News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


City parks off limits for development


The editorial in the Feb. 18 DECATUR DAILY relative to "Point Mallard needs clear, certain definition" is on target, not just for Point Mallard Park, but for every park in Decatur, including Wilson Morgan Park. For generations it has been assumed that establishing centralized, multiple-purpose public parks for the benefit of our city's citizens was a recreational expense to be paid for with our tax dollars — family lifestyle facilities which we have valued and in which we have gladly invested city funds. When our current city government failed to take a stand against commercialization of these sacred areas of green and city pride, developers perceived the opportunity to acquire valued locations that heretofore have been off limits to business enterprises. Research has revealed that this development is a new innovative approach by developers — and a risk that few, if any, city leaders have been willing to take for fear of the alienation of their citizens.

The current situation, brought on by the quest for "growth and progress" at any expense to our city and its citizens, in re-inventing public parks as revenue-producing assets, is leading to mistrust of city government and the Chamber of Commerce, and dividing our city. While specialized parks — for softball and tennis tournaments — are desirable, our city still requires centralized multi-functional community parks where our children can play and for family functions.

Our parks and recreational areas deserve perpetual designation by our city government as "off-limits" to commercial interests, a city-supported, detailed plan of maintenance and enhancement for these facilities with our tax dollars, and adequate studies of any proposals relative to our parks that will have significant impact on residents of the areas concerned.

Don Gowen


Brooks' cheerleaders lacked self-control


First of all, congratulations to Brooks High School on its victory versus East Lawrence High School. It has a very good basketball team and its players play with great enthusiasm.

Second, the hard work evidenced by the basketball team was greatly diminished by the cheerleading squad's lack of respect and personal self-control. There is nothing wrong with cheering for your chosen team's good play and overall hustle. However, to taunt and cheer for the other team's misfortune displays a lack of character, whether taught by or learned from authoritative figures. It is my opinion that the good should be magnified and less energy directed towards the negative.

Third, your basketball team represented your school admirably. However, some people do not realize the effect they may have on other people's perceptions of their school or group that they may represent.

Wanda Kimbrough


Pointe Mallard residents oppose River Country


I have attended three meetings with residents of Pointe Mallard and some of the City Council members present.

At the first meeting, Mr. Rex Rankin's group explained its proposed development, referred to as River Country. No questions were entertained. Council President Billy Jackson told those in attendance that no action would be taken without hearing from interested parties at a later meeting.

On Feb. 8, Councilman Gary Hammon and Mayor Don Kyle attended a session with Pointe Mallard residents for their input. As was reported in THE DECATUR DAILY, they learned this proposal has not been favorably received by residents who live near Point Mallard Park.

The meeting Mr. Jackson promised was held Feb. 15 at City Hall. Council President Jackson opened the meeting but left after a few minutes. Only three members of the City Council were present for the hearing.

The attorney representing River Country went over the proposal again, at length. He quoted favorable replies from an "independent survey" for which the developers had paid. There were eight questions on the survey, all asking about growth and progress, elected leadership, new development, tourism and support for River Country development in our city.

Had I been called, I certainly could have answered yes about growth and progress. Nowhere were those called asked whether they used Point Mallard Park or would they want a high-rise hotel in their residential neighborhood, much less restaurants, shops or condos with resulting traffic. I wonder what response such questions may have received.

A large number of citizens were allowed to voice their position on the proposed development. Most were opposed, with varying reasons. Only three council members heard them.

Most Point Mallard area residents do not want this development in their backyards, and I am one of them.

Ruth McKenzie


State should continue land-program funding


In 1992, Alabama's voters enthusiastically and overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment setting up the Forever Wild land-acquisition program.

This program has been a phenomenal success and is a shining testament to Alabamians' love and appreciation of the outdoors and our great natural heritage. Hunters, fishermen, hikers, bird watchers and all other outdoor enthusiasts, as well as future generations, benefit from this farsighted program, which has already purchased more than 100,000 acres of land for public use.

Now, state Sen. Gerald Dial, along with Sens. Tommy Ed Roberts and Zeb Little, wants to gut the program by diverting at least $5 million a year. That $5 million in Forever Wild would be eligible for some $15 million in matching federal and private funds to purchase $20 million worth of public lands. Such a diversion of funds from Forever Wild makes absolutely no sense economically.

It is hard to believe the senators would even propose such outrageous action. This attempt to destroy the Forever Wild program is a direct affront and insult to every voter and outdoors person in Alabama. Please call and write these senators and express your outrage! Demand that our legislators keep their hands off Forever Wild!

Dr. Charles Borden


Abercrombie is voice of reason, fairness


So, Jeff Gray wants Ronnie Abercrombie to resign from his position on the Hartselle school board? How preposterous! Mr. Gray hardly personifies a "scorpion with his stinger out." This time, he sounds more like a foolish braying jackass. This whole incident once again reaffirms my earlier sentiments (compliments of Mark Twain) that school boards are composed of idiots. Now they are idiots lacking both substance and decorum.

Ronnie Abercrombie has a world of support here for his role as school board chairman. I don't think most of us (besides maybe Mr. Gray) would even want his job. When I wrote a letter to THE DAILY recently criticizing the school board during the superintendent search, Mr. Abercrombie personally called to thank me for my opinion. He did not have to do that. Others in the community just glared at me in public and talked about me in private (as is the custom in Hartselle). At least Mr. Abercrombie had the intestinal fortitude to act in a forthright manner. Mr. Abercrombie showed me that he is an intelligent, honest, decent individual who really cares about Hartselle and the school system. Many others have since voiced similar sentiments to me about him. I have not heard those comments about the other members of the board who malign him.

Ronnie Abercrombie has been a voice of reason, fairness, and truth on a committee that constantly embarrasses Hartselle with its behavior. He should not resign. Resignations are long overdue by those board members who clearly don't know what reason, truth, fairness (or Alabama state law) are. Short of resigning, maybe those people should heed the words of Abraham Lincoln: "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Pamela A. Ramey


Government should give locals chance to bid


In the Jan. 25 edition of THE DAILY, I noticed the Morgan County Commission approved purchase of three workstations for the reappraisal department for $18,355 from the Hon Company. I am in the office furniture business in Morgan County and an authorized Hon dealer. I did not even get the opportunity to bid on this project.

Why is it not required that they spend our tax dollars in our county, or at least give us a chance? I was under the impression they had to advertise for bids. I voted for Stacy George because of his quest for accountability. Who has friends who work at the Hon Company? Is this not "pork" spending?

I understand if there is a lot of price difference; the county should be able to buy elsewhere to save taxpayer money. If there was a maximum allowable difference between Morgan County businesses and others, this could not happen.

Whenever city agencies buy merchandise, they also should be required by the taxpayers to purchase inside the city first. If this can't be done, then go elsewhere!

Tony Bradford


Religious right may hold double standard


By President Bush's own admission, tape recorded by an old family friend, we now know we have a self-affirmed pot smoker occupying the White House, one who apparently both inhaled and exhaled.

So where are all the self-righteous voices of outrage who attacked President Clinton on this issue? I am waiting to hear the furious outpouring of moral indignation from the Rev. Pat Robertson, Dr. Jerry Falwell, the Rev. James Dobson and all the minions of the religious right whose "moral values" are now supposedly the guiding principles of the republic.

If, however, the voices of harsh judgment are now too subdued to castigate President Bush, perhaps they could manage a simple apology to President Clinton. If the Christian Gospel is to be believed, this indeed would be the morally and spiritually superior course of action.

If neither is forthcoming, then blatant hypocrisy obviously is the reigning "moral value" of the current era, and anything goes.

Rev. John C. Bush


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