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Everybody's Column

>Japanese offer lessons in character, strength

A month has passed since the world watched the devastation that the earthquake and tsunami brought to the Japanese people. The video footage that we viewed on television and eyewitness accounts that we read about in the daily newspaper were not only shocking but heartbreaking and humbling. It is impossible to imagine the physical and psychological terror experienced by those living in the northern regions of Japan. How does one cope with the sudden loss of children and loved ones along with the complete destruction of homes and places of work, all in a matter of minutes?

In spite of so much devastation, it continues to amaze us as we witness the humble response the Japanese people have demonstrated to the world. Their gentleness and kindness of spirit; their willingness to reach out and assist neighbors; their sharing of resources; their quiet and respectful cooperation with each other and authorities; their sharing of stories with the media; their incredible fortitude to "start over" once again; their genuine appreciation and thankfulness for all the assistance offered from afar -- never expecting help as an entitlement but as a humanitarian gesture from countries far away.

All of this moves us to contribute whatever we can as we offer our "little piece of healing" to a nation in such dire need. At the same time, however, it is important for each of us to count our blessings and perhaps rekindle some basic lessons of inner character and strength of spirit. We are still in the midst of observing and absorbing some poignant lessons on life as we watch the Japanese people cope with nature's wrath.

Perhaps some new personal perspectives regarding our own lives in America are emerging as well.

Tom Hoolihan



>Dogs could help keep deer out of cemetery

I would like to suggest a possibly overlooked factor related to the recent increase in deer being impaled on the fence at Williamsville Cemetery: the recent decision to ban dog walkers from the property. Prior to last year, the cemetery was frequently used by myself and others as a placid alternative to taking the hazardous and pedestrian-unfriendly section of Reist Street between Main Street and Glen Avenue in Williamsville. It's only a guess, but it's a pretty good guess that the increased human traffic and the scent of canines discouraged deer from occupying the cemetery property.

Perhaps instead of modifying its historic fence, Williamsville Cemetery might consider returning to its historic practice of generously allowing everyone in the neighborhood, including our properly leashed and controlled canine friends, the benefit of this lovely spot in the village. The dogs might be doing you a favor.

Will Kinney



>New format on 107.7 FM is a huge disappointment

Radio station 107.7 FM, the Lake, provided Western New York with an unparalleled selection of music from the '60s and '70s, accompanied by exceptional disc jockeys who shared interesting information with their listeners. The Lake's loyal listeners were less likely to change the station in between songs. We were a marketer's dream, paying attention to promotions and events featured on the radio station, even attending functions advertised on the the Lake.

107.7 FM was a baby boomer's dream radio station. It was truly a tribute to a generation that experienced the birth of FM radio, one that represents a demographic that has disposable income and free time to pursue its interests.

But "The Song is Over." Buffalo's jewel of a radio station has been replaced by WBEN, which highlights individuals such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others who embody the antithesis of what attracted and retained listeners of the Lake. "For What It's Worth," this "Brilliant Disguise" of radio programming leaves the public "With a Heart Full of Soul." "Changes" certainly occur in the marketplace. And "You Can't Always Get What You Want." But "My Generation" is clearly at a "Crossroads" and does not have to feel "Trapped" with alternatives dictated by corporations. "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" from Entercom. But I will continue to "Rock Around The Clock" "Further on Down the Road" by listening to Buffalo's 97 FM, Toronto's 107.1 FM and my iPod.

Bobbi Price



>Too many politicians for falling population

Reading The News coverage of the recent census figures has been frustrating in more ways than one. Not only have local leaders failed to stop Erie County's population loss, they have failed while someone like Kevin Gaughan has been offering ways to reverse our decline.

We've all become familiar with Gaughan's research that shows Western New York has a bloated number of elected officials. His statistics would be eye-opening even if we were a growing area. But in the last decade, Erie County lost more people than any other county in New York State. Yet we still have an overload of politicians.

Gaughan's solution of streamlining local governments and the State Legislature is right. His downsizing successes have saved local taxpayers money, and if he can do the same thing with the Legislature, we'll all benefit.

There are areas all over America that face the same difficulties of climate and geography that we do. But they're growing while we're dying. The only difference is that those successful areas don't bear the cost of multiple governments, and the large number of politicians that come with them.

Karen Ryan

West Seneca


>Trial lawyers should open their books, too

A past president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association wrote that he wants the insurance companies to open their financial books to show how auto premiums are affected.

To show good faith, how about first having the trial lawyers, in all their advertising, state what percentage they took in their settlements. After all, that affects our premiums, too.

Frank Busch



>Excessive fines provide more incentive to move

With both my son and daughter receiving large fines for minor driving infractions, it has become obvious to me that local governments are targeting drivers to make up for budget deficits. Whether they collect enough to pay the police to catch these miscreants, however, is questionable. It is just one more cost and annoyance that will drive people out of New York.

Richard D. Fuerle

Grand Island

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