Letters (May 5, 2010)


‘Rite of passage’ really a stupid mistake

 

As we enter the warm months of spring and early summer, a so-called “rite of passage” for some of our com­munity’s youth has already begun. A beer party that became a beer-bust occurred April 17 and was listed in the sheriff’s report in last week’s paper.

Ask almost any high school student, and it becomes evident that most of our local kids, and a lot of their parents, have heard about it by now.

As word of the “party” gets around, most folks shrug their shoulders and say something like “kids will be kids.” However, as the mother of a 20-year-old son who lost his life four years ago due to use of alcohol, I can’t remain silent.

I also feel an added sense of outrage because the party was held on my property without my awareness. To remain silent almost implies an acceptance of this behavior, and I strongly object to underage drinking in any location. It’s against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to use alcohol.

Added to my outrage is a great sense of disappointment in the character of the kids who participated in the beer drinking. I often hear that people make “poor choices,” but I feel that in this case we need to use the phrase “stupid mistakes” to describe the actions of kids who know what can result from alcohol abuse.

Following the death of my son Stephen in 2006, I spoke in several area high schools about teenage drinking, and I have tried to be open about the frustration I feel on this issue. I know kids feel invincible during the teen years, but traffic accidents, date rape and use of stronger drugs can result from alcohol abuse. I write this with a heavy heart, for our kids are headed in the wrong direction. The adults who provide alcohol for minors should be severely punished.

Country music singer Brad Paisely has a song called, “Letter to Me,” in which he writes a letter to himself as a teenager. One line says, “I know, at 17, it’s hard to see past Friday night.” He also sings to teenagers, “these are not the best years of your life.” There are so many awesome possibilities in the future; don’t exchange a guilt-free—and public-record-free— future for a few hours of being the “life of the party.”

In closing, I’d like to salute all of the local teens who choose not to drink. The peer pressure to be one of the popular crowd must be intense for many of you. Thank you for standing strong. You won’t have to live with the regret that many of your peers are accumulating.

I also want to commend our local law-enforcement officers for carrying out their duties in an atmosphere that accepts teen drinking as “inevitable.” I am personally opposed to the use of alcohol at any age, but for now the law about underage drinking is clear. Let’s obey the law.

Mary Beth Bowers

Marion

 

Bylaw changes began with commissioners

 

In regard to the article written by Patty Decker and published in the Free Press on April 28, it was stated that “many of the proposed changes (to the MCEDC bylaws) were initiated in June 2009 by MCEDC director Teresa Huffman.”

After meeting with the mayors and asking for input, the proposed changes to the bylaws were initiated by the county commissioners, and they asked me to make the recommended changes and present them to the council on the commissioner’s behalf. I was only the messenger. This has been explained many times but continues to fall on deaf ears.

The county commissioners wanted the changes to membership voting from a population base to one vote for one town, and they requested that members of the council assist in working the trade shows.

I made the recommended changes, and the commissioners approved them before I took them to MCEDC for consideration.

The only change to the bylaws that I personally recommended was the addition of an alternate appointment for communities that only have one representative, so they would always have an opportunity to have a voice and a vote at the meeting.

I hope this clears this issue up once and for all. MCEDC is a wonderful organization that was started by real visionaries in our county. Members have the potential to impact our county in a positive manner by the continued county-wide collaboration through tourism, economic and leadership development.

Teresa Huffman

Marion County economic

development director


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