LETTERS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
Fair arena is unsafe for animals and kids

Horses and demolition derbies are great fun. Having both events, however, in the same arena is like using the swimming pool for the dual purpose swimming and sewage lagoon.

The Marion County Fair Arena in Hillsboro was designed for the use of livestock activities with safety in mind. It was built first class and something the county could be proud of.

Unfortunately, today it sits as a junky sandpit, being dangerous for livestock events. The arena is saturated with hidden sharp fragmented pieces of metal and fiberglass. This is the direct result of years of demo derby wreckage within the arena’s domain.

The arena’s poor condition has been tolerated for so long because its remedy will be costly. Over the years there has been a continuation of denial that a problem exists and/or a refusal of leaders to take responsibility.

Under Kansas law there is no liability for an injury or death of a participant in domestic animal activities due to the inherent risks of such activities. However, it does not excuse negligence.

A form of Russian Roulette is taking place every time a child on a horse steps foot in the fair arena. Everyone who has attempted to “clean” the arena knows what I’m talking about. For every knife-sharp piece that’s found, one knows there is more hidden in the sand.

These sharp pieces are like landmines. Would you want your child on a horse that’s already in a heightened state when it “blows” because its hoof has been suddenly punctured or its hide ripped into from a piece of shrapnel kicked up from beneath the sand of the arena?

Newton has faced this same dilemma. Harvey County leaders recognized the obvious danger and solved the problem by providing a separate area for the derby.

Another county keeps two piles of dirt, one clean for riding and another for derbies, which they dig down and exchange for events. If a solution can be agreed on, I’m confident the community’s demo and equine lovers alike can rally behind with the support needed to help restore and preserve a safe environment for all participants.

As for me, I have acted irresponsibly in the past and I’m sorry that I knowingly compromised the safety of children and horses in order to participate in 4-H events at the Hillsboro arena. Doing so was a disservice and in direct contrast to some of the very things 4-H tries to promote and achieve: quality leadership and stewardship.

Hopefully, everyone is ready to say, “Enough is enough!”

4-H, fair board, city and county leaders, please push to find solutions instead of excuses so as to avoid further injuries caused by foreign debris in the arena.

By the 2007 Marion County Fair, may our children and animals be able to compete in a truly safe environment. Anything less shouldn’t be tolerated.

Tina Partridge

G&B Saddle Club and Peabody Achievers 4-H Horse Project leader

An open letter to patrons of USD 398

As you are aware, the past several months have brought an increase in school violence across the nation.

As the crisis team leader for for our Peabody-Burns school district, I want to let you know that our schools have plans in place to follow in case of natural disasters such as fires and tornadoes as well as emergencies such as bomb threats and intruders in our buildings.

Both schools hold practice drills occasionally throughout the year to review these procedures with our students.

Unfortunately, we live in an age that forces us to implement policies that require extra work on both the parents’ part and the school’s part in order to keep our students safe.

A couple of rules :

All visitors are asked to immediately check in at the office when entering school. Visitors will be given an identification badge so we may see who is supposed to be in the building.

Parents are asked to sign their children out when leaving school to attend doctor appointments, or other reasons.

Also, according to our crisis plan, if school is evacuated for any reason, students and staff will report to the following locations:

PBES: Track.

PBHS: Northwest corner of practice field.

In the event of inclement weather, or if the evacuation will continue for an extended period of time, students will report to these designated locations. Parents may pick up their children at these locations. Students will be only released to their parents.

Elementary school: Baptist Church.

Junior/senior high school: Methodist Church.

When a crisis occurs, we know that emotions run high. The crisis team realizes that parents need to be encouraged to understand that in the event of a natural disaster or crisis, that their child will be safe.

Ken Parry, crisis team leader

USD 398, Peabody-Burns

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