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Everybody's Column

>New taxes are unfair to upstate residents

I just purchased my annual combination hunting, archery and fishing license. The license cost has risen a few times since I began hunting in the 1970s. Last year the license cost $68 and included the deer management permit. This year the license without the permit is $88 and there is an additional $10 fee for the DMP. That is a 30 percent increase.

The Department of Environmental Conservation notes every year how hunting has dropped off throughout the state. What does it think will happen after this? The state will take your registration fee for an ATV but you cannot ride it anywhere in the state on public land. The state tries to encourage young people to enjoy the fishing and hunting opportunities we have right here in our own back yard, but then taxes it to death.

This is another tax that burdens upstate citizens more than those in New York City. I have not researched the per-capita hunting population numbers, but I can say quite confidently that upstate will bear the largest cost on this new increase. This is much like the proposed license plate "initiation fee" that will be added to the registration fees when the new plates come out. Again, a higher percentage of upstate residents have cars and trucks than in the New York City area.

When will we wake up? My children will not live here. One is gone and the other is heading out upon finishing medical school. Why stay?

Brian Schaefer
Williamsville

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>Education is the key to preventing suicide

Suicide is a national health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, co-workers, schools and the entire community. Sadly, every minute of every day, someone attempts to take his own life and every 16 minutes someone dies by suicide. This may seem like just another statistic, until that statistic takes the form of someone you love, like my father Howard Schmidt, who died by suicide in 2007.

In recognition that this is National Suicide Prevention Week, I would like to use this time to encourage the public to learn more about suicide and ways to prevent it. We also need to educate the public to recognize the symptoms of depression, especially in teenagers, because they are a particularly vulnerable group.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is conducting one of its Out of the Darkness Community Walks in Buffalo on Sept. 19 to raise funds for prevention and education. A portion of the funds raised will support distribution of the foundation's film "More Than Sad: Teen Depression" to area high schools. The film will educate teens about depression and treatment options. To learn more about the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, visit www.outofthedark-ness.org. For more information about the film, visit www.morethansad.org.

Erica Schmidt
North Tonawanda

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>Texting while driving merits stricter penalty

The governor recently approved a law making it illegal for anyone to text while driving. A $150 fine for texting while operating a vehicle is a disgrace. People who put themselves and others in serious jeopardy by not paying attention to the road deserve nothing less than to have their license revoked for five years or put in jail. The trouble these careless morons cause on our streets warrants something harsher than a $150 fine.

Salvatore LoManto
Kenmore

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>Remember all firemen lost in the line of duty

I am writing this letter as a former widow of a firefighter. This may have happened many years ago (1961), but I feel that he (Vincent Morana) also should be recognized with others mentioned as a fallen firefighter.

He was a rookie with less than one year on the job, 26 years of age and the father of an 18-month-old child whom he never had the opportunity to see go to school, get married and raise two sons, his grandsons. Yes, it is a dangerous job for all firefighters. But let us recognize all those who lost their lives, both present and past.

Rose M. Morana-Favre
Buffalo

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>Kennedy was champion of national service

America has lost a defender of the poor, the disabled and the misunderstood. A champion of national service, Edward M. Kennedy was also a personal hero of mine. A senator and political icon who worked endlessly to help America's least and lost.

After immersing myself in CNN, I was so touched by Kennedy -- the father, the uncle and the friend. His son Teddy's story was so powerful. Teddy spoke of how encouraging his dad was to him after Teddy lost his leg to cancer. I am so encouraged that a man who was bigger than life was also a great dad.

My daughter's friend asked, "Why is this Kennedy stuff on all day?" My daughter, without skipping a beat, said, "It is like a present-day Ben Franklin died." That is the best analogy I have heard for the Lion of the Senate who authored 300 laws.

I am proud to have had a very small part in the development of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which will expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 members over the next five years.

Mark P. Lazzara
CEO/Executive Director
Western New York AmeriCorps
Hands On Greater Buffalo

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>Give us all health care like representatives have

The health care system is broken and we all want care for everyone. We need an honest discussion, not a takeover. If the government is honest about this, then why was the House bill passed without anyone reading it? How was such a large, complicated bill written up in such a short time? Why does it exclude tort reform?

We pay too much for health care and the government is not capable of running anything without politics being injected. We currently have "free" emergency care for those who can't afford it, so we don't need to rush this through. We need to demand our politicians be responsible to the people. We are having town meetings after the bill was written. The town meetings should have happened before the bill was written to get the "people's" opinions beforehand. Remember, they work for us. What ever happened to that?

The current bill is pure politics written by who knows who? If you want the government to offer "free" health care, you are more interested in socialism than reform. We can have no reform in this country that our representatives are not the first to sign up for. When we are told we have options, it's because we will be offered inferior care to those writing up those options. The only option we Americans should choose is the one that gives us health care as good as our representatives' care.

Patrick Rauen
Williamsville

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