Your letters, Dec. 4; Rural notice, class rank and closing Gitmo

December 3, 2013 

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Rural neighbors need more notice

The Orange County Board of Commissioners took a positive step recently when they passed rules requiring the county to hold meetings for neighbors of future government buildings. Earlier this year, it came as a surprise to Neville Road residents when they realized that a fire station was going to be built in their neighborhood only after the land was purchased and the project was underway.

Many other county citizens were also surprised by this, as it was generally assumed that the county had a commitment to reaching out to citizens affected by a potential project. Apparently, they did not consider this commitment to apply to their own projects.

There’s another part of the issue of proper communication with affected citizens that still needs addressing. The county rules require that only folks within 500 feet of a proposed project need to be notified. This paltry distance may work in an urban setting, but out in the rural areas, 500 feet is totally inadequate. It’s the equivalent of about one city block. I can hit an eight-iron farther than that.

As an example, UNC’s Animal Research Facility in Bingham Township is in my community and it is a concern. The potential effects of this facility, including noise, lights, odors, traffic and stream protection, extend way beyond 500 feet. The facility is close to a mile from my house and about 800 feet from where our gravel road meets the main road.

Reforming this 500-foot rule has been mentioned frequently over the years. It came up several times between 2009 and 2011 when I was on the Planning Board. It seems like a no-brainer, yet there has been no action.

Mark Marcoplos

Bingham Township

Rank considerations

I have spent 44 years teaching physics; the majority of that time at a fairly competitive high school. I have watched the ranking systems in my and other equally competitive public schools periodically change.

Although each gave the impression of a coldly precise formula, ultimately the dynamic, institutional attitude toward what was or was not important subjectively affected what were thought of as objective weightings. For example, were all AP students ranked above Honors? And was a low grade in a “Track 1” class ranked above a high grade in a vocational class which may not have been incorporated into the ranking system in the first place despite that grade deriving from a bright student who chose the course out of interest?

Students (and their counselors), knowing full-well that one of the most important things to a college admissions officer is academic challenge and high grades in those challenging courses, enroll in AP, IB, and Honors courses hoping to “fulfill the dream.” Some schools do not even put a limit on the number of such courses a student can take in a given semester. The result for too many students is inordinate personal stress, the inability to take courses that could be of interest, a diminishing involvement in extracurricular activities, and the possibility of not truly learning the material at this level of challenge with resulting poor grades (though a higher rank). Interestingly enough, in some schools known for academic prowess the difference between a rank of 1 and a rank of 50 may not even be one point. Further, that 50 rank may still be academically heads above a youngster ranked 2 in another school.

It is for the reasons above, among others, that more than 50 percent of colleges no longer consider rank an important factor and more than 50 percent of high schools in the United States no longer submit ranks or make it optional. The question parents and students really need to ask themselves in a quest for rank is what do they give up in some of the most important, formative years to achieve something which may have little and questionable meaning.

Jay Emmer

Fearrington

American blood

I can’t believe there is anyone who would advocate for the closing of Gitmo and the release of these terrorists, all of whom have American blood on their hands. Hasn’t the writer ever seen the heart-wrenching Wounded Warrior stories on television? I wonder how the writer would feel about releasing these individuals if someone in her family had suffered or died at the hands of these murderers.

The people confined there are the worst of the worst and it has been shown that at least 40 percent of those already released have returned to the battlefield to try to kill more Americans. And the last thing we need is to bring them to this country for trial. The cost would be enormous, and it would just give them a platform to spout their radical ideology.

If Kay Hagan does anything to assist these terrorists it will be just another reason (in addition to her support for Obamacare) to vote her out of office.

Vincent M. DiSandro Sr.

Hillsborough

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