Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor Prank was pointless, inconsiderate

To the editor:

I am writing this letter mostly for myself and for my children as I realized that the other person or people involved are probably not intelligent enough to even read a newspaper let alone actually care!

On the morning of Oct. 26, I discovered that five out of the six pumpkins we had on our Halloween display outside had been stolen. Granted, pumpkins maybe aren't that big of a deal to you ? but try explaining to a crying 3-year-old that the special pumpkin he picked out at the pumpkin patch was stolen! My 11- and 8-year-old are equally upset.

We really enjoy decorating our yard and house for many of the holidays and for special days such as Halloween. When things like this happen, I begin to think it just isn't worth it. But then I remember the fun and the smiles it brings not only to my own three children but to the other 10 children I call "mine" for a few hours each day as I have a day care in my home. Many of the children's parents come with camera in hand to take their children's picture by our outside displays. What makes you think you have the right to ruin that?

Was it really that much fun taking something that didn't belong to you? For what reason? To smash them on the ground? Just to say you did it? I wonder why you left the sixth pumpkin? Maybe a little smidgen of guilt? Or were your arms just too full with the other five? I'm sure whatever reason you are telling yourself in an attempt to justify your crime cannot even compare to the joy the children had in helping me decorate or looking at it in anticipation of the "big" night!

I was going to just let this go once again and try to find some pumpkins to replace the ones which were taken, but after we had a Halloween sign taken last year and lawn chairs taken from our front yard just this summer, I cannot remain silent. The items mentioned were only three steps from our front door as were the pumpkins. I would like to feel safe in my home but anymore I wonder what is going to stop someone from breaking into my home! How can I expect my children to feel safe? Did you ever stop to think how it would feel to have someone do the same to you?

Perhaps some day you, will have children of your own (I can only hope and pray that you will have matured a great deal by then!), and perhaps some day you, too, will have a similar experience. Maybe then you will realize what a pointless and inconsiderate "prank" can do � not only to the children but to those who truly care and love them.

Audrey Eichelberg


Tree planting is investment in future

To the editor:

I take exception to David Lias' "Between the Lines:" Is it always a good idea to plant a tree? His implication is that it is not.

I believe that planting of trees, any tree, is an investment in the future. Those of us who have lived in Vermillion long enough can remember when the ash trees on the south side of Cherry Street were planted after the street was widened. For a long time they were skinny poles; today they are large and create a leafy, beautiful avenue.

The real question is: Why did it take so long to plant trees on the north side of Cherry Street? I applaud, and thank, the people who did it.

Cathy Beard


Community celebration continues at museum

To the editor,

Make a Difference Day seems to me to be a celebration of people helping people. At the W. H. Over Museum, for example, the celebration goes on daily. Volunteers are working constantly to help the community present its natural and cultural history museum in the best possible light. Notice, for example, the new lawn sign designed and prepared by Alex Mehaffey to enhance public awareness of the Vermillion Heritage Garden in its fall colors. This garden was made possible by the generous contribution of the city of Vermillion and the many hours of volunteer work done by the planners as well as those who keep it up.

But on this past Saturday morning, members were dusting and cleaning in the collection area while others were assisting in two classes for young people who were creating their own spooky designs for the upcoming fun day, Halloween. Yet another member was working in the gift shop preparing merchandise for sale and tending to customers. This gift shop, staffed wholly by volunteers, makes a major contribution annually to the museum budget.

Since 1883, the W. H. Over Museum has been the product of many people working together, respecting each others' cultures, and recognizing each others' creative and imaginative lives here on the great north American plans. Today, the more people who come to help or give monetary gifts so that the bills can be paid the greater our museum will grow and serve the interests and needs of the upcoming generations of South Dakotans.

Saturday, Nov. 13, a wonderful program, "Vermillion Before the Flood" is being prepared by another member doing research on the early days. Plan to come. It is sponsored by the Friends and a part of the fund raising the Friends must do to keep the museum open and growing. Call 677-5228 to make your reservations, dinner at 6:30 p.m., program at 7:30 p.m.

Dorothy Neuhaus


Set the record straight

To the editor:

In the Oct. 15 issue of The Plain Talk, an article discussed Howard Willson�s spraying procedures. I need to set the record straight because in it Bob Mayer was quoted as saying: �The group that is dealing with requests for a cancer study in Vermillion attended the Sept. 20 city council meeting and one of the things they brought up was the school district�s lawn care procedure.� Mr. Mayer then went on to state that this group contended that Austin School sprayed three days before school started. He then stated that �this is a complete fabrication of the truth.�

As one of the founders of the group �Caring For Children� which has been collecting signatures on a petition to have a cancer study, I feel obligated to set the record straight. I was personally at the Sept. 20 city council meeting and members of the group did speak about having the city of Vermillion purchase professional-quality radon testing devices (not �kits�) that could be lent or inexpensively rented to citizens so that they could test their own homes. We also spoke about the fact that North Dakota and South Dakota were in a nuclear fallout zone from a 1958 Nevada test. We even spoke about discovering an EPA account of a 1993 incident in which 35 drums of an unknown radioactive substance was spilled one-quarter mile outside of Burbank.

We also did request that the city council appropriate some funds so that we could have an independent analysis of the water performed that would be more comprehensive than the state�s own analysis. We even asked for a city-funded informational web page. With the exception of the radon issue, everything was to no avail.

We did not, however, talk about spraying procedures. Such a matter was raised by a woman named April Gawboy, but she did so at least two hours prior to our appearance. I must say, though, that Ms. Gawboy did a quite effective job of enlightening me about the dangers of the 2,4-D herbicide. She related how she and her whole family were exposed to undiluted 2,4-D by a neighbor who evidently failed to read the application instructions. I learned something from April Gawboy that I never fully understood before: 2,4-D is not only very dangerous (it can drift in the air), it is a critical component of the infamous Agent Orange that was so copiously used in Vietnam.

After reviewing the entire tape of the Sept. 20 council meeting, I can positively state that April Gawboy never said that Austin Elementary School was sprayed three days before classes started. What she did say was that she smelled the chemicals on Aug. 30 (which was a few days after school started), took pictures of what appeared to be affected areas, and called the Department of Agriculture so that they could take soil samples. She stated that the Department of Agriculture informed her that the school claimed it had been sprayed at least two weeks before Aug. 30. She didn�t understand why she could still smell the chemical unless it had been a particularly strong application. (As a matter of fact, the Oct. 15 edition of The Plain Talk quotes Howard Willson as saying that �the higher mix rate according to the label [was used] because we were spraying when it was the hardest to get results.�)

After calling Jill Sundstrom, the reporter who wrote the article which quoted Bob Mayer, I was told that Ms. Sundstrom hadn�t attended the council meeting on Sept. 20. She simply took what Bob Mayer told her in a subsequent conversation and reported in as fact. I myself then called Bob Mayer and asked him if he was at the Sept. 20 council meeting. He said that, in fact, he hadn�t attended either.

After much good-natured discussion, Bob admitted that he had heard all that he related second-hand from Howard Willson, who did the spraying in question at Austin Elementary. We agreed that Howard might have gotten his facts mixed up � especially in light of the existence of my tape of the whole council session which proved my point.

After a lengthy discussion on 2,4-D, Bob said to me that he wasn�t sure what chemicals Howard uses on the school grounds but that he would look into the matter. He said that he believed 2,4-D to be �nasty stuff� and that, if the schools were using it, he would tell them to stop or seek another alternative.

I then told him I would be grateful since I had a cousin who sprayed Agent Orange in Vietnam who had contracted cancer because of it and that I would not want my kids or anyone else�s to be exposed to 2,4-D in any form. Bob totally agreed and promised that he wouldn�t use 2,4-D at all.

I don�t mind the confusion about what actually occurred at the Sept. 20 council meeting if a wonderful step like the above is taken to protect our children. Indeed, I would like to thank April Gawboy for having brought this problem to everyone�s attention. While I feel awful that her children and family were acutely exposed to such a deadly chemical and that they now must bear the unknown consequences of someone else�s great carelessness, I applaud her for taking steps to assure that it doesn�t happen to others.

With everyone�s help and proper education about all of these cancer-causing sources, we can make a positive difference in the quality of life and health of this community. Perhaps now everyone will be more careful about reading the label ingredients and application instructions for any pesticide or insecticide that they use. After learning what I did from April, I, for one, have elected to use an old-fashioned method of weed control: paying my children to pull them!

Robin E. Richardson


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