Sound Offs and Letters to Editor in North Country This Week
Country This Week
Canton-Potsdam, NY northcountrynow.com
Recent Sound Offs and Letters to the Editor about burn barrels (Sound Offs are anonymous). This listing contains all those published on burn barrels over a 3 month period. They are roughly 50/50 for/against burn barrels.
March 13 19, 2002
I think the people who are worried about the burning barrels should also be concerned about the junkyards and old cars that are in their dooryards, leaking old oil in our groundwater. We are at high cancer rate in St. Lawrence County, Why don't the people wise up, and get on their town and county officials? There's laws for this. That's why we have code enforcing people, and zoning laws. More people should be concerned about this matter. Stop it now, it's not getting any better. I say wise up and clean up.
March 6 12, 2002
I am completely dismayed by the number of people who have taken sides in the burn barrel issue in St. Lawrence County. I cannot understand why wanting to limit airborne toxins is even an issue for anyone. Why has long term health for humans and the environment become an issue with sides? It should be everybodys concern. On another issue, jeers to the Potsdam Village Police, the NY State Police and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Department for their lack of enforcement of traffic laws, especially the lack of enforcement of the 30 MPH speed limit on Maple Street entering (or leaving) Potsdam. Will it take a serious accident before one of these agencies steps up and actually enforces the speed limit?
I have been reading the recent Sound Offs about burn barrels with interest. I have a confession to make. I used to burn all of my garbage in a barrel. Then last spring I read an article in a magazine that talked about how some of the toxic chemicals that accumulate in a womans body are expelled in her breast milk. It was not long after that I discovered that I was pregnant with my second child. Well, you can imagine that I wasnt about to take any chances with my new baby. So against the wishes of my husband, who thinks that all of this alarm about burn barrel smoke is a bunch of you know what, I called someone to haul away our garbage once a week and I stopped burning altogether. Now this could all be coincidence, but since last spring, my son, who has had asthma for 10 years, has not had a single attack, my husband has stopped complaining of an upset stomach, and I havent had a single migraine, which I sometimes get. One other thing happened that I know for sure was because we stopped burning our garbage. Our neighbors have been friendly toward us. Our new baby is doing fine and even if the smoke from the garbage burning would not have hurt her, I feel a lot better knowing that I have done the best I can for my children.
Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
I teach a class in the Community Health Department at SUNY Potsdam called "Critical Issues in Human Ecology." Over the last several months I have been reading the "Sound Off'' column with considerable interest as my students from the class last fall engaged in a lively discussion with other callers. The principal focus of the discussion has been burn barrels, though there have been some diversions.
The students in the class last semester were required to complete a project that would educate others about an issue related to environmental health and safety. Students were allowed to choose the topic for their topic. The end products were quite varied. They Included:
A booklet describing what the average person needs to know about potential agents of bioterrorism;
A Handy at-a-glance recycling resource guide for college students;
A video about the importance of having pets vaccinated for rabies;
Pamphlets about winter recreation safety; why and how to recycle used motor oil; how to prevent becoming infected with e. Coli bacteria; and what parents need to know about environmental hazards facing children;
And oh, yes, a poster about the hazards associated with burn barrels.
These student projects, and many more, will be presented for public viewing at the annual SUNY Potsdam Learning and Research Fair, which takes place this year on Thursday, March 28, in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Barrington Student Union from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
I hope all those in our community who have been following the discussion in "Sound Off' will attend the fair and have a chance to admire the beautiful work of our SUNY Potsdam students. At the same time, I hope they will feel the pride I feel when I realize what a passionate commitment these young people have to a safer and more healthful world.
Laurel Sharmer, PhD, MPH, CHES Assistant Professor of Community Health
To the Editor:
On page 134 of Eco-Economy, the author Lester R. Brown states, "Dioxins which are so toxic that their presence is measured not in parts per million but in parts per billion are a product of burning plastic." But no matter what is being incinerated, resource recovery (the reusing and recycling of materials) is always preferable to burning. Its hard for me to imagine reasonable and educated people denying the devastating effects that burn barrels have upon the environment. For the sake of our health and well being, cant people get together with a spirit of cooperation and good will to keep toxins from contaminating our air, water and soil?
Feb. 27 March 5, 2002
I would just like to comment on the response by a reader who stated the Critical Issues professors teach us that firearms are the leading 'cause of death.... we did not learn that. And by the way, what does malpractice vs. firearms have to do with the fact that burning barrels are harmful to our health? ("Burning Paper Okay," Dec. 31-Jan. 8; "Wants Own Burn Barrel," Jan. 23-29; "Burning Not Okay," Jan. 23-29;"Paved With Paper?" Jan. 30-Feb. 5; "Please Stop Burning," Jan. 30-Feb. 5; "Malpractice Kills More," Jan. 30-Feb. 5;"Burning Harms People," Feb. 6-12; "Wood Stove Police?" Feb. 20-26; "Don't Speak For Us," Feb. 20-26; "Could Be Fundraiser," Feb. 20-26; "Fossil Fuel Threat," Feb. 20-26). Just because you live in this small town and believe 'I can do what I want to do' it doesn't mean you can't respect other people in the community. If we were all a little more educated, that's the problem in this county.
Feb. 20 26, 2002
Is burning wood OK? I'm not sure because I'm not a burning wood expert but I think that burning wood in our homes is not good for the environment. Eventually environmentalists will lobby against burning wood to keep your family warm in the harsh winters. Is there a limit? There are people in all walks of life burning wood, some to survive and some for the beauty of it. How soon will politicians (if it will make them a buck) start pushing for a wood stove police bill to hunt down these criminals of wood burning stoves. Sounds silly. Crazier things have happened because people sit back and let it happen. And when you wake up to it it's already too late.
I enjoyed the letter from the property rights activist that accused anyone with environmental concerns of being an antijob, anti-development wacko. I just want to make it clear that it wasn't a lack of jobs that made my high school classmates and I leave the area for college and careers. It was attitudes of intolerance and ignorance like this that makes this place so unlivable to anyone that isn't a card-carrying ultraconservative.
When the topic is burn barrels, road salt use, wood-product manufacturing etc., letters to the editors of area newspapers seem to come from fewer than half-a-dozen area residents. There seems to be a very small group of people with nothing to do but champion the liberal cause du jour. I certainly hope that our representatives in local government understand that these few letter writers most definitely do not speak for the vast majority of clear-minded north country voters.
Burning barrels okaysome people can't have one because they're in a confined area. There's not that many burn barrels anyway. As long as they only burn papers I see nothing wrong with it. They should have the people that deliver them pick them back up, then they should have a place to take them and sell them for so much a pound. It would be a good way for the little kids to raise money for sports. It would be like picking up bottles. Think about it, it could be a good fundraiser.
Toxins: Year after year we burn fuel oil and kerosene, toxins spewing out our chimneys on a daily basis Why aren't we trying to stop the use of these kind of fuels? Are burn barrels more of a threat to our way of life than fossil fuels? I wonder what kind of fuels are being used from the same people that are trying to put a ban on burn barrels? Other people should take care of their own yard before they try to take care of mine.
Feb. 13 19, 2002
The "All fit a pattern" item in the Feb. 6 12 issue contains two common factual errors. The person says St. Lawrence County is "the largest and most lightly populated county east of the Mississippi." Not true. Several counties in Maine are larger; the largest is more than twice the size of St. Lawrence County. Any on-line or print almanac will confirm this. Or just look at a map. And I dont know if the person is talking raw data or population density, but Hamilton County, in the Adirondacks, is one of the largest counties in NY state and it has fewer people than the village of Potsdam. These may seem irrelevant to the main issue, but if this person cannot get such easily verified facts right, why should we believe the assertion that burn barrels produce no harm?
Feb. 6 12, 2002
The concerns involving Wal-Mart, a new highway here and burn barrels raised by several Sound Offs in the letter in your last issue ("DEC Will Hear About Illegal Trash Burning," Jan. 30-Feb. 5) all fit a pattern, one that explains why Bill Lewis in the letter two months ago likened "green" environmental extremists to "watermelons" ("Needs Writers To Keep Us Laughing," Nov. 7 13, 2001). All employed claims that are hostile to property rights and/or investment. Their plausible arguments against Wal-Mart and the new highway, however, are undercut by their extremism on the barrel issue. There is not even junk science demonstrating any strong correlation between an average of a few dozen barrels a day and cancer rates. By ignoring other, more significant variables, such fanatics incite unfounded fears and hysteria in the largest and most lightly populated county east of the Mississippi.
With regard to the garbage burning issue. There are two principles I think we all can agree on. First, it is not okay to harm another person. Second, everyone has the right to self-defense. Thus, if someone is emitting dioxin into the air that I might breath, that person is guilty of assault and I have the right to take whatever action is necessary to defend myself from that assault. Of course, if you don't belief that dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals known, you would draw a different conclusion. If this is the case, please submit to this paper a letter explaining the basis of your disagreement with the scientific community and please include your credentials and the details of all pertinent research and any data that you have compiled on the subject
Jan. 30 Feb. 5, 2002
It is easy to predict that the roads in this county will be paved with paper and anything else that it now costs to throw away at the recyclers, which can be burned. The only measure that will prevent this is that it becomes free to take the burnables to the recycler. Do the legislators of this county actually think that if a family has to decide whether to buy a pound of hamburg to eat or three stickers for their garbage, or put the stuff out on the road on the way to work, which way will they decide? For once the poor people will have a say if their rights are taken away.
This Sound Off is in response to the selfish person who wants their own burn barrel on their own property ("Wants Own Burn Barrel," Jan. 23 29). It is quite obvious that this person has no sense of social responsibility. No person owns land; we rent it while we are alive; we purchase use of land and we pay taxes on it yearly. What we do on the land that we rent does not just affect us, but our neighbors as well. Burning harms the atmosphere that all people breathe how far the smoke from a burn barrel travels is far greater than the acreage of the land a person rents. Being socially responsible does not constitute being called a yuppie environmentalist. You dont have to be in a certain income bracket to be concerned about the environment. You do not live alone on this planet; everything you do affects others. Please stop burning.
Im commenting on the Sound Off in the North Country This Week Jan. 23 29, titled "Burning Not Okay." The person that wrote this article said they learned in their Critical Issues In Human Ecology class this past semester it is not okay to burn papers. But I would have them know that the same people that teach that class are the same people that would have you think that firearms kill more people every year than anything. But do you really know that medical malpractice kills more people than firearms do?
Letters to the editor
To the Editor:
This letter is a response to the person who called in the Sound Off "Wants Own Burn Barrel" in the Jan. 23 - 29 issue.
The person used these words: "let people live as they should and do what they want to do as long as they aren't harming anyone else."
That is just the issue. When it comes to open burning, people are being harmedthe North Country's cancer and respiratory disease rates reflect this. Even paper and cardboard can contain dioxins and other chemicals which should not be released into the air by burning.
I wonder if this person who carries on about "yuppie environmentalists" has held a basin for a lung cancer patient who needs to cough up thick, bloody phlegm. Or assisted a person dying of bowel cancer with their bathroom needs? All the while knowing that their disease might have been preventable? I have, and now I'm doing something about the horrible way it made me feel. I'm trying to reduce the numbers of people who have to die this way.
Commercial burning is illegal in this county, and open burning of residential waste is prohibited in many areas. People who burn illegally might be guiltily watching over their shoulders for "yuppie environmentalists." What they might actually see is an angry old gray-haired mother of four, who will gladly turn them in to DEC
for Cancer Action
To the Editor:
Beware citizens of Saint Lawrence Countyyour private property and private lives are under attack once more by the omnipresent Greens hoping you are color blind enough to not distinguish green from red. These adversaries to your God given liberties believe everything emits from the coercion of government edicts backed up by fines, prison sentences, and family and neighborhood eroding snitches. All of these edicts funded by the unending tax and fire power muscle of The State.
The freedoms you enjoy today, courtesy of The State, pale in comparison to those enjoyed by the founders of America or even those enjoyed three or four generations ago.
If you enjoy the Third World look of military occupied airports and boundaries in return for government "security," then you will be positively elated when the EPA/DEC sends its million dollar buses to check on the air quality emanating from your chimney, kitchen, cellar, bathroom, garage, car, truck, lawn mower, weed trimmer, barbecue grill, and that current cancer bad boy the burn barrel.
It can not happen, huh?
It has already happenedvery stringent gun controls on once a Second Amendment right, that misnomer "conservation easements", seat belts, alcohol laws of all hues, victim sob stories at sentencing (a modern twist on the females of old called scolds), fingerprints to teach school, on call urine tests, the ubiquitous child endangerment laws, good old FDR's temporary withholding tax to fund World War II, your social "security" identifier number, and on and on.
After all, who can argue against child safety? Against diversity? For tobacco? For alcohol? Against clean air? Clean water? Clean land? Against affirmative action? Against equal employment opportunity? Against public education? Against cancer? Against American foreign aid policy? Against equal housing? For discrimination? i.e. freedom of association? Against minority/female preference for government contracts? Against campaign finance reform? For Indian nicknames? The list is nauseously longer.
Who? A reactionary, such as I, that is who, and so should you.
After all, if abortion is freedom of choice and the bedroom is free of scrutiny to mask the stealing of the rest of your life and property, and same sex schools are bad, but same sex marriages are fine, then burning rubbish in one's backyard is freedom of choice too.
You elites of politics, education, and finance, along with your willing dupes of busy body drones, lay off the argument it is your air, water, and land too. That your insurance premiums increase due to my ill health choices.
That is the price that freedom and liberty from God exacts in the free market. If you are not willing to pay these dues freely, then welcome to tyranny. All tyrants do not come with funny little or bushy mustaches you know. Every democracy has led to dictatorship.
Trust statistics from EPA/DEC? Never! They are bureaucrats looking to hold their lucrative jobs followed by rest of life pensions at your expensemonetary and liberty-wise. Why care about you? After all, their wages come from mandated taxes, licenses, fees, fines, and confiscated private property.
How about the State of Maryland? Or Montgomery County in Alabama where as of the 21st of November, a $750 fine is to be levied if tobacco smoke leaks from your home. John Banzafthe czar of Action on Smoking and Healthsaid "make a simple complaint to a designated agency rather than hire a lawyer and go to court."
I say take up your pens county legislators and vote yes on burn barrels and strike a ring for freedom since the Liberty Bell cannot be rung. Sadly, there are U.N. plaques on Independence Hall, the Statue of Liberty, Monticello, and about 20 other American Heritage Sites, which promote "one world hegemony."
Your odds against cancer are better than what these petty and weighty statists have in mind, judging from what has already been implemented.
Pennsylvania lost its steel industry due to "clean" air. St. Lawrence County is losing jobs to the same illusion of "clean" air and forever wild.
Do not let this current crop of tyrants and whiners stampede you into forging stronger links in your current chain of government slavery. These Greens/Reds across St. Lawrence County and America are no Mr. Caesar Rodney of Delaware one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Who upon signing, against the advice of his fellow signers, also signed away any chance of "advanced" medical help from British medicine with what today we call skin cancer.
Steve J. Medve
Council of Conservative Citizens, Canton
Jan. 23 29, 2002
I would like to address the issue of burn barrels. I see no reason why the government should stick their noses into what I want to do on my property. If I want to have a burn barrel, then I should be able to. I do agree that not everything should be burned, i.e., tires should be recycled, glass, metal and plastic should be too. I mainly burn paper and cardboard and cant understand why people are griping about our burn barrels. I think these yuppie environmentalists need to get a life and let people live as they should and do what they want to do on their own property as long as they arent harming anyone else.
I am commenting on the burning paper is okay (Dec. 31-Jan. 8). I understand plastics are not okay but as I learned in my Critical Issues In Human Ecology class this past semester it is not okay to burn papers either as most people in the North Country believe is so.
I personally believe in trying to clean up the environment, however the government is just trying to find ways to dictate our lives even more and find ways to get more money out of our pockets.. Few that don't use common sense when burning trash ruin it for those that are responsible. Those that pay land taxes have the right to do what they want on their property as long as they aren't affecting others. I lived out in the country for many years and I was careful burning trash and not burnt down a house or caused a major fire. I am tired of the government making the people look stupid while we got people in government that don't use common sense.
Apparently the Town Leader doesn't read the Dodge Reports. Wal-Mart is not interested in Potsdam, it is going to Massena where Central Tractor is now and Lowe's is moving into the Wal-Mart location. The Potsdam Leadership will be leading many of the town residents to Wal-Mart to shop and Massena will be collecting the taxes that our Town Leadership didn't want. As for the burning ban for St. Lawrence County, be ready for a big tax increase to clean up the roads of all the garbage that will need to be picked up. Unless our County Leadership thinks ahead and provides free recycling centers, that is exactly what will happen.
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