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Letters to the Editor

April 22, 1999

Down with cell phone towers

To the editor:

During recent years there has been a marked and rapid increase in the number of tall, blinking cellular communications towers. These dominant and obtrusive structures dot the landscape along previously scenic highways. To improve remote area reception, they are gradually but determinedly cluttering even remote wilderness areas.

Many of us have not been aware of the gradual intrusion on land that had a pristine quality. A drive along the Interstate 70 and 81 corridors quickly reveals the constantly blinking monstrosities. Unrestrained, they will clutter all of our favorite scenery.

What can jurisdictions do to protect our vanishing scenery?

1. They might declare such towers to be non-essential. In so doing, local government can impose zoning requirements and require posted public permits on their construction sites. Apparently, cell towers are currently considered essential in the State of Maryland. As an essential utility, they can be constructed anywhere without the zoning approval of the local community.

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2. Cellular communications may be required to combine with existing utilities. They may share towers with power companies, tall buildings or water towers.

3. Some jurisdictions require cellular communications towers to be camouflaged. They may be made to look like trees or natural formations.

4. To limit the number of structures, there may be requirements to share communications tower space. This might prevent the intrusion of multiple towers by multiple companies.

As a concerned citizen and taxpayer, it seems obvious that we have done little to protect the beauty of our landscape from this type of intrusion. No doubt, there is big money in cellular communications. With such money comes influential power to overrule and prevent the protective actions of those who care.

This problem came to the forefront of my awareness, when a neighbor asked me what the construction involved adjacent to our community. Such can and probably will happen to you and your communication unless there are some reasonable restrictions.

Yes, this information is being forwarded to our local and state representatives. However, one voice means little. A silent majority will be trampled under the feet of these wealthy communications giants.

Red Reed

Hagerstown

Suffering must end

To the editor:

Shame on Judge Jessica Cooper and the Pontiac, Mich., jury that found Dr. Jack Kevorkian guilty of murder.

I realize that there are both religious and political overtones regarding this matter, but when will the medical, legal and religious professions as well as society as a whole come to its senses?

Why is it that we can euthanasize animals and call it "humane," while we allow humans to suffer needlessly? It is not my intention to promote suicide, but to reduce pain and suffering.

The vast majority of medical expenses in a person's life occur in their last six months. Will it take the power and political clout of managed medical care and the insurance industry to enter the picture and change the way we view the dignity and expense of both life and death? Most physicians still under-medicate terminally ill patients out of fear of addiction and the wrath of their respective licensing boards.

To the judge and jury, you may have been following the "letter of the law" regarding Dr. Kevorkian's actions, but when will common sense and decency occur in our society? As a licensed pharmacist, I find great reward in helping to prolong peoples' lives and improve the quality of their lives, but there comes a point when the suffering, both to the patient and their family, must stop. On a daily basis, I see the suffering first-hand. In many states lethal injection has become the "humane" way of executing death-row inmates. Is there an ironic twist here? I think not.

I hope that on appeal that this verdict is overruled and that everyone be sent a message, that a person has as much control over the end of their life as they do the over the rest of it.

Richard C. Benchoff II

Hagerstown

Taxpayers as slaves

To the editor:

When a business uses its profit to fund a project which a certain group of people finds to be objectionable, it is the right of that group of people to boycott the business, thus ensuring that their own money is not used to finance an undertaking of which they do not approve.

A protest against, say, a company that tests its products on animals is not complete without a refusal to financially support the company. The boycott is a powerful tool, as pecuniary gain is the primary goal of most businesses.

Unfortunately, at the present there is no legal way for American citizens to boycott the federal government. Protests against imperialistic wars in Europe, government regulation of personal finances, national identification cards, and the like are not nearly as effective as they could be if citizens were allowed to deny an oppressive government its privilege to confiscate their personal property every April 15.

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