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Randazzo Still Dazzling on Surf Scene and in Fighting Cancer

first_imgLocal surfing legend Dean Randazzo, former World Tour star and world-ranked Master, still has it going on.The Somers Point resident and longtime fixture on the Ocean City surf scene is now 46 and regarded as one of the greatest surfers — perhaps the greatest — to ever come out of New Jersey.  With his speed and power and aggressive technique in competition, he earned the nickname “The Jersey Devil.” But since founding the nonprofit Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation, he has been even better known for doing mostly angelic things.Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2001, Dean endured four separate bouts with the disease, each time beating it and returning to top competitive form. He has been cancer free for more than five years.“My lungs and breathing aren’t what they were, I have a slight case of COPD but otherwise (his health is) pretty good,” Randazzo told OCNJDaily.Since his initial diagnosis, Dean has taken a new focus: using the sport he loves to help others battling the disease and to raise funding to aid cancer research.Randazzo’s Foundation will present the 9th Annual Paddle for a Cause event on June 11 at the Farley State Marina in Atlantic City, adjacent to the Golden Nugget Casino.  More than 100 stand-up paddle boarders took part last year, Dean said, and even more are expected this year.Paddle for a Cause is a wide ranging event to appeal to everyone from hardcore World Paddle Association members participating in the 22.5-mile competitive race around Absecon Island to casual paddlers taking part in a 4-mile Back Bay fun paddle to the Wonderbar on Albany Avenue. In between there is an 8-mile non-competitive paddle for the more serious participant who might not yet be ready to challenge the pros.There will even be an option for spectators to take a boat ride alongside the paddlers for a unique view of the action and the ability to enjoy food and libations.Those paddling to Albany Avenue receive transportation along with their boards, back to the Golden Nugget. An after-party will take place 4 p.m. at the Marina. Each participant is required to raise at least $200, meaning that the event will garner well over $20,000. But participants are encouraged to raise more and prizes will be awarded to those who raise the most.  For more information or to register, visit www.deanrandazzo.dojiggy.comIn addition to his surfing and charity work, Randazzo and brother Joe run the Jersey Devil Surf Shop on the Boardwalk at Resorts Casino in AC. A full-service shop selling clothing, boards, and offering private and group lessons, surf camps and a surf school, the shop’s website www.jerseydevilsurf.com offers a surf camp, web cam, wave reports and online ordering of goods and services. “We sell the beach lifestyle,” he said. “You don’t have to actually surf to enjoy the surfing culture.”A native of Margate, Randazzo has been surfing seriously since his teenage years. He took part in many of the competitions on Ocean City’s Peck’s Beach and was a familiar presence on beaches from 1st Street to 6th St.“Ocean City’s waves were a little bit bigger and the jetties blocked the current. I always (considered it) a great surfing spot.”Following his competitive career on the World Tour, he finished fifth overall in the world Masters Championships in back to back years (2011-2012). He also has a fourth place finish under his belt in the International Surfing Association’s World Masters championships.He said he credits his mom, Mary Lou for supporting his surfing career, especially in the early days, and his wife Barbara.“And of course, I am grateful to my brother Joe for donating his stem cells for my transplant…I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for him,” Randazzo said.He credited Ocean City’s legendary former recreation guru Don Pileggi for conducting surfing contests and showing surfing movies.“In the days before the Internet, that was one of the few ways you could see the top surfers,” he said. “That was a big deal.”When he was about 16, Dean was arrested in Ocean City for riding the waves during Hurricane Gloria.“(The police) were calling me in and I knew I was going to be arrested anyway, so I surfed all morning,” he said. “The more I surfed, the bigger the crowd grew on the boardwalk and the jetties.”After about four hours, the session finally ended and he was booked in his wetsuit.But Randazzo had the last laugh. He was hired as a lifeguard on one of the surfing beaches. “And my sponsor paid my fine,” he said with a laugh.last_img read more

A Mild Finish To The Week

first_imgIt has been a dismal, dreary week but that has come to an end. Brighter and milder temperatures will return as we finish out the week. After morning fog on Thursday, some sun will return and temperatures will be on the rise. Unfortunately, a southerly wind will keep temperatures on the island cooler than the mainland. Highs will climb into the 70s inland with 60s along the coast.Forecast Highs For ThursdayA weak front will move through late Thursday night with the threat of a shower or t’storm.Computer models show a few showers moving through late Thursday night. (Courtesy:tropicaltidbits.com)Friday will feature more sunshine and warmer temperatures. Highs will climb to around 80 inland with near 70 along the coast.Forecast Highs For FridaySaturday will be the warmest day as winds will shift southwesterly allow temperatures to climb well into the 80s inland and mid 70s at the beaches.Forecast Highs For SaturdayHowever, the 2nd half of the weekend will be much cooler as a front will sink down from the north Saturday Night. There is a slight chance of a shower or storm.By Sunday, onshore winds will develop on Sunday keeping temperatures in the low 60s.Forecast Winds For Sunday.Forecast Highs For Sunday.last_img read more

Press release: First ‘State of the Nation’ report marks World Mental Health Day

first_imgThe report delivers on a commitment made last World Mental Health Day to publish an annual report designed to better understand patterns and issues in young people’s mental health, alongside guidance for schools to help them measure their students’ wellbeing and make sure appropriate support is in place.This guidance is being developed in consultation with experts from across government and in the charity sector. It will help schools navigate the resources and tools available to them to assess the impact of the pastoral activity they provide for their pupils, as well as advising on any other steps they can take to boost their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, including when and how to seek further specialist support to ensure pupils get the right support at the right time.Professor Peter Fonagy, CEO of the Anna Freud Centre, says: I very much welcome this survey and we need to absorb all its findings. It’s heartening that four out of five children are happy. However, we cannot ignore the fact that one in five children are not. We should be pleased that so many young people are resilient to the pressures of 21st Century life, and be both prepared to stand by and support those who struggle. The high level of satisfaction with family relationships is particularly encouraging, given the effort that successive governments and the voluntary sector have made to support good parenting over the past decade. The survey is also important in highlighting the importance of the community in which our children live and study in determining their potential to achieve happiness. These findings should remind us that everyone has a role to play in promoting good mental health – and at the Anna Freud Centre, we are playing a key role in this by working with over one million children in schools. With recent NHS data finding almost a quarter of older teenage girls (22.4% of 17-19 year olds) have an emotional disorder, the first State of the Nation report looks further into teenage girls’ mental and emotional health and finds being bullied, particularly online, is a primary link to poor wellbeing.Seeing their friends and feeling safe in their neighbourhood also has an impact on their ability to concentrate and enjoy day-to-day activities. The report also found that one in five young people aged 16 to 24 years old said they had experienced high levels of anxiety even while also rating their happiness and wellbeing as high.It comes as the Education Secretary visits Chosen Hill School in Cheltenham, one of the 1,600 schools which volunteered to begin delivering the government’s new Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) before it becomes compulsory in all secondary schools from September 2020. Relationships education and health education will also become compulsory from primary school age.The new RSHE curriculum is designed to equip children early-on with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, health and relationships, as well as preparing them for adult life in a changing world, so that fewer older children and teenagers feel unprepared and anxious.Chosen Hill School is also a Mental Health Trailblazer school, in one of the first 25 areas bringing in specialist Mental Health Support Teams announced last December. Part of the government’s Green Paper on transforming children and young people’s mental health provision, each of these teams will support around 20 schools and colleges in their area, helping speed up access to specialist services and building on support already in place from school counsellors, nurses, educational psychologists and the voluntary sector. These specialist teams will be rolled out in an additional 48 areas of the country.Staff for these teams have been training since the start of the year, and build on significant mental health support already in place, including training programmes that bring together the expertise of NHS professionals and school and college staff, those that train senior mental health leads in schools and those that offer mental health first aid training to improve how young people are supported during the school day.The State of the Nation report, which collated the responses of more than 7,000 young people aged from 10 to 24, identified trends that reinforce the government’s emphasis on mobilising mental health awareness and support in schools, including: Looking after our mental health must start at a young age – and our children should feel valued, supported and listened to. It is encouraging this report finds the majority of our young people are happy, but our mental health is an asset – just like our physical health, so it is vital children get the support they need. We are training a new dedicated mental health workforce in schools and colleges across the country, to ensure quicker access to a range of support and treatments, as well as teaching pupils what good mental health and physical health looks like. We are also transforming services through the NHS Long Term Plan – backed by an extra £2.3 billion a year – so that 345,000 more children and young people have access to mental health support by 2023/24. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:center_img Friendship, school and a good night’s sleep have all been named as key factors in a young person’s happiness, in the government’s first ever State of the Nation report on children’s mental wellbeing.More than four in five young people aged between 10 and 24 say they are happy with their lives, in research published to mark World Mental Health Day today (Thursday 10 October), rating themselves happiest with their family and friends, their health, their school and their appearance. Bullying, including cyberbullying, remains a key reason for unhappiness or poor wellbeing, especially among teenage girls, while sleep and leisure time were also reported as important factors.The landmark research fulfils a government commitment to bring together the best evidence on children and young people’s wellbeing, identifying trends and drivers so that the right support is in place to help them fulfil their potential.Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: The pressures young people face today both in and out of school are vastly different to those their parents and grandparents experienced, so we need to listen to what they have to say and act on it. That’s why our new compulsory new health and relationships education will teach pupils from an early age how to build their resilience, notice changes in their wellbeing and how to form healthy relationships, starting with their friends at school. We are also ramping up professional mental health support in schools so that when there is a problem, help is available quickly. It’s encouraging that the overwhelming majority of children say they are happy, but we have a responsibility to do better for those that aren’t. We have given teachers the power to tackle bad behaviour like bullying so that school is a safe place for every child to thrive, but today’s report helps shine a light on where to focus these efforts. 94% of children felt happy with their family, 91.6% happy with their friends and 94.5% felt they had good or very good health; Most young people are happy with their lives, with 82.9% reporting high or very high life satisfaction; Age is a clear factor of wellbeing: being older was associated with lower wellbeing; Young females were more likely to report that they were recently anxious than males. Bullying had the strongest link to teenage girls’ emotional wellbeing across adolescence, with seeing friends and getting enough sleep also rating highly; There are marked gender differences with experiences of cyberbullying: females report higher rates than males; Women report lower satisfaction with their leisure time than men; and Social media did not have a strong association with teenage girls’ psychological health.last_img read more

New-look Muffin Break store opens in Hertfordshire

first_imgMuffin Break is continuing its store refurbishment programme with the opening of a new-look site in Hemel Hempstead.The 1,500 sq ft store in the town’s Marlowes Shopping Centre caters for up to 70 covers and includes an outside seating area. The business previously operated a kiosk store in the town.“Our new store in Hemel Hempstead looks fantastic,” said Muffin Break marketing manager Gemma Sandells. “It is part of our progressive store refurbishment programme, based on a flexible store model, which features an attractive modern, yet rustic design that is proving very popular.” In August, Muffin Break said it was set to open 15 UK stores in the next 12 months and increase its UK portfolio to 75 sites.“Interest from franchisees and landlords is currently very strong for a number of reasons,” said Joshua Nixon, head of estates at Muffin Break’s parent firm Food Co at the time. “A key factor seems to be the fact that we are a café bakery, which means our food and hot beverage offering is so much more substantial than coffee and a light snack.”Recent openings have included Basildon, Essex and Chester, Cheshire.British Baker subscribers can read and download our category report on the muffin market here.last_img read more

Artist opens exhibit at Saint Mary’s

first_imgLocal artist Janet L. Johnson discussed her icon exhibit on display at the Cushwa-Leighton Library at Saint Mary’s on Thursday. The exhibit features portraits of Christ and the saints painted in traditional icon style. Johnson, a former teacher of the year at the Elkhart Area Career Center and mentor to 27 award-winning students in the National Skills/USA design competition, said she turned to painting as a way of achieving deeper spirituality and relaxation. “I came to doing icons to give me a state of relaxation and meditation,” she said. “It gives me time for prayers and thoughtfulness. Growing up in a Catholic church, being surrounded by ornate imagery, going to Mass every day of the week … had a very big impact on my life.” Even though painting icons is a way to relax, it does have its difficulties. “Icons are very difficult because they have to be perfect,” Lynn Edison, a fellow painter and friend of Johnson’s, said. Doni Hoevel, another friend, said the challenge of painting icons does not lie in the need to be creative. “Icons don’t require a lot of creativity – it’s basically repetition from the icons in the past,” Hoevel said. “It’s very difficult to repeat something so perfectly.” Johnson said a lot of time is spent on technique because each icon is painted with 80 to 100 layers of paint. “Every brushstroke has a prayer,” she said. In her artist’s statement, Johnson said she takes a spiritual lesson away from each of her paintings. “Whether it is Mother and Child, Jesus or a saint, I have much to learn from [the icons],” she said in her statement. “With every brush stroke I am able to focus with a special intention for someone, a small prayer or mantra or a kind of divine obedience to be quiet in the presence of the image on which I am working.” Johnson said she is not the only one who can learn from the icons. “By looking into the face of an icon, a relationship may develop and will assist others on their spiritual journey.”last_img read more

Outdoor Updates: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy changes leadership

first_imgSupporters of the law say that it is necessary to clear up any consumer confusion. A shopper may see the word bacon, for example, and believe they are buying a meat-based product instead of a plant-based product. Opponents of the law say that the claim of consumer confusion is unfounded and that the real reason behind the ban is to support the meat and dairy industry by regulating their competitors.  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has announced that current President and CEO, Suzanne Dixon, will resign from her position at the end of August. Dixon joined ATC in 2017 and says she is leaving after “deep reflection on my personal and professional needs.” Marra has hiked over 1,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail and personally oversees three miles of the trail in Northern Virginia with her husband. “I am committed to fulfilling ATC’s mission to manage, protect and promote the Appalachian Trail, and to ensuring the trail is protected forever and for all.” Marra said in a statement. “I particularly look forward to the development of a new strategic plan that focuses on the issues the Appalachian Trail faces today.”  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy changes leadership Arkansas is the latest state to forbid grocery stores from calling veggie burgers “veggie burgers” and soy milk “soy milk.” The ban also includes terms such as “veggie sausage,” and “vegan bacon.”  Since Donald Trump took office through April 2019, the United States has leased more than 378 million acres of public land and water for oil and gas drilling, The Guardian reports. A report by The Wilderness Society estimates that the emissions generated from drilling for and burning those fossil fuels could range between 845 million and 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. The entire European Union produced about 4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent during 2014, the last year when such figures were reported. Additionally, the Wilderness Society report states that the Trump administration has offered more public land for drilling than any other previous administration.center_img The ACLU and the CEO of Tofurky are suing the state of Arkansas over the new law. Other states, including Mississippi and Louisiana, have passed similar laws and statutes. Arkansas is the latest state to ban calling veggie burgers and soy milk by their names Trump’s drilling leases on public land could create more emissions than the entire EU produces ATC’s new President and CEO will be Sandra Marra, who served as Chair on ATC’s Board of Directors. She has been on ATC’s Board of Managers since 1999. She joined ATC’s first Stewardship Council in 2005 and the ATC’s Board of Directors in 2008. She is also past president and honorary life member of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. last_img read more

U.S. Army South Conducts Joint Humanitarian Exercise In Nicaragua

first_imgBy Dialogo April 30, 2010 U.S. Army South, along with U.S. Navy engineers, are working together with the Nicaraguan National Assembly to construct three water wells in Los Sanchez, Samaria and La Noria until May 21 as part of U.S. Army South’s Beyond the Horizon mission. Beyond the Horizon is a humanitarian and civic assistance mission in Nicaragua, providing focused medical and engineering support to the people of the region. The mission provides an opportunity to work in partnership with the Nicaraguan military, as well as provide a real-world learning environment for U.S. military service members. The engineering projects for this Beyond the Horizon mission are being conducted by U.S. Navy engineers, better known as Seabees, from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 25, out of Ft McCroy, Wisconsin. The engineers arrived in Nicaragua March 11 to begin preparations for the digging and construction of the three wells. “The digging of these wells are important because they provide the community with much needed potable water in a central location,” Navy Ensign Joe Neal, the officer in charge of NMCB 25. “By digging this well we provided the town of Samaria with a fresh water source within the town. Prior to this the locals had to walk to the river for potable water which was some ways out.” Nicaraguan army Lt. Rodolpho Otero, a force protection officer providing security for the Seabee’s, spoke with many Nicaraguan locals who stopped by to talk with and both the military and the civilians engineers. “Everyone agrees that this well was very much needed for this village and the people living in the surrounding area,” said Otero. “The locals are all very happy to see Americans working with the Nicaraguan military on this project.” Since construction began on March 21, the engineering detachment, along with support from Army South and the Nicaraguan army, has completed the well at Samaria and has already be-gun construction on the well in Los Sanchez. Though the timeline is tight for the construction of three water wells, Neal also points out that this is a great opportunity to meet the people of Nicaragua. “This mission gives us opportunities to interact with local people and the Nicaraguan Army while at the same time getting real world training for future missions,” said Neal. “It also gives us chances to interact with the local populace showing that both countries are working together.” The construction of the final water well in La Noria is scheduled to be complete in May. The three water wells constructed in partnership with Army South, NMCB 25 and the Nicaraguan army will bring lasting benefits to the local community. “The Nicaraguan army welcomes the help being provided for this community and has a very positive outlook for this project and the future,” said Otero.last_img read more

Real-time payments sparking fraud worries among FIs

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » Real-time payments may be booming, but they may also be growing targets for fraud — and credit unions and other financial institutions are getting worried, an industry pro warned this week.The payment method, which allows financial institutions and members to pay bills and make payments almost instantaneously, can also enable criminals to avoid evade manual reviews, security measures that identify out-of-pattern activity and ACH service blocks, said Mike Lynch, who is chief strategy officer at San Francisco-based risk-profiling company Deep Labs. Growing account takeover activity, poor consumer password hygiene and social engineering vulnerabilities, among other things, may be helping criminals exploit real-time payments, he said.“We have the perfect storm of many different factors at a high level, and now we’re moving money in real-time and we need to have a lot more security layers behind the scenes,” he said. “We can’t just have a rules-based approach. We need to correlate a lot of signals. So here is where you use device intelligence and behavioral analytics, et cetera.”last_img read more

GAO cites barriers to antiviral, vaccine roles in pandemic

first_imgJan 23, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Antiviral medications and vaccines are two tools that many government and health officials hope will stall the spread of an influenza pandemic, but each strategy has daunting challenges, according to a new report from Congress’s Government Accountability Office (GAO).The report, Influenza Pandemic: Efforts Under Way to Address Constraints on Using Antivirals and Vaccines to Forestall a Pandemic, was requested by four members of Congress who head various health and homeland security committees. It was released this week on the GAO’s Web site.In its report, the GAO acknowledges that national governments and international organizations are working with pharmaceutical manufacturers to expand global production of antivirals and vaccines. However, it cites a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) caveat that a pandemic vaccine might play little role in the early phases of a pandemic, because it will take 20 to 23 weeks to develop and produce a targeted vaccine. Also, the GAO says it would be difficult to quickly expand antiviral production, because of the need to build new facilities, obtain production materials, and gain regulatory approval.Weaknesses in international surveillance systems are hampering the detection of influenza outbreaks, which the GAO says could limit the ability to promptly administer or develop antivirals or vaccines.”WHO has noted that to increase the likelihood of successfully forestalling the onset of a pandemic, surveillance in affected countries needs to improve, particularly concerning the capacity to detect clusters of cases closely related in time and place,” the report states. “If early signals are not identified, the opportunity for preemptive action will be missed.”Indonesia’s reluctance to share human H5N1 samples with the international community, because of its concerns that the country will not have access to the resulting pandemic vaccines, has further weakened global surveillance efforts in humans, the GAO authors write.Likewise, surveillance of influenza in animals also has shortcomings, the GAO reports. For example, outbreak definitions and reporting methods vary by country, and some countries, such as Djibouti and Uganda, lack the capacity to collect, transport, or identify animal influenza samples.The GAO notes that the WHO’s revised International Health Regulations, which for most countries took effect in June 2007, are aimed at improving global surveillance. The regulations spell out basic public health capacities countries must have and set a June 2012 deadline for nations to develop them. Also, the GAO lauds the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its support of influenza research and surveillance and highlights the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) role in characterizing and tracking the global spread of the H5N1 virus.Nonexistent or poor distribution networks in many countries will hamper the release of antiviral or vaccine stockpiles, the GAO warns, citing one of its earlier investigations that found 10 of 17 countries reviewed didn’t have plans for mobilizing medical countermeasure stockpiles. A lack of distribution networks is particularly an obstacle to antiviral utilization, because experts recommend that the drugs be taken within 48 hours of symptom onset, the GAO says.To best utilize antivirals and vaccines, health officials need a reliable, fast diagnostic test to identify patients who have H5N1 infections, the report states. Though the CDC awarded four companies $11.4 million to develop new diagnostic tests, the agency estimates that approval and commercialization of the devices will take 2 or 3 years.More international support for clinical trials is needed to spur the development and evaluation of antivirals and vaccines, the GAO says. The report notes that most of the support for these studies comes from only four countries: the United States, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom.Health officials have hoped that establishing greater global demand for seasonal influenza vaccines could help build greater vaccine production capacity, but the GAO says some countries are too overwhelmed to participate.”Seasonal influenza programs compete with many other public health priorities for limited budgets in developing countries,” the report states. “Citing Vietnam as an example, NIH officials told us that countries may have been too overwhelmed with H5N1 outbreaks to accept offers of assistance to develop vaccine production infrastructure.”The WHO, HHS, and the US State Department were asked to review the GAO report in draft form. The GAO said the WHO commented in an e-mail that the report was “comprehensive and useful.” HHS, in a letter accompanying the GAO report, emphasized that vaccines and antivirals are only one part of the government’s pandemic response plan. The State Department and HHS both questioned the GAO’s use of the term “forestall” when referring to using antivirals and vaccines during a pandemic.”While preventing a pandemic from occurring is the goal that all strive for, whether it can actually be achieved is not known,” wrote Vincent J. Ventimiglia, assistant secretary for legislation at HHS, in a letter accompanying the report.However, the GAO said its use of the word “forestall” is consistent with the WHO’s usage of the term.See also: January 2008 GAO reporthttp://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0892.pdfCIDRAP News article series published in 2007: “THE PANDEMIC VACCINE PUZZLE”last_img read more

Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, May 8

first_imgPoliticians are not upholding their oathWell, Gov. Andrew Cuomo lies and is trying to shut down the NRA. He says all the NRA wants to do is sell guns. First of all, the NRA is not a store; it doesn’t sell guns. What it does is protect our right to bear arms. Gov. Cuomo, when he was elected, took an oath to serve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America and this he does not do. Also, what he is doing is  taking away the right to free speech. Another one doing the same thing is Mitch O’Farrell of California. I wonder, do these politicians laugh at us when they take the oath and say to themselves, “Ya right, I’ll do whatever the hell I want.” The only way I can get this message to people is if you share my message.Anthony G. MontePrincetown Jansson will be an advocate for kids The quality of any school is more than the advance-placement opportunities that it offers its students or its average state testing scores. An environment of care and compassion is equally important.Niskayuna had a spectacular public failure in that domain when our students hurled racial insults at the guest team during a varsity soccer game in the fall of 2018. Past N-CAP surveys have shown unacceptably high rates of substance use and anxiety among Niskayuna students.Happily, the school district is making an effort to improve the environment through various measures, and that’s why it’s critical that we elect school board members who have shown a commitment to helping Niskayuna school students become compassionate and caring citizens of this world.School board candidate Greta Jansson has exemplified that commitment in her years as an active Niskayuna parent. Whether it’s as a volunteer for Friends of Music and youth athletic events or as an advocate for diversity in the school district, she has been a committed advocate for Niskayuna families. The Niskayuna school district will be a better place with Greta Jansson on its board.Aliya SaeedNiskayuna Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionGroup seeks rational approach to safetyIn response to the April 28 Gazette article, Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools (SPFSS) remains a grassroots organization, founded with the intention of restoring previously effective safety to our schools. The mission of SPFSS is transparent, despite attempts to muddy the waters with false information. SPFSS did not hire Go Right Strategies in the capacity of “political consultant.” They were highly recommended by a friend and offered to assist with content creation at cost.  They don’t profit from this endeavor. It goes directly towards marketing and advertising online. We’ve paid $3,200 for content development, $5,000 for social media and $800 for voter identification data. The $5,000 for social media is a pass through they pay to Facebook and Google.Similarly, we have costs associated with a printing firm. The printer will be paid  $15,000 for its services, with money passed through to the USPS.Not having experience in graphic design or implementation, the expertise of outside companies was sought. Any attempt by opposing candidates or the media to sully this effort is done in hopes of distracting the community from the issue of safety. SPFSS has endorsed Dean, Ed and Shaun because they believe in a common sense approach to safety, security and prevention. They understand that the retired law enforcement officers’ help is essential in mitigating a 7-minute response time in the event of an emergency. They have the experience, skill set and commitment to community that the teachers, students and staff deserve, and SPFSS is hopeful that the focus going forward will remain on the candidates and their myriad qualifications.Kara RosettieWilton Vote for candidates who are fair and careAccording to The Gazette’s April 27 article, “Saratoga Springs school board candidates tap national GOP political consultant,” a political group has raised over $33,000 for the upcoming Saratoga Springs Board of Education election. Of that, $12,000 came from a single donor and  $9,000 of the group’s war chest is going to pay for a professional political marketing firm that has worked for clients like Ted Cruz. What the heck?Do we want to be the kind of community that has an arms race of political spending in our local elections? Do we really want Saratoga Springs to descend into the kind of divisive, politically polarized stand-off we see in so many other places?I say no. Let’s be a community where we can have reasonable, civil debates without all the partisan venom. Let’s be a community where we spend our money on strengthening learning, the arts, athletics and mental health resources. Let’s have a school district where we care more about students than about pushing a political agenda.Throughout this campaign, John Brueggemann, Natalya Lakhtakia, and Heather Reynolds have shown that they will be board members who act like neighbors. I will be voting for them on May 21 because they are independently minded, willing to listen and fair. A vote for them is a vote for a better community.Andrew LindnerSaratoga Springs Need president who upholds our valuesWe Americans must address the problem of favoring a candidate because of his/her stance on a single issue, even if that issue is very important. The environment is one such issue, as are reproductive rights, the economy and gun safety, to name a few.Yet, the best candidate is one with the vision and capacity to deal with the whole spectrum of challenges that beset a nation as vast and diverse as ours. He or she won’t be an authority on every issue, but will have the humility and foresight to choose and then listen to wise and competent advisers. And while there is no “perfect” candidate, the ideal is to have one whose personal philosophy and political agenda reflect the highest of human qualities: a true desire to serve, compassion for the most vulnerable, a thirst for justice for all and an enduring trust in the basic goodness of humanity.Democracy honors the dignity and value of every human being, and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are the standard-bearers of these concepts. The best president understands and holds precious these documents that define and support the moral fiber of our country. As we continue to weigh our options for the 2020 election, we must take very seriously our responsibility to choose that person who has intellectual and moral breadth and who can give us hope for the future.Patricia S. JohnsonBallston Spa Protect wetlands from developmentI appreciate The Gazette’s continued emphasis on environmental protection and safety (Time to Get Busy on the Environment, April 28 editorial). But in terms of greatest bang for the buck, you missed an important bill that saves land, water and money. Avoiding unnecessary damage to lands, such as wetlands, that ought not to be developed in the first place saves a lot of money from being spent on remediating pollution and other damage after development occurs.Your editorial ought to have championed, therefore, Assembly bill 3658 (Mr. Englebright, et. al.), which redefines freshwater wetlands in state law from 12.4 acres down to 1 acre, affording much more state protection to smaller wetlands, many thousands of which have been dredged, filled and paved over.Protecting smaller wetlands upstream means more protection of sensitive species like salamanders, more water storage and fewer stormwater events, flooding and remediation of our waterfronts, lakes, and rivers.In the longer run, that means less public expenditures on costly infrastructure after damage has occurred, especially in a time of much more intense rainfall.This expanded wetland protection makes a great deal of sense and the bill ought to have The Gazette’s full support.David GibsonBallston Lake Trump, not Russia, responsible for winLet me see if I understand that Russian influence in 2016. The facts are that Mrs. Clinton gathered 65,844,954 votes and Donald Trump gathered 62,979,879 votes. If the Russians favored Trump and disliked Mrs. Clinton, they failed miserably by 2,865,075 votes. Democrats need to get off the Kool-Aid and look at the facts of the popular vote and the Electoral College vote. Trump’s brilliant strategy to garner electoral votes gave him the win. Russian influence had nothing to do with it. How could it? But Democrats hate our president and will not let it go. I say let’s vote in 2020. No contest for Trump to be re-elected, in my view.James M. Schaefer, Ph.D.SchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccinelast_img read more