Letters to the Editor for Week of 6/23/08

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Information has been shared in local media concerning pesticide use, some of which have been grossly misrepresented.

Many people have legitimate concerns about the safety of pesticides. So, are pesticides completely safe?

As you consider that question ask yourself if driving a car, eating a tomato, or swimming in the ocean is completely safe. There are risks associated with each.

Let’s agree that there are risks involved in pesticide use, just like cooking dinner on a hot stove. More importantly, can we make a clear assessment of the benefits and the risks to make educated decisions regarding pesticide use?

A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest. Pests could include molds, weeds, rodents and bacteria.

Yes, the active ingredients in insect repellents or hand sanitizers are considered pesticides. These products are generally not questioned because society accepts them as safe.

In question are agricultural products used in food, fiber and greenery production. Because less than 2 percent of Americans are directly associated with agriculture, having a population unfamiliar with agricultural chemical use is expected.

So who can the general population trust for accurate information? As an Extension agent, I receive training each year on updates concerning pesticide laws, changes in product availability, and safe use practices from both federal and state officials.

Most of this training is handled through Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences Office of Pesticide Services and Virginia Tech pesticide programs.

The Office of Pesticide Services handles pesticide law enforcement in the state. Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia Tech, my employer, are responsible for pesticide safety education.

It is my responsibility locally to make farmers aware of pesticide law, including safe use and handling practices.

I encourage citizens to call me at (276) 773-2491 regarding a pesticide-related question.

I am more than happy to share with you the most up-to-date information available from state and federal resources.

Some may question my sources, but I ask that you consider what “formal” training others have who make misrepresented comments in the press.

Kevin Spurlin

Extension Agent





I wish to thank all of the people involved with “Authors on Grayson Street” that was part of Galax’s wonderful Leaf & String Festival for 2008.

Sharon and Karen of Chapters Bookshop did a great job with herding all of us authors into line so that we could share our contributions to the literary world with all who attended the festival.

This is the second year I have participated in your festival, and if there is room for me next year, my husband and I will plan to participate again.

Once again, thanks for taking such good care of all of us.

Linda Hudson Hoagland





We hear a lot of talk from the county about attracting business to Carroll County by “putting the fiber in the ground.”

For the less technically inclined, the reference is to optical fiber, a cable made up of glass fibers that carry electronic signals at very high speed.

My contention is that this should not be a county expense. Any companies who come here will do like they do in other rural areas — they will establish their own satellite link or else subscribe to a high speed “T-1” line from the phone company.

When and if it ever becomes economically feasible for a company to do so, an Embarq or a Sprint will lay their own optical fiber and recoup the cost via fees to those who use it. The same is true for wireless Internet service.

When the customer base is large enough to make it economically feasible, some company will put a system in, and not at taxpayers’ expense.

However, don’t hold your breath on that one. The hills and hollows of Carroll County make it almost prohibitively expensive to put in an RF-based wireless system with existing technologies.

I own 27 patents in the communication industry and have volunteered my consulting services free to the county in such matters.

I have several retired friends here in the county with many years of experience in that field, also. However we have yet to be asked a question.

Ron Hall






It seems that we have some control over the direct mail we receive via the U.S. Postal Service, but yet our local newspapers can send out unsolicited advertisements with each newspaper in the U.S. mail.

I have kept the advertisements for the past month from the newspaper. This does not include the television listings or the listed advertisements in the paper itself.

The average weight for the four weeks is 11 ounces per week. This would translate into 572 ounces per year, or 35.75 pounds per year, of mail that is put in my mailbox that I then have to take to a recycling center.

For those who do not recycle, the paper ends up in the landfill.

This is a blatant waste of trees, ink, postal services and human energy.

I would like to have a choice to not have advertisements in my mail three times per week with the newspaper.

Martha LaRa Gibson

Mouth of Wilson





It may be that who you don’t know that makes a difference, and it’s likely you didn’t know Edwina Froehlich.

On June 8, Edwina left her earthly home. At age 93 she was still active with La Leche League International, the organization she co-founded in 1956 along with six other women from the Chicago area.

She co-authored “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” Long before it became a best-selling book, she answered letters in longhand and took phone calls to help new mothers who wanted to learn an art that in the 1950s was quickly becoming rare.

Froehlich continued to volunteer her time and expertise for more than 50 years with La Leche League, touching the lives of millions.

The Twin County area has benefited from having an active La Leche League group for more than 30 years.

The mission: to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in healthy development of the baby and mother.

Meeting information for Virginia groups can be found at http://www.lllvawv.org/ and North Carolina group information is at http://www.lllofnc.org/. Or call (276) 655-4799 to speak with an accredited leader.

Many mothers and babies in our community can be grateful to Edwina Froehlich, a woman they have never met, for her willingness and desire to pass on the knowledge of mothering through breastfeeding countless families.

More information about Edwina can be found at llli.org/edwina http://llli.org/edwina and in these books: “The Revolutionaries Wore Pearls,” by Kaye Lowman, and “Seven Voices, One Dream,” by Mary Ann Cahill .

Scottie Pritchard

Elk Creek