Need balanced view on school soil tests Parents for...

LETTERS

March 03, 2002

Need balanced view on school soil tests

Parents for Safe Schools would like to commend Christopher Merdon (County Council, District 1) for his involvement and handling of the soil situation at Worthington Elementary, particularly in his willingness to moderate an informal public forum in which community members could voice concerns and ask questions.

The Department of Public Works has rendered their opinion that there is "no health risk" to students or staff at Worthington - case closed. No need for a public meeting. The Department of Education concurs with that pronouncement. Yet there are still many unanswered questions and concerns from the citizens of our community.

Should the County decide to reverse its decision to not hold a public meeting, we certainly advocate their presenting a balanced view of the Worthington situation. Our group hired an environmental consultant (QES) to provide a second, independent opinion on the County's environmental testing at Worthington.

QES's analysis differs from the County's analysis, yet used the same data. PFSS believes it incumbent upon the County to provide its citizens with a balanced presentation of test results - and challenges the County to provide equal floor time to QES should the County decide to hold a public meeting.

The citizens of Howard County deserve nothing less than a balanced presentation. We hope officials from the Public Works and Education departments can follow Mr. Merdon's courageous and balanced lead. Thank you, Mr. Merdon, for your exemplary action of conducting a community forum.

Carol McKissick, president; Diane Goodridge, secretary; Tammy Coburn, treasurer

Thanks to lawmakers for action on shelter

I loudly applaud the initiative of State Senator Schrader, joined by fellow Senators Kasemeyer and Kittleman, requesting County Executive Robey's action in locating an alternative site, rather than in Kings Contrivance or Long Reach, for the proposed Center/Shelter. This is most definitely a bipartisan issue, and their action is just the kind of proactive and reasoned involvement we need from our elected representatives.

The residents of both Kings Contrivance and Long Reach have spoken, and we have spoken loudly in opposing locating the Center/Shelter in either of our Villages. State Delegates Turner and Pendergrass have stated they will heed the residents' voice and will not support funding for the Center/Shelter in either Kings Contrivance or Long Reach. County Council Members Guzzone and Gray have stated they oppose locating the Center/Shelter in Kings Contrivance or Long Reach and will not support funding for these locations.

I urge the coalition of the nonprofit organizations involved with the Center/Shelter and Mr. Robey to respect the collective voices of the residents of Kings Contrivance and Long Reach and our elected representatives and proceed expeditiously to select an alternative site.

James Medwin

Kings Contrivance

Putting crisis center at hospital makes sense

The sponsors of the proposed Crisis Center emphasize that the existing facilities do not adversely impact their current neighborhoods. This past experience is not a predictor for the proposed facility that will combine three separately located facilities serving diverse and vulnerable populations and add emergency psychiatric housing to the mix. It defies common sense that emergency psychiatric housing would be provided in a facility other than one equipped with medical professionals who could adequately deal with such emergencies. It is even more incredible that such services would be provided in a facility that supports abused and vulnerable women and children or that the sponsors would consider it rational to locate such a facility within feet of any high school.

This is an experiment, and the communities targeted for location are properly concerned that the experiment could have adverse consequences. One of the speakers at the Long Reach meeting raised an important point for the neighbors of any combined facility. How will the three organizations resolve issues that will inevitably arise in the daily operations of the Center, and who will the community hold accountable for its operations? The Montgomery County facility that is the model for Howard County is operated by the County government, and the citizens know who to hold accountable.

Assuming that the proposed Crisis Center is a viable concept and measured by all the criteria on which locations were selected, Howard County General Hospital is the ideal location. It is the first place those in crisis would likely consider for help. It is accessible, centrally located, visible, and, with the help of its supporters, should be available and affordable. It seems like a no-brainer. Wonder why this alternative wasn't considered? The sponsors should go back to the drawing board and reconsider the concept as well as the location.

Cecilia Januszkiewicz

Columbia

Stop blaming others for problems in schools

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