Friends of woods deliver petitions

To the editor:

On Monday, the Friends of Crawford Woods delivered over 360 signatures to the city, on an initiative petition for this fall's ballot, that gives Vermillion the option of creating a bike path/nature walk and nature preserve through the Crawford Woods ravine. It is being offered as a non-destructive, low cost alternative to the arterial street the city would be forced to build by the Crawford Road initiative previously submitted for the November ballot.

The Crawford Woods Nature Preserve, totaling about five acres, would consist of four privately owned lots and the land owned by the city adjacent to those lots. Permanent deed restrictions on the private land would prevent building, clearing trees or other development, except as needed to build and maintain the path. Private land required for the path would be deeded to the city at no charge.

When completed, the bike path/nature walk owned and maintained by the city would follow the bottom of the ravine from Crestview Drive to Burbank Road. It could be built to the standards of Vermillion's other bike paths and include a wider resting area, large enough to accommodate a park bench. Signage would prohibit motor vehicles and close the path after dark. It could be built when funding becomes available and would eventually connect to the rest of the city's bike path system.

This proposal would permanently save an accessible nature area in the city, provide a safe pedestrian/bicycle connection, avoid routing arterial traffic through an established residential area, avoid condemning land from at least five families, and finally, avoid the $1.3 million to $1.7 million cost of the road project.

Street construction funds saved would be programmed for other projects. For instance, rebuilding Stanford Street is currently the next large project in the city's plans, after Dakota Street, but it would be displaced to about 2013 if the Crawford Road extension is built.

With the path and preserve initiative before them this fall, voters will have a clear choice between two competing visions of how we should measure progress in Vermillion.

Mark Wetmore


A safe haven

To the editor:

Every year in the U.S., newborns are killed or left to die. Due to confidentiality reasons, there is no estimated number in South Dakota at this time, but it is estimated that in North Carolina alone, 85 newborns are killed or left to die annually. Forty-six states currently have laws (usually called safe haven, safe harbor or safe surrender laws) that identify how parents can surrender their unwanted newborn, such as giving the baby to a health-care provider.

Having a baby can bring great joy and love into a parent's life. But raising a child is a demanding responsibility that can be stressful and overwhelming. If, for whatever reason, a parent feels they cannot parent their child, there are safe places where a parent can leave their baby with no questions asked.

A state law in South Dakota, enacted 3-3-01, allows a parent to voluntarily leave their baby, who is less than 60 days old, at a safe place. In South Dakota, a parent may leave their baby with:

  • Hospital or medical clinic.
  • Department of Social Services office, Vermillion, SD, 114 Market Street, 677-6800.
  • Law-enforcement officers.
  • Licensed child-placement agencies.
  • Emergency medical technicians.
  • Firefighters

    Leaving a baby at one of these places is not a crime � as long as the baby has not been harmed. A parent might be asked information about the baby's medical history, but the parent is not required to provide any information, including their name.

    If the parent doesn't express their intent to return for their baby, the parental rights are terminated after 14 days. The baby then becomes a ward of the state or the licensed child-placement agency. The Department of Social Services or child-placement agency will care for the baby and have custody.

    The other parent has 30 days to prove he or she is the parent who did not consent to giving up the child's custody. If the other parent does not come forward within 60 days, a court hearing will be held to terminate parental rights.

    This is a safe way for a parent to make sure their baby receives the love, care and protection he or she deserves.

    If they follow stipulations in the law, parents can remain anonymous and are not charged with any criminal action. States differ in terms of those stipulations���for instance, in California the baby must be brought to a hospital or fire station within 72 hours after birth. A hotline number is 1-877-440-2229. Also, more information is available at www.newbornlifeline.org. For more information about this Safe Haven Law in South Dakota, see SDCDL 25-5a-27 through 25-5A-35.

    Marcy Lund


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