Earthen dams need shoring up to ensure structural...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 08, 2001

Earthen dams need shoring up to ensure structural integrity

As Cecil County bridge coordinator from 1998-1999, I was in charge of the inspection of several spillways and earthen dams supporting local roadways ("State traces dam failure," Feb. 17). It was apparent at that time that several of the county's small spillways and earthen dams had deteriorated.

More alarming, however, was that the flanking earthen embankments could be breached with little or no warning during a severe storm if the spillway or release structure malfunctioned.

Indeed, during the September 1999 tropical storm, the earthen dam located at Mill Lane and Scotchman Creek did fail, causing the loss of a scenic lake and its aquatic habitat.

The state's Office of Dam Safety apparently still prefers the use of earthen dams with an impervious hidden core, which supposedly prevents seepage.

However, if the embankment is badly constructed or inspected, not monitored during severe weather or if a release mechanism fails, the water's force can destroy the dam and damage the area.

These earthen embankments should be fronted with timber or steel sheeting, which provides a stronger structure to resist rising waters.

Economics often prohibits this secondary support, but in an area of significant environmental concern, I believe the installation of sheeting is warranted.

James T. Aguirre

Baltimore

Dumpsters could control city's trash nightmare

Since it appears no one is able to catch those who continue to illegally dump their filth in the city's alleys and vacant lots, perhaps the city ought to consider placing construction dumpsters at some of the major problem sites, with periodic trash pick-ups ("Trash: city's recurring nightmare," Feb. 24).

If its purveyors use the dumpsters, this may at least lessen the negative impact that the trash has on city neighborhoods.

Garland L. Crosby

Baltimore

Readers react to shootings at California high school

Sadly, the front page of Tuesday's Sun recounted the bloody shooting of 15 people, mostly fellow students, by a 15-year-old at a high school in San Diego ("Boy, 15, accused in school killings," March 6). This unreasonable attack on innocents could have been averted if the gunman's warnings had been heeded and highlights the importance of preventive measures in dealing with gun violence. The John Joseph Price Gun Safety Education Program (SB 124), currently before our legislature is just such a concept. Named after a young victim of an accidental shooting by another child, this bill calls for mandatory gun safety programs in all of our schools as part of health education.

Such strategies seek to reduce gun injuries and deaths by pre-empting the attack. While laws like the Project Exile bill (HB 622), also currently being considered by the House, seek to diminish gun crimes by providing severe penalties for the illegal use of firearms, they must be coupled with preventive strategies such as education, screening, licensing, and reasonable waiting periods for all handgun purchasers; outlawing semiautomatic weapons; mandatory safety locks; and personalization of all new handguns as soon as the technology is available.

Maryland is well on its way to serving as a model to a nation that desperately needs such laws.

Nelson Goodman

Shady Side

President Bush called the most recent shooting and act of violence by an adolescent in San Diego "an act of cowardice." A desperate act by a disturbed boy that ended in tragedy for our whole society is a more apt description.

Our president would do well to work toward gun control and the means to keep guns out of the hands of children.

What's it going to take for our leaders to see the relationship between guns and the untimely and exquisitely painful deaths of our children?

Jeannette Ollodart Marx

Towson

The recent shootings at the Santana High School in California will undoubtedly spur gun controllers to call for more laws restricting the right to own firearms. How can this happen in a state with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country? There were at least a dozen laws broken by that young man the moment he picked up that revolver.

More laws are not the answer. The answer is to instill in our nation's youth a sense of pride and morality. Thousands of our young people participate in the shooting sports for recreation and to win Olympic medals.

The senseless acts by a few craven cowards should not destroy this heritage for all.

Calvin Chue

Baltimore

Views on Bush-Cheney and the role of the press

Your headline "Cheney has surgery to clear artery," (March 6) is blatantly misleading, and you intended it to be. Your paper is disgustingly "Clinton-like" -- meaning you have very little respect for the simple truth.

Vice President Richard Cheney had the very simple procedure of clearing an artery that had a minor blockage resulting from the insertion of a stent in November. It was done using a catheter and inflating a balloon inside the artery to clear the blockage.

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