Your Opinions

December 11, 2005

The county needs a public pool

This week, swimming was rejected as a high school sport in Howard County. Despite the signatures of more than 2,000 swimmers and swim parents pushing for the sport, despite hundreds of supporters overflowing the Board of Education room when high school swimming was proposed, and despite the creation of a solid plan to implement swimming in Howard County, high school students in our county will be denied the opportunity to swim for their schools.

The primary reason for rejection was lack of pool space. Ironically, Howard County is blessed with ample indoor pool space. If each of the county's seven pools rented their lanes to the school district for one nonpeak hour a day for two-plus months, then the program likely would have passed. It sounds simple, but it was not to be.

Columbia Association, which owns four county pools, offered some time at two of its pools. But with space issues of its own, with competition from newly built Lifetime Fitness, and with a recently rejected effort to bubble one of its outdoor pools, CA felt unable to offer more.

The county's YMCA offered an hour of time. Lifetime Fitness and Howard Community College (which has no team of its own) refused high school swimmers any practice time.

Amazingly Howard County has not a single public indoor pool within its boundaries. Thus, groups such as high school students need to rely on private institutions in order to implement community programs.

As we have learned, private pools cannot possibly fill that need. How many other worthy groups and individuals are denied participation in swim programs because of the county's absence of public pools?

Many surrounding counties have found a way to implement high school programs. Use of public facilities made that possible. If we want our kids to participate in this excellent sport through high school, if we want Howard County to be able to compete in Maryland's state swim meet, and if we want our community as a whole to be free from the narrow goals of private pools, then we need a public pool in this county. It's not much to ask for. It would earn money to defray most of its cost. And it would achieve so much. The time has come to make it happen.

Howard County needs a public pool now.

Andy Lazris Columbia

County should help police volunteer

All I want for Christmas is "Positive Results." I want positive results from a bipartisan County Council that works together with an open-minded county executive. With the election of Chris Merdon to the chairmanship of the County Council, Howard County's results-oriented moderates appear to have been given a great gift. Robey and Merdon bring out the best in each other. They clearly represent the mainstream of Howard County's political leaders, especially compared to the more ideological members of the County Council from both parties.

Executive Robey and Chairman Merdon can now roll up their sleeves and get to work on meaningful and shared goals, instead of perpetuating the incessant focus on things that divide constituents. For example, they can work together to fully address the situation faced by 21-year-old Pieter Lucas, the Howard County Auxiliary Police volunteer who lost a lower limb last month. Since the accident, he has not been provided appropriate care due to insurance disputes.

As a person who copes with a disability and one who has worked with some of the disabled veterans returning from Iraq as amputees, I wish to add my voice to the calls to lend compassionate assistance to this young local hero and to help avoid a repeat of this situation.

County Executive Robey and Chairman Merdon, please give all Howard County residents the positive results we deserve this holiday season.

Linda Furiate Columbia

Thanks for the help, Oakland Mills

In June of 2004, my husband, David, was diagnosed with liver disease. He was unable to work and had no medical insurance. I began to fight to save my husband, and through persistence and hard work I finally obtained insurance for him, as well as locating a nonprofit organization to help guide me in the path of fundraising.

With each step I took, I found a new friend, support and an Angel (we'll call her Carole). People I did not know jumped in with both feet, devoting their time, expertise and a lot of energy. We hosted three major events. Friends, neighbors and even strangers came with open hearts, positive thoughts and open pockets to aid us in the efforts to raise money.

Thanks to the Oakland Mills community and all of you for your support. And please remember that one person who decides to be an organ donor can save seven lives. Have a wonderful holiday.

Karen Hillens Columbia

More aid for parents of lesbians and gays

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