Letters to the Editor - Dec. 11

December 10, 2011

Fence creates obstacle for pedestrians downtown

To the editor:

Please reference The Herald-Mail front page article of Nov. 13, 2011, wherein the lack of pedestrian traffic was mentioned as contributing to the demise of businesses in the downtown Hagerstown area.

My wife and I live in Washington County and are considered as elderly folks. Unfortunately, our two favorite restaurants are in the downtown. Several months ago, we went to one of the restaurants for dinner and then to The Maryland Theatre for what we planned as a relaxing and enjoyable evening. When we came out of the theater, it was approximately 10 p.m. and raining very heavily. As we were walking on the west side of Potomac Street and headed south bound with our umbrellas opened to shield from the rain, we encountered a black iron fence that projected out from the front of a building, blocking the sidewalk. This unexpected barrier forced us to walk in the very narrow pathway between the fence and the curb.

During our course through the narrow pathway, a large truck came by at a considerable speed and splashed water from a puddle in the street, drenching us with dirty street water. I was outraged. The barrier fence was apparently there to allow an outside seating area for the bar or restaurant. The place of business was dark, with not even a sign lit, and not even open for business, yet the sidewalk was effectively choked off for pedestrian traffic.

Yes, outside restaurant seating areas on the sidewalk appear aesthetic and probably attract customer traffic for the restaurant. But the downtown planners and restaurants need to avoid setting up obstacles for the pedestrian traffic they are trying to attract. How would two persons in wheelchairs headed in opposite directions pass each other in this narrow pathway? One could very easily go off the curb and fall into the street. It is only a matter of time before someone falls into the street, trips over the fence, or gets smacked in the back by a protruding mirror from a passing truck. Then the injured party will sue the city and collect millions of dollars because the city allowed a foreseeable safety hazard that should not have been there in the first place.

My suggestions include: barring vehicular traffic when fences are put out; putting the fences on wheels so they can be rolled back to be closer to the building, having a safety engineer experienced with pedestrian traffic approve all configurations for sidewalk obstacles.

Robert Wood

Letter about church and state is just plain wrong

To the editor:

Phillip Snider's reply letter in the Dec. 1 Herald-Mail to Allan Powell's Nov. 18 column on church-state separation is just plain wrong. Jefferson's famous 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, stating that the First Amendment erected a wall of separation between church and state, culminated a process begun when Roger Williams first articulated the idea in early 17th century Rhode Island. The separation principle was written into Virginia law in the 1780s under the leadership of Jefferson and Madison, and then incorporated in the First Amendment by Congress and the states soon after. 

In 1879, the Supreme Court held in Reynolds v. US that Jefferson's separation metaphor accurately defined what the First Amendment means. Supreme Court rulings from 1947 on simply continued the long support that Americans have had for religious freedom.

Our Founding Fathers — mainly Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and Paine — were not orthodox Christians. They were deists or Unitarians. And Madison did not make the statement that Mr. Snider attributes to him.

Our country has enjoyed a rich profusion of religious traditions and a wonderful history of religious freedom, thanks to the church-state separation arrangement that is supported by most religious leaders and most Americans, as we have repeatedly seen in referendum elections across our great country.

Edd Doerr
President, Americans for Religious Liberty
Silver Spring, Md.

Sorting through the field in the 6th District race

To the editor:

Many in Western Maryland have little love for Roscoe Bartlett, and when you mention Alex Mooney, you get a blank stare from people. When you mention David Brinkley, you get the same blank stare or they ask, "isn't Brinkley, the former NBC newscaster, dead?" and when you mention Otis, people ask, "wasn't he the town drunk on the Andy Griffith show in the '60s and 'Return to Mayberry' in the '80s?"

Mooney's, Brinkley's and Otis' motives in running for Maryland's 6th Congressional District seat are questionable. Brinkley is starting the second year of his current term and will have to campaign throughout what will be an important legislative session that will change the very fabric of our state.

Mooney, who committed four years to grow the state GOP, is abandoning the post less than a year after being elected. And then there's Bud Otis, who betrayed his longtime friend and employer.

You have to ask yourself, "What is Brinkley's commitment to the people of Maryland, Mooney's commitment to the state GOP and Otis' commitment?" The answer is simple — it's self-serving. The only truly committed one in the group is Bartlett, who is now serving his 10th term in Congress, although he is no longer an effective representative and promised to serve no more than three terms.

Bartlett, Mooney and Brinkley are all career politicians. Otis is an opportunist. Well, enough is enough; it's time to give career politicians and political opportunists looking to promote their own agenda, at the expense of our children's and grandchildren's future, their walking papers.

The Frederick News-Post, in an article by Meg Tully, reported that Joseph Krysztoforski won the endorsement of the Allegany County Conservative Caucus. In October, the Gazette, in an article by Sarah Breitenbach, reported, "The Republican Party in Western Maryland, an area on which Bartlett would count to bolster his poll numbers, is showing some signs of fracture as tea party members rally behind Joseph Krysztoforski, a conservative Republican whose campaign is based out of Frederick County."

Joseph Krysztoforski's message continues to reverberate with the voters. He is the steadfast grass-roots candidate who addresses the issues head on and proposes common sense solutions.

Laura Mineles
Clear Spring

Trail people should work with the JFK, not against it

To the editor:

Let me see if I can get a grip on this. We have an event once a year in Hagerstown that has been going on, starting next year, for 50 years.

This event has brought people from around the world who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars into our economy and now we have one woman given a little authority who wants to ... "What?" Stop it.

Lady, what planet have you been living on? Do you know the country is in financial trouble?

I have run in the JFK 50 five times. I ran three times in the spring, and two times in the fall, on March 30, 1974, with 1,374 starters but only 325 finishers. Because of the rain, sleet and snow on South Mountain, the C&O Canal was flooded in spots and we had to take our shoes off and wade through the freezing water. We did not have the volunteers they have now who clean up the trail and support the runners. In 1975, I ran with Tom Rothrock, who is totally blind and it brought national attention to Hagerstown and the JFK.

I am willing to bet you that the whole distance of the race is in better shape than when the race started.

So the only thing I see here is that you can work with us or you can be replaced. When people are given a little authority it sometimes goes to their head.

Don Muffley

Candy cane tradition is beautiful and rich in symbolism

To the editor:

Of all the beautiful traditions of Christmas, few are so ancient in meaning and so rich in symbolism as the candy cane.

Christmas tree decorations in Europe, from which our tradition comes, were customarily made of food, principally cookies and candy. This symbolically expresses thanks for "our daily bread," as well as providing a Christmas treat for the children.

Thus, the shepherd's staff became the candy cane. As time went on, many ornaments took on a more permanent nature, but the candy cane retained the original use and meaning of Christmas tree ornaments.

Candy canes on the Christmas tree symbolize the shepherds in the field on the first Christmas night, shepherds who heard the angel chorus and came to worship the newborn King. They are also a sign of our thanks to God for the food He has given us. All during the years, and not least of all, the candy cane is an inexpensive and delightful treat for family and friends, but most delightful at Christmas.

Paul Inskeep
No. 211-806, MCTC

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