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Union Workers Work Hard For Pension Benefits

I'm not going to quote statistics about the negativity that right-to-work and prevailing wage repeal impose on workers and communities. Those are left to more knowledgeable people than I.

My story is personal. I am the widow of a union construction worker. He worked for 35 years to help construct hospitals, federal buildings, power plants and many other projects that the citizens of the state of Missouri work in every day.

His career started as an apprentice, graduating to journeyman. His education in his trade was ongoing in union-funded buildings taught by union-funded teachers, not tax dollars.

Due to his dedication and the work ethic of union officials (who, by the way, did not sit on their rear ends with their feet on a desk as has been depicted by right-to-work advocates), I now am privileged to be the recipient of his pension and his union-funded insurance, which supplements my Medicare. This allows me to live a decent life in my retirement.

I am just one of many spouses who receive these benefits because my spouse worked and accumulated the benefits the union made possible. Taking this away by others, who have not experienced my husband's long journey in his particular trade, seems ridiculous. It's unfair and harsh for all union workers and the families that benefit from hard work and a lifestyle they have earned everyday.

Diane Beck
Concord Village
April 27, 2017

Empowering All Students Helps Communities

Thank you so much for the April 21 article in the South County Times about Affton High School's Special Education program. When we empower all students of all abilities, it strengthens the fabric of our communities. Our world would be a kinder place if everyone understood that we are all more alike than we are different and should all be treated with dignity and respect.

It is wonderful to see students, who happen to receive special education services, integrated into our local communities doing meaningful work, not only while students, but also after graduation. Employers have stated these are some of the hardest working and most dependable employees they have. More employers should consider this in their hiring practices.

An interesting side note about special education in St. Louis County: Any student with an IEP or 504 plan who attends a local district school is actually being served by staff from the Special School District (SSD). SSD pushes out teaching staff into the community schools, which are considered the "least restrictive environment."

So, if you hear someone say "my child gets great special education services from the Lindbergh district (or Mehlville or Affton, etc.)," know that it is not those local districts providing the services. The staff and services come from SSD, integrated within our local schools. Make sure to let that parent know.

And a huge thank you to all SSD staff who serve our kiddos. Your tireless patience and efforts really are worth it!

Jane Chickey, Parent of a Lindbergh student who receives special education services
April 27, 2017

Get Arborist's Help Before Planting New Trees

This is a great time to plant trees, both deciduous those without leaves in the winter and evergreen trees and shrubs. Roots will grow anytime the soil temperature is above 40-degrees Fahrenheit.

The St Louis Arborist Association recommends planting a variety of trees to better keep the urban environment healthy. As certified arborists (CA), we recognize production nurseries wrap new tree roots in burlap and wire to keep the dirt and roots together for transportation. Burlap may be impregnated with materials restricting water and root movement out of the ball. And the basket wires that do not degrade, restrict lateral root development. The planting hole may be too narrow or too deep. Often new trees are strangled at the root collar.

Certified Arborists of The St. Louis Arborist Association (SLAA) are available to help homeowners alleviate some of the problems that have developed as a result of improper planting and may also plant trees for homeowners.

Charlotte Schneider, CA, Member SLAA
April 27, 2017

Sign Of The Times!

When I die and fate has decided that I should go to hell, I think it best that I take United Airlines to get there.

Fred Boeneker
April 27, 2017

Renters & Taxes

If the GOP troglodytes in Jefferson City really wanted a new source of money, they would have also eliminated the circuit breaker tax break for homeowners, as the amount paid to owners is many, many times what is given to renters.

Pray, why did that not happen?

Where do they think the landlords got the money to pay the real estate taxes if not from the tenants? Perhaps a bird dropped the money in their laps?

To claim that the tenants do not pay the tax is not only disingenuous, it is a downright lie! Of course, (uncommunicative) Sen. Andrew Koenig somehow thinks that renters do not pay the tax.

Thomas F. Maher
April 27, 2017

Trash Pickup "Inferior" With Meridian

Meridian did not pick up the trash on the west side of Cheshire Lane in Webster Groves on Friday, April 14. I emailed them and called them daily leaving messages about the trash still sitting on the curb. I never received a response from them and our trash can and our neighbor's trash can sat on the curb all week.

On April 21, our scheduled pickup day, it was finally picked up. However, the east side of the street was ignored so their trash cans are still sitting on the curb and I can almost guarantee they will be sitting there all week, because Meridian doesn't seem to care about missed pickups.

We had superior service with Waste Management and now we're stuck with a company that doesn't even seem to care about a missed pickup, even when it involves a whole street. Since Meridian was the low bidder when the city was looking for a trash hauler, all I can say is you get what you pay for, and in this case we're getting inferior service.

Mary Burton
Webster Groves
April 27, 2017

Middle Schoolers Help Get Rid Of Honeysuckle

We are writing to show our appreciation for the hard work provided by the students of North Kirkwood Middle School seventh-grade ecology class regarding removal of invasive bush honeysuckle on our properties. Our homes back up to the school.

They gave up their time on a Saturday to work on this ongoing project, which included the removal of new starts of this plant and established large bushes. The time and effort of the students working as a team with parent and teacher supervision accomplished remarkable results. We are appreciative to the school system which teaches community involvement with a project such as this. Seeing the students work on this project made us hopeful for the future.

We took time to research bush honeysuckle and found some facts on how easily it grows and spreads. It grows rapidly and crowds out native species. Per our research, the plant produces a chemical which kills the surrounding native trees and shrubs. Not only is it the first to sprout in the spring and the last to frost over in the fall, its sweet flowers also attract a host of pollinators which allow it to take over and inhibit growth of native species.

The class plans to replace these bushes with the species native to Missouri called the beautyberry bush. Donations were made by the residents to assist with the purchase of these plants.

Our gratitude goes out to the school, students and Mr. Hooker for the planning and implementation of this ongoing project.

Jackie Allison, Pam Muhlenkamp
April 27, 2017

Des Peres Park Is No Longer A Beautiful Oasis

While I totally agree with Nancy Ellen Carver's opinion of all the beautiful parks we are blessed to have in St. Louis ("Discover Public Parks" April 14), I believe Des Peres Park needs to be removed from her list.

Until recently, our beloved Des Peres Park was a beautiful oasis in the middle of the busiest area of our city. The whole park was surrounded by full trees, shrubbery and natural vegetation. Once in the park you could walk, picnic and play amongst nature and not even know there was nearby busy Manchester Road, strip malls and subdivisions.

But someone came and literally bulldozed all the beautiful trees and vegetation bordering the whole park. On the north and east sides of the park, you literally picnic or walk in the backyards of private homes separated only by a chain linked fence. Left are barren dirt, tree stumps and dead branches. But worst of all, the south side of the park, which borders Manchester Road, now exposes us to a huge cement wall, and the back parking lots of a bank and busy restaurants.

Gone are all the beautiful trees that once blocked all the noise and ugliness of one of the busiest roads in the county. Whoever raped our once lovely park of all its natural beauty should either be fired or voted out. Shame on you city of Des Peres administration.

Ellie Dillon
Des Peres
April 27, 2017

For A Safer America Bring Back The Old NRA

Our Missouri Republican legislators cannot help themselves. Each year they have to pass further relaxation of gun laws. They are now passing legislation prohibiting churches from restricting members' ability to carry guns to services. (I thought they were in favor of religious liberty. I guess the 2nd Amendment comes before God.)

While passing this absurd legislation, they justify it by lying about Democrats, claiming they want to destroy the 2nd Amendment by taking all our guns. I have been around Democratic politicians for many years, and have never heard anyone even hint at, let alone proclaim, confiscating guns.

Actually, Democrats are like the "old" NRA, which was run by sportsmen rather than the gun industry. Show me a true NRAer who would buy their child a gun without serious training in safety and use. I am a gun owner and that is what I and all Democrats want. When sportsmen ran the NRA, they proposed laws requiring training for hunters. With new NRA, it's buy now, train later maybe.

Hopefully, everyone will protect religious liberty and lives by following the old NRA. America will be safer.

Martin Walsh
April 27, 2017

Tailored News Tells Only One Side Of A Story

I am writing in response to Don Corrigan's April 14 column, "Privacy? Who Needs It?"

First, I think personal tailored "news" is a bad idea, foremost as the column suggests, individuals will never see contrary views. As it is, most do not read contrary views, but at least they can see enough to reject learning from it.

That aside, the statements "Young people are becoming fed up with Facebook" and "The drawbacks include: it violates our privacy; it gathers or data and sells it to advertisers. It looks at our role in life as that of consumers."

I am concerned about the "young people" who are not informed that:

1) Facebook and others do not and cannot force you to use them.

2) You become upset or shocked that they would gather data you expose to them.

3) They sell it to advertisers.

4) They look at students as consumers.

Let's begin with an addition to students' education:

1) Businesses exist (in non-fascist or communist countries) exclusively to serve the interests of their owner(s), not the nation, not the community, not directly anything else.

2) The customer in the case of Facebook is advertisers who pay Facebook to give them access to qualified consumers, the more qualified, the more Facebook can charge them. A customer is always who pays you.

3) Above all, students need to learn that nothing of much value is free; you pay Facebook through the information you give them.

4) As for fake news: who gets to decide what is fake the government, like North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela? Who would charge people that claimed the Libyan attack was due to a YouTube video and what would be their punishment? News overall is so fake now due to miseducation and people willing to believe it.

Bill Sheridan
Des Peres
April 27, 2017

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