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Land preservation is a valuable legacy for...

Land preservation is a valuable legacy for our descendants

I was pleased to learn of the aggressive work of Baltimore County's two-year-old agricultural preservation program in its tentative purchase of development rights of portions of three farms ("Keeping open space open," Dec. 30).

When approved, it will bring the total of protected land to about 4 percent of the county's area, almost 95 percent of that obtained by the state's established preservation program. I think the cost of $2,000 to $3,000 an acre is well-spent, especially going to deserving families in a tough occupation who could receive more by selling out to development.

I wish these programs much success. But I'm skeptical and curious about long-term goals, and how they mesh in the near term with the "smart growth" initiatives. The efforts seem so quixotic, certain to increase in difficulty and cost and doomed to be overwhelmed by limited time, funds and the inexorable growth of the central Maryland megalopolis.

I hope for wise leaders who can create even better, fairer-for-all ways to protect more land before it's too late. Perhaps forever-unalterable zoning decrees would be one way.

I'm afraid that when the character of all county land is someday "finalized," the realtors and developers will have won the race, with no more than, say, 10 percent of land preserved as farms or open space. At least that beats 0 percent, and for that, our descendants will be thankful.

It's so comforting to imagine our great-great-grandchildren somehow traveling to a small farm "up north" to buy a few fresh vegetables and watch some quaint country folk tend their fields and herds, just like in the "good old days."

Nelson L. Hyman


Shining light on transplants but not on Baltimore's past

First, the article by Jamal E. Watson regarding shortages of transplant organs was excellent. Second - Until recently, you published excerpts of news articles from IThe Sun 150, 100 and 50 years ago. These little windows into the past were most enjoyable. Will your resume these articles or are they going to be discontinued?

James J. Casey


Center builds on knowledge of diabetes, others diseases

"Living 'a little hidden away' " (Jan. 3) briefly touches on the contributions that research at the Gillis W. Long Hansen's Disease Center has made to the treatment of not only Hansen's disease (leprosy) but to other diseases as well.

Patients with diabetes often develop a disorder of the nerves of the feet called diabetic neuropathy. Patients with Hansen's disease have similar problems. Both diseases cause a numbness that eliminates the sensation of pain. This often leads to ulcerations on the feet as well as infections and gangrene. Amputation may follow.

In the United States, from 1989-1992, these amputations averaged 51,605 per year, with the cost of each hospital stay in the tens of thousands of dollars. The effect of these problems on the lives of patients with diabetes, and their families, is immeasurable.

Podiatrists and others who treat the feet of those with diabetes rely heavily on the techniques that were developed in Carville, La., to prevent and treat the ulcers, infections and deformities that accompany this disease. We cannot thank the dedicated physicians, researchers and patients of that facility enough for the knowledge they have provided that we use every day.

Dr. Neil M. Scheffler


The writer is president of health and education at the American Diabetes Association's Mid-Atlantic region.

Reports accurately capture S. African life and leader

I read with interest the articles on South Africa by Gilbert A Lewthwaite, "S. African city of gold loses its glitter" (Dec. 16) and "Mandela heir sees African renaissance" (Jan. 1).

As a South African visiting Baltimore, I wish to compliment your reporter on the accuracy and perception of his subject.

The future in South Africa is uncertain with unrealistic expectations of a previously disadvantaged majority and an unacceptable crime rate, which the government seems powerless to contain.

Selwyn Bloch


City's homicide numbers call for zero tolerance

Another year, another 300 or so killings in the city of Baltimore. Up the road in New York City, murder and other crime have declined substantially.

Why won't the mayor and police chief adopt policies that are proven successful? The relatives of the dead victims would probably want to know why a zero-tolerance prevention policy that not only deters crime but contributes favorably to a city's overall quality of lifehas not been implemented.

Is it any surprise that the city's population is decreasing year after year - and not just from the murders? Can it be more obvious that what they are doing is not working?

David Pack


Does the rate of homicides reflect the number of perpetrators actually arrested and convicted?

While considerable newspaper space is allotted to the number of homicides, to my knowledge we never see any statistics as to how many of these cases are solved. And of these, what was the average amount of time spent solving the cases?

Might the potential murderers feel there is safety in these unpublished figures?

Dean Garland


This is only next to last year of 20th century

In his article about Roman numerals ("Trick question: How to spell 1999?" Dec. 27), Michael Stroh writes very well of that particular confusion. But what about the peculiar confusion about the end of the 20th century? Millions, maybe tens of millions of people next year will think they are closing out the century and stepping into the 21st century on Jan. 1 of the year 2000.

Not so!

Jan. 1, 2000, will be the first day of the last year of the 20th century; Jan. 1 of 2001 will be the first day of the 21st century.

Anyone who stops and thinks about this realizes that you become one year old at the end of your first year and 75 years old at the end of your 75th year, and 100 at the end of your 100th year. It is the same for centuries.

It will certainly be a big year to celebrate when the year 2000 finally gets here, but let us not be so ignorant that we don't realize what it is that we are celebrating.

Virginia Thomas Clark

Mt. Airy

Proposed track's neighbors are glad Owens listened

I noted with interest your editorial "Out of the race?" (Jan. 1) concerning County Executive Janet Owens' decision not to support the Pasadena site for the proposed racetrack project.

Your editorial writer has either overlooked or ignored the fact that the majority of residents in the Pasadena area don't want this project constructed in their community.

Further, you seem to be puzzled that Ms. Owens would listen to her constituents and abide by their wishes. I, for one, am glad she did.

Charles Grey


Poor getting back on feet because of Republican push

I read that Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who not so long ago refused to even be seen with President Clinton, now feels honored to have been standing with him at a recent Boys and Girls Club meeting, doing what the president does best, giving out government assistance ("Governor's New Year's resolution for a better society," Jan. 2).

Mr. Glendening mentions the "dynamic woman," Christa Spangler, who has gotten a job, remarried and owns her own home.

The governor should give credit where credit's due. Those welfare-to-work programs were initiated by the Republicans, who stuck to them even after Democrats claimed they were unworkable and ruinous to the poor.

Also, how can anyone be "proud" to stand beside a president who cannot even use the words honesty, truth or character in his State of the Union Address because his past behavior has proven he has none of the above?

Cooky McClung


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