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Letters to the editor

August 24, 2004

Excuses don't wash


To the editor:

I am writing because I am concerned about the amount of raw sewage being emptied into the Antietam Creek. Mayor William Breichner stated, "The series of spills is unfortunate, we know it's a problem." This is an understatement: Feb. 6, 3.2 million gallons; June 15, 1.2 million gallons; and on Aug. 1, 2.7 million gallons were released into the Antietam Creek.

This latest incident was caused by a blown fuse in the sewage plant's main electric gear. And guess what? Before I could print this letter from a rough draft, another 3 to 4 million gallons have been released into the Antietam. (Aug. 12-13). How many other cities from here to the Chesapeake Bay are releasing raw sewage into our rivers and streams?

We don't here about them. Farmers are not allowed to put manure on their fields close to streams, because they may pollute the Chesapeake Bay. Farmers can't even let their cattle wade into our streams or creeks for fear the animals will pollute the bay. The poor farmers are taking a beating. And who is it that is polluting our bay?

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Water treatment facilities are the main contributors. Washington County residents are being charged a flush tax of $30 a year. Our pollution contribution is minimal compared to the treatment facilities. Do they pay a tax or have they been fined for their part in polluting the bay?

Yes, I believe we should be careful and avoid pollution of our waterways, but should we the citizens be punished for pollution of the bay when the damage is done by our sewage-treatment facilities? Let's put the responsibility where it belongs. Our sewage-treatment facilities must bear the burden. They must be able to avoid problems like this. The system must be safeguarded to stop spillage. All pipes and valves entering streams and rivers must be made with a leak-free closing mechanism, only opened by an emergency release system ... preferably manual.

Hopefully, that would bypass any electrical failures. Changes must be made now. Our future and the future of our water supply depends on changes and demands they be made. We need results, not apologies.

Millard H. "Junior" Miller
Fairplay

(Editor's note: Hagerstown officials say the discharges have not been raw sewage, but effluent which hasn't undergone the final stage of disinfection.)




Who's the flip-flopper?


To the editor:

It's time for the Republican campaign, including the president and vice-president, to stop attacking John Kerry with charges that he "flip-flops" on issues.

It was not long into the war in Iraq that George W. Bush claimed, "I am a war-time president." Not long ago, he said, "I wannabe a peace-time president." Flip-flop.

Bush strongly opposed the 9/11 Commission and was reluctant to provide information and grant access to his staff. At some point, he backed off blocking the investigation and now strongly embraces the work of the commission. Flip-flop.

When the commission's report was presented, Bush said from the Rose Garden that he would take some time and carefully study the report before taking any action. Bending to criticism, he decided within days to begin implementing its recommendations immediately. Flip-flop.

On the issue of stem cell research, Bush ignored the science and took the high moral ground espoused by his evangelical supporters. With regard to Yucca Mountain, he has now promised to listen to what the scientists have to say. Do you hear that sound?

Catherine Evans
Hagerstown




Pa. highway system failing


To the editor:

A recent article carried in many newspapers in Pennsylvania indicated that a significant Pennsylvania Turnpike toll increase will be enacted. I am amazed that such a rip-off could be justified.

Any increase in turnpike tolls is pouring good money after bad. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is the worst-kept highway in the nation and the managers in the turnpike sectors are the highest-paid managers in the nation. It is poor management and poor workmanship that makes the turnpike and other Pennsylvania highways "the worst of the lot."

The upkeep on the Pennsylvania Turnpike has not improved in more than 30 years and there is no reason to assume extra money will improve the upkeep. Some of the pylons have been in place so long the permanent weeds have grown to secure them to the asphalt. And, any acceptable speed limit has been defeated by the many speed-reduction sections of the turnpike.

What Pennsylvania really needs is to get away from the permanent highway contracting business and start a viable and responsible state highway department. state workers, with state owned equipment and state priorities could provide a highway service far superior to what we currently have.

I for one, and many others, now travel Interstate 68 and other highways when going west through Pennsylvania; and, an additional number travel the off roads when traveling towards Philadelphia. The going may at times be slower, but the repairs and delays are purposeful.

William D. Peck
Needmore, Pa.

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