern for what is in the ground underneath the roundhouse. We don't have an environmental report (or at least a current one), but we can make some excellent educated guesses.

The first thing we can do is omit concerns about asbestos. This rather nasty material was used in steam locomotives for insulating the boilers, and is also present in the building and some machinery for the same purpose. But this material also has to be removed whether the building is torn down or saved; in this regard, it doesn't matter that it is there, it still has to come out. In fact, I suspect this is the reason demolition would cost twice that of the cleanup proposal.

Anything else in the building will be related to the activities that took place in it. What did Hagerstown residents do there?

For the first 50 years or so, they serviced and repaired steam locomotives. This involved working in metals, mostly iron, brass, and babbit alloys in bearings (which are mostly tin). There would also be some greases, machine oil, and some valve oil. There would also have been water, some of which may have had water softeners added.

After steam was gone, Hagerstown's railroaders would have been servicing diesel locomotives. There might be some more metals (iron, brass, etc.), and perhaps a bit of copper (from the diesel's electric transmission system). All of these would be extremely minor compared to spilled lubricants and diesel fuel. Spilled coolant is not a problem; diesel locomotives used (and still use) straight water for cooling. In fact, the greatest amount of dirt in the roundhouse today isn't from anything spilled on its cement floor; it is a sticky layer of diesel exhaust that covers much of the floor and other things, like what you would find in a truck or bus garage that had poor ventilation.

That's basically what we have - a garage for locomotives. If the mayor, city council, and its lawyer are afraid of this, then they are afraid of every gas station, convenience store, car wash, garage, and truck stop.

As to the liability conditions of the railroad, I believe their main concern is that of injuries by fools to themselves on the property. People have done some dumb things, like drive down an abandoned road bed in a four-wheel drive vehicle and crash into a creek at night where a bridge had been removed, or get drunk and stumble off an abandoned bridge into the Potomac - and then sued the "rich" railroad, either by themselves or through their survivors.

In short, I believe the Hagerstown city management should get behind the railroad enthusiasts on this. They have done a tremendous job against very long odds. It's been a much greater challenge than backing any sports team, and it sure beats being remembered in a song that talks about closed drugstores, stretch pants, and beehive hairdos.

David P. Lubic

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