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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Lessons taught by Ebert just now being learned

I noted with sorrow the passing of Dr. Charles H.V. Ebert, reported in the Jan. 1 News. I was fortunate to take two of his classes in the 1980s. I am one of thousands privileged to learn from Ebert, who taught at the University at Buffalo for 60 years, beginning in the 1950s.

In his widely popular class on natural disasters and the influence of man on the environment, as well as a class in oceanic environments, Ebert conveyed the perils of uninhibited human influence on our planet. Using facts and photographs gathered from his own extensive research and travels to places as diverse as Managua following devastating earthquakes of the 1970s to the volcanic annihilation of civilizations by Vesuvius and Krakatoa to the impact on water tables due to overbuilding impervious surfaces in cities throughout the world, the professor challenged students to consider smart building techniques, material reuse and the ecological effect of urban sprawl.

The lessons taught by Ebert are just now being learned and appreciated as the insightful warnings he intended. Those of us who had the opportunity to hear his lectures learned 30 years ago of the influence of global warming, overfishing, reduction of agricultural land and our responsibility to make decisions based on the long-term impact of our actions. His wisdom and foresight will be missed. I hope that his lessons will not.

Jonathan White

Buffalo

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Paladino knows nothing about special education

Now Carl Paladino has made me mad as hell. It is obvious he knows nothing about the needs of special children. Taking children from their families and putting them in boarding schools is not the answer. You can put them in clean uniforms and give the children three square meals a day, but these children need great amounts of special care and love. That comes from family and their teachers, not a boarding school.

My son was born in 1967 with learning disabilities, a lazy eye, dyslexia and hyperactivity. He often needed one-to-one instruction. His special education teachers were so caring and dedicated. They always told me of any concerns they had and always listened to my concerns.

After six years in special education classes, it was determined he was ready for junior high school. The rest is history. He is married with two children and has been with the same employer for 25 years. I will always be thankful for his special education.

Elsie Robinson

North Tonawanda

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Thruway Authority is making good progress on traffic plan

The Dec. 1-3 snowstorm left an indelible mark on us. Every time it snows, we think of the hundreds of motorists left stranded on the Thruway, and pray that we'll make it home that same night.

Within three days of that partly natural and partly man-made disaster, the Erie County Clerk's Office convened a task force of the Thruway Authority, State Police and experts on traffic and weather to strategize how the same event could be handled better in the future. One of our first recommendations was to find ways to close Thruway ramps in the "free" non-tolled section as quickly as possible when snow or other emergencies stop traffic.

On Jan. 7, as I was leaving downtown on the Niagara Thruway, en route to the Cheektowaga Auto Bureau, I was amazed to see a State Police vehicle blocking the entrance to the westbound Thruway. I learned later that this section was shut down for approximately half an hour following a seven-vehicle accident. The blockade allowed local motorists the ability to find alternate routes rather than being held captive on the Thruway. A state trooper informed me that this was part of the new procedures to prevent more vehicles from entering when traffic is stopped. This, he said, was a result of the recommendations from the meetings that followed the December snowstorm.

I commend the State Police and New York State Thruway Authority Vice Chairwoman Donna Luh for the excellent follow-through on their promises to get it right the next time. As someone who has battled with the Thruway Authority for 15 years, I witnessed a dramatic attitude adjustment and need to give credit where credit it due. Now about relocating those toll barriers

Kathy Hochul

Erie County Clerk

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Pioneer girls are shining example of today's youth

Hold the presses. The pundits who have predicted the demise of America because of the "youth of today" have never met the Pioneer girls basketball team. These young ladies should be congratulated for several reasons:

*They made the emotional decision to make a video supporting the memory of someone who meant a great deal to members of this team.

*They entered a national contest and won the $5,000 first prize.

*They could have spent the money on any number of personal things, but they have chosen to donate their winnings to Roswell Park Cancer Institute for cancer research.

Congratulations, ladies, you are the example of the "youth of today" that guarantees the continued growth of America.

Patrick Burns

Arcade

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Hamburg should not take over state beach

The Republican members of the Hamburg Town Board recently voted to pay $24.62 per hour to a consultant to provide marketing for Woodlawn Beach State Park. This action flies in the face of the serious need to reduce the size and cost of government in these difficult economic times.

The takeover of the failed state park was never brought to the attention of the people of Hamburg and was voted on at an 8 a.m. meeting, not the normal Monday night meeting. These actions clearly indicate an effort to sneak the action by the taxpayers.

The supervisor has stated that hall rental and other fees will pay for the operation of the park. He also said additional staff will not be required to maintain the park. The hiring of this consultant certainly is an added staffing cost.

How can the town spend a projected $289,000 to staff and operate this failed facility and say it is not going to cost any extra money? I do not believe that the maintenance department has the manpower to properly maintain Woodlawn Beach without our town parks suffering. I expect we will see many additional employees hired and they will be politically connected.

The town will be competing with local restaurants, fire companies, veteran organizations and other not-for-profits for hall rental business. Hamburg businesses will be paying the cost of marketing that is directed at taking away customers for hall rentals.

The Republican Party promotes smaller government, and less government meddling. I do not believe this is true in regard to Hamburg Republicans.

Dennis Chapman

Hamburg

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