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Everybody's Column

>It's foolish to cut funding for Cooperative Extension

The shortsightedness of local political leaders never ceases to amaze me. County Executive Chris Collins' proposed budget cuts funding for Cornell Cooperative Extension, one unit of which is the Master Gardener program. The county also wants to hand back the maintenance of city parks to the city. The city counters that the parks are in deplorable condition due to poor maintenance on the part of the county.

There are literally hundreds of people in the region who already are trained gardening volunteers, and there are many others who are waiting for training classes to be held so they can join the Master Gardener program. This program has been struggling since previous cuts in county funding eliminated the position of the lead person who trained, organized and scheduled the volunteers.

Despite this lack of a leader, the Master Gardeners of Erie County still has managed to carry on projects, often in cooperation with other gardening organizations, such as Buffalo in Bloom, one of which is maintaining Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo.

There is a direct economic link between an organized, properly trained and dispatched corps of gardening volunteers and having beautiful, well-maintained parks. Erie County should fund Cornell Cooperative Extension and support the training of gardening volunteers who can contribute to the maintenance of the areas directly and by training others.

Catherine Hetzler
Buffalo

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>Obama will do more to help our veterans

We need to compensate and honor our nation's veterans for their services and sacrifices. President Bush, who claims he supports veterans, has actually cut those benefits for veterans. We saw the terrible conditions at Walter Reed and other facilities.

The new Democratic Congress has passed legislation to increase funding for veterans' programs by $3.4 billion. This is in response to the many returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Post traumatic stress disorder, counseling, research and brain injuries all need to be addressed for our younger veterans. For our older veterans, the clinics and hospitals available are shrinking and they are having trouble receiving care.

America can do better for our veterans. Support Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress, and we will be there for our veterans.

William S. Adams
Marine Veteran
World War II and Korea
South Wales

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>Let Ambassador group build bridge to Canada

A recent News article stated that the State Department has rejected the presidential permit application by the Ambassador Niagara Bridge Corp. for an international truck crossing from Black Rock to Fort Erie. Today major public works projects are going private. Just look at the Route 407 toll road in Toronto or maybe soon our own New York State Thruway. Ambassador will build its bridge with its own money.

Buffalo officials have cited concerns for the Black Rock neighborhood. What official has a job-creating plan for this property and the dollars to get it done?

The News just reported a proposed 65,000-seat auto racing track in Fort Erie. Canadians move very fast on opportunities and I expect to see this facility open in a year or two. Here we have a stopped casino, a Thruway Authority that has canceled projects and locals who can't pay their 10 percent share for needed roads and bridges.

The Ambassador Niagara project improves vacant unkempt land and puts it back on the tax rolls, something that local officials may not have dealt with.

I do not work for Ambassador but often travel by the vacant land along Route 198 that is just waiting for a shovel. The State Department should work on improving worldwide relations and stop trying to help us by putting in its two cents on a local issue.

Daniel J. Rider
Williamsville

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>Legally owned guns rarely used in crime

A recent writer showed the anti-gun crowd's usual mix of vagaries and fear, which it spreads energetically. Once again, it's important to point out that every year, FBI raw crime data shows that the use of legally owned firearms in crime is rare.

The Second Amendment to our Constitution is based on principles stemming from English common law, where along with property rights, the right to own arms were legal tools that raised serfs to the status of citizen. Obviously this goes beyond immediate needs like hunting, sports or even protection. Socialization has been eroding these rights by its very nature, rights that spread with democracy. Hopefully they won't recede with it.

Dan Hoffman
Buffalo

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>Don't subject taxpayers to involuntary charity

Taxpayers are constantly subjected to involuntary charity. Legislators must cut spending and taxes. I am fed up with politicians who demand our government provide health care to all, jobs and housing for the poor. Our charities, unable to meet fundraising goals, have become businesses promising more than they can deliver. County and state social services process requests for services knowing the funds are not available.

Entertainers go to Africa to have their children or adopt one or more, then return to mansions here or abroad. Wealthy politicians espouse environmental and conservation causes and create bureaucracies that further burden taxpayers. Let the entertainers, politicians and their like-minded supporters fund their pet programs. Allow the taxpayer to decide who or what cause deserves to receive his charity.

Mary A. Kless
Lancaster

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>Diocese should seize wonderful opportunity

The parish in the Archdiocese of Atlanta is willing to spend the money to dismantle and rebuild St. Gerard's Church. What a wonderful way to serve preservation. If Tim Tielman and his group wish to retain and restore St. Gerard's at its current location, then they should come up with the money to do so. They should not be allowed to have it designated a historic landmark and prevent it from being moved.

The Buffalo Diocese has this wonderful opportunity to save St. Gerard's at another location, where it will continue in use as a church. Why should the diocese be forced to find the funds to save the building that will be used for a purpose other than originally intended?

I am not against preservation, but there are limits on what can and should be preserved at the original location. Every building cannot and should not be saved for the pure sake of preservation.

Barbara J. Campagna
Williamsville

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