The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 7, 2013

Letters to the Editor 7/7/13


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 adam@athensnews-courier.com.

Thanks for fundraiser support

Dear Editor:

On behalf of the board of directors of the Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives, I would like to thank all of those who contributed to a very successful 2nd Annual Sam Gibbons Memorial Walking Horse Show. We would like to thank Ken Wilson and the Southeastern Saddle Club for organizing and managing the show, Teresa Todd and Bill Scheuler for their assistance and our major sponsors: John & Molly Plunk, Jimmy Smith Buick/GMC, Smith Infinity of Huntsville and Copier Doctors of Athens. We would also like to thank our many other sponsors who are too numerous to mention.

We offer a special Thank You to Sheriff Mike Blakely for allowing us to use his wonderful facility and for providing manpower to assist with the setup and cleanup before and after the event. 

Additionally, we would like to thank the AMVETS for cooking and manning the concession stand, and all of our volunteers for filling in where necessary.

We would like to offer a very special Thank You to those folks who came out to watch and support the Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives. The 2nd Annual Sam Gibbons Memorial Horse Show is our largest fundraiser of the year and thanks to everyone involved, it was a very successful event.

All proceeds from the event will be used to fund the future expansion of our Museum.

Sincerely,

Sandra Thompson, director

Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives

Volunteer support appreciated

Dear Editor:

I am writing to thank all the many volunteers who have worked so hard to bring art and artistic experiences to our local community. Athens Arts League, which was formerly Art On the Square merged with Spirit of Athens this year, and the formerly festival-driven group has expanded their mission in order to better bring art year-round to the whole community. Also planned is development of an artists’ enclave in downtown Athens.

This past month volunteers from the group taught art camps to children from The Athens and Tanner Boys & Girls Clubs. The youth service organization known as TRAIL provided a grant to assist the league in the mission of spreading art experiences to all children in Limestone County. Athens Arts League volunteers created the painting project and over 60 children were exposed to the joy of art. More public children’s art camps are in the works for this fall.

On June 28, the league organized and hosted the first of three fourth Friday Summer Art Stroll events on the Limestone County Courthouse lawn. Numerous businesses on The Square stayed open late and the restaurants were buzzing with activity. Best of all, the Courthouse walkways were filled with people meeting local and regional painters, photographers, ceramicists, jewelers, clothing designers, mixed media artists and a local violinist. Children drew with chalk on the sidewalks and hula hoops were abundant. The Athens Arts League made certain that the grass was protected on the lawn by assuring that no stakes were used by artists and only weights were placed to secure their pop-up tents. Lynn Hart of KALB brought recyclable containers for the plastic water bottles that the Athens Arts League passed out to the artists.

Most all of the participating artists plan to return and new ones have asked to be part of the upcoming Strolls. The artists’ works were impressive to say the least. This entire community is blessed to have so many positive passionate hands-on volunteers who love bringing plain old goodness to our city and county. Thanks again to everyone who stood up and said, yes!

Sincerely,

Diane Lehr

Spirit of Athens

Fresh produce easy to find

Dear Editor:

I am very grateful for many things that I have as a citizen living in Athens and Limestone County. We are so fortunate to have access to an abundance of fresh produce in our immediate community.

Isom’s Orchard has served up enough fresh fruits and vegetables to fill anyone’s pantry for more years than I have been a citizen in Alabama (which is 28 years). They are reliable to offer the best local and regional produce found anywhere. They work their farm stand on Highway 72, in rain or shine, for long hours, and for many months out of the year. There are many other farm stands within a ten-mile radius of anywhere in Athens.

Recently, the County Commission made the Farmers Market in downtown Athens a true farmer friendly venue all throughout the week. At the support of the city of Athens, the downtown revitalization nonprofit, known as Spirit of Athens, took on yet another project, and they now offer the four hour Saturday Market.

This market provides fresh produce from local and regional farmers, interesting ready made fare from local folks like goat cheese, clover coffee, fresh flowers, and crafts. It’s very pleasant to listen to the live music as you browse the veggies and gather with friends. The Saturday Market is a fun venue.

With all these options, I feel blessed to live in such a great little community, and I intend to keep my letter and my attitude positive and encouraging of the many volunteers who work so hard improving the community with organizations like Spirit of Athens. I am a local volunteer myself, and I know the commitment and effort that goes into working to improve the place where we live.

I also wish to recognize the many established farm stand businesses we have here, that regularly and reliably provide our community with great produce seven days a week for many months out of the year. Please support our local farmers.

Sincerely,

Lisa Milby

Athens

Surveillance, Snowden and the IRS

Dear Editor:

Is the U.S. government collecting data and monitoring communications for national security purposes? Absolutely. Should they be? Without question.

The government is not listening to your conversations to your aunt Martha swapping recipes, or to your buddy about who hit the longest drive on your latest golf outing. The government collects metadata, or bulk data, which identifies the frequency and location of global communications traffic.

If a security concern arises, only then will they dig into specific cases, and only after approval from Congress and specific warrants from the justice department.

The Department of Defense and National Security Agency can’t sneeze without Congress regulating it, and without getting the proper warrants. Such specific warrants have revealed at least a dozen terrorist plots both foreign and domestic, over the past several years. If you are not sure if the benefits of such a program are worth the intrusion, ask the families of the victims of 9/11 if they would have approved of such a program had it been available back then.

If this program foils one plot that saves one of your family members’ lives, where would you stand on this issue?

Snowden — How did a high-school dropout and military reject (he was released after five months) end up with classified U.S. government information considered sensitive enough to be a national security issue?

Furthermore, how did this person land a government contractor job with a private consulting company making an annual salary of $200,000 at the age of 29, when the company’s own background check turned up discrepancies in his resume pertaining to specific college classes he had listed but had never taken?

Consider this: My brother, after Athens High School, six years in the Air Force, graduating Calhoun and UAH with honors, (dean’s list), numerous master’s degrees, and 31 years with the DOD and NSA where he is top management, had his salary frozen three years ago with all other government employees, at his previous pay grade … at a salary one-half of Snowden’s. 

IRS bonuses — U.S. government employees have had a salary freeze in place for more than three years. How is it possible that top IRS employees are in line to receive bonuses this year? Considering the recent IRS employees’ scandal and massive national debt, where is the justification in allowing these bonuses to be paid?

Sincerely,

Glenn Hall

Athens

Turn away from socialism

Dear Editor:

We just celebrated Independence Day, honoring the founding of our nation. We must turn aside the socialistic desires of President Obama and the Democrats and return to the nation our founders envisioned.

Rather than continue to dole out hard-working citizen’s funds through 1,000 various federal programs, we need to evaluate what is truly being accomplished and base much of the funding of individuals and organizations upon achieving certain goals — incentives rather than handouts. This policy should apply both federally and locally. We need more effort to achieve independence rather than dependence. Failure, due to lack of effort, is not a reason to give support.

We are members of a democracy, most of us have shelter and food, through our own efforts or the graciousness and giving of others. Many defenders of our freedom are returning to their families. We need more emphasis on those that have been permanently, seriously, impaired due to their service and less to those uninterested in getting an education and bettering themselves or content to add to the many fatherless families and children.

Our city and nation can return to greatness if we place greater value on our own industriousness, self-reliability, and what is achieved by honest, blood, sweat and tears.

Sometimes life is not fair and we have to evaluate situations carefully, without rushing to judgment and disregarding personal responsibility. Credit and recognition should be given to those providing their own independence and not sacrificing benefits to their families for those who provide no effort at betterment. 

We need to evaluate, just as closely, on a local level, as to what and how funds are dispensed to groups and organizations that should become self-supporting, not tax funding supported, if they are not generating proven financial benefits to the funding body. Aesthetic and social benefits for some does not necessarily justify using the funds from the majority for the interests and desires of a few.

Our City Council determines how the taxpayers’ funds are to be allocated. How about a business, or town hall, meeting to explain or justify their allocation decisions to the citizens.

Let’s make our nation more self-sufficient, not provide a welfare state. We don’t want to emulate the European countries. We will succeed if we support and promote those who strive to make us proud. I salute the deserving ones, including those who served and want the best for their families.

Sincerely,

Quentin D. Anderson Sr.

Athens