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Higher education is an economic driver

Change is upon us in upstate New York. The need for solutions that will yield immediate economic impact and tangible results is now. The first evidence of this change was the passage of NYSUNY 2020 and the 3,000 new jobs that will be created at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus within the next five years.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses have generated 64 percent of the net new jobs over the last 15 years. Many of those new jobs were for scientists, engineers and computer programmers. The small engineering firm I work for is evidence of this. We've hired six new software engineers since January and, because of the complexity and volume of projects in our funnel, we have three more openings we are trying to fill this quarter.

Finding qualified candidates in Western New York is one of our greatest challenges. We are relying on the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to produce quality graduates who will enable our business to grow.

"Higher Education as an Economic Driver" and "Where's our Future Workforce?" are two of the topics on the agenda at the Accelerate Upstate Conference that the Buffalo Niagara Partnership is hosting in Buffalo today and Friday. I'm hopeful that the leaders and stakeholders in attendance will use this opportunity to develop the framework for a future upstate New York filled with sustainable economic vibrancy.

Kim Grant

Applied Sciences Group

Buffalo

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Even the best spellers get it wrong sometimes

Obsession about accuracy can go beyond spelling. In the My View column by Lois Vidaver, I think "Raoul Dahl" is Roald Dahl, and "threnody," "plisse," "clochard" and "tintinnabulation" are words, not phrases. I also believe two of those words are French, not English. Ain't I a stinker?

David Snyder

Cheektowaga

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Closing state prisons puts employees at risk

Recently the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the closure of several state prisons. The impact of the closures on the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Facilities are just now being felt.

It is having a major impact on the employees' lives. These closures are not only causing major issues with the men and women who work in the facilities, but is having a trickle-down effect. These working men and women and their families did not cause this budget crisis and, quite frankly, deserve better than this.

Recently, there was an inmate death at the Cape Vincent Correctional Facility. I can only wonder if this death could have been prevented. The department has downsized security to the breaking point over the last three years, and we have seen a dramatic increase in suicides and assaults as the inmate population decreases. This can only be caused by one of two things -- management is incompetent in running the recently combined agencies of the Department of Corrections and Department of Parole, or we need more staff. We need more staff!

I wonder how much money one life is worth to the Legislature. Every day, these officers put on a uniform and put their lives in jeopardy for the great people of New York State. These proud men and women have the backs of the citizens. I beg to ask: Who has the backs of the men and women working behind the walls in these facilities?

Please bring up the staffing levels and keep posts open at all state correctional facilities before it is too late.

Vinny Blasio

Lake View

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Foolish excuses invented to condemn gay couples

I have to admit I never thought of zero population growth when it comes to same-sex marriages. Imagine that, a weakened future because some couples cannot produce offspring. What about couples who are physically unable to produce children or simply choose not to have children? I suppose our dire future is their fault, too.

Here's a concept. How about same-sex couples adopting? There are thousands of children in the system in foster homes or institutions who need a loving home. I am sure there are hundreds of same-sex couples who have wanted to adopt in the past but came across complications because they were not married. Well, guess what? Now they can.

What a future that would present, loving parents raising one or more children to contribute to society and the future of our country. In my humble opinion, it's a strong family base that would create a strong country, not a 4 percent drop in child population, and in 39 years no less. I think some people stay up at night thinking of ludicrous excuses to condemn same-sex couples.

Linda E. Riederer

Hamburg

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We must stop dwelling on failed Bass Pro deal

I left my house early the other morning, driving into downtown Buffalo. During the drive, I was tuned in to a major news radio station. At the bottom of the hour, the teaser line or lead-in to the news was: "One year ago today, Bass Pro decided not to come to Buffalo." During my drive, I heard the same lead-in about five more times. Is that the best they could do?

We have talked to death "wide right" and "his foot was in the goal crease." Now are we adding Bass Pro not coming to that anguish? Why not start with a positive, such as how well the waterfront is doing. Talk about the Erie Canal, new additions, concerts, etc., and maybe at the end say all of this in spite of Bass Pro not coming. We need positive reinforcement in our community. We have started our day with far too many negatives. Time for positives

Bill Vaughan

Williamsville

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Drunken drivers need more severe punishment

I think it is time to develop some drastic measures to punish drunken drivers. Suspending their driver's license, ordering a monetary fine or requiring community service are not effective deterrents to the drunken driver.

What is needed are severe penalties on all drunken drivers that will prevent them from operating any motorized vehicle. My suggestion would be to seize their vehicle or cancel their automobile insurance.

Drunken drivers are a dangerous threat to everyone, and I don't understand why we continue to condone their behavior.

David F. Quagliana

Williamsville