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Trails offer benefits to economy, health

Gerry Rising's Nature Watch column in The News about the Pat McGee Trail in Cattaraugus County is very timely. There is another abandoned railroad corridor, running between Springville and Orchard Park, that people want to convert into a multipurpose trail similar to the Pat McGee Trail.

The majority of residents in Colden and Concord, through which the corridor runs, want the trail. Unfortunately, a very few misled or misinformed residents have the ears of local politicians. These politicians have bowed to a vociferous few, ignored the wishes of the majority and refuse to approve the trail for their towns.

I am a mother of a 3-year-old who rides with me on her tag-along bike. Bike paths make biking doable and safe; I don't need to negotiate with motorists for road space, making the ride much more relaxing. A bike trail offers peace of mind for people like myself but also for older folks and disabled cyclists who might not be able to safely use roads or streets. I wish people who oppose the bike path had a chance to experience what I experience, a safe place to enjoy nature without the scare of passing cars and trucks.

I don't understand the opposition to trails and bike paths. Do people not understand the economic benefits and health benefits that arise from multiuse trails? Please tell your local government representatives that you want a safe place to ride and walk. Do it for the safety of your kids as well as yourself.

Elizabeth Kerl

Eden

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Letter blasting liberals omits some key facts

I'm one of those "whining liberals" written about recently in Everybody's Column. You know, the kind who blames President George W. Bush for everything and prints "liberal lies."

The writer states that the only reason President Bill Clinton had a surplus was because he raided the Social Security Trust Fund. Actually, the Reagan administration was the first to grab that fund, followed by George H.W. Bush, then Clinton and the second Bush. That's three Republican administrations and one Democratic. The reason only Clinton achieved a surplus was because he managed our assets better.

Then the writer goes on to blame our recent economic meltdown on Presidents Jimmy Carter and Clinton. Poor Carter, mysteriously reaching out to us from 30 years ago. Conveniently omitted is the fact that Bush was president for eight years leading up to the financial crisis. It was his watch, his presidency and his recession. So I'm not going to be a whining liberal any longer. All we have to do is cite the facts.

Carl Jacobs

Tonawanda

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Waive Thruway tolls during emergencies

I was attempting to drive home to West Seneca from a music festival that I attended last weekend in Hunter, near the Catskills. My return trip home had to be delayed by a day since all of the roads down the mountains were washed away and many of the bridges were deemed unsafe to cross. I figured that I would get home around 7 p.m. Monday night, since the trip usually takes approximately five hours.

The drive was detoured outside of Albany, because exit 27 was closed near Amsterdam. The New York State Thruway was virtually a parking lot because all traffic had to exit off a one-lane ramp. But the main reason for the slow down was that the toll lanes were blocked except for one lane.

Please tell me why all of the toll lanes couldn't be opened up to let traffic flow through? When we finally reached the on ramp after almost four hours on a 20-mile detour, I again saw one lone toll collector working both sides of the on ramp. Traffic cones were blocking the other two toll lanes. The traffic backup could have been reduced significantly if the tolls were waived in order to let people get to their destination. Do we need the toll revenue that badly? Who is in charge of making the decision that toll change is more important than our safety?

Nancy Nehl

West Seneca

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Several groups provide hospital report cards

Hospital report cards such as the one produced by the Niagara Health Quality Coalition (NHQC) help consumers make decisions about their care, and the information is also useful to hospitals to identify areas in need of improvement ("Statewide report card gives two local hospitals 'safest' designation," Sept. 4 News.)

While the NHQC may have been a pioneer in the public reporting on New York State hospital report cards, it is no longer the only group doing so. Several report cards are currently available for consumers to check on the quality of care delivered by New York hospitals, including report cards from the New York State Health Accountability Foundations, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and the state Department of Health. When you combine the reality of information overload with that of dwindling precious financial resources, it may be time to consolidate some of these reports.

Bruce Boissonnault, president of the NHQC, raises concerns about the health care industry being involved in measuring and reporting on quality data, and says that the group does not accept financial support from hospitals or health insurance companies. That hasn't always been the case, however. The New York Health Plan Association, which represents managed-care health plans across the state, contributed more than $200,000 over several years to help fund the report card effort. Facing the same fiscal constraints as many other organizations, and the state itself, our support ended after the state began producing its own hospital profile to help guide consumers.

Leslie S. Moran

Senior Vice President

New York Health Plan Association

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It's hard to believe farmers can't find enough workers

OK, I give up. The sky in my world must be purple. According to a Sept. 5 News story, a lack of workers has become the number one concern for local farmers. Excuse me, but how is this possible with a 9 percent unemployment rate? Let me see, unemployment benefits for how many millions, food stamps for millions more, yet we can't find anyone to work the farmers' apple fields?

I think we have a problem. I only went to high school, so it could be that my lack of a juicier education has left me with a somewhat sour judgment. I guess maybe I did fall off the proverbial turnip truck somewhere along the way. But for a farmer to say "to have U.S workers, they don't make the whole season because it's just too hard of work," sounds ridiculous to me. Now that I give it more thought, that could have been the apple truck I rolled out of.

Mark Neupert

Tonawanda