Letters to the Editor - Jan. 10

January 09, 2012

Thanks to all for Christmas tour of churches

To the editor:

As pastor of one of the churches on the Christmas Tour of Historic Churches in Hagerstown the Monday after Christmas, I would like to publicly express my gratitude to the people who organized this event, and thank you to all who came out that evening to visit.

For our church, this was a terrific opportunity. We have worshipped and worked and been a part of the downtown community for almost two centuries, and are happy to share the blessing of this place with anyone who stops by. Just because you missed the tour doesn’t mean you can’t come see us; I’d love to have you stop by anytime. You’re welcome Sunday morning, sure, but maybe come one evening when people are playing volleyball in our gym or our praise team is practicing, or Wednesday mornings during our Soup Ministry providing a meal to any and all who are hungry, or on the Habitat For Humanity Apostles Build project this Spring.

While the tour certainly was an opportunity to share the blessing of our building, more importantly this was an opportunity for us to share Good News. In a county where, according to, less than 15 percent of people are actively involved in a church, this was just one of many ways for us to reach out, to tell the story to those who haven’t really heard it of what Christmas is about, to share what God did for us in His overwhelming, relentless love, and for us to demonstrate that love ourselves — even in small ways like hosting a tour.

My thanks to three leaders of our church — Billy Kesler, Robin Osik and Kelly Rajahpillay — for their work on this stop of the tour. We count it a privilege and joy to have been host to so many people and look forward to seeing folks again ... even if not ’til next Christmas,

Kyle Powderly, pastor
The Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown

Defense bill removes 6th Amendment rights

To the editor:

I saw the story in a recent Sunday paper about President Obama signing the defense bill. The story mentions the provisions about detention. It’s unfortunate that this subject is not getting more exposure; this is a very important part of the new law.

For years, we have seen in other countries where their governments are able to arrest someone and hold them for as long as they want without letting the arrested person talk to a lawyer, or indeed talk to anyone. These people just disappear. It is sad to say that this is now the law in the United States. Our government has declared martial law here. They don’t call it that, but that’s what it is.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have both passed S1867. Part of it allows the U.S. military to arrest anyone in this country and detain him or her without formal charges and without trial. For more information on this, get on the Internet and use Google (or any other search engine) and type in “S1867.” You will find a lot of information about this bill.

At one time, the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly gave citizens the right to a speedy trial. This bill takes that right away. It takes away our right to any trial — or even a phone call. With any luck, this can be repealed.

We know President Obama supports this; he signed the law. We deserve to know where the Republican presidential candidates stand on this issue.

James Dupont
Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Freight company seeks change to I-81 ramp, policy

To the editor:

Our goal at Conway Freight is to gain support to facilitate a design change to subject ramp or a Maryland State Police policy change.

Problem: The Interstate 81 southbound entrance ramp from Pa. 163 (Mason-Dixon Road) is being used to process oversize loads while the design barely allows for safe egress without these daily encroachments into the acceleration ramp right-of-way. The first half of the approach ramp is used to gear up and gain as much speed as is possible in heavy freight trucks. After making the blind, 45-degree right-hand bend where the approach ramp meets I-81, the rest of the acceleration ramp and southbound interstate traffic comes into view.

Often parked to the right, but still encroaching onto ramp space right away, are oversize loads with state police, escorts and associated pedestrians. At this point, the merging truck driver must immediately decide to apply severe braking as the rest of the ramp has become unavailable, or to quickly merge at half speed into very busy interstate traffic. If the merging operator decides to stop, then subsequent merging from 0 mph becomes the sole option. Commercial vehicles transporting hazardous materials use this ramp far more than most people would like to know.

To define the issue, this ramp is not designed to handle the constant and often overnight parking of oversize loads. It is far too narrow and short, and was designed to provide only a short acceleration lane in which to achieve a safe merging speed. This task is barely accomplished without parked obstructions.

Solution: I believe there are two. One is to widen and lengthen the ramp with an appropriately engineered parking lane. The other is to change Maryland State Police policy allowing them to process all southbound oversize vehicles 3 miles in Pennsylvania at Exit 3 (U.S. 11). That ramp is longer and wider. Oversize loads would exit I-81, cross U.S. 11 (small amount of road work required) and park on the wide approach before the merging ramp. Maryland State Police would have to go 3 miles north of their state line to conduct oversize permit processing.

Both of these solutions can be used. Process oversized vehicles at Pa. Exit 3 effective immediately, and then design and build a new ramp/processing area in Maryland. Or, perhaps, Maryland could choose to not require state police escorts on the very short stretch of I-81 in Maryland.   
Matthew E. Phillips
Conway Freight driver

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