The State Journal encourages readers to submit letters to the editor for publication by noon Wednesday for the following Sunday’s paper. All letters must contain the writer’s full name, mailing address and telephone number for purposes of verification. The State Journal will not withhold the name of a writer. Any letter received without a mailing address and phone number will not be published. The State Journal will not publish thank-you letters, obvious form letters or letters addressed to third parties or to the public at large. Any letter may be rejected at editors’ discretion. All letters submitted for publication are subject to editing for length, form and content. Letters may be no more than 500 words long. Letters may be mailed to Letters to the Editor, The State Journal, 1216 Wilkinson Blvd., Frankfort, KY 40601; or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give new band
chief a chance
To the Editor:
I am responding to this newspaper’s coverage of the termination of Dave Shelton as band director at Franklin County High School. I know both Dave and his replacement, Josh Toppass. Dave Shelton has played in groups with my husband on many occasions, and we know Dave to be an excellent musician. Josh is our son-in-law who has taken all the appropriate steps to prepare himself for the position of high school band director. He has gained valuable experience and been successful as a middle school band director in three different counties in Kentucky, has completed his master’s degree and all the requirements necessary for national teacher certification. Being the band director at Franklin County High School has been his dream, and, yes, the family was thrilled when he received the position at the high school where he was once a band member himself. He deserves now to be able to embrace that position without having people, including this newspaper, question his hiring.
As a retired middle school teacher myself, I know that there is more to being a teacher than teaching students a subject’s content. A teacher must be able to cooperate with the administration and parents of students. There are professional development requirements to be fulfilled each year, grades to maintain, paperwork to be submitted in a timely fashion, and on and on. A teacher, also, needs to be a positive role model both in and out of school. I know that Josh Toppass has always received high praise from both administrators and parents. As a family member, I know Josh’s character. He will be an extremely positive role model for his students. Franklin County High School is lucky to have him as a faculty member.
I have no idea why Dave Shelton was terminated as band director. That is privileged personnel information. My family does wish him well. What I do know is that Josh Toppass will be an excellent addition to the faculty of Franklin County High School. Give the new band director some time and watch the band grow both in numbers and in spirit!
to FCHS band
To the editor:
You may have previously read a letter titled “Band director ouster smells.” But today, I am here to defend against it. Last Sunday the news was let out that former band director Dave Shelton was left in the dust by Franklin County High School. As treacherous as this seems to the students who had him for a few years, I’m sure they will be most appreciative with the brand new face coming soon.
For many years Mr. Josh Toppass has done an excellent job of teaching sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students in a wide range. Bondurant Middle School has been glad to have him there. However, since he recently discovered the job was open at FCHS, why not take it?
As a student at Bondurant, I can assure you that Mr. Toppass is well experienced. A representative to the school is not only thought carefully about, but greatly useful. However, if Toppass is not fit for the job as mentioned in another article, then why accept him?
FCHS knows very well what they are doing, and they made the best choice. Students at Bondurant Middle will miss their loved band director dearly, but continue. He has taught countless students and they do care for and respect him. His ways are very organized and much better than I could explain.
At the height of his career, it must have been best to move up a scale, and he fully deserves to be respected for it. What other band director is able to take a group of tweens and get them to make beautiful music on instruments they might have not ever seen before? I will tell anyone I can who denies this. We were extremely lucky to have him for all this time. He has left many heart-broken students, but new ones will love and appreciate him in the upcoming year. I will tell you now that Mr. Toppass may well be the greatest addition to any school he chooses.
Mindy Lin Hatchell
To the Editor:
I have just read the book, “Crawfish Bottom: Rediscovering a Lost Community,” by Douglas A. Boyd (The University Press of Kentucky, 2011) about the area now covered by the Capital Plaza in North Frankfort.
I am a white baby boomer who has hardly any memories of the area I knew of as Craw or the Bottom. Like Margaret Averill who was quoted in the book from her memoir, Craw, for me, was a place where you didn’t go. It was literally the other side of the tracks and a rough one at that.
I appreciated the book because it gave me a picture of an area I barely knew and has helped me to know, through its text and pictures, some of its inhabitants.
I am thankful for those who have revived the area’s memory – especially Ron Herron of this paper who published a more-favorable article of memories after a more-negative one, James E. (Jim) Wallace who researched and did interviews on the area for his master’s at UK, and, Douglas A. Boyd, the author of the book and director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at UK.
The book did bring back to me rather unpleasant memories of another time, another era. While growing up in Frankfort as a white middle-class girl, I was never comfortable with the racism (segregation) and classism that were prevalent.
I now have another view of what was called Urban Renewal, though, than the one I had at the time. The process, it seemed, wiped out a community, a neighborhood, a social network that was not all bad.
As one who works against war and empire, I see my country as doing a similar thing to others in the world. I note what we have done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, we may have done some good, but on whose terms and at what cost?
How would people in Two Creeks and members of the Frankfort Country Club feel if the powers that be decided it was time for them to go?
The irony of the Capital Plaza that was Crawfish Bottom is that it is crumbling and it may be going.
Anne G. Woodhead
To the Editor:
The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking at the Kentucky Retirement Systems audit that raised questions leading former State Auditor Crit Luallen to forward her report to the SEC.
Over 300,000 former and current government employees are represented by the KRS. For many government retirees it is their economic lifeline.
There have been no significant benefit adjustments over the years except for legislative and judicial.
The benefits need to be changed. Those changes should not affect employees who have worked for government one year.
If you know the right politician or were a contributor to the governor’s election, it is possible to draw your state retirement and go back to work for government. This adds to the amount of the employees retirement pay and increases financial demands of the KRS. One would suppose KRS would demand double-dipping stop. There are state regulations on retiring and returning to work. Those regulations seem not to matter.
Some retired employees qualify for a retirement that is more than state employees were making before they retired.
Many times additional employment depends on your political connections and family background in Frankfort.
The General Assembly failed to allocate money from the General Fund to the KRS for 10 years. The most exasperating part of the structure is there are only two retirement funds fully funded: legislative and judicial.
The KRS employee retirement funds are somewhere between 30 and 50 percent funded.
Our General Assembly’s priorities are obvious. Elected officials take care of their own retirement and leave the rest of us with a questionable economic future. That is wrong! They know it but …
The General Assembly must reasonably and fairly repair the broken parts of the state retirement system. The system has been a great reward for career employees; however, the lack of funding and the amount of retired benefits have given the system a dim future. Revision will not be popular, however; any changes would apply to future employees. Change always hurts but it must be done.
Why should elected officials be able to fund and revise their retirement? The legislature has changed the benefit rules for the Senate and House, feathering their own nest.
The board has made some questionable investments. That change in financial structure did not work out and the KRS has lost millions of dollars of our investment money.
A change in the leadership and investment thinking is needed at the Kentucky Retirement Systems.
The governor’s office will say, “The KRS system has made some significant changes in the way they operate.”
“Oh yeah!” that is encouraging! What about our money?
It is troubling no one has replied to any news or letters about our retirement system.
Jim Anderson Stivers
To the Editor:
Layoffs of University of Kentucky employees should not have been a big surprise. How long has it been since hard-working regular employees got raises?
How long since most state workers in Frankfort received an increase in salary? Or state government released the truth about the state employees retirement fund? This subject is like a lot of questions we taxpayers have requested answers to without getting answers. If they know, they should answer with an update every quarter. It is the workers’ money for retirement.
At UK, there’s an old statement that athletic money is for athletics only. I guess it would be a complete outrage if the employees of the athletic departments, mainly basketball and football, didn’t get a few million dollars increase for a year or two. They can spend any amount every year, like the $158,000 for graphics in the Nutter sports facility. How many millions are spent every year for basketball? There should be an annual limit on spending. As one writer asked, what kind of university are we?
I can tell you, it’s not equal opportunity for all workers and students, no equal money for equal duties and output. Students do not get tutors all year or T-shirts, caps, shoes, etc., all season.
For two years, I’ve been trying to get information on how many vehicles the state of Kentucky owns. I’ve called about six people in the last three months asking about the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance and use of those vehicles. A state car has been parked in front of a house a.m. and p.m. the last four months. The lady I asked didn’t even know if the car was on the list of 4,500 cars she controls. The last time I called she sent me to someone else, who also didn’t know. Two men I called also knew nothing.
I guess the millions we spend on vehicles is not very important. It sure was a big problem with Richie Farmer. He had 12 vehicles, but he did know where they were.
It’s a real problem, that no one in Frankfort can give you a correct answer about millions of dollars.
To the Editor:
As members of the Unitarian Universalist Community of Frankfort, we wish to express our support of the national Unitarian Universalist Association in its call for the closing of the notorious “Tent City” operated by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix, Ariz.
We join UUA members attending the denomination’s General Assembly in Phoenix in calling on President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder to close this camp where illegal immigrants detained by Arpaio are being held and to end the human rights abuses being committed by Arpaio and his staff.
In fellowship with the thousands of Unitarian Universalists who took part in a peaceful candlelight vigil outside Tent City Saturday night, and in keeping with the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign, we urge that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) close Tent City and cut off all ICE enforcement powers from Maricopa County.
Sue Carter, President
Unitarian Universalist Community of Frankfort
To the Editor:
I love Gov. Steve Beshear and all our police officers. Yes, there are a few bad apples but Arizona is the only state in America that has a governor and police with guts to eradicate the illegal immigrants who only benefit themselves and not Arizona or America or even Kentucky, by not paying taxes.
Obama claims Arizona’s law is not legal yet makes up one of his own that never went through Congress. What Obama said was, “All you young Mexicans that were brought here against your will and received a free ride on the stupid taxpayers’ dollars can continue that free ride as long as you live here just as your forefathers have done for the past 200 years and, yes, you can continue sending American dollars back to Mexico and making your families rich there, except you’ll be adding millions more. I love you illegals, vote for me.”
Also, “I, Barack Obama, promised Americans black/white that if I were elected president, I’d give them a $1,200 stimulus check. I lied. Not a month goes by since I was elected that I find myself using the words, ‘I promise.’”
The only hope for the great state of Kentucky would be for Gov. Beshear to tighten the reins on all the illegal immigrants and put a stop to all freebies, jobs (that Americans need) and driving without a license and selling cars to anyone who does not have a driver’s license. Man up, governor, and put our police to work. Only a narrow-minded simpleton would call this racial profiling.
are too long
To the Editor:
I am sure I am not the only reader who finds those long 1½ to 2 columns in letters absolutely boring. In fact, I never bother to read any of them anymore. If a writer cannot say what he/she needs to say with half to less than that amount of words, he or she deserves to not be read. Those who think they are so important to bore the rest of us are ridiculous. I wish you would put a more reasonable limit on the number of words for letters to the editor. I encourage others who agree to either write or telephone The State Journal editor or publisher.
Polly Jo Green
To the Editor:
Kay Harrod’s article of Monday, June 25, got me to thinking I missed a good one indeed. Downtown Frankfort Director Brittain Skinner is the best thing that’s happened to Frankfort in a long time. Well done, lady.