News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, AUGUST 5, 2007
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Keep alcohol in Athens, keep politics out of church

To The Daily: I believe the current battle over alcohol sales is totally uncalled for. The people of Athens voted on this issue and it should be a dead issue.

However, I do believe that if the pastors of the churches listed in the July 23 paper are preaching from the pulpit and telling the congregation how to vote and collecting signatures from the members in church, they are in violation of the law and that the tax-exempt status of the church is in jeopardy for allowing this. A follow up on this is in order.

The right to purchase and consume alcohol is a personal issue. Alcohol use, if done to excess, is wrong. However, when we start using the Bible to justify a position against it, we are no different than the radicals in Iraq who try to justify what they do with the Quran. The Lord made wine and drank wine.

Maybe these pastors should give up preaching and become politicians. They can’t be both.

Philip H. Devole
Decatur

Decatur should be hub of train, bus transportation

To The Daily: I had to go to Montgomery recently. Since I live in Moulton, I had to catch the bus in Huntsville. A neighbor drove me there and brought me back home when I returned. How does it help Decatur that people living there and in the area have to go to Huntsville to make bus connections?

Decatur is not some odd bypath on the hidden side of nowhere. In my opinion, it is a pleasant city in urgent need of good passenger transportation. Its only mode of passenger transportation is by automobile. Is this progress? The city has good freight transportation, but isn’t good human transportation also important?

According to The Decatur Daily, Huntsville wanted a bio-tech center and raised $80 million to get it. Does Huntsville have a positive, go-getter attitude that Decatur needs?

The Daily also reported that some Decatur industries are making components that will possibly help people land on the moon again, but someone using public transportation can’t land in Decatur.

College students who are studying out of town cannot land in Decatur if they are going home by public transportation. Is this a good situation for them?

Veterans need convenient means to Veterans Hospital in Birmingham. Seniors who no longer drive need convenient public transportation.

The saying goes “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Is there a will and a way to solve this problem? And is there possibly a good potential bus station location pleasing to everybody?

In past years, Decatur had good passenger transportation by bus or rail. Some of the trains were The Pan American, The South Wind, The Dixie Hummingbird and The Tennessean. Can a shadow of that time come back again with adequate bus transportation?

Oscar W. Brooks
Moulton

Proposed smoking ban
opportunity for Decatur

To The Daily: Decatur is about to make an important decision concerning secondhand smoke in public places. There are three important issues regarding a ban on smoking.

First, there is no doubt that secondhand smoke is unhealthy. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen. It definitely causes cancer in humans. Secondhand smoke causes cancer, heart disease, strokes and asthma. It is the third leading cause of preventable deaths. Last year Alabama lost almost as many people to secondhand smoke as to traffic accidents. The surgeon general states there is no safe level of exposure and that no filtration system or method of separation eliminates environmental tobacco smoke from shared air space. Employees in establishments that allow smoking have a much higher rate of lung cancer than the general population.

Second, it is a fallacy that a smoking ban is bad for business. A report of 97 peer-reviewed studies showed that a smoking ban did not have an adverse effect on sales in restaurants or bars. Many of these studies actually showed increased revenues. The only published studies that suggest a smoking ban is bad for business have been supported by the tobacco industry.

The third issue is the rights of individuals. Personal freedoms should be limited when they have an adverse affect on the health of others.

We have laws that regulate the speed limit and alcohol consumption. We expect the health department to protect us from unsanitary kitchens. Public welfare takes precedence over individual rights.

Recently, there was an editorial in this paper suggesting some changes that might improve the image of Decatur.

Support for the ban on smoking is another opportunity to show that Decatur is a progressive, informed and intelligent community.

James C. Gilmore, M.D.
Decatur

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