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Everybdoy's column

>Arts play an important role in boosting region's identity

Ken Neufeld and Studio Arena deserve major kudos for the fantastic vision and hard work that led to the premiere of "Ring of Fire" in Buffalo. The fact that it has now opened on Broadway is a home run for the home team. It is another illustration of the important role the arts play in shaping positive opinions about Western New York.

We need to further embrace the fact that, whether it be the Darwin Martin House, the new Burchfield-Penney Art Center, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Shea's or the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's radio broadcasts and CDs, the arts have been building a valuable and lasting "brand" identity for our region for decades. Supporting Buffalo's treasured cultural assets is one of the most important investments we can make as a community. Bravo to Studio Arena!

Daniel Hart
Executive Director
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

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>Tossing peanut shells on floor poses risk to allergy sufferers
I am writing in response to the March 4 News article about the "Peanut Man." It was a very nice article about Larry Owens and the history of his successful business of selling peanuts in public arenas.

However, as a father of a child who suffers from a severe peanut allergy, attending these events has become a terrifying ordeal. If my child comes into contact with peanuts or their shells, it can cause hives and/or anaphylactic shock, a serious and rapid allergic reaction which, if severe enough, can kill.

Many airlines and schools have banned peanuts and peanut butter altogether, due to increasing numbers of people who are afflicted with this allergy.

People shuck peanuts while consuming them, and drop the shells onto seats and floors of public areas unaware of the dangers of their actions. The public should be made more aware of the consequences of discarding peanuts and their debris, which could be deadly to a person with this affliction.

Michael Savage
Elma

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>Officials' failure to choose voting machines is deplorable

In the summer of 2005, after state legislators had missed another "deadline," I pleaded with the Orleans County Legislature and the Board of Elections to choose optical-scan voting machines over more expensive, less reliable touch-screen machines. I was told that the counties in a region were likely to choose machines based on what adjacent counties were choosing. That is like letting your neighbor decide how you are going to invest your money. It is a little different. In this case, the money belongs to taxpayers, not the ones making the decision as to how best to spend it.

Now the federal government is bringing suit against the state for failure to comply with the Help America Vote Act in a timely fashion. That lawsuit could cost us -- the taxpayers -- hundreds of additional millions in lost federal aid. Of course, borrowing the money and passing the debt on to our grandchildren is always an option.

Isn't it about time we all called a halt to this feeble imitation of representation?

Gary F. Kent
Albion

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>Efforts to revive Grant-Ferry neighborhood are heartening

As a longtime resident of the West Side, I was heartened to read the March 6 News article about Bob Franke's efforts to rally support to revitalize the Grant-Ferry neighborhood. I applaud our mayor when he talks about the importance of quality-of-life issues in the urban environment. Grant Street needs a good dose of help in that respect.

Whatever we can do to support businesses like Guercio's or Dibble's Hardware will put life back on the street and benefit everyone who lives in the city. The Grant-Ferry area is home to a multiethnic population that contributes to making the West Side unusual and stimulating. It may be a poorer neighborhood than Elmwood or Hertel, but it has the potential for a vibrant renewal.

Encouraging specialty food stores is a good start. Compliance with housing regulations must go along with business renewal because it encourages people to stay in the neighborhood, and stability spurs economic growth. The list of tasks that are needed to bring back the neighborhood and move it forward is a long one: removing and repairing derelict buildings, cleaning up trash, removing graffiti, reopening shuttered businesses, etc. It's a daunting task, but Franke seems to have the right idea.

Katka Hammond
Buffalo

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>Villa Maria Academy let its students down

After reading the Feb. 9 News article, "Villa Maria to be converted to senior housing complex," I must comment on how disheartening it is to see that the Felician Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have misled the academy's young women and their parents. Having a niece who is a sophomore at the school, I know that closing the school was a real threat in 2004. After much discussion and many meetings, the students and their parents were promised that there would be a class graduating in 2008.

Trusting that the sisters sincerely planned to continue their 87-year tradition of educating young women, these parents in good faith made the commitment and continued to send these girls. What is left now are young ladies spending the rest of this year scrambling for new schools while mourning the loss of their beloved school and the many friendships they have made.

The March issue of Western New York Catholic stated, "Over the past two years, the Felician Sisters have studied and brainstormed how best to use the school." Obviously, they never intended there to be a graduating class of 2008. It's too bad they didn't share this truth with their students.

Colleen M. Higgins
Buffalo

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>Krauthammer reveals his bias against Arabs

What enrages Charles Krauthammer most are the escalating criticisms of the depraved and costly Iraq war and the repressive government in Israel. He defends, among other insidious practices that grow out of our unjust Middle Eastern policy, the sadistic torture of Iraqi Muslims; the maintenance of a vast penal wall that continues to isolate Palestinians while it gobbles up their land; and the inhumane Israeli occupation.

In his March 3 anti-Arab tirade, "A movie after Osama's heart," Krauthammer attacks Hollywood for honoring the films, "Munich," "Syriana" and "Paradise Now." Not one of these works contains the kind of blatant ethnic bashing found in over 900 American anti-Arab films, dating back to the 1940s. Each film on Krauthammer's hit list carefully avoids the grotesque Arab stereotyping that he obviously condones in films.

Krauthammer is most fraudulent when he accuses Hany Abu-Assad, the brilliant director of "Paradise Now," of sympathizing with suicide bombers. The film-maker simply presents the horrifying act as something born out of despair and rage in Gaza.

Norm Tederous
Williamsville

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>Issuing petty tickets is unfair to residents

This ticket blitz is getting out of hand. On March 9, like many others in Buffalo, I was ticketed. My crime? Parking too close to a crosswalk. I live on a side street. There is no signage on or near this corner that would make it illegal to park in this spot. My neighbors and I have parked in this spot for a number of years without incident from the parking enforcement officers who patrol my neighborhood frequently. If parking enforcement does not consider parking here illegally, then why all of a sudden does the Buffalo Police Department consider it illegal?

Sue Kovacevic
Buffalo

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