Letters to the Editor, Jan. 22, 2004

‘It is George himself’
To the editor:
George Helmstetter’s letter to the editor was at best a poor attempt at answering Peter Ashton’s letter. I read and reread his letter, I analyzed it, examined it, meditated and came to a conclusion. Quoting Mr. Helmstetter, "He just doesn’t get it."
   It is not Peter, it is not the voters who voted against a football program, it is not the students who write to the editor who don’t get it. It is George himself. Why would you encourage a senior in high school to persuade athletes to fork over $10 each when none of these athletes actually convinced the rest of us (taxpayers) that there should be a football program? In fact, those athletes and HIKE failed miserably in convincing us.
   HIKE, as Mr. Ashton wrote, stands for Hopewell Involved in Kids Enrichment. Its philosophy should be to enrich and not denigrate those students who do not participate in athletic events by asking them to beg for $10. Your self-appointed activity is to enrich, Mr. Helmstetter, remember that. Enrich. Furthermore, I would like to remind you of something it appears you have forgotten. Schools are there to teach, to learn, to instill in our children the love of our history, sciences, languages, and to teach them how to think. Schools are not there and should not be there to teach how to tackle, pass or break a few ribs while running after a funny looking ball.
   While I do want to believe your goals in enriching our children are sincere, your language and actions point to the total opposite. It is no surprise that HIKE shoved football at the majority who voted against it. I guess it has become trendy in America, as well as in our little Hopewell Valley. Bush was elected with a minority of the votes, football is a reality even though we voted no, and every time I drive by the now desecrated Back Timberlane Fields, it convinces me further that "He Doesn’t Get It" and sadly, perhaps never will.
Marcelo Schor, Hopewell Township
Fair and reasonable?
To the editor:
For years families, on Pennington-Harbourton Road, have asked the Hopewell Valley Regional School District to address the flooding problems caused by drainage from school property in the Timberlane area.
   This problem has been made worse by the removal of trees and vegetation in the Back Timberlane watershed. After the serious December flooding problems, photographs of this were shown to the school board. Information from the township engineer shows 60 percent of the flooding comes from the Timberlane area. With definitive information, such as this, we had hoped this problem would have been addressed in a fair and reasonable way. Instead, in January more trees were allowed to be removed, which will further expose residents to even worse flooding problems. How can this be fair and reasonable?
   Two times our community has voted not to build ball fields on Back Timberlane. Environmental issues along with other issues were debated in the news media before these votes. How did ball fields become more important than the legitimate environmental issues of families? How did ball fields become more important than the democratic process of voting in our community? Why can’t we all get together and build ball fields in a safer area?
Gene Ramsey, member of SAFE-T, Hopewell Township
Fran Bartlett gets kudos
To the editor:
I want to take this opportunity to thank former Mayor Fran Bartlett for her commitment and service to Hopewell Township. Fran served as mayor last year during a period of intense political conflict and deserves recognition for steering a fair course between two committee factions. We all would have benefited greatly from her re-election. However, it is more than understandable that she stepped aside due to family considerations and weariness with the conflict.
   I think it’s important to note that I have not always agreed with Fran’s appointments and positions on the issues. But with Fran it has always been possible to put those disagreements in perspective. This is in part because she has perspective as well, and in part because of her obvious good nature, her fairness and commitment to good procedure, and her unwillingness to personalize differences. I sincerely appreciate those qualities.
   I particularly want to thank Fran for her courageous vote in approving our current zoning, which took place in December 2002. This new zoning is, and will be, crucial to protecting our township’s quality of life and our finite groundwater supplies. Fran agonized over this vote, coming under intense pressure from many of her key supporters to defer the vote until a new committee member could take office.
   But Fran recognized, among other things, that approval of the zoning fundamentally strengthened the township’s legal position, and I thank her for that. Moreover, the divisions of last year clearly show that any zoning proposal would have had a tough time garnering the necessary four votes. So in retrospect, Fran’s vote to approve the new zoning stands out as praiseworthy.
   Fran, as I have enjoyed life off of the committee, I hope you do as well.
Bob Higgins, Hopewell Township
An answer from Ashton
To the editor:
In the Jan. 8 issue, George Helmstetter proposed a plan so I could become enriched by HIKE just like everyone else. I have a small issue with your idea, George. You would have me, "convince each player that (I’ve) experienced just a portion of this past season of football to them and when they are, they will hand over their $10 portion to (me)."(sic) It’s interesting that you should want me to convince anyone of anything, since you failed to convince the taxpayers of a need for football in the first place. Is this just an oversight in your plan, or is it an intentional attempt to, shall we say, level the playing field?
   You point out this apparent imbalance between the punishments of athletes and nonathletes in the school district. You say that we should, "talk to children who are on various teams in the high school." Really, what good would that be? How would athletes know about how nonathletes are treated? I, in fact, have talked to both. If a student is caught drinking or doing drugs, they are suspended from any extracurricular activities. Not just sports. Ask anyone in any other extracurricular: drama, Math League, E-Team, Robotics, Model UN, Photo Club, etc. Everyone will tell you the same thing. (The first rule of writing a persuasive letter is to understand both sides of the argument. The second is to actually know about the other side so you don’t come off as ignorant.) Furthermore, your argument for the poor oppressed athlete ignores the concept of pep rallies. Yes, our athletes are so mistreated that once a season the entire school must come out to honor their brave efforts for school spirit. Poor children; yet they smile through it all. It’s lucky for the rest of us that we don’t have to endure this painstaking ceremony of respect.
   Now, don’t misunderstand me. I have nothing against athletes or pep rallies. Some of my best friends are athletes; I don’t hold it against them. What does bother me though, is when people try to get away with fabricating facts about the school’s discipline code to make a point.
   Oh, and to answer your question, Mr. Helmstetter, yes I could live without television, computers, and e-mail, but this is a discussion about football, not about technological advances of the 20th century.
   P.S. To Mr. D’Angelo, who is such a connoisseur of Bob Dylan lyrics, try this one: "Democracy don’t rule the world/you better get that through your head/this world is ruled by violence/but I guess that’s better left unsaid."
Peter Ashton, HVCHS student, Hopewell Township