Mill Creek’s gardens rank among world’s best; Y’town school board member challenges editorial; Don’t militarize US police forces; Back Alzheimer’s bill

Fellows Gardens ranks with best

I recently visited Youngstown and had the great pleasure of being taken to Mill Creek Park by a resident of Campbell. I was extremely impressed by the entire park and, in particular, by Fellows Riverside Gardens and Lanterman’s Mill.

I have been very fortunate to see gardens all over the United States and in many places in Europe — visiting gardens is a hobby of mine that I have pursued for many years.

I believe that Fellows is one of the most creatively designed and beautifully maintained gardens I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Viewing a garden in late summer is generally not thought to be the best plan; however, I found this garden had incorporated many clever techniques to make the most of late summer plantings. The gardens were still spectacular.

Lanterman’s Mill topped off a lovely afternoon. It is very interesting stop in the park — informative and quite picturesque. The additions of wildflower butterfly gardens and bird feeders made for magical moments of viewing hummingbirds and other small song birds.

As to maintenance, I have seen several parks this year tha have been forced to reduce their maintenance efforts due to funding issues. They were in very sad shape. That is not so with Mill Creek. How fortunate the residents of Youngstown and surrounding areas are to have such a meticulously maintained park. Kudos to the whole community for supporting such a wonderful public asset.

Margaret Bellucci, Middletown, R.I.

School board member: State panel does not dictate my vote

Let’s set the record straight. I am a member of the Youngstown City Schools Board of Education. I was elected to the board after completing over 30 years of service as an educator in the system. My years of service in the district have been very rewarding.

This plea for setting the record straight refers to the employment status of Mrs. Butler, former principal of Chaney, and the actions taken leading to the nonrenewal of her contract. In the Aug. 5 editorial titled “Academic Distress Commission proves its value to Youngstown,” an item was cited that I dispute.

It states “the commission recommended that the school board rescind its action of nonrenewal of Mrs. Butler’s contract.” This is incorrect. My vote to rescind the nonrenewal was not based on a recommendation from the commission. It was based on information I received during a lengthy hearing with Mrs. Butler, Superintendent Connie Hathorn and his senior administrative staff. Prior to this hearing, the board received the recommendations of the superintendent to nonrenew Mrs. Butler and supported him. After hearing both sides, I decided to vote based on the fact that procedures had not been followed. Therefore, the nonrenewal of Mrs. Butler’s contract should be rescinded. I was unaware of any recommendation from the commission and had I known, it would not have influenced my vote!

As educational leaders, it seems ludicrous for us to hold our students accountable for high moral standards and for facing consequences of their actions such as suspensions or expulsions. The editorial states that the state commission does not have to adhere to state laws that govern schools. The overturn of the board vote by the commission confirms that point.

However, there would not have been a need for the board or the commission to address this problem if the superintendent and his staff had followed proper protocol.

They neglected to follow state rules on evaluating and notifying an administrator within the required time frame. There were no consequences for this failure.

Our district must move forward. The needs of our students should be our first priority. The superintendent and his administrative staff must follow state guidelines and the board and the commission should demand accountability.

Toward this end, I am imploring the members of our community to become more involved. Our children and the board need your support.

Marcia Haire-Ellis, Youngstown

Marcia Haire-Ellis is a member of the Youngstown Board of Education.

Don’t militarize US police forces

Congratulations on a good and pertinent Vindicator editorial Aug. 20. The subject was the militarization of our nation’s police forces. In a very real sense, the U.S. lost that part of the battle of terrorism. We have adopted the tactics of the terrorists. The federal War Department (DOD) is fueling this effort by supplying army weapons and vehicles to local police.

Two experiences of my personal life illustrate what can come from militarizing our police. Several years ago, my wife, my son and I had a rare opportunity to visit a small Mexican town near the border of Arizona. The streets were all dirt except for the main road. There were no other Americans around, it was truly a Mexican setting. I was informed by the family handyman that private ownership of guns was illegal. Yet when we were in town, there was a uniformed official strutting around the streets with an assault rifle. I never knew his official role, but it was clear that we must be nice to him. During one afternoon, a helicopter landed at the edge of the town and unloaded several more uniformed men with assault rifles. The local people treated it as an everyday event, but it left me with a frightening feeling in my stomach.

Not too many years ago, there was an air show at the Vienna Air Base, and I attended it. Upon entering the base I was asked to produce any metal objects. They informed me that I would have to give up my pocket knife with a 11/2-inch blade because it was a “weapon”. As I went among the various displays. I noticed a uniformed airman on duty. He was carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle. It occurred to me that our federal government did not trust me with a small pocket knife, but I’m supposed to trust a complete stranger with an assault rifle. It, again, left me with an uneasy feeling.

Many of our local police forces have taken years to earn our respect for fair play. To replace that respect with a show of force will erase whatever goodwill there was. As Americans, we need to reject the idea of a militarized police force.

Donald Butler, Warren

Support Alzheimer’s legislation

After practicing ophthal- mology for 37 years, my wife of 56 years and I retired to Minerva, Ohio, to manage our tree farm. Two years later, I suddenly found myself not remembering how to install the mower on the tractor. I wasn’t able to read or understand the directions. After more “warnings,” I went to a neurologist who confirmed the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. While there is no proven cure now, progress is being made through research. However, we need a treatment to prevent the imprisonment of the millions of individuals affected by Alzheimer’s.

As one of the 210,000 people living with Alzheimer’s in Ohio, I extend my gratitude to U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson for co-sponsoring the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act (H.R. 4351/S. 2192). This bill would require the National Institutes of Health to submit an annual Alzheimer’s research budget directly to Congress, thus avoiding bureaucratic procedures. This budget would provide resources that scientists need in order to reach the National Alzheimer’s goal of 2025 of effectively treating and preventing the disease.

I urge readers to join the fight against Alzheimer’s by making their voices heard and contact their elected officials. To learn more, call 800-272-3900 or visit Dr. Christopher King, Sebring