OUR READERS' OPINIONS - 05/29/11

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Replacing mid-century schools is prudent

Walla Walla High School is an attractive and well-maintained facility. That said, risks associated with mid-century school construction must be addressed. For our children, it is a matter of personal health, safety, and educational welfare.

These facilities tend to be of single-wall or unreinforced masonry design. Aluminum and glass curtained walls are common. These systems have low tensile resistance and flexural capacity. Such structures perform poorly against earthquakes, tornadoes, explosions and blunt force accidents.

Schools of this vintage are filled with asbestos - in ceiling tiles, floor coverings, roofing, pipe/duct insulation and caulking. These otherwise rigid and encased materials can quickly particulate with structural compromise.

Electrical systems did not anticipate the demands of current technology. The number of outlets and branch circuits, wire gauge and grounding techniques are now insufficient. Most wiring in the 1960s was of an inferior aluminum type and prone to arc. Classroom sinks, restrooms and shower facilities may lack proper ground and arc fault circuit interrupters. Electrical connections, wire insulation and switch mechanisms have deteriorated.

Mid-century lighting remains inefficient and hazardous. Natural day-lighting and full-spectrum T5 fixtures provide cleaner light at half the energy cost . The older T12 ballasts contain toxic PCB compounds, which can leak. In a similar vein, vintage plumbing fixtures and pipe joints were likely soldered with lead.

Inefficient non-centralized HVAC mechanics are extremely expensive to operate and maintain. These outdated systems provide a poor exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen. It is common for carbon dioxide levels in mid-century schools to significantly exceed appropriate ventilation standards. Poor air quality adversely impacts alertness and cognition.

Today, our safest schools must limit points of outside access. Visitors are architecturally directed to a central point of entry. Corridors are restricted, with controlled and monitored passage. Protection against fire is equally important, with modern structures having improved alarm systems, fire barriers, tempered glazing and overhead sprinklers.

Our school system remains vigilant and diligent. Through responsible capital fund management, the Walla Walla School District was able to promptly address the serious radon gas issue at Blue Ridge Elementary School. However, it will require a more substantial initiative to ameliorate that which lurks behind and beyond the curb appeal of Wa-Hi.

When the superintendent and Board of Directors are giving careful thought to the renovation or replacement of these mid-century schools, they have their priorities straight. First and foremost, they are considering the health, safety, and educational welfare of our youth.

I am a Walla Walla native and former superintendent of the Bainbridge Island School District.

Ken Crawford

College Place

Why have cement islands come and gone?

I wonder what our city, county and state lawmakers think of the citizens at large and why we don't want to be taxed more for services. As taxpayers we hope people have been hired to fulfill functions that the population at large would be unable to.

I was rather curious with the cement islands that were installed at the railroad crossings as 13th Avenue in Walla Walla was being upgraded. They must be so important that the pylons on the islands just north of Rose Street have been replaced to draw our attention to them. I was surprised to see a backhoe removing these islands May 24.

Was this the best use of our tax dollars? Is someone being held accountable? Why were they important before and not now? Were they supposed to be a safety device? Are our roads not as safe now that these have been removed? Is something even better going to be installed at even more expense to the taxpayer? Or is this lawmakers' idea of creating jobs?

Brian Treadway

College Place

Walla Walla no longer beautiful town

What happened to our town?

When I moved to Walla Walla I thought it was a beautiful town. I thought it had a lot to offer. Now I drive through town and I am disgusted!

Why would anyone want to bring their family and move here?

Our streets are a wreck!

We have no mall! Just a great big eyesore. (Who destroys a mall before having funding to finish the project?)

My son used to take his future wife and walk the mall, it was somewhere a young man could take his date that didn't cost a fortune.

We have no usable public pool. (Not everyone can afford their own or afford the YMCA.)

We have very few restaurants.

There is nothing here for kids to do that's affordable.

What does Walla Walla offer? Tons of wineries - so if you're raising alcoholics this is your town!!

Cheryl Summerfield

Walla Walla

What can we do to help wounded heal?

I am writing a response to the following article. If this letter is published, and there is room, I would appreciate it if it were also published in Spanish.

Article titled: "Gang Member Killed in Shooting" May 18.

Quote: "One woman, speaking in Spanish, described the shooting as sad and tragic. ‘If he dies, for whatever reason, it's sad' she said. ‘He's still a human being.'"

He is a son, a brother, a father, a friend, an enemy, a lover, a fighter, a hater, a joy and most of all, he is human. He is much more than a gang member or what some think is a gang member. So is the human who shot him.

I am not defending anyone's actions, merely their right to be human and reminding that, above all, he, she, they, we are all humans. What can we do as humans to help these wounded people heal?

Julia D. Leavitt

Walla Walla

Finding a needle in a haystack

If you ever need to find a needle in a haystack near Walla Walla, you might try Bridget Fulmer at the U.S. Post Office.

Public service and government employees take it on the chin all too often, characterized as not caring or willing to go the extra mile. In my book, Ms. Fulmer did just that, she went above and beyond.

The state of California mistakenly sent a car title to our old Walla Walla address. I had a work transfer to Seattle over three years ago. If it was returned to the California DMV or lost we would have had a lot of stress, time and cost to correct the situation.

The phone rang this morning with Ms. Fulmer indicating she had found our document and would be forwarding it. Ms. Fulmer is our hero of the day. She is a great example of what public service employees do every day - take good care of us.

Jeffrey Lang

Seattle

Consequences of dam removal

To the uninformed big city "intellectuals."

Removing the dams from the rivers will impact you more than you think. For without this power, you will not be able to nuke your coffee in the microwave oven, nor have lights in your home. Your garage door opener will not operate, nor will the gas pumps you rely on to get gasoline for your cars. Not only your vehicle, but the transit systems. If you cannot pump fuel, neither will they.

Then there is the problem of the farmer providing your calories for the day. He will need water, which is now backed up by the dams in the rivers you want to eliminate. Because without water, there will be no produce from any farm. This also includes milk. The dairy farmer requires power to use the milking machines, to extract the milk from the cow.

There are other reasons we need the dams. They provide a large lake that seeps into the aquifer below the land surface. Farmers have to drill for this water for their usage. But if there is no power for the driller (fuel) then a well cannot be drilled. Therefore you will starve.

One other reason the dams are needed is protection from floods and high water when the snow melts and you have heavy rain simultaneously. You will pray to God those dams are where they are supposed to be.

Have you ever been to a grocery store and not seen salmon in the meat case? I see salmon there all the time.

Listed below are benefits missing from your life forever: The solar panels will not be operational because you have very little sunshine. None on your home, too bad, but they also need batteries to store the power for later use.

No TV, no lamps, no heat, no cooking, no fuel, no use of your vehicle, no street lights, no stop lights for traffic, no transportation system, no work, which means no pay, no protection, no phones, unless you have a land line to a telephone company, and even then its power will only run for approximately 48 hours, and then it's dead.

Then the criminals will have freedom. No phone, no police. You better keep the gun laws in effect for your own protection. The wind generators will probably produce some power, but not if there is no wind. You city people are in a very precarious position. Criminals will have free reign.

Louis Valiante

Walla Walla

Peach Basket Classic is in right place

The Lighten Up Team of the YMCA - Arlene Anderson, Theresa Bass, Rose Blacely, Virginia Bradley, Linda Davis, Donna Dunleavy, Dianne Hevener, Marlene Howerd, Chuck Moreland, Nancy Moreland, Lin Myers, Earlene Perkins, Jo Sines, Judy Sines, Lois Sines, Dolores Woerner, Dar Beck, B.J. Pillar, Gwen Brown, Dale Brown and me - is writing this letter on behalf of the Peach Basket Classic Team.

We are a team of senior citizens that sponsors a team of young boys (The Wet Willies) for three years.

Our concern is if the Peach Basket Classic is moved to a different location there will be no shade for spectators or players. The boys need shade to cool down and also change is hard.

This is an event that is great for Walla Walla and out-of-town people.

We want what is best for our players, young and adult. They are our future generation.

From a group of senior citizens who love our town, Walla Walla, love our YMCA and love Peach Basket Classic, we like the decision to keep the tournament where it was. We don't want it changed.

Carol DeLaughter

Walla Walla

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