Bad trees!

I was excited to read that the DOT wants to clear cut 30 miles of trees and other vegetation along I-26. I travel that particular section of road as many as four times per week and frequently become distracted or get very sleepy, and I know, as everyone else does, that it is the trees’ fault. Why are they there? Bad trees!

It certainly is not my fault for getting behind the wheel a little less alert than I should be. And it is not the speeder’s fault for going 80-plus mph.

And there is absolutely no reason to blame the Department of Public Safety for not patrolling for speeders, drunk drivers and the large pieces of debris that frequently fall from the tractor-trailer rigs hauling valuable goods to and from our state ports.

Putting more patrolmen on the road would be too expensive and might create more state jobs when we can just clear cut the pine trees and put up a wire rail for $5 million, which we will earn back when we sell the timber.

We will have, once again, “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Bye, bye, bird and wild animal habitats. Bye, bye, trees that produce oxygen to help us breathe. And kudos to the planners who came up with that great design.

Anne F. Jennings

Edenton Road

Mount Pleasant

Mega mill costs

The Feb. 16 column from John M. Burbage on the mega mill planned for Orangeburg points out South Carolina’s policy of jobs at any “secret” cost and, in this case, regardless of the consequences.

Maybe the state needs some adult supervision.

Terry Tsurutis

Burningtree Road

Charleston

Legal and illegal

The week of Feb. 11 was interesting for me. It started out with a visit to a physician who legally immigrated to the USA from Africa and has a successful medical practice.

Tuesday, for Chinese New Year, I was a guest of my friends the Nguyens at their restaurant. They were “boat people” who legally immigrated by way of Belgium. They worked hard, saved their money and just recently opened Phuong Vietnamese Restaurant in North Charleston.

Then there was President Obama’s State of the Union address during which he talked about immigration “reform.”

The bottom line, with our liberal establishment Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s concurrence, seems to be: If you managed to get across the border in violation of immigration laws, don’t worry. You will be allowed to stay after you pay a token fine and will be placed on the road to citizenship.

We have two groups of immigrants: the legal and illegal. The legal path can take many years. The illegal path can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.

Those people became criminals immediately upon crossing the border. By doing anything other than deporting illegals upon apprehension illustrates that our nation’s laws are selectively enforced. Such a nation cannot long endure.

Walter D. Carr

Ashley River Road

Charleston

Violence epidemic

The mass murder of innocent little children and their teachers is a reminder that the laws we have to control guns are ignored or are as full of holes as a colander.

It’s unthinkable that assault rifles can be purchased at all. The killer in Newtown, Conn., used his mother’s legally-owned guns to commit his crime. An assailant at Ashley Hall school obtained a gun using her mother’s checkbook. There was no background follow-up by the seller.

We also should be focused on controlling the equally deadly “weapons of mass instruction.” These are the virulent, violent, vicious Hollywood mega movies and television programs that promote killing and mayhem. These are also video games that mesmerize young minds and serve no purpose except as models for gang clashes, salacious behavior and, in some cases, perversion.

Many threads connect the people who have done irrational things to solve imagined or real problems. They have emotional or mental issues that people who know them best acknowledge.

It’s hugely important to address this problem in concert with gun laws and the entertainment industry. It isn’t just about guns. It’s a breakdown of all that America stands for, and it’s becoming epidemic.

Molly C. Gray

Fermata Place, S.W.

Aiken

Use state planes

Concerning the Feb. 13 article about Clemson and USC coaches using state planes, I must say that Rep. Jim Merrill’s proposal to ban such use is not well thought out. I say this not as an avid Clemson or USC football fan, but as a transplanted New Englander. An aircraft is an asset, and the only way to get a return on the investment for that asset is to use it.

Usually 75 percent to 80 percent of the cost of having an aircraft is fixed — depreciation, hangar space, insurance, salaries and benefits for flight crew and maintenance. The cost per flight hour is figured by fuel, landing fees and miscellaneous travel costs, plus a fair share of the fixed costs.

Thus, the state saves very little by parking the aircraft as the fixed costs, including salaries, must still be paid. But if the aircraft is chartered by one of the universities, the state budget benefits. Money generated by the universities’ football programs pay for a share of the fixed costs.

Perhaps, Rep. Merrill would achieve his desired goal by proposing the state sell the aircraft. Preferring to keep state planes parked in a hangar rather than being used by state agencies for state business is illogical and not cost- effective.

Most would agree that the success of Clemson and USC football is state business, and the Merrill proposal could result in the universities’ buying additional aircraft or using expensive charters, which would be airborne while state planes were parked. An accurate analysis would show that Merrill’s bill would end up costing taxpayers more, not less. But as often happens in government, the most cost-effective way of doing things is often avoided for a feel-good approach. Appearances must rule the day.

Jim Christian

Wallace Pate Drive

Georgetown

Feed the birds

With spring on the way and unseasonably warm temperatures, I’ve seen many Lowcountry plants with buds, even a few azaleas on display. Beautiful. Now if only the frost stays away.

All this tells my wife and me to expect the return of small birds to the area. Passionate about her yard and the creatures that inhabit it, she has about a dozen bird feeders, which these little winged creatures have come to depend on.

Her routine includes filling the feeders twice a week. The hummingbird feeders get particular attention. In exchange for taking care of them, these little birds eat all our bugs. Nature in perfect harmony.

They eat most of the mosquitos, gnats and other flying insects in and around the yard. Believe it or not, we live on a creek with a large marsh bed lining the property and with pluff mud, reeds, oysters, all perfect habitat for mosquitoes and the like. But we hardly have any bugs.

“Impossible!” friends and neighbors say. To prove it, we don’t even have a screened-in porch. Open decking around the house and around the gazebo.

Do yourselves and your guests a favor, and place some bird feeders around the yard. You’ll be amazed at the beauty you will see and very pleased with far fewer bugs out in the yard. Happy birding everyone. Roll on, spring.

Gordon King

Bohicket Road

Johns Island

Sanford’s failure

Mark Sanford’s asinine comments Feb. 19 on NBC’s “Today” show, stating that he “never failed S.C. taxpayers,” allow voters to see the narcissism that permeates the former governor.

If using South Carolinians’ hard-earned tax dollars to help pay for jaunts to Argentina and receiving the highest ever ethics fine in S.C. history don’t constitute a failure at the expense of the taxpayer, I’m not sure what does.

Monica Allen

Rose Lane

Mount Pleasant