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Convert hospital into apartments

Our son is a quadriplegic who has lived in a fully accessible house for almost 20 years. The design of the house has enabled him to be reasonably independent, within limitations. It has no steps, doors that he can open with a remote (since he cannot hold a key, or insert it into a lock) and a large shower that he can roll into in a special wheeled shower chair.

As we age, the house is becoming more of a burden to keep up. Also, considering a time when we are gone, he would like to live in a neighborhood with more activity than his present suburban location. He is a relatively young man, and he is not looking for a nursing home or assisted living. He would like to be able to leave the lodgings and re-enter by himself, to shop, go to a movie, etc.

For the past six months, with our son, we have tried to find an apartment or home where he could live. Whether for purchase or for rent, we have not been able to find a single one. We have visited numerous "accessible" apartments with narrow doorways and halls, cramped bathrooms with conventional showers and doors that operate only by the conventional lock-and-key. Even among these less-than-adequate lodgings, most have waiting lists of several years for disabled persons.

Here's an idea for an "empty hospital." Convert it into apartments, with a certain percentage being fully accessible. Perhaps some of the existing facilities of the hospital, such as roll-in showers and automatic doors, could be retrofitted in the accessible apartments.

Judging by the lack of adequate housing we have seen in our search, we believe there is a need for such apartments in Western New York.

Angelo and Angela Coniglio

Amherst

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Minimum wage hike will harm economy

Recently there has been much discussion about the increase in minimum wage, even tying it to the inflation rate, suggesting it would lead to a boost in the economy and help low-wage earners. Famed economist Milton Friedman stated, "The well-intentioned do-gooders think that raising the minimum wage helps low-wage earners." According to Friedman, the opposite occurs. When you raise the minimum wage, you ensure that those whose skills are not up to the new rate will become unemployed. Raise the minimum wage and you will see a reduction in the lowest-paid jobs.

Teens seeking part-time or summer jobs or others new to the work force find jobs more difficult to find as minimum wages increase because it is unprofitable for employers to hire them. These potential workers have few or no skills and would be low yield to employers.

For the sake of discussion, let's assume the minimum wage is $20 per hour. When you are out to dinner and the waitress who serves your table, the bus boy who cleans it and the kitchen help all make the minimum wage, what do you think your dinner will cost? Does this pay scale boost the economy? How often will you dine out?

George Will and others have proposed a minimum wage of zero. The job should pay what it is worth to the employer. By accepting lower-paying jobs, those new to the work force would learn what it takes to produce, hold a job and develop skills to advance up the employment ladder. It may take additional training or school, however, the potential for sound, continuous employment exists.

Dale J. Placey

Amherst

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Group aims to stop teens from smoking

Members of the New Voice Club believe it is an honor and a duty to use our "new" voices to speak about the rest of the story. We have made it our mission to talk to young people throughout Western New York. Last year, we visited more than 150 classrooms and spoke with more than 5,000 students. These young people believe they are invincible to the dangers of smoking.

Even though we can't talk for long periods of time, we are proud to share our experiences about the catastrophic impact of smoking on our lives.

Most of us started smoking when we were their age because we thought "everyone was doing it" or "cigarettes made us look cool." We hope students will see how not cool it is to talk through a hole in your throat or have people look at you with pity or fright. Many of their teachers have told us the kids, by seeing living proof of the damage caused by tobacco use, are able to learn from our mistakes.

If we could go back in time and talk to a younger version of ourselves, we would never have started smoking in the first place. Instead, we welcome opportunities to share our stories with young people so that they might learn from our mistakes and encourage current smokers to quit.

And in spite of the daily challenges of our new normal, we remain grateful for every moment of life.

Joseph Corbi

New Voice Club of the Niagara Frontier

Buffalo

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President has kept campaign promises

The American Dream is described as starting with little but using hard work, creativity and perseverance to win big. People cheer on and look up to individuals who accomplish much from humble beginnings. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and President Obama are great examples of American success stories.

Born to a mixed-race couple, raised by a single mother and then his grandparents, Obama overcame humble beginnings to become a state legislator, U.S. senator and then president of the United States. He exemplifies family values in his stable relationship with his wife and two children.

His efforts to save our economy from catastrophe are bearing fruit. He kept most of his campaign promises. I believe he is the kind of man that most people -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- would point to and say, "I'd be proud to have a son like that." I know I would.

If we were choosing up sides for an American political team to compete against all of the other countries in the world, I would pick Obama first. Just like at the Olympics, I want to hear the band playing the national anthem and see the American flag flying higher than any other. We have a double-threat leader for the second half, and we don't want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Richard Czarnecki

Sanborn

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Candidates spending far too much money

Does anybody else feel that there should be a legal limit placed on the time and money spent by political candidates for their campaigns? Allowing excessive expenditures does not necessarily guarantee that we will get the best man for the job.

Eleanor Howard

Williamsville