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Readers’ Views

Get citizens approval

To the Editor:

Community center or recreation center?

The increased sales tax of 6.26 percent approved by Fairmont citizens in 2016 was to support “trails, recreational amenities and/or a community center.” It did not specify an elaborate and expensive ($24.7 million) recreation center managed by the YMCA.

Polls taken by the Sentinel and other indicate the majority of Fairmont citizens do not favor a costly facility that is primarily a recreation center. They would undoubtedly approve a smaller, less costly community center that includes meeting rooms, kitchen and a banquet hall/auditorium. Before any more funds are spent on the presently planned community (recreation) center, its final design and total construction and maintenance costs should be clearly explained, voted on and approved or disapproved by the citizens of Fairmont.

Henry W. Roehler

Fairmont

Sentinel view puzzling

To the Editor:

On Aug. 1, the Sentinel editorial was entitled, “Only statists should be in charge of programs?” The editorial staff was supportive of William Pendley being named acting head of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages large area of western federal lands. Mr. Pendley is a critic of the bureau and, among other measures, he advocates selling these public lands.

The Sentinel is supportive of government administrators who are not advocates of the agencies they administer. I find this to be puzzling. At our local level, would the editorial staff be happy with local school administrators who don’t feel their schools are of much value or purpose, who feel work/employment for youth is all that is needed? In any governmental organization, it is important to have strong leader-advocates in place who believe in their purpose. It is then the role of our elected officials (such as school boards or, in the case of the Bureau of Land Management, Congress) to decide to fund them, change them or pull the plug. Having critics who don’t believe in the basic mission of a program assures failure.

Some clarification on the Bureau of Land Management: The Sentinel states that the agency controls 250,000 acres of federal lands. In fact, it controls over 247 million acres, mostly in western states. These vast areas were generally considered wasteland by the early settlers, as they were generally too arid and rocky to support communities, agriculture, forestry or quality grazing. The land is administered for multiple use: there are over 63,000 oil and gas wells on BLM land, 18,000 permits/leases for grazing, and many recreational opportunities. Over 99 percent of BLM land is open to hunting and fishing. In many BLM lands, RVs and tents can be found dotting the landscape — you can camp where you want, go where you want, hunt where you want, with little or no red tape. It mystifies me that the Sentinel — long an advocate of American freedom — would want to promote selling this land to private parties. Wide open spaces would be quickly replaced with no trespassing signs.

It is frustrating that the political far right begins with the assumption that government is corrupt, inept and inefficient, rather than evaluating each program. On the political far left, there is equal fervor that every large corporation is evil and heartless. For America to flourish as a democracy, we must be thoughtful on public policy, not cling mindlessly to partisan beliefs.

Eric B. Johnson

Fairmont

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