Published letters, May 27, 2011

As we head toward Memorial Day and summer vacations, I think it’s a good time to remind parents and teens of some safe-driving tips. Unfortunately in Colorado in 2009, there were 48 auto-related teen deaths. As a Grand Junction auto dealer, I am reminded every day that enforcing safe driving is the only way to bring this number down. Here’s how:

✓ Insist on safety-belt use. According to the latest data, in 2009 the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 12,713 lives nationwide.

✓ Drinking and driving don’t mix. More than a third of all teen traffic fatalities involve alcohol. No excuses, no second chances, no alcohol. Period. Make sure you talk to your child about what to do or whom to call if they are ever stuck in a situation without a sober driver. There are other options.

✓ Avoid distractions. Driving demands full attention. Distractions such as the radio, cell phones and passengers take attention away from the road. Colorado’s graduated driver’s license laws have helped decrease distractions, but it is still up to drivers to follow the law.

✓ Today’s vehicles are safer than ever. Advanced technologies are helping to keep our kids safe. If your teens are borrowing your car, make sure you drive with them first and they know how to properly use all the features.

Ford recently released a survey reporting that more than three-quarters of tweens say they will rely heavily on their parents’ advice when they start to drive. That’s great news for parents. On the flipside, though, the same study showed that while nearly all (95 percent) of parents believe they’re safe drivers, 82 percent of teens report seeing their parents be careless when driving.

The bottom line is we all need to practice safe-driving habits, for ourselves and for our kids.

KEVIN LEMARR Sales Manager, Western Slope Ford Lincoln

Grand Junction

Disabled students feeling pinch of budget cuts

I’m one of many special-needs students at Grand Junction High School, along with the many others at the various schools across Colorado. I need support to help with my daily life and to function properly. I know many others like me who share similar disorders and debilitations. We rely on the help of our teachers, fellow students and case managers to aid us in the survival of our school years.

Recently, many people in education have seen massive cuts and are losing jobs. One of the people who helps me make it through my day nearly every day is at risk and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. She is a library assistant, but throughout the day she plays the roles of nurse, counselor, teacher, taskmaster, caseworker, therapist and friend. Most students absolutely adore her.

It’s not just her, I’m certain. Thousands more teachers, both loved and respected, are losing their jobs. It is predicted that if the teachers go, then so will the students, because the quality of schooling will go down. Who wants to send their kid to a school that can’t provide the necessary education?

I’m tired of watching some of my favorite teachers go because they cut school spending. I believe that if you cut school spending, you create unskilled workers. By creating unskilled workers, you lessen the effectiveness of our country’s workforce. You’re cutting the budget of people who are going to teach future generations how to read, write, do arithmetic and, for some, even tie their shoes! Why would you hamstring yourself for the future?

I just want people to see and maybe understand how people like me feel when our lines of support are cut away and we are left free-floating in a breeze of confusion. The normal person can only handle so much stress. Most of us can barely handle half that much.

These people help us to fight against the odds to be like the other people in the world — with some sense of normalcy in their lives.

JORDAN BALIKES

Grand Junction

Bush and Cheney allowed oil firms to run wild

We are now seeing the results of the last administration led by two oilmen, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

In 2005, they opened up much of the BLM public land to the oil and gas companies and let them ignore parts of the Clean Water Act.

Before they left office, they started two wars, including one in Iraq for the benefit of the oil companies.

In October 2008, they bailed out four big companies: Bank of America, AIG, J.P.Morgan-Chase and CitiBank. It was supposed to boost the failing economy by the trickle-down theory. It trickled down to the rich CEO’s and stopped. Small businesses got nothing.

Oil and gas companies are polluting fresh water. This will be their next big grab — control of all the fresh water in the United States.

JOE PETEK

Grand Junction


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