Proper tree care could have limited the storm's damage
I read with interest The Sun's editorial, "BGE on the line in Floyd's aftermath" (Oct.6). The editorial noted that "conditions were ripe for so many trees to be uprooted. . ."
But the accuracy of this comment is suspect. We had a statewide drought, followed by a statewide hurricane. But the impact of the storm on trees, and the resulting power outage time, was much more severe in one part of the state, and on one utility system, than anywhere else.
This may be related to differences in vegetation management practices. Some practices enhance the structural integrity of trees and some diminish them.
To prepare for an era of competition, some utilities may not include current tree care standards in their specifications or require that contractors have particular credentials. This approach can produce troublesome results.
Trees cannot be storm-proofed -- and even healthy, intact trees may fail. However, proper tree care can remove defective parts and reduce risk, while too much thinning or severe cutting makes trees more likely to break or fall down.
Lowball line clearance contracts can make it difficult to manage trees properly. While this may be cost-effective when the sun shines, the results when a natural disaster strikes can be disastrous.
Michael F. Galvin, Annapolis
The writer is urban operations manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Forest Service.
Parents want schools that teach strong values
I was heartened to read about the Forbush School's "Peace Plan" ("Nonviolence integrated into school's daily lessons," Oct. 4). What I cannot comprehend is why this is hailed as a revolutionary concept.
At some point, we have to decide what qualities we want in our citizens -- such as honesty, respect for others and our environment and the ability to solve disputes nonviolently -- and incorporate these ideals into the public school curriculum.
These concepts should be taught from preschool, with the simplest illustrations, then gradually progress to more complex discussions in higher grades.
Parents want schools that reflect the importance of character and values as well as academics.
Instead of talking about vouchers -- which is admitting that no one knows how to fix our public schools -- why don't we simply figure out why people want to send their kids to private schools and emulate those traits in the public ones?
Jeanne March Davis, Baltimore
Obsessive parents aren't just poor sports
In response to The Sun's article about the "pressure-cooker atmosphere" of youth sports created by obsessed parents ("Leagues blow the whistle on competitive parents," Oct. 3), I think the problem lies not in poor sportsmanship, but in poor parenting.
Our children grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. We kept their extracurricular activities at a minimum until high school and had meals together at home, instead of racing between events eating fast food.
The focus remained on family and education. We spent precious time together doing simple things like puzzles, reading and board games and just playing outside. When the children reached high school, they chose their own activities and we supported them 100 percent.
I hope parents will let their kids enjoy youth. Imagine how kids would feel if they knew parents were proud of their efforts, regardless of the results.
Don't invest your ego in your child's performance. Invest in teaching your child values, character and integrity -- at home and at the game.
Susie Molfino, Ellicott City
'The way parents behave at games needs to change'
I'm an 8-year-old soccer player. Parents at youth sports games do not look to me like they are using their brains.
Parents shouldn't tell kids where to play. Kids are being told to help the offense when they're playing defense.
Parents are cheering and coaches are trying to give directions. That causes kids to get confused.
I think the way parents behave at games needs to change.
Patrick Dement, Pasadena
A parent feeling pressure to raise money for school
I read with interest The Sun's article on fund raising in the Howard County schools ("PTAs may contribute to school disparities," Sept. 20).
My daughter's school in Baltimore County is using pressure tactics to get kids to sell to support the school. Only children who sell at least 10 items during the fall fund-raiser may attend a dance with a disc jockey during school hours.
Because I refuse to spend at least $36.80 on candy, candles and wrapping paper, my daughter will sit in class while her friends attend a dance.
As I feel this pressure, I am angry that school time is being spent on fund raising.
It was the U.S. flag that protected the slave ships
William Plummer's letter, "Which flag is linked more closely to slavery?" (Sept. 30), posed an excellent question regarding the number of slave ships that flew the American flag and the Confederate flag.
While the precise number of post-independence American slave voyages is not easily discerned, the total number of colonial American and U.S. voyages combined was approximately 1,500. Those trips took some 300,000 slaves from Africa.
Although the colonial American voyages didn't sail under the flag of the United States, they were competition to the monarchy's own slave trade. As such, they were American voyages.
Because the United States threatened the British and French navies against attempting to board any American vessel in their effort to police the trans-Atlantic slave trade, foreign slave ships also routinely kept an American on board with a U.S. flag -- in order to "sell" the ship to him and raise the U.S. flag for protection if boarding was imminent.
Many of the great mansions in New England cities still testify to the fortunes made by the Northerners who owned or financed most U.S.-flagged slave ships.
On the Confederate side, it is quite easy to arrive at an accurate number of slave voyages: zero.
The Confederate constitution expressly forbade importation of slaves from anywhere other than the United States or its territories.
Chris S. Millirons, Finksburg
Camden Yards is filled with offensive odors
The idea of a Bo Brooks restaurant at Camden Station sounds great. However, Peter G. Angelos apparently doesn't want to offend fans with the restaurant's odors ("How Camden Station could have been revitalized years ago," letters, Oct. 3).
But while Mr. Angelos is sitting up in his Ivory Tower, we fans in regular seats are subjected to offensive odors from the smelly food dispensed in the stadium.
Come down, Mr. Angelos, and smell the really offensive odors.
V. S. Grant, Baltimore
At harvest time, watch for slow-moving vehicles
During certain times of the year, including harvest season, farmers must move equipment from field to field.
Those who do not farm or aren't from rural areas are not always familiar with the "Slow Moving Vehicle" (SMV) sign required on the back of farm equipment.
Drivers must use caution when approaching these vehicles. They are doing just what the sign says, moving slowly.
Driver's education may not emphasize the SMV signs. But drivers need to become familiar with them and stay alert.
Betsy Gallagher, Cambridge
The writer is an educator with Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.
Letters to the Editor
To our readers The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.
Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
All letters are subject to editing.
Pub Date: 10/12/99