News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Library funding not keeping up with inflation


For the past five years, the Decatur City Council has level-funded the Decatur Public Library at $360,000. Two years ago, the mayor proposed a 10 percent increase, $36,000, but the City Council removed it from the final approved budget. During these five years, the inflation index has increased approximately 11 percent — in fact, an 11 percent reduction in the buying power for the library. Recently, the City Council approved $1 million for the renovation of a building for an animal shelter. In addition, $600,000 is being allocated to a non-city institution to relocate from the proposed animal shelter. This organization has its own annual budget of $6 million.

The Decatur city population is approximately 55,000. Almost half of these, 26,949, are library cardholders. Last year, the library had a checkout of 246,423 items (printed books, audio books, CDs and DVDs). The reference desk responded to 13,695 questions (in person or by phone). In addition, the library patrons used the computers, reference materials, newspapers and magazines in the library. Decatur children take advantage of the Children's Hour, summer reading program, the computer located in the children's section, as well as checking out books to take home.

Yes, I have an interest in the library. The Decatur Public Library is a member of the Wheeler Basin Regional Library. I want to see that library properly funded so it can continue to provide the high-quality service the citizens of Decatur need and deserve. If the City Council continues to only level-fund the library, it will be necessary for the library to cut services, hours or both. So, if the City Council can find $1.6 million for cats and dogs, I can only hope councilmen will find it in their hearts to adequately fund the Decatur Public Library.

Bernard R. Malkmus

Chairman, Wheeler Basin Regional Library Board


Federal arthritis legislation needs support


For the first time in 30 years, there is legislation that could improve the lives of Alabama's youngest arthritis sufferers. The Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act would establish pediatric rheumatology fellowships and a loan forgiveness plan to encourage more medical students to pursue a career in pediatric rheumatology. Alabama does not have a pediatric rheumatologist.

Currently, Alabama Congressmen Spencer Bachus, Jo Bonner, Artur Davis and Mike Rogers are among the co-sponsors. Neither of Alabama's senators has agreed to support the more than 1 million Alabamians with arthritis by co-sponsoring this bill. It is imperative that the APCC receives additional co-sponsors in the House and Senate.

The APCC 2005 is in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Sen. Jeff Sessions is a member of this committee. The APCC must come out of this committee by October, or it will have to be re-introduced. Please contact Sen. Sessions, Sen. Richard Shelby, Congressmen Robert Aderholt, Bud Cramer Jr. and Terry Everett. For more information go to www,, or call (800) 879-7896.

Alabama has the second highest prevalence rate for arthritis in the United States (adult and children). There are more than 120 forms of the disease. Arthritis costs Alabama $2.5 billion annually in lost wages and medical care. This makes arthritis an issue for every Alabama citizen — an issue that must be addressed before this $2.5 billion figure increases.

Our senators and congressmen are the voices that speak for Alabama citizens. Let us speak loud and clear so that they will know what we want, what we need them to say. Together we can make a difference in the lives of Alabama's children.

Then we can truly call our state, our home, "Alabama the Beautiful."

Cindy Criswell Ducker


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