letters to the editor 2/26/01

February 26, 2001

Letters to the Editor 2/26

Berkeley citizens mourn Deputy Burkett

To the editor:

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, the members of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department were devastated by the tragic loss of Deputy John Burkett in a head on collision on Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania. Also injured in that collision was transportation officer Joe Miller and a prisoner, Gary Mosser.

On behalf of the members of the department, I wish to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to many caring individuals. Those individuals helped our department and the families of Deputy Burkett and Officer Miller make it through this difficult time.

The emergency crews that responded to the scene, the hospital staff at Chambersburg Memorial and Washington County Hospital, the Washington County Sheriff's Department who assisted in guarding the injured prisoner and many, many private citizens, business leaders and government officials who offered their assistance and kind words.


A special thanks to the Pennsylvania State Police for their assistance during the investigation of the collision and their continued help and support throughout this difficult time.

The outpouring from members of the law enforcement community from all over the country has been tremendous. We appreciate your thoughts and concerns.

It would be impossible to name all those who assisted with planning Deputy Burkett's memorial service or who prepared food for his family and those who attended the memorial. To all of you, your kindness and sincere sympathy has meant so much to the police officers and staff of our department.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Department is mourning the loss of a fine young man and an excellent police officer. Our grief and the grief of our community has been lessened by the knowledge that so many people shared the loss and cared for Deputy Burkett and Officer Miller.

W. Randy Smith and members of the

Berkeley County Sheriff's Department

Sen. Munson: I'll get involved when it's right thing to do

To the editor:

The Herald-Mail recently reported that I stated that I would not become involved in "county and local issues." If I said that I misspoke and I'm sorry. What I meant to say to reporter Scott Butki (a very good reporter) is that I would not become involved in "local zoning issues." I regret that I did not place sufficient emphasis on the word "zoning" for my point to be made.

It is not my intention to parse words here, but in a sense, every issue in which I become involved is a local issue, in that it affects my constituents. However, there are some things, such as zoning, which are clearly the responsibility of local government and, as such, are best examined and deliberated by local officials.

In the case of the proposed truck stop at Md. 63 and Md. 68, it is my understanding that currently there is no active request for a rezoning special exception for the property in question. When and if there is a request, a hearing will be scheduled before the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals, the local government entity which will hear public testimony and decide the issue on its merits.

Regarding my attention to constituent concerns, I believe my 26 years of service as an elected official speak for themselves. During my years in public life, I and my staff have personally assisted many thousands of my constituents with their problems and requests.

I always have time for those I represent and I always will. But it is inappropriate and unfair for me to attempt to intervene in a process which is clearly local, when the local government has not even been given an opportunity to address the issue.

Many issues, however, have both local and state components. When the proposal to build the truck stop first arose last summer, I met with a group of citizens opposed to it. One person expressed concerns regarding the inadequacy of the existing roads (Md. 68 and Md, 63) and traffic conditions related to the truck stop.

I was presented with a list of five items which the citizens' group wished to be included in the traffic study, which is required by law to be done by the developer of the property in question. I strongly agreed that the issues of highway adequacy, safety and traffic conditions were of great concern, and indicated that I would begin to seek resolution to those concerns immediately.

Following that meeting, I worked extensively with both the State Highway Administration and the Bowman Group, which, as developer of the property, under law is responsible for performing the traffic study, to have the five items included in the traffic study.

It is my understanding that the traffic study has been completed and that the State Highway Administration has commented upon it.

I have aggressively pursued comprehensive attention to the citizens' concerns regarding adequacy of the existing roads, as well as traffic and safety considerations, as they relate to the proposed truck stop. Bob Maginnis' editorial printed in The Daily Mail on Feb. 13, 2001, quoted me as saying that I would become involved in issues, "when I judge it to be appropriate and in the best interest of the people to do so." I stand by those words.

Donald F. Munson

Senator, District Two

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