Dear Editor:

It’s truly reprehensible when circuses market insane elephants as “dancers.” Swaying obsessively is a sign of mental illness in captive elephants.

Elephants are kept chained when they aren’t performing and live in fear of being whacked with bullhooks—heavy batons with a sharp steel hook on the end. When elephants are denied everything that gives their lives meaning, including the fundamental need to be in the company of other elephants, most develop neurotic behavior. Experts note that this repetitive, obsessive behavior is not seen in wild elephants.

Elephants are highly intelligent and social animals who thrive in the company of their extended families. Births are joyous celebrations; deaths of loved ones are mourned. Youngsters are nurtured in close-knit family units in which aunts babysit and grandmothers teach youngsters life skills such as how to use leaves and mud to ward off sunburn and sticks as flyswatters.

Anyone who cares about elephants will never buy a ticket to a circus that turns them into crazed wind-up toys.

Jennifer O’Connor

Senior Writer

PETA Foundation

Jeopardizing authority

Dear Editor,

I continue to be amazed at the lengths the Texas Legislature is attempting to jeopardize the authority of local municipalities. Mike Norman, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, along with an editorial piece in the same newspaper, delineated those egregious attempts. House Bill 40 would not allow local governments to ban or limit an oil and gas operation and would require that any other regulation be limited to surface activity that is considered to be “commercially reasonable.” HB2855 could force a city, when it wants to adopt an ordinance on drilling, to go to the Texas Railroad Commission for review at which time the commission would decide whether the regulation goes too far, and its ruling could not be appealed.   

The Texas Municipal League’s executive director, Bennett Sandlin, reacted to the proposed legislation saving it would pre-empt most regulation of oil and gas operations by cities and all other political subdivisions. He asserts that the oil and gas industry has gotten greedy and sees an opportunity to pursue a scorched earth strategy to wipe out everything in its path. Mr. Sandlin states, “If this bill is passed, you could have a drilling rig operating right beside your back fence, your child’s day-care center, your church or a hospital with all of the around-the-clock noise, hazardous materials, emissions and truck traffic that accompany drilling activity.” Legislators in favor of the two bills maintain that the bills are not meant to strike down any existing regulation, but the municipal league and others contend they can be applied retroactively, undoing the Denton ban and possibly turning local land-use decisions over to the state.     

If this bothers you as much as it does me, contact your legislator(s) and let them know how you feel. Local government authority is necessary and important!

Judy Beeman

Weatherford

Vote YES

Dear Editor:

I have been part of the Weatherford community and the director of missions at Parker Baptist Association since 2006. I currently have two children at Wright Elementary and my daughter is a graduate of WHS. I joined others on the WISD Facility Advisory of Citizens, Teachers and Students (FACTS) Committee early this year to study the facility needs of the district. The eventual result of that study is the $74.9 million bond proposal called by the school board.

Proposition I includes some of the most needed repairs for our school buildings that will extend their useful life spans. Proposition III will add a layer of safety to our campuses by creating more secure entrances.

Proposition II is the largest of the three proposals, and I encourage voters to support building a new facility for Hall Middle School. A new school will have more than double the expected lifespan of renovating the old one with an increase of less than one-third of the cost. The current building needs extensive renovation and failure to take care of the problem now will only require us to find a more expensive solution in the future. This proposition also allows the district to align grades 6-8 in our middle schools and move all of our sixth grade students out of portable buildings.

Our committee discussed many needs facing the district and the entire process ultimately sifted all of those needs down to these three proposals. I believe that each one of them is important to the mission of WISD “to teach, challenge, and inspire each student in a safe, nurturing environment to succeed in the global community.” 

Please join me in voting “Yes” on May 9 to all three propositions and investing in a positive future for the WISD and our community.

John Thielepape

Weatherford

Larry Fowler HSUS award

Dear Editor:

I recently read that Sheriff Larry Fowler had accepted an award from the Humane Society of the United States.

Despite what their name implies, the HSUS does not operate a single animal shelter and their mission is to pass animal rights legislation not care for neglected or abused animals.

In 2013 the HSUS raised $170 million. Of that 50 percent went to overhead such as pensions, salaries and fundraising. David Martosko, Director of Research for the non-profit Center Consumer Freedom, states: “Homeless dogs and cats deserve better. Americans should support their local humane societies which are far more efficient with each precious dollar.”

In May 2014 the HSUS paid $15.75 million to the Barnum and Bailey Circus for making false accusations of animal cruelty regarding the use of elephants in their circus. It turned out that the HSUS had paid an ex-employee of the circus $190,000 to give false testimony.

I would hope that Mr. Fowler would be uncomfortable with the money that his association with the HSUS will raise going to pay off a lawsuit for false testimony.

By the way, Barnum and Bailey, despite winning the lawsuit regarding elephants in the circus, is throwing in the towel. The damage to their reputation by the false accusations is such that they have decided to no longer use elephants in their shows after 2018. 

When the day comes as it soon will, and I am sitting at the circus with my little granddaughter and she turns to me and asks, “ Grandpa, why doesn’t the circus have elephants anymore?” I hope the answer won’t be Larry Fowler.

Mr. Fowler, please say it isn’t so. Give the award back and tell the HSUS that Parker County isn’t animal rights territory.

Donnie Vanderford

Azle

Support for WISD bond

Dear Editor:

I am a father of two girls that are WISD students, my wife is a former WISD educator and I am a member of our community who believes in the needs for our school district. I had the privilege of serving on the district’s Facility Advisory of Citizens, Teachers and Staff (FACTS) Committee and whole-heartedly support the committee’s recommendation for the 2015 bond election. Facts and research tell us that we must address ALL these past due issues outlined in Propositions 1, 2 and 3. Now is the time to get it done. 

The research is conclusive: School facilities DO have a measurable impact on the achievement of our children. While factors such as teachers and parental involvement have an indisputable impact on student achievement, well-designed school facilities — the places where our children spend the majority of their waking hours — can significantly bolster whatever human input our students receive. On the other hand, “poorly designed or maintained buildings threaten to undermine every other effort we may put into our educational system” – a bold statement from experts across the nation. While I believe the district has been an excellent steward of taxpayer money, it is past time that we take necessary steps to give our district the funds they so desperately need. Funds to not only protect our current investments, but to also address other items outlined in Propositions 2 and 3, such as overcrowding, technology, developmentally appropriate learning environments and safety of our students and faculty.

The research on school building conditions and student outcomes finds a consistent relationship between poor facilities and poor performance. When school facilities are clean, in good repair, and designed to support high academic standards, there will be higher student achievement. This is our community and our children!

Trey Woodard

Weatherford

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