There’s always hope, despite events of year

Season’s Greetings! We hope this finds you and your family well and looking forward to the New Year. It’s hard to believe 2016 will soon be history, it sure was one for the books, huh? Here’s what it looked like for us.

We wish we could report that in 2016 we achieved many life goals and enjoyed much peace and happiness. But unfortunately, there was precious little of that for our family. The recent political upheaval has us sorely divided, resulting in much consternation and many hurt feelings. Some of us have stopped talking to the others, and a few are so upset we may never see them again. Perhaps time will heal the wounds.

Not sure what’s going to heal all the illnesses and injuries we’ve been dealing with though. Our health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are so high now that we’ve been choosing to tough it out and hope for the best instead of seeing a doctor. Which means we’ve missed a lot of work, and the income that goes with it. Times are tough.

But even a doctor is nearly helpless when it comes to heroin, and many of our younger ones are trapped in that addiction, and some have died. We are struggling to carry on and searching for a way to keep the others from succumbing to its deception.

We are also grieving the loss of many who were killed by some misguided brothers and sisters. These unfortunately became blinded by an ideology of hatred and conquest, and in seeking to be martyrs became murderers. It’s truly tragic not only because many have died but also because now we’re fearful, and that fear is hindering the unity our family so desperately needs.

Sadly, not only fear but anger, mistrust, and discontent threaten to destroy whatever harmony we have managed to maintain. We say we love and respect each other but the way we act when we disagree sure doesn't look like love.

Sorry this is such a bummer of a letter. There’s just not a lot of good news to tell. But it’s Christmastime so we’ve been thinking about those angels, and whether their “good news of great joy” is something we could get in on. They sang of a Savior, and God knows we need one. But we’re a stubborn, skeptical, self-sufficient lot and many of us are unwilling to even acknowledge the evidence for God’s existence, much less that he cares to get us out of the mess we’re in.

But could we have created the universe? Is there really no intelligence in intricacy? Can we objectively judge right from wrong without God? If this life is all there is, there is no hope for us. But if Jesus is truly Emmanuel - God with us - we have hope for this life and beyond.

So we’ve heard anyway. We think we’re ready to check it out for ourselves. What have we got to lose?

  Happy Holidays.   The Hu Man Family

Caroline Smith, South Russell

Poverty increasing across U.S.

The Department of Health and Human Services issues poverty guidelines each year. These guidelines cover the 48 contiguous states in the United States and the District of Columbia. Different guidelines cover Alaska and Hawaii. The federal government also uses these guidelines to identify low-income Americans.

Nearly 146.4 million Americans, or nearly half the population, are at or below low-income levels, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The census identified 97.3 million low-income Americans and 49.1 million Americans living at or below the poverty line. Of  low-income earners, about two-thirds earned just enough to put them above the poverty line.

Charles Penko, Munson

It’s time to rally for the Earth

After cleaning the blood, sweat and tears off my Indians jersey the morning after Game 7 of the World Series, I realized it was time to reflect upon the game in a different light. I remembered what a friend (whose husband was an old time sports announcer in Cleveland) told me after we lost Games 5 and 6 to put it all in perspective. She said her husband often reminded his listeners, not about the “what ifs”, the anguish, or the stress, but simply that “baseball is just a game”. It is a good game, a historic game and a game that fans of all ages can enjoy, but a game nonetheless. Can you imagine how much better our world could be if we worried about our planet the way we worried about a baseball game? If we rallied together, chanted “Go Earth!” and spent even a fraction of the money we spend on hot dogs, souvenirs and tickets, on combating air/water/soil pollution, and on conserving our natural resources and habitats, we would make great strides towards winning the biggest ”game” of all: our survival.

 The good news is that we don’t have to wait until spring training. We can enjoy our natural habitats and protect them, year round.

Some of the natural habitats are literally right in our backyards, like our 114 Acre Forest Ridge Preserve on Chagrin River Road. Spring, summer, winter and fall, you can experience over 3.5 miles of natural walking and hiking trails and join 150 species of plants and 68 species of birds that have been identified on the property. The property is also a habitat for six rare species of birds: dark-eyed junco, hermit thrush, sharp-shinned hawk, purple finch, black-throated blue warbler and brown creeper.

Also awaiting your attendance is the “Emerald Necklace”: 23,000 acres of Cleveland Metroparks, complete with 300 miles of trails, lakefront parks, fishing holes, nature centers, playgrounds, marinas, toboggan chutes, a world class zoo and more.

During the off season, why not visit some of the “away teams” at parks across Ohio.

Of course, the best way to ensure that we will be able to enjoy the many teams of flora and fauna in their natural “ballparks” for years to come is to step up to the plate and donate our time and/or financial resources.

Some of our country’s best conservation teams are also in our backyards. Western Reserve Land Conservancy(in Moreland Hills, for example is a nonprofit conservation organization that works with landowners, communities, government agencies, park systems and others to permanently protect natural areas and farmland. Their primary tool is the conservation easement, which allows property owners to permanently preserve their land without surrendering ownership.

A little further down the road in Willoughby is the Chagrin River Watershed Partners, a nonprofit organization serving municipalities and park systems impacted by the Chagrin River.

So, during the offseason try spending some quality time at a natural park. Rally together and help managers conserve their flora and fauna teams so we can enjoy them for years to come. Consider lending financial support so our team colors of blue and green remain vibrant forever. And, “Go Earth!”

Stephen D. Richman, Cleveland

Is this win really massive landslide?

Repeatedly the president elect and his staff have referred to the “massive landslide” he received.

Of course 2,800,000 more people voted for his major opponent.

In the Electoral College he got 54 more votes than the Democrat. Of the 29 presidential elections since 1900, that's the fifth smallest victory margin. Is this really a landslide?

In fact, in the seven presidential elections since 1992, the Democratic candidate got the majority of the popular votes in six of them.

Scott Baker, Bainbridge Township

Director ignores dark sky mission of park

When will this madness stop?After repeated reprehensible and legally questionable actions by Geauga Parks Director John Oros, he has now decided to close the trails to one of Geauga County’s most pristine parks to everyone from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 days a week, with the exception of snowmobile users.  That’s right, anyone wishing to obey the rules and regulations of the parks which strictly prohibit motorized vehicles will no longer be able to hike, snowshoe or cross-county ski when the snow falls in Observatory Park.

 His actions were taken without the knowledge or the vote of the Geauga  Park Commission.  He not only continues to ignore the mission statement and integrity of Geauga Parks but to actually ignore the wishes of Geauga county residents and is slowly but surely turning the Parks into his own private hunting, trapping and off road vehicle play area.  Observatory Park is one of the few dark sky designated parks in the country and it is an honor that many residents are very proud of.  The entire park has been built and maintained for celestial observation and passive use and was purchased via private donations and has been maintained by tax payer funds.  Now very few tax payers will be allowed to use the park in the winter months.  This attack on the preservation and conservation of our park system is an affront to all of the individuals, groups and environmentalist who donated money to purchase the park.   Mr. Oros continues to use public funds for his own personal gain and he must be stopped. 

Sharmyn Clark, Russell

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