Letters to the Editor

The Garland children enjoy their very own Nyssa sylvatica.

The Garland children enjoy their very own Nyssa sylvatica.

The Swamp

To the Editor:

Deep in the mountain folds of Vernon, Vermont, there lies a mysterious and ancient looking place, wet and swampy, but glistening emerald green from end to end with sphagnum moss. Reaching it requires a bit of a hike up a ridge, and then, in an unexpected bowl of the geology, rain and snow melt collect and a swampy depression awaits. It is here that we encounter an unusual tree; if trees could be dinosaurs, this would be it. This is the stand of an ancient grove of black gum, trees that can live to be well over 500 years. The plate-like ridges of their bark protrude outwards bigger than my palm, reminding me of the protruding plates of the stegosaurus!

When I was last there, the sun was out, the wind was nil, and the temperature just right for messing about. It was kind of eerie; not many birds singing, for, you know, just around the corner lay a dinosaur!

My naturalist friend told me that the place had never been logged for the horses and cables of the day just weren’t up to the task of extracting gigantic logs from a swamp. So today, when you tiptoe into the Vernon Black Gum Swamp, you are tiptoeing back in time.

From Vernon, if you tiptoe south a few hundreds of miles, you may find yourself on the corner of Harvard and Cornell avenues in Swarthmore, Pa., where you can see your very own black gum tree of sizable proportion! Look for the large tree on the corner that has a brick and mortar magic hobbit door at its base and touch the rugged plates of this tree. Being a much younger specimen it probably won’t bring back calls from the Jurassic, but you might gain an appreciation for this unique species. The wood is tough; interlocking fibers make splitting difficult. Its habitats are often wet, but as you see, not always. Its fruits are small, sour, and blackish and are a great magnet for many types of fruit-eating birds. Bees love the flowers for honey production and obviously, it can attain an impressive size. The black tupelo, as it is also called, has a name apparently coined by Native Americans, something to do with swamp (not draining it, but celebrating it).

This year, the Swarthmore Tree Committee is awarding diplomas to two impressive black gum trees (and their respective owners). The Distinguished Trees of Swarthmore is a program that strives to acknowledge and map the impressive tree specimens in our town. The 2016 awards go to Nyssa sylvatica and their adopted children, Janna and Greg Garland of 511 Harvard Avenue, and Murray and Vera Wilson of 604 N. Chester Road.

Sincerely,

Elliot Burch
Swarthmore Tree Committee Swarthmore

Book It!… for next year!

To the Editor:

As the library directors of the Helen Kate Furness Free Library and the Swarthmore Public Library, we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who made the inaugural Book It! Furness and Swarthmore Libraries 5k Walk/Run on Saturday, April 1, such a tremendous success!

With more than 190 participants, 50 volunteers and close to 60 sponsors, the Book It! 5k raised more money than we had imagined — at least $6,000 for each library, and watching our communities come together was priceless.

Book It! could not have happened without the vision of Furness Library Board Member Liz Corson, the enthusiasm of Swarthmore Library Trustee Karen Robinson, the drive of Friends of Swarthmore Public Library President Carol Kennedy, and the cooperation of Nether Providence Township, Swarthmore Borough, and the Nether Providence and Swarthmore Police Departments. Thank you all so very much.

We could take up the rest of your paper by thanking all the other people who made the day possible, but instead we will say that it is a privilege to be a part of this dedicated library community. We look forward to 2018 and our second annual Book It!

See you at the library,

Amber Osborne, Director Swarthmore Public Library
Jennifer Stock, Director Helen Kate Furness Free Library

1000 Point Club members unite to show their support as Haven honors Rob Payne by hanging his jersey in the gymnasium.

1000 Point Club members unite to show their support as Haven honors Rob Payne by hanging his jersey in the gymnasium.

Thank you from ONE HAVEN

To the Editor:

ONE HAVEN would like to thank the members of our community that came out to the inaugural ONE HAVEN 3v3 Basketball tournament held on March 18, in memory of Rob Payne.

People of all ages and different walks of life came together on this special day, with roughly 300 people in attendance, from alumni members of the Strath Haven basketball 1000 Point Club, current middle school and high school students, to special guest speaker, Haven alum Steve Johnson Jr. (class of 2006).

Thanks to everyone’s efforts and participation, ONE HAVEN was able to raise $4,695 which will fund the ONE HAVEN Scholarship, to be annually awarded to a deserving Strath Haven senior.

ONE HAVEN would like to invite you to our next event in partnership with SoulCycle. We will have a charity spinning class at their Ardmore studio on May 7, at 2 p.m. Please visit our website for more information and to sign up www.onehavenunite.com.

Kind regards,

ONE HAVEN Board of Directors
Michi Ellers, Caitlyn Locke Jen Wenrich, Durell Moore

Concerns re liquor licenses

To the Editor:

I would like to expand some on David Bloom’s letter of March 3, which raised some concerns he had about turning Swarthmore into a “wet” town. To begin with, the borough has absolutely no control over the granting of the first two licenses, and each license would have the restriction ending sales and entertainment at 2 a.m. I feel quite sure that Borough Council would not have the authority to overrule state law and restrict the hours of operation any further.

As for the potential for new restaurants in town, I agree with David that there are many successful BYOBs in the area. In fact, an Internet search of nearby Lansdowne, which is a dry town, would appear to have at least two such restaurants currently in operation. I do not think that the lack of liquor license would stop the opening of new restaurants, if the owners felt there was demand for one in Swarthmore.

To me, the main argument in favor of approving the referendum is if it will help the Co-op. The Co-op is an essential part of our town center. While I may disagree with the board’s decision, I have great respect for them and I am sure they know far more about the store’s operation than I do. What concerns me is the Co-op’s need to raise the necessary capital to update the store’s facilities and to purchase a $200,000 liquor license. I would hope that the Board will review with the public their capital needs and plans on how the money is to be raised.

Bob Dawes, Sr.
(Please don’t blame my son for this letter)
Swarthmore

Gerrymandering – How elections are rigged

To the Editor:

Gerrymandering is often mentioned but not always well understood. It is a deliberate action taken in a number of states, including Pennsylvania, to draw voting districts to “guarantee” a seat for one party or the other. The politicians who vote for these gerrymandered districts are often quite open that it was a deliberate effort to lessen the impact of certain voters.

The 2020 census, which coincides with the next presidential race, will mandate the redistricting of all states based on the new census figures. It is important to pass laws that make gerrymandering illegal before the new lines are drawn.

The League of Women Voters is joining the ACLU and Common Cause in their efforts to take the redistricting in all states out of the hands of the politicians. This is a complicated issue and will take time, effort and money to accomplish. The time to start is now to apply the pressures necessary to make the changes needed before the census takes place. Your vote for a candidate who opposes gerrymandering is a step in the right direction to make the needed changes.

The gerrymandering, some of which has been overturned by the courts, has affected the outcomes of elections more surely than any meddling by outside players. As we seek to find ways to keep outside forces from playing a key role in our internal affairs, we must seek also to clean up our own act by passing suitable legislation to remove our gerrymandered districts.

If you have any doubts that Pennsylvania is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, just check the maps online which show the various districts all over the Internet. It is almost funny to see the ridiculous ways some ingenious politicians have redrawn districts in order to “save a seat.”

But that humor is lost when, even if every person in a district votes, well-done gerrymandering means there is little or no chance of a seat changing from Red to Blue or vice versa. Millions of dollars are spent on this tactic by those who would like to “have their politician” in a given office.

It is not fraud by the voting public that has, over the years, changed how our elections have been impacted, but the meddling with the census figures and the gerrymandering that has been fraudulent.

You can help remedy this travesty by getting involved with the League of Women Voters, Common Cause the ACLU, or Fair Districts PA, and supporting this much needed legislation.

Joanna Nealon, President
Central Delaware County League of Women Voters

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