News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2005


Tax abatements needed in today's climate


Let me start by saying that I appreciate the new City Council's fiscal responsibility and that no one loves tax breaks for industrial projects. The simple fact is that they are here and we should make the best out of them. I can somewhat understand Mr. Ray Metzger's hesitancy in granting abatements to companies because he has never received one for his business. If I owned a small business I would probably feel the same way. I would encourage Mr. Metzger to educate himself on these incentives. Companies qualify for tax abatements based on their Standard Industrial Classification Code. These incentives are geared towards manufacturing and distribution companies. Now I didn't make that law, but it is what it is. I would like to ask Mr. Metzger if he knows how many people have bought motorcycles from him and work at one of these companies that received incentives to locate in Morgan County?

The fact that two recent abatements deals were even an issue is ridiculous. I am referring to JIT Cylinders and National Packaging. I would like to congratulate and thank these local companies for investing in Decatur and Morgan County. It won't take much for the next company to decide it will locate in that nice new industrial park in Lawrence County or wherever. Economic development projects today are more competitive than ever. I encourage the City Council to please show a positive attitude towards these companies because, I assure you, the competing communities will.

Also, concerning the Opinion magazine: It can be interesting at times, but I don't know if I have ever come across such a bunch of grouches. Cheer up — Decatur is a pretty good place to live. I would hate for a prospect looking at Decatur to pick up a copy while they were in town.

Warren Hicks


Limestone school board does students disservice


The Limestone County Board of Education is beavering away at protecting high school students from bad books. They do this against the backdrop of TV news about terrorism, massacres and political upheavals. Online, the Internet gives students access to anything and everything.

Monday through Friday, they go to school. When they go to the library, they see only books that have been carefully chosen for their inoffensive language. Any other books are banned. The Limestone County Board of Education has insulated them from any contact in their library books with anything that might disturb them, like violence, death, homosexuality, divorce or bad language.

There is a better way. The Limestone County Board of Education can give students the power to think for themselves rather than gorge themselves on the media's steady diet of junk food. But of course, they cannot do this with books that are banned. Let them read bad books.

Books — even bad books — teach us about our common humanity. And they do it by speaking candidly to our souls, not by censoring what we read. Reading does not always comfort us; it does not always make us feel better about ourselves. Reading often shakes us up. It makes us think. Sometimes it makes us cry.

It is time to allow Limestone County students to read and to do so free of censorship. As John Adams wrote in 1765, "Let us dare to read, think, speak and write. ... Let every sluice of knowledge be opened and set a-flowing." To which I'd dare to add — even in the libraries under the Limestone County Board of Education's control!

Douglas Wertsch


Confederacy series entertained, informed


As this is officially Confederate History Month in Alabama, a United Daughters of the Confederacy friend sent your Web site link to me concerning Holly Hollman's (and Deangelo McDaniel's) "Yankees Tricked At Athens" and other renditions in their newsy, but real, six-part series about Athens during the War between the States.

These stories have been a hit in our household! At last, some true Alabama history is being told with humor, dash and fervor.

Hurrah! Keep up the good work.

Martha Smith


More signs needed to identify intersections


The time has come for Decatur to aid the driving public. Eventually, we will be blessed with two more lanes on the Beltline. I'm certainly in favor of being able to move the amazing amount of daily traffic on this road more efficiently.

One of the major concerns that needs to be addressed now is the sign-identification problem we currently have all along Alabama 67. The existing signs are printed in such a small size that they are impossible to read, even for someone with good vision. Imagine how it is for a driver who is not familiar with our city streets.

In many of the more progressive cities, a simple additional sign helps to give all drivers an early warning as to what the next major intersection is going to be. A legible green and white sign on the right side of the road would read, "SPRING AVENUE. NEXT SIGNAL."

This gives the driver sufficient time to move to the left or right lane in order to make the turn safely. The sign is positioned about 200 yards before the actual signal light. I'm sure there is a standard for this location.

So why don't I just take this recommendation directly to the city/county/state people who are paid to do this for a living? There are not enough hours in the year for me to chase all these agencies around, hoping I can find a sympathetic ear. Instead, I place my faith and trust in THE DECATUR DAILY to spread the word and improve the legibility of the street signs on the Beltline.

Leo M. Spain


County Government Day a success due to help


As sponsor of the Brewer High School contingent at the recently completed County Government Day, held at the Morgan County Courthouse, I would like to take this opportunity to thank some important people.

First, thanks to all our elected officials. They gave their time and provided excellent descriptions of how our local government works. Through their efforts, our students learned how the local offices operate, how they work together to benefit all the people of Morgan County and why it is important to stay informed of issues affecting our citizens. From touring our jail to participating in a mock trial, students now have a much better understanding of how local government works.

Second, thanks to all the American Legion members who worked so tirelessly to make County Government Day a huge success. They gave their time and put great effort into making this day a special learning experience for our students. From printing ballots to helping set up voting booths to preparing a great meal, they did a terrific job and have done so for several years.

The people of Morgan County have every reason to be proud of so many talented individuals who care about our schools and our students. Thanks again!

Bob Balch


Earth Day reminds us to protect natural resources


Thirty-five years ago, Americans came together to celebrate the first Earth Day. Today, thanks to a greater awareness of the fragility of our planet and the hard work of many people, in many places our air is clearer and our water cleaner. But there is still much more to do if we plan to pass down a healthy Earth to our children.

One way is to ensure that they inherit some of the nation's "wild" Earth — a piece of our precious public land in its natural state. Our forests, wide open spaces, streams and watersheds are vital to a healthy climate. We have 90 million more people sharing our country today than we did 35 years ago — and with them more houses, more cars, more off-road vehicles, more noise, more sprawl.

Our shrinking wild places grow more and more important — for solitude and solace, to challenge ourselves by climbing a mountain or running whitewater. Earth Day was Friday. Let's all resolve to do our part every day to see that wild places are protected and available for our children and grandchildren.

Vince Meleski

Program director, Wild South


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