Letters to the Editor—April 22, 2010

Reader disagrees with Farmer’s Market dog decision

Dear Mr. Young,

I am writing this letter to express my strong disappointment in the City Council’s irresponsibility by deciding to allow dogs to be present at the weekly Farmer’s Market. In making their decision, City Council has potentially sacrificed the safety of many citizens, as well as their enjoyment and patronage of the market, for the short-term convenience of others.

I admire Mayor Rogers for stating, “I wouldn’t want to take the chance of a child being bitten,” and supporting that with her vote. Council members who voted against a dog ban are clearly saying that they DON’T mind taking the chance because they surely CAN’T deny that the CHANCE of dog bites or other problems exists.

My reason for opposing the presence of dogs at the market is not because I oppose dog ownership. I think that anyone who owns and loves a dog has every right to enjoy their pet, but I do not believe that right extends to crowded areas such as the farm market where the potential for problems definitely exists.

I am also sensitive to the issue because I have knee and back problems that sometimes make balance difficult. I have witnessed dogs at the market (on leashes) jump up at passersby, causing them to move out of the way quickly. Council seems to feel that those situations don’t matter because they weren’t reported as “incidents,” even though if that were to happen to me or anyone else who may be unable to react quickly enough, it could easily result in a fall and injury (possibly permanent).

I also take issue with the fact that City Council interpreted six responses by market vendors as sufficient reason to allow dogs. In fact, the three favorable responses reflect the views of ONLY 14 percent of the vendors. That is hardly a mandate that should cause a council member to disregard public safety.

Frankly, I am surprised that vendors didn’t speak out more strongly in favor of banning dogs. When we go to the market, it is in my car, which often has the trunk and back seat filled with produce and flats of vegetables when we leave. It makes no sense to risk having me, and others attending the market for the purpose of making purchases, stop doing so (which I will do this year if a ban on dogs is not imposed) in favor of attendance by people for whom the market is simply incidental to their main purpose of walking their dog along the White Pine Trail.

To dog owners who oppose my position, I say: Love your dog. Enjoy your dog. But do it at a time and place that would be more appropriate. If you lose an hour at the market with your dog, you have 167 other hours every week to share with your pet, and if the Farmer’s Market is important to you, please come back after the dog has been walked to enjoy it with the rest of us.

To City of Rockford I say: Please reconsider on this matter. You have not acted in the community’s overall best interest. When an unfortunate incident of some kind takes place some day, as it almost surely will, we will rightfully expect you to accept responsibility for it because of your irresponsibility for it because of your irresponsibility it failing to excercise your power and obligation to try to prevent it.

Al Pratt
Rockford resident

Rockford offers many programs for the young

Dear Editor,

The purpose of my letter is to inform Rockford residents that April has been proclaimed the Month of the Young Child (children ages birth to eight) by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. We all know how important our young children are to the future success of our society. Therefore, we must take our young children and nurture them to be strong, independent, self-confident adults.

The goal of this month is to raise awareness of the needs of young children at every socioeconomic level, the needs of parents of young children and to thank those caring adults who feel a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing they are helping to grow brains and character.

We all know what a caring, generous area Rockford is. So it is not surprising that our community has many outstanding preschools, childcare centers, licensed childcare homes, library branches, mom’s groups, and play groups who all understand the importance of early childhood education. Our community also hosts activities for young children at our many community celebrations, including Young Fun. Young Fun is a Saturday morning event for preschool children on the third weekend of Harvest Fest. During April many of the preschools and childcares will be hosting their own celebrations. In downtown Rockford on storefront windows you will notice artwork done by local children. Krause Memorial Library is hosting parent and caregiver education nights in April and May.

As an early childhood educator and advocate, I want to take this opportunity to thank and commend each group and caring adult who works with young children in the Rockford area. You go about each day making the needs of young children a top priority and end your day knowing you have touched the life of a young child. I encourage more people to consider early childhood education as a career. And if your child attends one of Rockford’s many quality early childhood programs, thank them for all they do.

Mary Blakeslee
Rockford resident

P.S. A suggestion to all parents of young children. If you are thinking about a preschool for your child in fall of 2010, now is the time to get your child enrolled. Most preschools are currently registering new students for fall 2010.

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