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Letters to the editor for Jan. 12

Look out for mailbox thefts

To the editor,

After 30 years of delivering mail in this town and doing my best to keep it safe and secured, I had mail stolen from my curbside mailbox last week. We were lucky; someone out for a walk found our torn up letters with the contents missing in the street three blocks away. They were kind enough to return what was found and we began the process to cancel all checks involved.

I know how fast mail can be removed from a mailbox from a passing vehicle because I did it during my postal career, and it's less than five seconds. It seems almost impossible to guard against a quick attack like this, but I'll offer a few suggestions. One thing never to do again is put your flag up showing you have outgoing mail ready for the taking. The thieves seem to be looking for this and are not randomly opening every box they come to. Another is to be watchful for possible theft taking place to you or your neighbor. A car slowing down next to a mailbox followed by a rapid drive off could be a theft. Also, a good neighborly act would be to return any remains of stolen mail that you might find to the victims so they can take measures to protect themselves. Driving down the street today (Jan. 6), I stopped the car and retrieved three pieces of mail that were open and discarded. I returned them to the sender on the next street over and informed him of the situation. It had been less than 15 minutes since he put it out for the mail pickup and it was taken.

Someone is trolling our streets during daylight hours and committing these crimes. Please take note of this and protect against these acts. I'd also like to see this paper interview the local postmaster and police department as to what measures need to be taken by them and the public.

Mark OBrien


Thanks for Project Share support

To the editor,

As I reflect on 2016, I know that we are grateful for so many things. Project Share, the holiday assistance program at Hastings Family Service (HFS), brings out the generosity of this community like no other time of year. It is that generosity that demonstrates "the culture of caring" that we witness at HFS. We are particularly thankful that this holiday generosity ultimately sustains us throughout the year.

I had the chance to visit with an elderly homeless man who came in during Project Share. This gentleman is currently living at a local shelter and he had just visited the North Pole, the gift room at HFS. When I asked him, "what did you get?" he didn't say anything, he just showed me his new Norelco Electric Razor. His big grin expressed what words could not. He continued to move towards the exit, his smile never fading, and I cautioned him to watch the stairs as he was still looking down at that razor in disbelief.

As we begin to plan for 2017, we are thankful for your generosity and support that will allow us to identify how does HFS help this gentleman? What will help look like when he moves into a place of his own or when he is hungry, when he needs a ride, or when he might need home delivered meals or new clothing? We are truly thankful for each and every one of you who stepped up during the holiday season and walked alongside HFS so we can walk alongside this gentleman and many others throughout the year.

On behalf of the 200 visitors of the North Pole and the 181 families who were adopted by generous community members during Project Share, Happy New Year's, Hastings!

Chris Koop, executive director

Hastings Family Service

Reader suggests gun law changes

As long as humans are humans there will always be crime in this world.

While admitting that some individuals who commit some of the crimes in our society are mentally ill, there are others who do not fall into that category. Many individuals who commit especially horrendous crimes (mass killings for example) truly lack any sense of self-esteem or personal worth and in their deluded thinking "want to make a name for themselves," mistakenly believing their actions will make such an impact on society that they will be long remembered!

There is a need for a new direction and thinking in this country, and it is NOT a need for more so-called "gun control" or "background checks." No background check will ever deter some mentally ill individual from committing some horrendous crime against humanity. There is simply no way to predict the future actions of a mentally ill person, and it's time for society (and our so-called legislators) to realize this.

I have some suggestions for how to combat the gun-related crimes in this country, and they're really quite simple. For starters, the media should make it a policy that when someone commits some horrendous, sickening crime against society, no mention of that person's name (or family name) should be included in the news reports. The news media should only report that "some mentally deluded individual" committed the particular crime.

On gun control, my suggestions are:

1. For a first offense, anyone committing a crime (burglary, damage to property, vehicle theft, fleeing law enforcement, assault, shoplifting, breaking and entering, home invasion or other such crime) while in possession of a firearm (or replica of a firearm) would automatically incur a sentence of incarceration for a period of one year. Any such offense would constitute a felony and could not be plea bargained down to a lower offense, which often results in nothing more than a mere slap on the wrist.

2. For a conviction of any type of crime "against another person or persons" while in possession of a firearm (or replica), all privileges of living freely in a civilized society would automatically be forfeited and result in a minimum sentence of five years in prison without the possibility of parole.

Enacting these laws would eliminate the high costs of public defense attorneys who make every effort to prolong legal proceedings as long as possible, at great expense to taxpayers and clients. The costs of impaneling juries would thus be reduced as well, by the certain decrease of gun-related crimes. The net result of enacting such legislation would immediately reduce the costs of incarceration also, because most criminals would be far less likely to commit any crime while in possession of a firearm if such a law were in place!

The frequent drive-by shootings, gang shootings, road-rage shootings, drug-related shootings and other gun-related crimes across this nation must be addressed. It's time for civilized society to wake up to reality and finally take steps to confront this issue in a serious manner.

Suggesting more gun control legislation by taking guns away from law abiding citizens is the true height of stupidity, but it appears that many of today's legislators have apparently risen to this level. In the past, my suggestions to legislators have fallen upon deaf ears. Anyone with an ounce of brains in their head knows full well that criminals will always be able to get their hands on a firearm of some sort, and it's time for civilized society to wake up to this fact. Where are the heads of our legislators and politicians in this regard?

James Kuebelbeck

St. Joseph