All towns should require permits for plow operators

I commend the West Seneca Town Board for approving the law requiring permits for operators of plows. I can only hope that other towns will follow suit and pass similar laws. Since this is becoming such a lucrative business, more and more people are starting to plow driveways and parking lots. Sadly, many of these drivers are putting profits over safety and jeopardizing the lives of pedestrians and motorists.

It's against New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (Article 1219) to deposit snow on public roads or sidewalks. Yet you can drive through many towns after a snowfall and see the aftermath of plow drivers pushing snow into the roads. Mounds of snow hindering drivers, and blocked shoulders forcing pedestrians to walk into the road, are a significant safety hazard.

I cannot believe that there are not more laws regulating independent snowplow drivers. Anyone with a driver's license can plow. There's no training or age limit required. And you need to wonder why there is no additional inspection required after a 1,000-pound steel plow, which not only blocks the front bumper but also the factory headlights, is added to the vehicle. Finally, the only way to stop these violators is to fine them or, if they move too fast, to fine the homeowner or business owner.

Tom Huebert

Orchard Park


Hunting helps maintain a balanced population

A Nov. 26 letter writer asked why hunting is permitted in a national wildlife refuge. His question is a good one, and he deserves an answer. I have been a volunteer at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, located in the nearby "Alabama Swamps," since 1993.

The National Wildlife Refuge System is a network of lands and waters set aside for the conservation and management of wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. Hunting is one of many necessary tools used to responsibly manage wildlife populations. Maintaining a balanced population by removing animals surplus to the carrying capacity of the habitat promotes the overall health and viability of all wildlife populations that depend on the habitat the refuge provides.

Jack H. Seedorf

North Tonawanda


Panel working to reduce bridge crossing times

The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, which operates three of the four bridges crossing the Niagara River, agrees with U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer and The Buffalo News about the advantages of NEXUS use. That's why I want to point out that the commission's Whirlpool Bridge is NEXUS only, so cars entering either nation from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. can do so quickly, easily and almost never face delays. There is also a NEXUS-only lane going into Canada on the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. Everyone in the vehicle must have a NEXUS card in his name to use the Whirlpool Bridge.

Motorists wishing to obtain NEXUS passes can do so easily and quickly online. The application process includes an interview, but Customs and Border Patrol offices are convenient. The application process can be accessed via the commission's website.

The commission, working on both sides of the border, seeks the smoothest and fastest crossings possible at its three bridges, Lewiston-Queenston, Rainbow and Whirlpool. The more access citizens have to NEXUS and other passes that speed crossings, the faster those crossings will be for all. The commission is also working to gain U.S. government support for an expanded and modernized inspection station on the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. To this end, the Bridge Commission is aggressively working with government officials to completely redesign and reconstruct the Lewiston plaza and appreciates the support we have had from Reps. Louise Slaughter and Kathleen Hochul with this project.

With an open flow of information and everyone working together, the commission is certain we can continue to reduce bridge crossing times.

Patrick Brown

Chairman, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, Lewiston


Humiliating a principal teaches the wrong lesson

That was quite a picture on the front of the Nov. 29 City and Region section of The Buffalo News showing an elementary school principal being drenched with mustard, ketchup and relish after becoming a "human hot dog" to reward the children of the school for reading more than 71,000 minutes.

While I commend the principal for his commitment to reading and his willingness to sacrifice himself to this treatment, I have to say that the photo did get me thinking about children and motivation. Do we really want children to think that group humiliation of an authority figure is a jolly undertaking? I assume that the families of these children have taught them to always respect the principal, so for some of them, this might have been an uncomfortable display.

I wonder if instead we could set group reading goals that are more pro-social. Maybe, read 71,000 minutes and the entire school gets to play outside during the first big snow. Or, read 71,000 minutes and the PTA will donate 100 books to children who don't have any books. It would be interesting to have the children brainstorm a list of possible rewards, ones that nurture the kind of adults we hope to help them grow up to be.

Julie Henry



Obama administration has polarized nation

I am so disgusted at how Republicans and conservatives are being blamed for all of this country's problems and for not being compassionate. Nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, it was Barney Frank, D-Mass., who was most instrumental in getting the mortgage industry deregulated. Democrats and the media unfairly blame the Bush administration for the disaster that followed. Secondly, the Obama administration is now embroiled in at least three scandals that the media have, for the most part, been silent on: Solyndra, LightSquared and Fast and Furious.

Lastly, as far as being compassionate about the retired, the elderly and the poor, Republicans and conservatives believe that there are better ways to see to their needs besides just throwing money at the problem. But Republican solutions rarely get to the floor because President Obama threatens to veto them.

The Obama administration has polarized our nation like no other before it. If we, the citizens, do not stop this infighting, our country will not survive. The end result will be some form of socialism that will erode all of our freedoms, especially free speech and freedom of the press. If we do not act now, another biblical truth will befall us: "A house divided shall fall."

William L. Herby