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School psychologists perform vital role

I am writing in response to the letter titled, "Lew-Port is right to cut psychologists" that appeared in Niagara Weekend on Aug. 31. The writer states that cutting psychology department staff is "a good place to start" for the newly elected Lew-Port School Board.

The author's comments make it blatantly clear that he is not raising a child in today's world, nor is he knowledgeable with scientific findings or seemingly any other stories published daily about the mental challenges facing youth today.

Health experts and studies show time and again that diagnosing and treating problems in their early stages -- be they mental or physical -- leads to a higher rate of success.

In other words, helping kids while they're young will establish lifelong healthy patterns of behavior. If we decided to start living in the old days, ignoring warning signs, not diagnosing problems and hoping that kids figure it out for themselves, the cost to society will be greater in the long term as these kids grow into adulthood untreated and ignored.

His suggestion of psychologists "tinkering with impressionable young minds" is insulting to anyone who has benefited from the assistance these "health professionals" provide in our schools. I would love to live in his perfect world where kids can deal with their issues by themselves or go to a trusted adult for counseling, but I think the Columbine massacre and more recently the alleged sexual hazing in Wilson have shown us that we need to be proactive in diagnosing and treating kids with problems and not relying on parents and kids to have degrees in psychology so they can figure it out by themselves.

These trained professionals are the trusted adults who give our kids the help they desperately need when parents can't be there, or worse, when parents are the contributing factor to the problem (sex/drug abuse, single family homes, messy divorces, death counseling, etc.). Lew-Port teachers and psychologists were the first ones to alert me to my son's learning challenges in school, and they have always been an e-mail away to recommend ways to help him at home as well as in the classroom. This is an invaluable service to our community, and one that should not be treated and dismissed as a line item on a budget.

Before we decide to start cutting for the sake of cutting, we should be asking ourselves one important question, does this service have a positive impact on our youth and our community? In the case of the Lew-Port psychology department, my answer is a very personal, and resounding, yes.

Greg Sitek



Group is the watchdog of North Tonawanda

There has been much controversy, speculation, and attacks on the group known as North Tonawanda First. Who are they, where did they come from, and is North Tonawanda First Frank Budwey, owner of the Budwey supermarkets?

Almost two years ago, an astute resident noticed activity on the former Melody Fair/Blue Bird Bus site. An inquiry resulted in an article in the newspaper. A proposed Super Wal-Mart was to be built. Residents contacted the homeowner and a group was formed in opposition of this project. This grassroots group went door to door and solicited support, purchased signs and stickers.

North Tonawanda First's members consist of experienced professionals in development, education, project management, construction, manufacturing, transportation and engineering, and business owners. Members are taxpayers and voters of North Tonawanda. These dedicated people donate a wealth of information and assistance, totaling thousands of man hours.

When North Tonawanda First solicits donations, it is to offset expenses that have occurred in the opposition of the Wal-Mart project. Expenses include: printing, supplies, ads, consultant fees in traffic, county planning, an attorney and postage. Residents continue to provide monetary contributions in an effort to stop a project they feel is wrong for the city.

Is Frank Budwey a vocal member of North Tonawanda First? Yes. He is very passionate about the future of his family-owned grocery business and the continued employment of his dedicated employees, some of whom have worked for him for decades. North Tonawanda First was not formed by Frank Budwey. He came on board after learning more about the Wal-Mart project and the negative impact it would create on the community and local businesses.

Many members of North Tonawanda First work behind the scenes donating their time and expertise in the fight to stop a project that will hurt not only two residential neighborhoods but the city as a whole. All information provided by North Tonawanda First to our elected officials is based solely on facts.

Whether this project is approved or not, North Tonawanda First is not going to go away. We will continue to be the watchdog of the City of North Tonawanda and will hold accountable our elected officials.

Cathy Kern

North Tonawanda

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