Drug tests could have saved Boardman lives; ex-cons deserve 2nd chance; don't dump dogs; ban fracking throughout Mahoning County

Drug testing could have saved lives of Boardman High grads

The Boardman school board has taken the first steps in implementing a needed mandatory drug-testing program in the district.

Initially, students who drive to school or participate in sports would be tested, but eventually testing will expand to any student who participates in extracurricular activities. The testing requires a hair sample, because it’s the most accurate form of detection.

Drug testing in the Boardman schools is absolutely necessary as I can think of two Boardman graduates who have died in the past year due to suspected drug- related problems. Two lives may have been saved had this policy been in place.

Many people are concerned that the policy infringes upon students’ rights, but I am not sure that is the case. In my education classes at Youngstown State University, we often discuss the term “In Loco Parentis,” which means teachers assume the role of parents during school hours. Teachers and those in the school system are like parents that only desire successful and healthy lives for their children; in implementing the policy, they are doing what they feel is best for the students’ well-being.

Mandatory drug testing in the school is no different than requiring a child to obey certain rules at home. Boardman is saying that the rules of the house are to stay drug-free. This testing will not only enforce that rule but will provide an overall better learning environment for students.

Finally, it is not unfair to test those students who participate in extracurricular activities. These activities are a privilege and representative of the school. Therefore, it makes sense that these privileges come with responsibilities. Mandating a clean drug test before participation is no different than requiring students to also be academically eligible.

You would want me, a future teacher, tested before I’m allowed to go into the classroom and teach your children. You would want to know that they are in the care of someone reliable, because you want them to be safe. This is the same reason they should be tested, because we want them to be safe.

In the end, the aim of this program is to simply provide a safer environment and brighter future for all students, a goal with which we should all agree.

Kelsey Tokarsky, Boardman

‘Returning citizens’ from prison deserve second chance for work

I am a community leader with the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative and one of the three returning citizens who spoke in favor of a fair-hiring policy resolution two weeks ago at the Youngstown City Council meeting.

We believe that returning citizens can be a valuable asset to the community. As Mayor McNally stated during the meeting, “they can pay taxes too.” It’s true. When I have had opportunities to work, I have filed and paid my taxes proudly.

However, in your article “Youngstown Council Removes Conviction Question from Application” on March 20, you chose to focus on my past record rather than my present circumstances or all the good things I have done since being released in 1995. I guess good news doesn’t sell, because pertinent information was thrown out like a felon’s job application.

I was 19 years old when I went to prison. While in prison, I educated myself and got my GED and first degree in office administrations. I wanted and needed the skills necessary for surviving a life after prison. Once released, I continued my quest for knowledge and attained a degree in automotive technology. I also graduated from Youngstown State with two degrees in social work.

I am now a mother, a grandmother and an active contributor to this community. The changes to Youngstown’s hiring policy will give qualified people like me an opportunity to work and become fully functioning and contributing members of society. We are now teaming up with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative to push for a statewide fair-hiring policy in Ohio. Many of us have been rehabilitated, and all we want is a second chance. We are ready to work.

Akim Lattermore, Youngstown

Why must people dump dogs when pound can rescue them?

I am writing this letter about the heartless man who drove his nice car on the South Side on Wednesday night to dump his dog. Under the cover of darkness, he got out of the car, dragged his dog out and then took off.

Did you even look back to see your poor animal chasing your car, crying, as he tried to get to you? Do you even care that your dog was left alone scared and confused as to why his family would leave him?

In an irresponsible society, this type of evil is becoming more prevalent. This dog took off into the woods and will probably wind up being a statistic of being killed in the streets or starved to death.

Just how hard would it have been for this person to surrender the dog to the Mahoning County pound? There are some wonderful, caring rescues there who work tirelessly to save the abandoned and abused dogs that are brought there. They search for rescues that will take the dogs who are not adopted out, and I applaud their efforts in saving most of them. I am also glad that the dog warden is willing to work with these rescues instead of just putting the dogs down.

It is a shame that animal abuse is so common in this area. The sad part is that statistics show that those who abuse animals also tend to harm other people.

The person who dumped this poor dog repaid loyalty with betrayal. You can’t get more disgusting than that.

Marianne Bernard, Youngstown

Fracking ban should be placed throughout Mahoning County

As a citizen of the Mahoning Valley, I offer my unqualified support for the charter-amendment referendum in Youngstown known as the Community Bill of Rights. This charter amendment will be voted on again May 6.

Concerned about environmental quality and preservation, I applaud forbidding the practice of horizontal drilling for gas with the process commonly known as fracking. I favor such a policy for all of Mahoning County.

The technology in question is not time-tested with regard to its environmental effects, which may include increased occurrence of earthquakes now being experienced in the Valley and more frequently in the Dakotas and Kansas, which have seen much more drilling than here.

The argument in favor of drilling is first necessity in that we must fuel our lives, and second, economic, for its cash infusion and necessary installation and operating investment.

To address the economic issue first, the job-creation argument is mostly mythical. Yes, there will be short-term construction jobs created, workers employed by mobile corporate drilling companies. The possibility of local jobs is very thin. Operation of rigs once installed is a matter of a couple of employees. Finally, the transportation of gases from wells is again corporate, not local, trucking companies.

For the necessary fueling of our lives I agree that gas will always be part of the solution. But I must stress “part” as I contemplate diversely fueling our lives with a full variety of traditional and future fuels, including green fuels, wind, water, sun, oil, coal and nitrogen fuels and still, agricultural fuels. Drilling for gas by traditional single-bore technology has worked and can continue to be the viable option for some much smaller necessary drilling for natural gas.

Hydraulic fracturing need not be a part of this technology-friendly vision I project with these thoughts.

Jim Villani, Boardman