Letters to the editor

Posted: March 28, 2014

Who flew the coop?

Fresh eggs are great!  But you won’t be getting them from your backyard in Berryville anytime soon. By a 3-3 vote, Town Council recently tabled a proposal by a local to allow residents to own a limited number of hens for the sole purpose of laying eggs.

I admit I was not aware of the proposal in the beginning and only found out when it was too late for me to participate in the debate. I read the minutes and contacted my Ward 1 councilman about his deal and think I have a pretty good idea of what went on. Ward 1 voted no.

I am very disappointed and even more let down when he told me he surveyed all four corners of town (45 folks) and had negative results. It would seem to me that he should survey 45 Ward 1 residents, the people he represents. I feel shortchanged on that alone.

This isn’t about Berryville getting into the chicken business; this is about the rights of individual homeowners to keep a few laying hens so they may enjoy fresh eggs.  It seems the town has come up with a good plan for licensing and restrictions, including lot size, number of hens, housing requirement, containment, and setbacks.

I would be willing to bet with the regulations in place and enforced, you wouldn’t know who had hens and who didn’t. It is a well-known fact that urban homesteading is an up-and-coming lifestyle for many folks. A small flock of laying hens is often a part of that.

Municipalities across the country have implemented this practice.  It is a “green, sustainable” source of food for a family without environmental consequences. The misconception that they might be an eyesore, noisy, or smell bad comes from a lack of education on the subject.

I don’t think anyone is trying to move the clock backwards to the time chickens were roaming free. In my opinion, this ruling not just stopped progress, but is a step back.

I look at above-ground unfenced pools, old and broken cars, junk on porches, and dilapidated buildings every day. Those are eyesores and safety hazards; a well-maintained chicken coop is not. Berryville is missing the opportunity to bring something modern into a town that badly needs it.

Douglas Ross

Berryville

‘Gifts from God’

The recent article in The Star on debunking myths about Down syndrome (March 21) was encouraging and yet sad in some respects. It was pointed out that awareness and acceptance of Down syndrome have increased in the last 30 years and that no longer are most children born with the condition put into institutions.

That, of course, can be called progress, good news. But as aware and accepting as society may be of Down syndrome, we abort 80-90 percent of babies found to have the condition, even though we know they can live full and happy lives.

That’s not progress or good news. It says a lot about society and how it (de)values life and how it’s come to the point where one life must be snuffed out so another can go on with life unencumbered.

As Andrea Koenker pointed out in the article, Down syndrome children enrich our lives and enrich the lives of so many people around them. I can attest to that. I have a granddaughter with Down syndrome. Elisa is probably what you would call “low functioning,” but she is a happy child. She brings out the best in people wherever her family takes her, shaking hands with anyone she can reach at the “sign of peace” in church and going up to people in restaurants to smile at them and just be friendly. And almost all of them respond and try to connect with her.

She loves movies, dancing, ice cream, fireworks, her dog, and jumping on the trampoline. She has a very special bond with her father that is a beautiful thing to see. She has taught her brother and sister that not everyone in this world is perfect, but they still deserve our love and respect. They are never embarrassed when she is with them and they go out of their way to acknowledge her and include her in whatever is going on.

Elisa and all children with Down syndrome are gifts from God, just as every other child is. Until we realize that we are not making progress at all.

Joanne Seale

Frederick County

No free lunch, or ‘free’ garbage service

I am constantly amazed by the words that come out of the mouths of our City Council. Surely, Evan Clark did not mean so literally the phrase that “garbage collection is free.”

Excuse me for being so naive, but don’t our tax dollars go toward solid waste collection? In my opinion, our crews do a fabulous job. I would have assumed that there is a budget for this work, and that this budget is part of the city budget with money collected from various taxes.

Quite honestly, I do not mind a separate line-item tax for garbage collection. It just infuriates me to hear an elected official describe this service as “free.”

I encourage the city to be careful in calculating the cost of this service. Like all government programs, I suspect that fees will continually increase. Then, at some point, you will invite for-profit competition. Bringing in for-profit competition will be the beginning of the end of publicly funded waste services (assuming a private service will cost less).

Why doesn't City Council consider selling all of the refuse vehicles? This could generate the cash that the city wants and take away their burden of providing me with a free service.

Charles Curtis

Winchester

Can spring mean, maybe, a new diet?

After several months of crippling snowstorms and flooding, I really look forward to spring weather, green grass, and flowers in bloom.

The advent of spring is also a great opportunity to turn over a new leaf on our dietary and exercise habits. In fact, I’ve been told hundreds of communities celebrate the advent of spring with something called the Great American Meatout.

Local health advocates host educational events, where they ask visitors to get a fresh start this spring with a healthy diet of vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, and whole grains. For those who need a little encouragement, their website provides useful information and a chance to pledge a healthy diet for one day or more.

Samuel Nelson

Strasburg