Last updated: February 19. 2013 8:36PM - 483 Views

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Newspaper is thanked for backing essay contest

On behalf of the Essay Committee, a joint initiative of Family Service Association, Generation 2 Generation, and the Tri-Vets Community Action Team, I thank The Times Leader for its commitment to our project and the invaluable assistance in marketing it to the community.

This year's theme was Honor & Respect: What I Most Learned from My Family Member Who Served in the Military. The contest was promoted throughout Luzerne, Wyoming, and Lackawanna csounties. Prizes were awarded in five categories: Elementary, Middle, and High School, as well as College and Adult. The goals were to recognize and honor the valuable lessons learned from military service and the positive impact of family relationships.

The event was highly successful because of the commitment of The Times Leader and its staff, including Joe Butkiewicz, Bill O'Boyle, Mary Therese Biebel and Cathy Kmiec. The Times Leader was a true partner throughout the event, showing dedication to veterans, military families and families.

Cuts in state funding harm at-risk kids further

I am writing in response to your article More area kids live in poverty.

The article's last sentence hit the nail on the head. The report puts blame on a decline in state funding for early childhood education and health care. That is exactly what is happening in the field of early childhood education.

Our state has a quality rating system called the Keystone Stars and we are the leader in this area for our country. Quality early learning programs, such as Keystone STARS and PA Pre-K Counts, can reduce special education placements by nearly 50% through second grade, saving $67,500 per child. But yet Gov. Tom Corbett cut more money from this system this year. He took away our LEARN teams funding which was the driving force for reaching at-risk families.

The LEARN team was able to make the transition from the early education setting to the school settings easier for children as well as parents.

Two years ago, cuts to the early childhood education field forced the loss of a very valuable resource for our Early Childhood Education -- it was our TEACH program. TEACH was a grant for which early childhood educators could apply and get help with continuing our education. The grants would help pay for tuition, books, travel expenses, study time, etc. We want our children to learn when they are in the early childhood education setting, but how can we do that with teachers who do not have an education in the field?

In order to move up in the STARS programs centers are required to have a certain percentage of their staffs have a certificate called a CDA or a degree with at least 30 credit hours in early childhood education. How are these people supposed to do this when they only make $7.25-$10/hour?

For every $1 Pennsylvania invests in early childhood programs, more than $2 is circulated throughout our local economy.

Families with access to quality early learning programs are 15% more likely to be employed and stay employed, gaining skills that can lead to a 30% earnings increase that supports local taxes and businesses.

Reader takes a stand for Plymouth councilman

The majority of the Plymouth Borough Council, allegedly convinced by John Mazur, took action to remove council member Bill Dixon. This action included contracting with an attorney to establish what was or is already a known fact: a convicted felon cannot hold public office. The council needed only to request a ruling from the Luzerne County District Attorney. No costly investigation was needed.

It is my belief that this council, and most notably John Mazur, will learn that it's best to let a sleeping dog lie. Being right comes with consequences. That is not intended as a threat, as the ground swell of support for the potential ousted council member is already substantial, which could impact the credibility of the council majority and Mazur. From the news reports, it may be that District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis is not mandated to oust the council member. The following is submitted to the district attorney in support of Dixon.

In my 30 years in K-12 education, I did meet a very few 7-year-old Bill Dixons. As was the case with Bill, these young people were thrust into a very sad situation from which they did not run. They were true heroes who faced a very disheartening childhood.

In my 75 years, I have had friends and family who returned from Vietnam. As an administrator at a community college I provided career training for returning veterans. The majority were dealing with some major problems not unexpected by teens thrust into a tragic situation. As a teen, Bill Dixon did not run from the situation, he became a decorated war hero. He returned home and like many veterans faced the challenge of adjustment to civilian life. He made bad choices and ended up incarcerated. My experience as a Department of Corrections Counselor at Camp Hill was that 98% claimed they were innocent; but Bill faced and admitted his crime, did the time and was released. His time served I can tell you was disheartening to say the least.

If ever there were a poster boy for rehabilitated by the correctional system it was Bill Dixon. He truly was corrected as he went on for 30 plus years to serve his community and youths. He excelled to the point that the governor of Pennsylvania gave him a pardon. He excelled to the point that UGI promoted him seven times.

We can only hope that the DA's decision reflects Dixon's accomplishments. We can only hope she will be allowed to do that.

Writer wants Medicare to cover dental issues

Nobody knows your body better than you. I wish they would have just listened to me in the beginning.

I'll fill you in. In July, I had a stent put in. A week later, the right side of my face was so swollen I had to be hospitalized. They thought it was an abscess in my mouth from my teeth. They put me on antibiotics and then I got an infection from them and now I am on the infectious disease hotlist. Every time I go in the hospital I have to have tests done to see if I have to go into isolation.

Well, I had the teeth pulled and guess what? No indication of an abscess. I also had to deal with side effects from a blood thinner I was put on.

Every day in life you learn lessons. Educate yourself on the side effects of your medication. If there is anything else I have learned it's that Medicare laws should be changed to include dental. That way a dentist would be on call at the hospital, to double check your X-rays and monitor side effects of your medications. People would save so much money because they would not have as many medical conditions that are caused by their teeth.

Michael Zimmerman Chief Executive Officer Family Service Association Bobbi-jo Lundy Muncy Richard A. Holodick Wilkes-Barre Roseanne Linko West Pittston

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