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Everybody's Column

Officials' ignorance revealed in comment about Appalachia

The fuss over Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's comment that upstate New York looks like Appalachia is ridiculous. The fact is that a number of Western New York counties, including Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany, have been part of the 13-state Appalachian Region and eligible for federal War on Poverty funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission since it was established by Congress in 1965. The regional ARC office is in Salamanca. Details can be found on its Web site.

The surprise is that neither Spitzer nor Gov. George Pataki seem to be aware that 40 years ago, the federal government defined a large part of Western New York and the Southern Tier as part of Appalachia. If the governor thinks this is an "insult," he might want to talk to his friends in Washington, and consider returning the millions of federal dollars spent in Western New York over the past 40 years.

Philip Brunskill

Mayville

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Postal Service's rejection of veteran makes no sense

It is disgraceful and dishonorable that the U.S. Postal Service declared Sgt. Jason R. Lyon of Hamburg physically unfit to deliver mail despite the fact the National Guard has found him fit for military duty, including combat. This veteran has already served 10 years in the military, including duty in Iraq, where he earned a Purple Heart thanks to a roadside bomb that took the lives of three of his friends.

Now he comes home from serving his country and learns that the Postal Service has rejected him for a mail carrier position because he injured his ankle while in Iraq. What kind of logic is the Postal Service using when this man has been cleared for combat duty, where walking and running are a big part of the job? I don't know about other mail carriers, but mine doesn't appear to be physically ready for combat.

All these years, I have labored under the misconception that the Postal Service was veteran-friendly. I strongly believe officials should review this shameful and illogical decision and get it right this time.

Joe Vergo

North Tonawanda

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Did story have to focus on drunks at the parade?

I was appalled at the March 20 article, "Men in blue bow to the green," after watching coverage of the St. Patrick's Day parade on television. As we watched, we were commenting on all the families attending. The marchers were proud of their Irish heritage, from the very young Irish step dancers and their parents to the very old, well-dressed marchers who have participated in the parade for 35 years.

There will always be some who will use the occasion to drink to excess, but why give them media coverage? The last sentence in the article was very offensive: "This is a religious holiday in Ireland, but here it's turned into a drunkard holiday." Comments like this will only discourage people from attending. The parade is one of Buffalo's fine traditions and has grown over 35 years to the fifth-largest in the United States. Let's keep it growing and give credit to the fine groups that participate. I'm Irish and proud of it.

Jeanne Brennan-Colvin-Hatheway

Dewittville

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Catholic schools are option for Stepping Stone pupils

The closing of Stepping Stone Academy Charter School is an unfortunate story. The current administrators seem to have made improvements, but the situation they inherited may have left them with an impossible task. Part of the March 14 News article, though, caused me concern. The only alternatives mentioned were public schools and other charter schools. Catholic schools would also be very interested in teaching these students.

Our Catholic Central School conducts separate middle school programs for young women and men. We would have room for 10 of each gender in our sixth and seventh grades -- the St. Monica and St. Augustine Scholars programs. We offer a longer school day, Saturday morning test prep and a free residential summer program for several weeks of study skills -- proven methods of improving achievement.

Catholic schools would not answer all the problems in placing the students, but we would like to be considered as part of the mix. Because BISON Fund is so helpful, most of our middle school students attend for $50 or less per month.

Rev. James F. Joyce

Canonical Administrator Catholic Central School

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Bush is leaving a huge mess for next president to clean up

President Bush said withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq is an objective that will "be decided by future presidents and the future governments of Iraq." Let's take the quiz! By this, Bush is saying: A) He has no confidence that the Iraqis can take over their own security for at least another three years. B) The "victory plan" he spoke of at the same time is to let someone else fix the mess he created. C) The sooner we impeach him, the sooner our troops can come home.

Dick Greenwood

Jamestown

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Reopen public access to lighthouse grounds

I would like to comment on Rep. Brian Higgins' proposal to transfer a section of the U.S. Coast Guard base from the federal government to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. This plan to open a part of the waterfront to the public that has been closed for five years is a great idea. The area leading from the parking lot just outside the base gate to the lighthouse was turned into a parklike walkway with historically interpretive signage in the 1980s to allow for public access. The gate was regularly left open but has been locked tight since 9/1 1 due to increased security.

I feel that public access to this area of the waterfront is an absolute must. The lighthouse grounds offer outstanding views of the lake, outer harbor, Canada, the shipping channels and the downtown Buffalo skyline. Denial of public access to this untapped resource is a real shame.

This area would also tie in nicely with the bike path along Fuhrmann Boulevard, the nature trail at Times Beach and the boardwalk by the Small Boat Harbor. I proposed to my wife eight years ago on the lighthouse grounds, and it's disappointing that people no longer have this opportunity.

Brian Wroblewski

Hamburg

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Trapping of wildlife is effective management tool

In response to a March 13 letter, I find it amusing that in order for animal rights people to make cogent points, we must discard realities of nature for their nonsense to make sense. No one condones illegal actions. The State Department of Environmental Conservation and local sportspeople continue efforts to stomp out poaching, since poaching hurts the wildlife we fight to conserve.

Legal trapping is not barbaric. Trapping has been an effective management tool for years with benefits borne out in the return of many wild animals once thought to have disappeared from New York's landscape. A prime example is the coyote.

Without man embracing our role as predator, overpopulation and resulting imbalance in ecosystems creates conditions both inhumane and dangerous to wildlife.

The ultimate reality is that nature achieves balance through predator-prey relationships. Millions of years of natural success cannot be wrong. That is the ultimate reality lost on the animal rights crowd.

Rich Davenport

Recording Secretary, Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs

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