Zero tolerance shows society’s downfall

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Dear Editor,

Recent news carried a story of a 15-year-old boy in Houston, Texas, who was arrested and charged with distribution of a controlled substance &045; a felony. He was reported to the police by a school nurse for violating the school’s zero-tolerance drug abuse policy.

You might be tempted to applaud the officials for another job well done. This is surely another example of how zero-tolerance is saving our children from the horrors of drug abuse.

Before you praise the laws that are doing such a fine job of protecting our kids from harm, however, let me tell you the little piece of this story that I left out.

The boy had loaned his inhaler to his girlfriend when she had a severe asthma attack at school. Both are 15 years old. Both are asthma sufferers. And both are prescribed, by a doctor, Albuterol inhalers. The girl had simply forgotten hers at home that day.

I suppose it’s good that we got this creep off the streets, though. There’s no telling whose life he might have saved next.

People, wake up. What has this world come to &045; when the efforts one person makes toward helping another are not looked upon as everyday routine occurrences but instead are seen as questionable if not criminal?

If we are so inept that we need so-called zero-tolerance laws to guide and rule our lives, then we no longer deserve to call ourselves a &uot;civilized society,&uot; if we ever truly did.

As the saying goes, &uot;Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?&uot;

Derek Tombrello


State needs legalized bingo to help fundraise

Dear Editor,

Bingo, Anyone? Since we rejected Riley’s tax proposals, where do we go to get more money?

To many people &uot;lottery&uot; is a dirty word. They envision large numbers of poor betting their wages on card numbers.

I still support a lottery, but may I suggest, since that failed once before, that school PTAs and non-profit groups supporting established charities be allowed to run bingo games?

The winnings would not have to be huge, and the money collected would not be great; but it could go a long way to make up for revenues lost due to the budget cuts, which will be worse next year if taxes are not increased.

And the groups running the bingo games could be prohibited from turning the operations over to an outside group that would take a slice of the pie, so all of the &uot;take&uot; would go to a worthwhile cause.

Bingo nights could be a social event, with food and games of various kinds (checkers, bridge etc.) to gain attendance.

The need is there whether the &uot;small government&uot; people recognize it or not.

Roy Lechtreck


County should have road kill clean-up crew

Dear Editor,

Every morning, I drive about 30 miles down Shelby County Highway 17 toward Montevallo. This entire stretch of road is constantly littered with road kill.

The problem is not so much about the accidents occuring but about the aftermath of the situation. The animals are left in the middle of the road and are a hazard to other drivers.

Whenever a driver is put in such a situation, the only options are to hit the animal and risk damage to your car or swerve and either wreck off the road or into an oncoming vehicle. Roadkill is also an eyesore for surrounding communities not to mention the putrid stench surrounding the offal.

Nobody wants to have filthy streets much less to see a poor little puppy rotting in the middle of the road.

There are a couple of ways to approach a resolution to this problem. The better of the two would be to hire a cleanup crew to clean the remains off the street much like trash crews who clean up garbage on the roadside.

The other and much more gruesome solution would be to post signs directing drivers to move the carcass off the road themselves.

There is no way to stop animals from being hit on the road. It is a problem that will never go away. The least that could be done is to give the poor creatures the respect they deserve.

Jack Shearer


Montevallo should re-direct bridge traffic

Dear Editor,

Do you ever drive on a narrow road and feel like you will collide with every passing car? Well, each time I drive over Sgt. Robert L. Farrington Memorial Bridge in Montevallo, I feel this way.

The bridge makes the entire area dangerous to people of the community.

Memorial Bridge lacks reasonable dimensions for the every day flow of traffic and should be widened to safely transport passing vehicles.

With barely enough room for multiple vehicles, the bridge is an inconvenience, making the area hazardous. Each day, traffic is slowed for buses passing over the bridge. Cars must stop to allow larger vehicles to cross the bridge first, preventing collisions.

This stop-and-go routine of traffic will continue to allow room for large trucks and buses if the bridge is not worked on. Also, if the bridge remains in place as is, there will be an increase in the possiblity of accidents.

Vehicle surface damage is easily possible from one short trip across the bridge because it is so narrow. And there is an increased risk to those who venture across the bridge on foot.

Since there is an alternate route available, I suggest reconstructing the bridge, adding the essential width necessary. Widening Farrington Memorial Bridge will benefit people of the community by allowing traffic to travel over the bridge more quickly and by making the area safer for both drivers and pedestrians.

In the past, there have been plans to renovate the area; but the bridge has remained unchanged. Now the city has finally put a plan into action and the bridge is being re-done. However, the new Oct. 1 budget may call for projects to be cut.

I understand some money may be lost for the bridge project and expansion could be postponed. If that becomes the case, I recommend that the city council seriously consider re-routing larger vehicles such as buses and trucks.

There is a separate road available, and I think re-directing traffic would increase safety and the steady flow of traffic until construction is completed.

Mary Stano


Chelsea needs new elementary school

Dear Editor,

Due to the drastic population increase in Birmingham and surrounding areas, Chelsea has practically gone from green pastureland to subdivisions and shopping centers overnight.

In the year 2000, Chelsea’s population was 2,949 citizens, and out of those, 705 were in the elementary school alone. Now there are 4,000 residents in the city of Chelsea, and 1,014 of those residents are in elementary school.

Four hundred to 450 new homes are projected to be built this year and for the next five years. Of these homes, there are about 350-400 children. Chelsea has even been named Alabama’s No. 1 family community.

With this title comes exponential growth and new problems. One problem is the population explosion in the local schools. Since Chelsea is a family-oriented town, families have been flocking in to raise their children in a safe community.

Since all these children, most between the grades of kindergarten and fifth grade, are being placed into Chelsea schools, classroom sizes have doubled, and trailers are being brought in by the dozens to serve as classrooms. Despite all this, Chelsea Elementary still maintains an A- rating.

CES is extremely overcrowded. It now has the highest enrollment number in the county for elementary schools. There are roughly 1,000 kids in a school that was originally built for 500.

There are 52 teachers and only 30 classrooms. Seven of those classrooms even have two classes in them, and there are also 15 trailers at the back of the school because of the lack of space. The students aren’t receiving the quality education they deserve when cramped. The children in the trailers are not able to interact with other children their age and miss out on a great deal not being in the building with everyone else.

The teachers at Chelsea are wonderful, but they can only do so much. I know I would not like being in a class with 40 other children or being stuck outside in an old trailer.

I propose that the Shelby County Board of Education should build Chelsea a new elementary or intermediate school. The members of the board think that the new MT Laurel School will help with overcrowding, but I think when the new school opens, it will only help with overcrowding for a year or two.

At the rate Chelsea is growing, it will only get worse. Developers are putting in two large subdivisions: Chesser Plantation and 1,000 homes on the old Pumpkin Swamp Hunting Club’s land. Those are only two of the many subdivisions being built in Chelsea. The developer of Chesser Plantation has even donated 33 acres behind the subdivision for a new school.

The school board has five years to take advantage of that generous offer or it will be given to the city of Chelsea. Land in Chelsea is not cheap, and it will save the school board around $660,000. The Shelby County board can use the land donated to them or later on, they will have to buy the land on top of building a new school. Either way, Chelsea needs and deserves a new school.

Darryl Chesser