The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

April 29, 2012

Letters to the Editor 4/29/12

The News Courier

The News Courier encourages letters to the editor. Submissions should be no more than 400 words and should include a name, address and telephone number for verification. Submissions that do not meet requirements are subject to editing. Send letters by noon on Thursdays to P.O. Box 670, Athens, AL, 35613, or email to

Gifted program not real problem

Dear Editor:

I am a sophomore at Elkmont High School. I have been an active member in the Limestone County gifted program since the third grade. My Dad was an active member in the gifted program, I am, and now my sister (a third-grader) is as well. My sister currently has the same third-grade gifted teacher as my dad and I did in third grade.

If a system like this has lasted this long and stayed extremely strong, why mess with it? I understand there are some things we could improve on, but it is nothing that would require some of these changes you all are proposing.

One of them is moving the gifted program out to county schools. If the board votes to take the gifted program away from the tech school how will we gifted students be able to interact with students from other county schools and other teachers besides our designated one? Just because we are assigned to one teacher does not mean we do not communicate and collaborate with our former teachers. We are all one big family, the gifted program.

Our bond can never be broken over $24,000 dollars. In the gifted program, we all feed off each other. By this, we are made stronger than we ever thought we could have been back at our separate high schools. Our strong points are made stronger and our weakest points are built up as strong as our strongest ones are. You are with people from all over Limestone County who understand and think like you, and that is very important to us.

I think the board should focus on much bigger problems in our school system; ones that are negatively affecting students rather than positively affecting students as the gifted program does.

The gifted program is fine, especially compared to other things in the system. Please board members, when this subject arises in your board meeting, look out at all the gifted students in front of you and ask yourself, “Do I really want to change this program when it has affected so many students in such a positive way just the way it is right now?”

I hope your answer is NO to moving the gifted program out into individual county schools.


Brianne Hargrove


Thanks for award

Dear Editor:

Our family would like to thank the Boy Scouts and everyone involved with the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast for giving us the Heart of an Eagle Award  in recognition of our efforts in the dangers of Meningitis to our community.  We are truly blessed to receive this honor, which would not be possible without the help and encouragement we get from each of you. This is one way that we can remember our precious Jessica and know that her life is still making a difference in this world.  She would be amazed and honored to know that so many people continue to help us get through each day.  

We will treasure this award forever and continue to raise awareness to save a life so another family will not have to experience this tragedy.


Talbot, Michelle Emilee and Michael Elkins


Am I confused about justice?

Dear Editor:

My official duties over the years have required me to study and apply federal and those laws of several states to include California, Virginia and Alabama.

In federal law I primarily dealt with Title 18 (Criminal Statues) and 14 CFR that deals with federal aviation regulations. In state law I was primarily limited to state vehicle codes since the military assimilates those traffic laws into military traffic enforcement aboard military reservation, however where jurisdictions may cross it is helpful to be familiar with the state criminal laws.  

I mention these facts about my experiences to qualify my observations and concerns about our judicial system.

Last week Florida Circuit Judge Ken Lester issued an order during a bond hearing to George Zimmerman saying that Zimmerman “must not have any contact with the victim’s family.” My question is simple — who is the victim?

If the charges against Zimmerman as stated on the charge affidavit are correct then Mr. Martin is absolutely a victim, however, if the disquisition favors Zimmerman’s account then is not Zimmerman the victim. Did this order by Judge Lester injecting “victim” and clearly referring to Mr. Martin as that victim improperly imply Zimmerman’s guilt in the eyes of this court?

It’s my understanding that presumption of innocence is imperative in our criminal justice system, any influence contrary to that idea leads to injustice. Obviously this assumption of innocence only applies to the court and not to individual citizens or the press; regardless ethics and morality should trump the desire of public conviction.

Although not found in our Constitution as presumption of innocence it may be easily derived from the fifth, sixth and 14th amendments.  Justice White made the following observation in Coffin vs. United States, 156 U.S. 432 (1895) a decision that firmly established the presumption of innocence into our judicial process:

The presumption of innocence is one of the instruments of proof, going to bring about the proof from which reasonable doubt arises; thus one is a cause, the other an effect. The evolution of the principle of the presumption of innocence, and its resultant, the doctrine of reasonable doubt, make more apparent the correctness of these views, and indicate the necessity of enforcing the one in order that the other may continue to exist.

That maxim is placed on the shoulders of the sitting judge and selected jurors and must not be dismissed if we are to protect our system of justice.


Rex Davis