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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Wednesday, Sept. 19

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Print the ballots

To the editor:

Bob Mason’s letter to the editor was what I’ve been fighting for, for the last three elections.

We moved here six years ago from Maryland where they printed sample ballots in the papers at least two weeks before the elections.

I’ve made numerous phone calls trying to find out why we can’t get sample ballots before elections here in Halifax County. 

The last election I called The Gazette-Virginian and talked to the editor, Paula Bryant. She told me that particular election she couldn’t get a copy of the ballot in time to print it before Election Day.

Bob is exactly right. If we could have time to look over the sample ballot, it would give us time to make up our minds.

Thank you Bob Mason. Maybe we can get more people behind this.

Dan Newkirk Sr.

South Boston

 

Always some 

To the editor:

Much has been made of this past weekend’s ALMS race at VIR. Undoubtedly it was good for the local economy.

It must be said though, that VIR guests are guests not only of the resort, but also of the surrounding local community. 

The VIR area residents are the ones who deal with the increased traffic, noise, and in this weekend’s case, blocking of some local roads for traffic control. 

We also deal with arrogance and rudeness from some of the VIR clientele. 

I, myself, have been forced off Highway 119 by race team rigs and had to fend off numerous unwanted and persistent offers to buy my property.

 Even though most of the VIR people I’ve met have been great, there are always some who leave bad impressions. 

I hope Ms. Nyholm, Mr. Siegel, Mr. Smith and Mr. Vaden at VIR will take note that their guests’ interactions with the local residents reflect on their facility.

Glenn Williamson

Alton 

 

Homework woes

To the editor:

How many families and teachers suffer from homework woes? 

Homework constitutes all pain and no gain. All day in school, then second shift homework. Where’s the down time for exercise, family and dream time? And does family time mean nagging “Have you finished your homework yet?”

Isn’t it necessary to let kids grow in a positive atmosphere in numerous areas - socially, physically and emotionally, not first academically, which homework has minimal merit in achieving.

Let’s restore positive attitudes to school time and put happiness in our children’s lives.  It has been proven that happiness on the job increases productivity. It has been proven that homework does not achieve academic growth especially in elementary students. 

Homework could be beneficial in upper grades to reinforce prior classroom studies but on a limited basis. 

Parents, teachers and families need a daily change of pace from the workforce. Don’t children deserve the same considerations?

Rachaela Howard

Scottsburg

 

Just road kill

To the editor:

On Sept. 7, I was happy to read that our board of supervisors has proclaimed a Constitution Week to take place this month. 

Study of our Constitution is good “homework” as we approach the elections. But what does such study teach us? 

First, we discover that, for about a century, the federal government has been undermining our liberties and our finances by doing things that the Constitution does not authorize. 

Second, we see that the attack on the Constitution has become much more dangerous and more shameless during the last four years.

During President Bush’s second term, the average annual federal deficit was about $296 billion. Yes, that was way too high. But for President Obama’s first term, the average annual deficit is more than four times as much, at about $1.333 trillion. (Check the numbers for yourself on www.omb.gov.) 

What did Mr. Obama and Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi do with this money? Was it spent, as the Constitution says, “To pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States?” 

Well, no. Much of it was just shoveled out in order to “spread the wealth around,” as Mr. Obama once admitted he wanted to do. 

And hundreds of billions went to Mr. Obama’s fat-cat friends and union buddies to “stimulate” them to support his re-election campaign. This spending spree has already gotten our national debt rating downgraded.

Now, with four more years of the Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, we face national bankruptcy. Then we can count on just one thing: we will be lucky if we get pennies back on every dollar that we paid in Social Security and Medicare taxes. 

While the Republicans are trying to discuss what can be done to save as much as possible out of these programs. Mr. Obama and his buddies seem not to care that the country is going broke, as long as it does not happen until after the elections, of course.

All that affects mostly our pockets. But how about our consciences? We believe that we have a right, given by God and protected by the First Amendment, to worship and obey Him. We know that the feds, under our Constitution, have no authority to make us give up our Christian religious beliefs. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama does not agree. 

In fact, Mr. Obama’s government lawyers are currently arguing in federal court that business owners, regardless of their religious beliefs, must pay for “healthcare” that covers contraception, sterilization and even abortion. If they refuse, they will face crippling fines that will drive them out of business.

For 200 years, Americans understood there is simply no way our Constitution (written by Christians for a Christian people) empowers the feds to override God’s law about the nature of marriage. 

Once again, Mr. Obama does not agree. Indeed, he and his Democratic friends have come out in favor of “gay marriage.” If they get their way, schools will be teaching our children that homosexuality is good. If you or I say anything that offends a gay couple, we may find ourselves getting sued or even charged with a “hate crime.”

Finally, Mr. Obama’s Administration is busy working with the United Nations on a “Small Arms Treaty” which would give it an excuse to interfere with our Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.” 

Under cover of the Treaty, the feds could compel us to register the weapons that we already have-so they will know where to go when they decide to confiscate them. After all, we are going to be upset when the feds both stiff us and try to make us betray our God. They want to make sure that we cannot fight back when it happens.

In 2008, many of us did not grasp what Mr. Obama really meant when he talked about a “radical transformation” of the country. But now we should clearly see what was not quite so clear four years ago: Mr. Obama has us on a highway to socialism, bankruptcy, enslavement and paganism. 

If he has his way for another four years, our Constitution and our liberties and the country that we love will be just road-kill.

Sincerely yours,

Waclaw K.
Bakierowski

Halifax

 

Constituent concerns

To the editor:

This is the essence of a presentation made to the Halifax County School Board on Monday, Sept. 10. 

As a member of the community, I have many concerns about what we’ve heard about the financial management, the decisions and the decision making process of our school system and school board.

 

Local Option Retirement Program (LORP) 

This program was “terminated” after a meeting behind closed doors with no explanation. An incomplete and misleading presentation by the superintendent on Aug. 30 suggested that many “unanticipated expenses” ($1.1 million health insurance, $360,000 for LAN Managers, $174,000 leave compensation, etc.) outside the budget made this action necessary. 

When asked if the LORP program saved the school system money, she replied “no.” 

On Sept. 1 additional information was presented to the board and superintendent illustrating that LORP did, in fact, save money, yet the school board has taken no action to either reconsider their decision or even acknowledge the new information.

 

Budget

There is a balanced school budget that was approved, audited and adopted in March. Yet, less than two months into the fiscal year, the school system is operating outside of it including:

“$367,640 paid to rehire the LAN managers whose jobs school board members originally eliminated in an effort to balance the budget;”

 “Leave payout for July-August 2011-12 ($174,763).” (Not in the budget?)

 Not implementing LORP. What happened to the LORP funds? Rather than go through a formal budget amendment process, the school board and administration apparently believe they can spend the taxpayers’ money any way they want, whenever they want regardless of the budget.

 

Health Insurance 

The Superintendent reported a $1.1 million increase in premiums.

Apparently the current CFO brought in the previous CFO Bill Covington last week to help him understand the budget. 

As I understand it, it was Bill who “found” the $732,000 to help pay for the health insurance increase. Where is the other $400,000 coming from? 

It seems to me that the current CFO and administration should have brought him in and achieved this understanding long before now. 

What would the LORP decision have been if they had done this? Bill knew that LORP saved the school system money.

 

Capping leave day accumulation 

While this may appear to be a good decision at first glance, just the opposite is true. Limiting the accumulation will, in fact be more expensive. Briefly, it is always cheaper to pay a reduced rate ($25, $50, $100) for unused leave days than it is to require they be taken where “substitutes” must be hired or where work goes undone.

After the Aug. 30 meeting, one board member said, “As board members we can only go by the information that is presented to us. We have to put trust in the people who bring the information to us. We have no access, no more access than you all do to the information about our school system.”

Another board member after the July 25 board meeting stated “... they (the board) threw out all these mind boggling dollar figures. I’m just an ole country girl.” Really?!

While I understand and agree that the board can only go by the information presented to them, it seems to me that the school board has the responsibility to ensure they have informed and knowledgeable advisors, to seek out clarification, other opinions and input where there is any doubt, and always to be ready to consider new or additional information. If I were a school board member and I were not completely comfortable with my understanding and grasp of an issue, I would question and search out information until I was. And if I couldn’t reach that comfort level, I would abstain from voting on it or recuse myself from the discussion and decision.

I believe that we taxpayers and the Halifax County Board of Supervisors need to keep a closer eye on what is happening in our schools, with the school administration and with the school board. Also, I believe the administration and board have a responsibility to be much more responsive to the public.

Peggy M. Strom

South Boston


Missed one

To the editor:

I would like to start by saying I do not live in the Town of South Boston. I do go down town often.

In the paper on Monday there were several “Notice of Unsafe Structure” advertisements. All were homes in the towns of South Boston and Halifax. 

Why was the building on Main Street in South Boston not included? There was a fence put in front of this building blocking the sidewalk several years ago. If you are in a group or meeting someone as you pass by, you have to walk in the street.

Thank you,

Tony Guthrie

Halifax