Letters to the editor: April 27

April 27, 2014 

James and Kristy Light of Atlanta, left, and Stacy and Scott McCauley of Durham, N.C., visited Keeneland for the first time April 12 after James Light bought their box seat tickets in a charity auction for $5,000.

Harm to kids should rule out KHSAA plan

I recently read the article about the newly enacted Kentucky High School Athletics Association rule to prohibit middle-school children who repeat a grade from participating in athletics the following year. It is critical that KHSAA reconsider.

I have spent my entire career building and managing juvenile and adult detention facilities for Fayette County. I am now borrowing my last dollar to build an indoor training camp for school-age athletes. In my opinion we have an important choice: build gyms or jails.

KHSSA director Julian Tackett has spent his career helping kids have an opportunity to compete. I am sure he believes this new rule is a good idea. Yet the article cites no valid statistics, only anecdotal reasoning, for the rule. I am sure there are parents who hold kids back for personal gain.

With this ruling, how many high-risk kids who are academically or even behaviorally challenged, will have to repeat a year and then not be eligible to compete athletically?

A coach is a key link to a successful student. A coach can establish boundaries, encourage personal achievement, demand respect through giving respect, and promote self-worth that keeps kids in school.

To create a rule that would address intentional deception by parents to gain an athletic advantage for a few, we risk another generation of at-risk kids quitting school and choosing gangs over games. High-risk kids have the same desire to belong to any group that provides fellowship, strict rules, enforcement and a degree of protection.

Ray Sabbatine


Venezuela needs protest

The Venezuelans of this community are concerned about the quality and veracity of the opinion emitted by Mattew David Penn.

As a Venezuelan, I am deeply concerned by the way he criminalizes thousands of college students that are pacifically protesting for the liberation of Venezuela from a communist regime. The current struggle in Venezuela is not for wealth or power; we are fighting for our basic human rights.

Venezuelans are fighting for their right to life. Since Hugo Chavez came to power in 1998, approximately 200,000 people have been murdered in Venezuela. Even more alarming is the rate of unsolved crimes.

The government, instead of solving the main issue, has financed and armed violent criminal groups called "Colectivos" to attack the people that ideologically opposed the regime. These armed groups and the Venezuelan armed forces are guilty of murdering and kidnapping students during the current riots.

Venezuelans are also fighting for freedom of speech. The government has silenced the media and threatened to close national and international news networks if they transmit any of the protests and the oppression generated by Venezuelan Armed Forces.

Venezuelans are not fighting for wealth. Similar to the Founding Fathers of the United Sates, these students understand the necessity of "altering" or "abolishing" a government that fails to ensure their rights for "safety and happiness."

These are some of the reasons why young Venezuelans, from all economic statuses, have been protesting on the streets since Feb. 12.

Jose Acevedo


Nowhere else

Only in Kentucky, and only in the Herald-Leader, would readers see the following two items featured: Rural smokers declared winners (trust me, if you smoke anyplace, you are not a winner) and "Jesus really rose."

In next Sunday's edition, we will probably be told the world is flat. Or at least the Commonwealth of Kentucky is.

Wayne Wilson


Higher-ed big business

Well, Eastern Kentucky University has gone up on tuition yet again, as well as increased costs of the food card. It seems everything is going up except the quality of instructing.

There are great professors there, but the students I have talked with tell me a large percentage of instructors don't seem to want to be there and could not care less whether the student receives quality instruction or not.

Universities are no longer about education; it's now big business. Not too many years ago, the state paid 68 percent of the cost of education at the state's public universities while parents and students paid 32 percent. Now it is reversed. Deserving students should be guaranteed a way, with hard work, to better themselves.

My grandson was forced to pay a dorm fee, although he was living at home and told he would or else. Mistakes are not admitted. The room was rented to another person. The medical facility is another nightmare.

One student told me her dorm was like a ghetto. The greed has no bounds. They allow a student to make payments on tuition if they are having a hard time financially and then charge $25 a month late fees. All this and the student is probably going to come out owing an arm and a leg and work in fast food. Are we going to be satisfied with this?

Shirley G. Kelly


Developers' profit plan

On Feb. 27, the Lexington-Fayette Planning Commission held a public meeting to announce its decision to approve Ball Homes' proposal to develop the Harvey property adjacent to Harrodsburg Road near Military Pike.

Oh, and as a token gesture, the public was offered another chance to voice objections, provided they did not exceed three minutes per citizen.

Ball Homes attorney Bill Lear was allowed as much time as he wanted to recite the company's promise to take care of all concerns, protect whatever resources thought worthy, make the world a better place and work toward word peace.

Objections from citizens were finally heard: lack of viable access to and from the property, public safety issues, overburdened infrastructure, geological issues, protection of an historic Burr oak tree and school system overload.

Then the commission told the public that the builder had requested, and tentatively received, a waiver so it could disregard planning staff's engineering concerns and public objections to the convoluted and unsafe access from Harrodsburg Road and Schoolhouse Lane.

The outcome of the so-called vote was never in question. The development proposal was easily approved, regardless of actual housing needs, resource protection and public outcry.

The city's Comprehensive Plan calls for development such as Ball Homes proposes. It seems to have been written with developers' profit goals in mind. Is there any hope for common sense and rational thinking regarding development of the beautiful Lexington area?

Don Clarke


No poaching mushrooms

I normally enjoy reading Tom Eblen's columns, however, his April 20 one about morel mushroom hunting concerned me. Not once in the article did he mention whether the mushroom hunters were on their own land, and if not, whether they had permission to be there from the landowner and remove anything from the property.

Woodland trespass is a serious issue for private woodland owners. The poaching of anything from private or public property is even more serious. Both woodland trespass and poaching should be discouraged not encouraged, and especially not romanticized as heritage or tradition.

I hope the next time Eblen, or anyone for that matter, chooses to go mushroom hunting, they are not trespassing or stealing.

The absence of a "No Trespassing" sign is not an invitation for anyone to access private property, take what they want or do as they please.

Michael Walsh


Pot of gold for E. Ky.

Marijuana is illegal to use in Kentucky. But maybe Kentucky should be allowed to grow marijuana and sell it to states such as Colorado where its use is legal.

Kentucky is known for its high quality of marijuana; so why not make it legal to grow and sell it to states or countries where it is legal?

Marijuana would still be illegal to smoke here; but it would be legal for Kentucky farmers to grow and sell. If marijuana is ever legalized in Kentucky, it would be nice if permits were given to small growers. Eastern Kentucky could make a lot of money growing marijuana.

Russell Oliver


Whole Foods disappoints

The news that Whole Foods will be abandoning its current location for a new location gives us all food for thought.

Why would a grocer whose brand exudes a commitment to sustainability decide to contribute to urban sprawl and occupy a new store far from the urban core?

Suburban strip malls are car dependent locations, surrounded by asphalt and destined to become the next generation of blight. Whole Foods should live its brand.

Locating its store in a redeveloped space with salvaged materials and pedestrian friendly access would have been the sustainable choice. As it is, Whole Foods is anything but a green grocer.

David Adkins


Everyone gets the royal treatment at Keeneland

Whether you are a native of Lexington, a newcomer or a frequent guest at Keeneland, there are always opportunities to experience the "Keeneland Kingdom."

I realized that when I had the chance to usher at the spring meet. Regardless of the weather, one has many options. From standing at the rail at the track or being in the grandstands, betting areas, club house, private dining rooms and boxes or having early-morning breakfast with the jockeys — all are treats.

Some of my memories include overhearing guest comments calling Keeneland "a class act," and some who forgot to wear ties to go to the dining room thanking us for a loaner tie that matched. I also saw many families having reunions, with babies in strollers and seniors on canes.

Employees — whether in kitchens, barns or the Queen's Room — display a feeling of family. Tours show past and present life at Keeneland, from the magnificent horses, the owners and breeders and the spectacular grounds. And, yes, there are losses in wagers, horse injuries and unexpected life experiences.

I greeted guests from Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the Middle East, Asia, Canada, South America and throughout the United States — all visiting the Bluegrass, the Horse Capital of the World.

As a guest, one can experience hospitality and service and leave with memories like no other. You can bet on it.

Mary A. Musgrave


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