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Letters to the Editor

October 07, 2009

Should city welcome the chance to host a halfway house?



To the editor:

"City council members are opposed to halfway house" shouts a recent Herald-Mail headline and thus announces the city council's objection to local economic development.

In our current economy, we need all the jobs we can get and a halfway house appears to be a job-making machine. To wit, the recidivism rate of ex-cons is historically proven to be about 70 percent. Therefore, the citizens of Hagerstown can be confident that 16.8 of the 24 clients in the proposed halfway house will provide a steady stream of jobs for case workers, police officers, store detectives, alarm system installers, fire brigades, night watchpersons, emergency room personnel, insurance adjusters, to name a few. City Council is worried about downtown revival and here we have just the kind of folks who can really liven up the arts and crafts district.

In light of this, I encourage the council to stop worrying so much about the downtown revival and instead start making lemonade with the sour fruits of our penal system. The fact is that economic systems tend to thrive when they produce what comes natural to them. For example, it is natural for a coastal town to rely on fishing and shipping industries because that town is near open water. Similarly, Hagerstown is conveniently located close to several correctional facilities that expel the raw materials needed for our burgeoning industry.

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We have a (fantastic) opportunity to capitalize on this economic advantage! And yet, I am surprised that an experienced visionary like Mr. Alan Greenwald isn't thinking bigger than a scant 24-bed-facility when there are several empty big-box stores around town that could serve as spacious half-way houses, like the old Sears building, or the former Lowe's building on Wesel Boulevard.

With some creative warehouse techniques, he could store thousands of recidivists to the rafters. Imagine: We could market ourselves as the "Halfway House of America" and take 'em in from far and wide.

A few citizens might find this line of thinking objectionable, but just as our bodies can handle the trace amounts of arsenic in our drinking water, so should our city's body be able to handle a minor amount of human debris. The question is: How much debris does it take to sicken us?

Magnus Dahlgren
Hagerstown




Now is a good time to think about a vegan diet



To the editor:

Theologians have long debated whether there is life after death, but for animals raised for food, there is no life before death.

Recently published undercover investigations showed male baby chicks (unfit for egg production) suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground to death in large macerators, pigs clobbered by metal pipes and killed by hanging, and assorted animals skinned and dismembered at the slaughterhouse while still conscious.

I reacted to these exposés by going vegan some time ago. But, even diehard meat eaters should feel conscience-bound to offer these animals a decent life, before they take it away for their dining pleasure. Yet, repeated attempts at welfare reforms have brought no tangible improvements.

Last week, I read of an international observance on Oct. 2 (Gandhi's birthday) to expose and memorialize the abuse and slaughter of 55 billion animals raised for food throughout the world. Their Web site at www.WorldFarmAnimalsDay.org offers a number of ways that people who care about animal suffering can participate and affirms the need to go vegan.

I believe that a gradual transition to a vegan diet is the only effective long-term solution for maintaining a guilt-free conscience, as well as radiant health, and the quality of our environment. A detailed review of meat-like and dairy-like transition foods and lots of recipes are offered at www.tryveg.org and www.chooseveg.org.

Ron Saniko
Frederick, Md.

Brown attempted to end slavery 150 years ago



To the editor:

Oct. 16 marks the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Va. (now West Virginia).

On Oct. 16, 1859, John Brown put into action his wild scheme to seize the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry and use its contents to set off a revolt of slaves through the South.

With his band of 20-some men, he slipped into the sleepy little hamlet and took control of the armory and arsenal. When the town's people awoke and realized what was happening, a battle erupted between Brown's men, the town's people and local militia. Brown and his men were forced to seek refuge in the town's fire engine house, today known as John Brown's Fort.

Two days later, Col. Robert E. Lee, commanding a detachment of U.S. Marines, entered the town. Lt. J.E.B. Stuart, under Lee's command, ordered Brown to surrender. Brown refused. A short time later, 12 Marines stormed the fire engine house, capturing Brown and what remained of his men. The whole of Brown's raid lasted but 36 hours.

Brown was taken to Charles Town, Va. (now West Virginia), where he was tried and hanged on Dec. 2, 1859.

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