Arc's reputation for commitment is excellentAs a longtime...

LETTERS

March 15, 1998

Arc's reputation for commitment is excellent

As a longtime advocate for children and adults with retardation and as a mother of a 32-year-old man who benefits from services provided by the Arc of Howard County, I must respond to your March 2 article " 'Caretakers' who prey on the retarded."

I could not ask for an agency more committed to the support of people such as my son, David. The integrity, hard work and good will of almost everyone hired or volunteering for the Arc is impressive.

As the article pointed out, problems unfortunately occur. One even affected my son. How the agency chooses to respond is what is important.

It would be naive to believe that the Arc has always been able to hire only the best. We are fortunate that the Arc is able to attract as many talented people as it has, considering the low salaries and challenging work.

I have had the good fortune to see the growth of the Arc over 25 years as it has worked for the development of innovative and needed programs.

The Arc began the first infant programs in Howard County, opened homes for people in the community, set zoning laws to allow such housing, supported parents who believed that students could work in the community after leaving school, advocated and effected changes in state school regulations regarding inclusion and transitioning students, initiated respite care to give parents a break and provide care when family illness or other problems occurred, worked for after-school and other recreation programs and developed a flexible program for an aging population and residential care for people leaving state institutions who need intense and complex supports.

The list goes on.

This happened because the community has believed in what the Arc does and has valued its leaders, staff and members. Howard County has been generous through contributions of land, time and money as well as with grants and government support.

I am proud to be a part of this organization and trust that the staff and board of directors will be vigilant and responsible in this situation to do whatever is needed to continue to support and advocate for people with retardation and to maintain the Arc's well-deserved good reputation.

Nancy Rhead

Columbia

School, health officials handled death well

I am a parent of a second-grade student at Worthington Elementary School, and am writing in reference to your March 6 article "Actions after boy died are questioned," about the tragic death of Steven Chilton and how school administrators and the county health department handled the situation

The school handled this correctly. It notified parents immediately with what little information was available at the time, and continues to do so whenever new information comes out.

Fran Donaldson, Worthington's principal, handled the situation with great sensitivity and compassion -- something the press failed to do.

A newscast on Channel 13 reported "a controversy" over a Howard County school student's death. What controversy? A child became ill and died. His parents are going through every parent's worst nightmare, and the Worthington community grieves with them.

The article says the press should have been informed. Why? The school administration held a meeting with health department officials and parents to explain the situation and to allay fears.

They are doing everything possible to inform parents.

Amy Francis

Ellicott City

Our House participants determined, intelligent

I am a volunteer helping young men from Our House earn their general educational development (GED) diplomas.

I have spent many hours with them in their classrooms as an assistant to their instructor, in their dormitory as a computer instructor, in sharing an evening meal with them as a friend and member and in some social activities.

In all my dealings with them, I was never apprehensive or afraid for my well-being. What I have found is some very determined, intelligent young men who want to learn how to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, and are willing to abide by very strict rules and regulations and discipline.

I, for one, will always give of my time, my effort and my money to help them.

onald Ledford

Columbia

Ecker reneging on trash-fee pledge

I have followed Howard County Councilman Dennis R. Schrader's proposal to scrap the $125 Howard County trash fee with some interest while awaiting County Executive Charles I. Ecker's reaction.

Now we have it: He opposes the idea and, in so doing, reneges on a pledge he made when he railroaded the citizens of Howard County by not establishing it as a tax.

At least Mr. Schrader has the good sense to recognize it as a tax when, as he was quoted in the Howard County Times, he says, "The surplus means we collected too much from taxpayers. We have to give it back."

A couple years ago, when Mr. Ecker proposed the trash fee, I undertook an electronic-mail dialogue with him first in opposition and then to have it established as a tax.

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