Letters to the Editor - Feb. 5

February 05, 2012

Civil War Rail Trail could benefit all residents of county

To the editor:

Sen. Christopher Shank provides opinion without knowing the facts regarding the proposed Civil War Rail Trail from Hagerstown to Weverton. He believes it will increase development and poses different problems than the Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT), which only borders parkland.  

Wrong. Washington County has regulations in place to prevent sprawl in South County unless the Commissioners continue to grant exceptions to developers. While WMRT does border the C&O Canal, it also borders homes and farmland, as does the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) between Cumberland and Pittsburgh. 

We know a lot from the completion of WMRT and GAP. They are safe, and private property is respected. Farmers do have access to their land where the trail transects their property. Driveways that cross the trail are protected by gates that require trail users to stop for the homeowners’ right of way.  Just two examples of how private property use is preserved and protected. 

In addition to job creation and economic development, citizens’ health would benefit. About two-thirds of Washington County adults are overweight or obese, a common finding in rural communities. Obesity contributes to lost wages, reduced productivity, absenteeism and disability. Medicare and private insurance programs redistribute the cost of obesity across all premiums. Therefore, individuals, employers and the county pay more for insurance. We taxpayers carry the burden.

All Washington County citizens could greatly benefit from the trail — jobs, business and health. We would have a safe and easily accessible environment in which people of all ages and abilities can exercise. Until a trail is built, we will continue to see women pushing baby carriages, old men walking dogs and young families riding bikes on the unsafe shoulder of Md. 67. And, the county gets fatter.

Sen. Shank listens to the minority to the detriment of the greater Washington County.

Marguerite Klein

Community must fight to keep Suns in Hagerstown

To the editor:

I was raised in Washington County, for 15 years in Brownsville and 11 years in Boonsboro. I lived in Texas for eight years and kept up on current events in and around Hagerstown.

And for my 26 years of being a Washington County resident, I enjoyed going to baseball games at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown and watching the Suns play ball.

I can remember when they were playing when I was 5 years old and Cal Ripken had just begun his streak for the most consecutive games played.

The Hagerstown Suns have been a part of the Hagerstown community for most of my life. Why should I worry about losing them?

Because they were a huge part of my life growing up, and I don’t want to see them leave the town where I spent most of my life. They were a staple in my life that I could count on every season to go and watch them play.

Don’t let Hagerstown lose a national pastime. The Hagerstown Suns bring revenue into our town. Let’s find a way to rebuild Municipal Stadium, or face losing a staple of our town’s history forever.

Joseph E. Best
Washington County Detention Center

Protecting environment at center of gas-drilling debate

To the editor:

In recent weeks, both the House and Senate have passed similar proposals to regulate the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling industry and impose a local impact fee to protect host communities. While the differences between the two bills are ironed out in a conference committee over the next several weeks, it is important to note that both proposals include significant environmental protections that are necessary to protect our environment. Ensuring the drilling industry can operate safely without threatening the safety of our communities should be our highest priority.

Impact fees and infrastructure improvements are important considerations, but our first and greatest concern must be protecting water quality in our communities. Both bills include important environmental safeguards to protect drinking water supplies, such as increasing setback requirements from streams, water wells, buildings and public water supplies. Legislation also includes a requirement for well operators who affect a public or private water supply to replace it with a new source that meets the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. A statewide toll-free number would be established to report any cases of water contamination. Well bonding requirements and civil and criminal penalties would be increased to prevent taxpayers from footing the bill for any environmental hazards caused by drilling companies, including remediation for abandoned wells.

In addition to these water quality and environmental remediation measures, the Senate also approved legislation recently that would ensure emergency responders can respond to any potential crisis at well sites. The legislation requires drillers to prepare emergency plans and share these plans with first responders. The bill also requires drilling companies to provide the location of all wells and access roads to ensure emergency responders do not lose precious seconds when responding to an emergency. These measures are essential to protect not only our environment, but the safety of workers. I hope the House approves these safety measures as soon as possible.

The drilling industry will have a considerable presence in the state for generations, and Marcellus Shale presents a tremendous opportunity to improve our economy and promote family-sustaining jobs. However, it is our responsibility to ensure these goals can be accomplished without causing irreparable damage to our environment. I hope the General Assembly can pass a responsible plan as soon as possible to extend these protections to Pennsylvania communities.

Sen. Rich Alloway II, R-33
Adams, Franklin and York (Pa.) counties

Obama hasn’t been given credit he is due

To the editor:

Barack Obama has been our president for three years now, and what has he done?

These are the facts. When President Obama was sworn in, $16 trillion in household net worth had been destroyed. The United States was losing 800,000 jobs a month, with a total of 4.3 million being lost since December 2007. It was even expected that the unemployment rate would hit 12 percent at best, and 15 percent at its worst.

These are shocking statistics, and what did our president do to combat this economic catastrophe? He passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included a tax cut for 95 percent of working families, investments in infrastructure and aid to states, which congressional Republicans were quick to call waste (and were quicker to the photo ops for the construction projects).

And guess what happened next? Unemployment didn’t hit 15 percent, and the private sector created jobs every month since March 2010, with a total of 3.1 million so far. In fact, since then, the only job losses were from the government sector. Considering the size of the recession, that is an incredible feat. But still Republicans give him no credit.

After four months of declining GDP, and an entire 30 months of increasing GDP growth, President Obama gets no credit. These Republicans in Congress stand in firm opposition to everything he does, even policies they’ve historically supported.

There are two solutions this year. One is putting people back to work now, rebuilding roads, bridges and schools, cutting taxes on small businesses and average Americans, preventing police and teacher layoffs, and enacting tax incentives for hiring. The other is to cut spending, cut taxes and deregulate forever hoping something good happens. Which seems more rational to you?

Cameron Schroy
Greencastle-Antrim (Pa.) High School

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