Week of January 31, 2001

The American Bottom Conservancy appreciates your investigative coverage on issues that affect people on both sides of the river. Otherwise, the public would have to rely on press releases from the very industries that stand to profit from the destruction of our environment.
Kathleen O'Keefe
Board member, American Bottom Conservancy
East St. Louis, Ill.

The same scenario applies here in New York: I read "Cementing a Deal" by C.D. Stelzer with great interest and a feeling of déjà vu. It could have been written about the area where I live, Hudson, N.Y., a wonderful historic Hudson River city. Hudson is experiencing a revival -- recovery from depression brought on by the exit of cement and other industry in the last 30 years. In the past 10 years, it has become the antique mecca of New York State, with over 60 antique shops, new restaurants, gift shops, a restored hotel, etc.

That revival is threatened by St. Lawrence Cement, one of the Holnam companies, which is trying to build a gigantic cement plant here -- about a half-mile from Hudson.

The same scenario applies here as I read about in the article: They came in and bought a lot of land up before announcing (they first bought a closed cement plant and quarry and then a lot more land); they have the politicians on their side -- and, here, the established business leaders as well; they are leading a relentless advertising campaign of half-truths and hollow promises; "their people" are calling all the opponents "outsiders," as I just read in one of your letters.

We will get no new jobs, because they are closing a plant six miles away on the other side of the river. They're misrepresenting how much tax revenue the plant will generate. They are saying our air will be cleaner, when the numbers we've seen say it won't be.

These gigantic plants will do little or no good for the local area in which they are placed -- nothing that can possibly outweigh the damage to the land, the environment, the health of the local residents or the damage to their own investments and way of life. I hope that somehow reason can prevail and both of these monstrous plants can be defeated.
Elizabeth Nyland
Claverack, N.Y.

A real investigative reporter: As someone who is worried about our environment, I want to commend your article "Cementing a Deal." Not only did it bring us important news on a potential environmental disaster in Missouri, it listed all the important people who we can contact and let our protests be known. C.D. Stelzer did a great job, is to the point and writes very well.

I've read some his stuff before in the Riverfront Times, and he always seems to take on the toughest assignments. He's a real investigative reporter. You need a couple more like him. You must give him the meaty topics. Keep up the good work, and I'll keep looking for more like this.
David E. Cassens
Edwardsville, Ill.

Teaching Teachers
We offer resources to train teachers: Mr. Ahmed's article on Brother Mac [Safir Ahmed, "Off Beat," RFT, Jan. 17] affirms reasons why the St. Louis Regional Partnership for Excellence in Urban Teacher Preparation is needed and supported by the St. Louis Public Schools.

The Partnership, which was launched in January 2000, includes nine area colleges and universities with teacher-preparation programs, working in partnership with St. Louis Public Schools and East St. Louis District 189, as well as state education agencies and local organizations. The partnership is able to assist individuals who wish to obtain teacher certification in fields where certified teachers are in greatest need in high-need schools. This is possible through a limited pool of scholarship funds from the Title II Teacher Quality Enhancement program of the federal Higher Education Act. In addition to the Title II program, the Partnership welcomes additional scholarship donations from the community so that we can better help those who have the desire and capabilities to teach but who have not yet completed the training that leads to teacher certification.

Although an effort was made to get information to all St. Louis and East St. Louis school personnel about the scholarship program this fall, not all who could use our services have heard about this opportunity. The Partnership is working with the districts to drive a more concentrated effort to get information about the scholarships to substitute teachers. The scholarships are not limited to persons in the employ of these two districts.

The Partnership also strives to build better urban-teacher-preparation programs at institutions of higher education and more effective means of induction and support for new teachers so that skilled teachers can be retained.

Persons wishing to know more may call 314-345-2384 or check out the Web site: www.teachnow.umsl.edu.
Ric A. Hovda
E. Desmond Lee Professor of Urban Education
UM-St. Louis, St. Louis Public Schools
Marsha Clark
Project Director
St. Louis Regional Partnership for Excellence in Urban Teacher Preparation

Solid Songcraft
The Ken Kase Group isn't as inoffensive as you think: I had to laugh at your review of the Ken Kase Group's new CD, Stereophonic Nervous Breakdown [Randall Roberts, "Radar Station," RFT, Jan. 24].

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