News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, MAY 7, 2006


Immigration boycott had little impact on society

I am not sure why we use the term "illegal" when we refer to the illegal aliens in our country. If they were "illegal," law enforcement would do something about them. As far as the protest and walkouts from work and schools to show the economic impact: I am not sure it was that big a deal. I noticed that things were normal that day. I don't think the hospital staff had to do any major schedule changing. The banks looked fully staffed. Doctors offices were open. I see where some students didn't attend class. I wonder how many teachers missed work? Probably not many. Why is that?

What I am getting at is that, if illegal aliens want to cut grass or work in one of the 100 Mexican restaurants in Decatur, let them have at it. Other than the poultry plants, I don't think they are taking over many of our manufacturing jobs here in Decatur. Manufacturing jobs moving to Mexico and offshore is a entirely different subject for another time. I know they are not working in any professional fields.

We do, however, need to stop the flow of illegals into our country, and deporting anyone who is here illegally only makes sense. It is not realistic that we will be able to find everyone here illegally, but we need to do something. If not, let's just call them aliens not "illegal" aliens.

What is Mexico's policy towards illegal aliens? I can only imagine the fallout if the U.S. adopted the same immigration policy as Mexico.

Warren Hicks


How to impress American citizens

The "A Day Without Immigrants" protest will have already taken place when this is printed. Nonetheless, I wanted to say that if participants in the protest and supporters of legalizing millions of illegal aliens who broke the law to enter the United States or overstayed a visa really want to win over and impress middle America, here are some suggestions.

Supporters and employers of the illegal aliens could, for one day, hire native-born Americans who are children of naturalized American citizens who immigrated legally, or of native-born Americans. They could pay employment taxes on all their employees and not pay anyone under the table.

If illegal aliens really want to impress us, they can take a day off from food stamps, free lunches and free medical care at hospitals. They can learn to speak English so $3 billion a year won't have to be spent to translate documents so they can understand what they are getting for free. To really win us over, they would go home and apply for a visa.

Finally, let me say that "A Day Without Immigrants" is an incorrect title for May 1. I am a native-born American who proudly went to work that day, as did my mother, brother and sister, all of whom are legal, naturalized Americans. My mother took her 79-year-old self to teach at the college that day. Were my father still living, he would have been working that day. My brother and my sister both worked that day, at a builder's office and as a university administrator, respectively.

God bless America and all those who showed what real American pride is all about.

Carmen Callahan


Morgan County needs community corrections system

I wish to commend the citizens of Decatur and the city officials for expressing their concern for unwanted pets and for taking positive steps toward alleviating the problem of unwanted pets. The publicity concerning Lucky's plight has awakened the inherent compassion in each of us for those less fortunate than ourselves. This inherent compassion simmers below the surface in all of us but, due to "making a living," we fail to allow that compassion to rise to the top.

There are others who are less fortunate than ourselves who need our compassion to rise to the top. I am speaking of human beings this time. Those less fortunate are those people who find themselves in our criminal justice system.

This county is now discussing the advantages or disadvantages of a community correction system in Morgan County and an alternative sentencing program.

This county desperately needs a drug court and a mental health court. A large group of people who go through our criminal justice system have drug problems and/or are mentally ill. Locking these people up and throwing away the key (as we are doing now) does not resolve the problem, which is alcohol or drug addiction or mental illness. We seem to be good at locking people up after they have committed a crime, but fail to provide services to those people that would help them become a productive citizen in our community.

If drug court is good enough for Rush Limbaugh, then it should be good enough for the citizens of Morgan County. Rush Limbaugh is no better nor no worse than those addicted to drugs in Morgan County.

Remember: if it is good enough for Rush it is good enough for us.

Don Chapman


More quiet zones needed near city rail crossings

First, congratulations to Tami Reist for her years of persistence on the train crossing issue. I'm sure much revenue was lost to the Country Inn and Suites during the past 15-plus years because customers did not like the level of noise created by the train whistles.

Second, this is also an issue that affects many Decatur residents on a daily basis. Businesses do not prefer to locate near the train tracks. People do not want to build homes or live near crossing locations.

There are several busy crossings in Decatur that need to have the same system put in place in order to create a quiet zone. Some valuable property is going undeveloped because of the "noise pollution" created by the train horns.

The Federal Railroad Administration changed the rules in 2003. It's time for Decatur to put those changes in place for the benefit of the taxpaying residents. I am asking our city leaders to take a serious view of this situation.

Leo M. Spain


Shelter in park an excellent idea

I've been spending some time in Decatur lately — a beautiful city. It's a city with some visionary leaders and a city that is proposing change.

Some people don't like change.

I am talking about the animal shelter and the plans to move it to Wilson Morgan Park. For those who see this as nothing more than relocating a dog pound, listen up: Although it is viewed by some as a radical plan, I see it as the right thing to do.

More than 60 percent of our population owns more than one companion animal. Our state mandates the operation of a "pound" in a municipality of more than 5,000 people. Coupled with animal overpopulation as a result of not enough owners spaying and neutering their pets, the "pounds" of Alabama are overloaded. This is a community-generated problem. It only makes sense to openly involve the community in a solution.

Partnered with the Animal Friends Humane Society, Decatur has the opportunity to do more than spend money annually to put a Band-Aid on animal-related issues. The new facility would be a community center that has unlimited outreach and education potential.

When this project comes to fruition, adoption will increase and euthanasia will decrease because more of the community will be involved.

Councilman Ronny Russell, the Animal Shelter Advisory Board and the Animal Friends Humane Society deserve a big round of applause for being visionary. It just supports the opinion I have developed about the city: Decatur rocks.

Mindy Gilbert

The Humane Society of the United States

State program coordinator, Alabama, Tennessee


Animals need basic care, attention

Re: the starving horses. I find it a downright shame that we allow this torture to go on around us.

If the horses aren't gaining weight after feeding them, a vet needs to be called in. Horses are very expensive to maintain; all animals deserve to be given basic needs.

Animals feel pain too. I think the laws should be tougher on animal abuse.

Shelby Farrow


Hospice volunteer finds job rewarding

Volunteers across America were recognized recently during National Volunteer Week. The week was about thanking volunteers for all they do to improve our communities. Volunteers inspire the people they help and inspire others to serve. Many organizations depend on volunteers to help them achieve their goals.

There are many opportunities to volunteer in the Decatur area. One agency using volunteers in its team approach is Hospice of the Valley. Its mission is to provide compassionate end-of-life care to its patients and their families. Volunteers are a necessary part of the support team.

I volunteer at Hospice of the Valley in patient care services. Often, when telling others I volunteer in patient care, they say, "I could never do that because I would not know what to say to the patient." I explain that to say something is often not the most important part of my responsibilities. Listening and companionship are of greater value. It is an opportunity to practice the ministry of presence. There are many other helps, such as doing errands, transporting to doctor's appointments, reading to the patient or helping with meals that can give them encouragement. The patient care volunteer also provides relief for the primary caregiver or other family members who may be overwhelmed with providing daily care.

To hold a hand, offer a heartfelt hug or just to listen can mean so much to brighten the lives of Hospice patients. To be invited into the last days of someone's life is a privilege. As volunteers, what we do is meaningful if it makes the lives of others better.

Hospice of the Valley is a special place to volunteer. Contact Connie Landers at 350-5585 for more information about volunteering. The next training session is Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Connie Wyker


Impeach Bush, Cheney for crimes

It is time that Congress follows through with its responsibility of "protecting the United States of America from enemies, both foreign and domestic" by the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for their "high crimes and misdemeanors." Need even more proof? Check out the Downing Street memo.

Wake up, get the truth and get active to resolve the problem. Change, when needed, is actually our responsibility.

Robert Barnes


Thanks to those who helped with Special Olympics

I would like to extend a thank you to all who assisted in the Special Olympics. I would especially like to thank the students from across Morgan County who assisted and escorted the children during this event.

I saw potential for so many educators, mentors, and advocates for children with special needs. There are so many ways we can become a part of a child's life. Each of the students who assisted in this wonderful program, from the escorts who stood by a child's side to those who assisted with the clean up, thank you to all of them.

Twyla Sloan


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