Tar sands a nasty source of oil PDF E-mail

Dear Editor:

This is a letter I have sent to President Obama about the tar sands XL Pipeline. I realized the issues of tar sand extraction when Ken Ilgunas was walking by our family farm. He is on a trek to walk the entire route of the proposed XL pipeline. You can follow him on his blog: kenilgunas.com. Ken showed my family a video he took while flying over the tar sands in Alberta Canada. I suddenly realized this wasn’t only my families issue but a global issue. To watch his video go to YouTube: goons 11111 –Tar Sands Alberta.

The tar sand extraction is an environmentally devastating process. If the whole tar sand area is developed, it will destroy an area larger than the state of Florida. This part of the Boreal Forest will never be reclaimed.

The bigger issue of tar sand extraction is that it is the dirtiest oil in the world with the highest carbon emissions. It will be sold on the world market and bought by developing countries like China and South America. Oil companies are blocked going west because of the protected Prince William Sound and blocked to the east because of First Nation’s Actions. I believe this is an export pipeline; not for America.


Dear President Obama,

Mr. President, please draw the line in the sand. There can’t be a more powerful message to the world, than if the United States of American stops supporting dirty energy. Say no to the XL Pipeline.

The tar sand development is a nasty business at so many levels. Canada is waging a huge war against the environment in the boreal forest, polluting the fresh water of that area, and razing millions of acres of boreal forest. When we, as humans, choose to sin against nature the cost is always high.

I feel saying no to this pipeline will certainly be marked in history as a turning point for humanity. Generations to come will know when people started to stand up for the climate and that we needed to start to look for renewable energy. I feel the wind and the sun couldn’t be calling to us any louder! Instead we keep on this path of destruction in using the dirtiest of fuel sources, the tar sands.

I feel this fuel will be sold on the world market and won’t be used in the United States, because of its extremely high carbon emissions. If this is true, then why would we ever take the chance to run this toxic oil over the great Ogallala Aquifer?

Fresh water is our greatest natural resource. When there is already a shortage, why would we ever want to risk polluting one of the greatest aquifers in the world? It makes no sense to me.

I am a 49-year-old farmer and horticulturalist. I live on my family’s farm in York County in eastern Nebraska. My husband, Mike, raises corn and soybeans and I have landscaping business. Our love of the land is great. Something stirred in my heart this spring and I became very concerned about the climate. I have always been very awed by nature and tied to it. Our farm was homesteaded by my great-great grandfather who came from England to homestead in 1864. It has been cherished and cared for by each generation. My father, who is deceased, cared much about water conservation. The land was left to me and my three sisters. The water that peacefully lies under our ground is what makes farming in this area so very valuable. We are very aware we need to protect it. We had record crops this summer with the drought where we were able to irrigate.

The proposed pipeline route will cut through my family farm, one mile from my home and nursery business. We have neighbors that the proposed pipeline route will go 300 feet from their house well.

If the tar sands were ever leaked into the aquifer, life as we know it would be changed forever. There would be no getting them out of the aquifer. There are many stories such as ours on how the proposed pipeline would change lives. It will devalue our land and present a great risk to the Ogallala Aquifer when it leaks. It will leak, they plan on leaks, but they don’t know what will happen when it gets into the aquifer. There are many places along the route that the water table is very high! As you know tar sands are another beast, they sink when they get into water. What would clean up look like? No one can answer that. They don’t know.

I heard what you said in your inauguration address about climate change and protecting the environment. Yes the time is NOW. We have no time to waste. When one barrel of tar sand produces two barrels of toxins, please say no to this nasty, dirty source of oil. Let it lie in the earth where it belongs!

When making your decision please hear our hearts calling for a change in the direction of our energy resources.

Jenni Harrington


Generous spirit helps make this a great place to live PDF E-mail

Dear Editor:

I write today for three reasons:

1. As a belated thank you, we want to express appreciation for the support from county residents, churches, businesses and others exhibited toward the Hamilton County Food Pantry during the recent holiday season. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity shown, which enables us to continue serving those in need. It is heart-warming to receive support and encouragement from such a wide variety of donation bases.

We are a totally donation-dependent non-profit organization and it is through this support that we can function and serve families with nutritious food when their circumstances dictate need.

2. We also express appreciation to the Aurora News-Register for the positive publicity for our Pantry. The extended story at Christmas time of our holiday distribution, as well as coverage of numerous individual donations received, was welcomed as a way of telling the story about our mission to a wider audience. Continued support from local news media is most valued.

3. We will be resuming the Lenten project of offering coupons for customers of our two grocery stores, Aurora Mall and Super Foods. This carries on the project begun a few years ago by the United Methodist Church, Aurora.

Shoppers at either store will find coupons at check-out stands. If anyone wishes to donate an amount to the Hamilton County Food Pantry, she or he may hand the checker a coupon or coupons, each for $1. The designated amount will be added to that person’s bill. The project will begin on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, and continue through Easter Sunday, March 31. The HCFP will receive the amounts donated from the store management at that time. In advance we thank patrons for your continued support of our Food Pantry.

Hamilton County is a great place to live and raise families. Part of what makes it so is the generous and cooperative spirit which shows in so many ways. May we all continue these positive attributes and care for those who need support, in whatever situation we find ourselves able to do so. On behalf of the HCFP, thank you to all for your part in continuing to make Hamilton County a good place to live by enhancing the quality of life for all our citizens.

Barb Johnson

Hamilton County Food Pantry

There’s no ‘care’ in Obamacare PDF E-mail

Dear Editor:

I would like to address the provision of the new Health Care Act that allows insurance companies to charge smokers 50 percent higher health insurance premiums beginning Jan. 1.

No one hates smoking more than I do. But this is very discriminating. The Health Care Act was touted as removing discrimination against those with pre-existing health problems. Smoking is a pre-existing problem. I guess the government forgot that they GAVE cigarettes to soldiers and sailors when they were under the most extreme stress of their lives serving their country at war. Now they are going to punish them for it?

What about punishing people for their poor sexual choices in life? We all know that HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases cost billions in health care dollars every year. Maybe they should charge more to those who drink alcohol. And what about the biggest health epidemic sweeping this nation today... obesity? Are those who choose to eat too much of the wrong foods and then don’t exercise enough going to be charged 50 percent higher insurance premiums also?

I guess this is what Pelosi meant when she said they would have to pass the legislation to see what’s in it. How stupid was that? I think anyone who voted for or supported the Health Care Act should be charged 50 percent higher premiums. Personally, I fail to see the "care" in "Obamacare."

Dorothy Salmon


Donations send message of care PDF E-mail

Dear editor:

As our nation debates what is needed to circumvent the tragedies of violence, one proven strategy is to offer care and support to the victims. By advocating and sheltering the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, our communities provide an avenue to heal and rebuild from devastation. When our communities support the Crisis Center we all empower those victimized and deny sanction to the offenders.

The outpouring of support and care demonstrated through gifts and donations to the Crisis Center client-families through this past holiday season was so generous that, as the board of directors for this agency, we are truly humbled. Many Santas walked through our door laden with toys, food, clothes, beautiful quilts and blankets. Payless Shoes, the staffs of the Veterans’ Hospital and Victoria’s Secret, shoppers at Conestoga Mall and Viaero Wireless, the Abate motorcycle organization and sponsors, and the St. Stephens Episcopal Church parishioners willing gave gifts from their hearts to families they may never know.

Alan Usher donated the use of B.I.G. Premiere Limousines and a significant amount of advertising through GI Family Radio stations for our first-ever Lights and Limos fundraiser. In the same spirit, numerous ticket buyers overpaid for their seats and corporate sponsors made donations to defray supplemental costs connected to this event and downtown eateries provided bighearted discounts to participants. To you all, we are grateful.

Donations to the Crisis Center validate the importance of our work and inspire us to continue our mission. However, your gifts send an even greater statement of care and devotion to our clients and the communities we serve.

Crisis Center, Inc.

Jordan Allen, chairman

on behalf of Board of Directors

Perpetrator to blame for atrocity PDF E-mail

To the editor:

I was disappointed to read the editorial column calling for further gun control, particularly on so-called assault weapons. The editor claimed to "fully support the Second Amendment" then made a hypocritical statement supporting limits on the sale of assault weapons, banning high-capacity magazines, and finding it "hard to defend why those rights should cover an arsenal designed for military use."

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) recently held in D.C. v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess weapons "in common use for lawful purposes." The AR-15 rifle, the type used in Newtown, is the most popular centerfire rifle for sale in this country and has been for several years, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Thus, the AR-15’s popularity indicates it is in common use. No longer on the fringe, AR-15 variants are manufactured by hunting bellwethers Remington and Mossberg as well as by firms with a rich history of civilian self-defense arms including Smith & Wesson and Colt.

SCOTUS’ opinion in U.S. v. Miller indicated that the Second Amendment protects firearms that are conducive to militia service and are "ordinary military equipment." The AR-15 rifle is the semi-automatic (one shot for one pull of the trigger) version of the Army’s fully-automatic M16 rifle and M4 carbine, so the AR-15 passes the Miller test.

If we look past AR-15 rifles and other assault weapons, we will find that many other common arms have a military pedigree. One of the most common is the bolt action rifle, found in deer stands and battlefields alike. The fodder for the M1903 Springfield bolt action rifle is the classic .30-06 cartridge, designed by and for the U.S. military, and one of the best selling cartridges for big game hunting. The Remington 700 is issued to certain troops and is a favorite with hunters. The pump-action shotgun saw military use as far back as World War I and is still a tool used by the military. Revolvers have been used by the military as far back the 19th century. If we begin banning or imposing draconian limits on firearms with a military heritage, we will find ourselves left with sticks and stones.

The fringe left would have people believe that AR-15 rifles and rifles similar to them have no use except on the battlefield. This is untrue. Such rifles are legally taken afield every year to humanely hunt large and small game. They are also used in sanctioned competitions including the National Matches at Camp Perry and in more jocular events like Pandemic 2012 in Grand Island.

The editorial points out there are millions of these firearms in the hands of citizens, but the writer seems to disregard the fact that on Dec. 14, only one of them was used by a monster. In the same vein, I do not see the editor calling for bans on cars and trucks despite their involvement in DUI deaths. It would be ludicrous to blame the vehicle as it is just a tool. We need to place the blame for this shooting not on the gun, the parents, or video games. The responsibility for this atrocity falls squarely on the perpetrator.

We already have safeguards in place to limit access to weapons. It is already illegal for someone adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution to possess firearms. Fugitives, felons, wife beaters, illegal aliens, and drug addicts are prohibited from possessing firearms. Connecticut is one of seven states with a state-level assault weapons ban.

There are tens of thousands of laws pertaining to firearms in this country. It is naïve to think that one more law, especially one which disproportionately punishes law-abiding citizens, would curtail the activities of a depraved lunatic.

Richard Ballas

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