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letters to the editor - 3/17/02

March 18, 2002

To the editor:

Looking at today's date, I am sure you will agree that it is time to put the subject of "first born babies of the New Year" aside. Before I do, I would like to say that I have been misquoted and/or misunderstood in the past, but this has to be the first time I have ever known it to generate such a flurry of written correspondence in the paper.

In an attempt to set my record straight: a) I do not think the paper should censor news stories or only print good news about our community; b) I am not judging any of the mothers featured in the "new year baby" story as good or bad; c) I do not think that teen pregnancy or unwed pregnancy is a sin; d) I have served on many committees and dedicated countless hours to addressing the issue of teen pregnancy in our community and others, and will continue to do so.

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I have read all the replies to my letter, pro and con, including the column you featured in the Jan. 27 paper. The question I posed for consideration in my original letter was "are we (society not just The Herald-Mail) giving our teens (not the world as a whole) mixed messages?

Yes, we adults can see a story in the paper such as this and have the critical thinking skills to say "this is a snapshot of our community; simple fact" or "this story inspires me to do something about teen pregnancy, because I see it as a societal problem," or maybe we don't, and we just read the article and say "how wonderful."

I assert that many young, impressionable teens lack the critical thinking skills to look at a photo of a smiling teenage single parent and the positive attention she is getting from a front-page article and draw the conclusion that teen pregnancy and child rearing without the benefit of marriage/formal education/gainful employment is something to avoid. We as adults have a responsibility to our youth to set standards of behavior that we encourage them to live up to so that they can achieve all the best life has to offer.

You said the paper has a responsibility to report the facts, good and bad. I agree 100 percent. You may not acknowledge it, but the format used to report factual information could add a more or less colorful slant to the facts.

By all means, print an article that announces the first-born babies of the new year; name the parents and their ages; even tell how many other children are at home. Facts. News editors do not toss the daily stories in the air and see where they land. They make thoughtful and professional decisions about where to place a story, and why.

Would your reporting (of this story) have been any less factual had you chosen to run it without the photo or placed it somewhere other than the lead story of the day? I think not.

If we (as a society) are serious about addressing the issue of teen pregnancy and reducing the numbers, we need to acknowledge that there are teens having babies not because their birth control failed or they lacked sufficient information about birth control.

More than ever before, teens are choosing to have a baby (sometimes more than once, as the new year article pointed out) and choosing to remain single and we need to be asking them why then carefully listening to their answers. What messages are they getting to help them with these decisions?

I'm sorry I was misunderstood, but I am glad that so many people are at least "talking" about the issue.

Norine T. Dagliano

Hagerstown




Don't waste Pangborn plant

To the editor:

Appealing to all in positions of authority in Washington County, as a concerned resident, I fear that in the too near future the once-productive Pangborn Plant will be placed on the auction block or abandoned. This will leave a window of opportunity for experienced rock throwers, a destructive act fast diminishing our industrial history.

Regretfully, in recent years we can all relate to the decay and eventual demise of the historical Western Maryland Railroad Roundhouse, its adjacent shops, the Bowman House, the now- unclaimed City Light Plant to mention a few of our wasted abandonments.

I recall this truism by an unknown writer that states, "If you lose your past, you will find no future," Washington County now hovers at that intersection facing historical devastation relying on its shattered crystal ball.

Throughout the past century, the pillar stone in Washington County was the Pangborn Corporation. Its founder was a generous benefactor, supporting this city and surrounding communities with good-paying jobs, institutions and medical facilities. In retrospect, what effects can the local municipalities establish now to enshrine a local boy and father of industry known worldwide for decades to follow and revitalize. Today - where is his gray stone pillar and bronze plaque memorial located?

I challenge the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations to explore the possible acquisition of his former property for conversion to a "Legacy Museum."

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