As a lifelong resident of Kingston, I feel it is my responsibility to voice my support for the removal of the rail ties and creation of the interconnected system of rail trails also known as the Kingston Greenline. This is my community and that is why I will not stand by and let us pass up a great opportunity to help make an active change for the future that will encourage physical activity and exercise in order to combat the ever-growing national and regional issue of obesity and the negative health and economic impacts it will have on our community.
According to the 2014 Ulster County Department of Health and Mental Health’s Community Health Assessment, published in 2014, “In Ulster County, the obesity rate among children in 2009 was 18.8 percent.” And the rate of adult obesity is almost 25 percent. For critics who say this number is not big enough to matter, we must look at what effects obesity can have on our children and our economy.
According to Healthy People 2020, obesity and being overweight are the second leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Decades from now it is predicted that obesity will shorten life expectancy in the U.S. by two to five years. This will be the first generation of children that will not live as long as their parents did. Obesity leads to many preventable diseases including Type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “researchers have estimated that by 2030, if obesity trends continue unchecked, obesity-related medical costs alone could rise by $48 to $66 billion a year in the U.S.” The consequences of obesity-related illness are something we can’t ignore.
Physical activity is such a major tool for us to use in order to combat this epidemic. The rail trail connections that the Kingston Greenline would create would give free access to physical activity to all residents of Kingston, taking away financial barriers that may exclude some from membership to gyms or sports clubs. Even small increases in exercise can bring measurable health benefits by curbing the rates of preventable illness and improving overall quality of life. By connecting Kingston through these series of rail trails, we will be giving the gift of a readily available, easily accessible way for residents of our community and generations to come to take a stand against obesity.
Amanda Ruschak, Ulster Park
VanBlarcum is right
While I understand the concerns of Legislator Bartels and others regarding security checks at social services, I contend that the practice is legal and necessary. The sheriff has a duty to protect the good men and women who were once subjected to assaults and dangerous working conditions. What Sheriff VanBlarcum did was add another level of security in his quest to keep the peace. By Bartels’ actions and veiled threats she had managed to coerce the good intentions of the sheriff into discontinuing the practice.
What legislators should be doing is support the sheriff, but they didn’t. Which places a level of danger to the workplace and if a social services examiner is injured as a result, I would guess that he or she would have a costly civil suit against those who created this reversal. Further, this procedure in no way is an affront to the needy, and I would guess that they too would want to insure that the sheriff keep a tranquil atmosphere at that location.
Michael LaPaglia, Greenville
Editor’s note: The writer is a former Ulster County sheriff.
A solution to the Ferguson crisis
As predicted, the Ferguson, Mo. grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. And as expected, chaos erupted and violence swept through the streets. The nation is watching fearfully, wondering how this will unfold. Michael Brown’s family is devastated and wants Wilson to be held accountable.
While all of this is understandable, this moment offers an opportunity to find a better way, one that will honor the memory of Michael Brown and bring peace to Ferguson.
South African novelist Alan Paton writes that if a crime has been done to you, there is only one way to recover, and that is to forgive. It is my experience working in public schools that forgiveness is the only thing that can break the cycle of violence. If this is true between children, how much more applicable is it for adults?
Darren Wilson should reach out to the family of Michael Brown and ask for forgiveness. The same needs to happen between the police department and the black community, to start rebuilding the trust that has been broken. Imagine if Officer Wilson would reach out, and the family would accept his expression of remorse. Such an encounter would become a model for the entire world, wherever there are racial and ethnic tensions. It would show that violence need not always be countered with violence, but can be overcome with love, compassion and forgiveness.
Johann Christoph Arnold, senior pastor, The Bruderhof, Rifton