Save cannonballs

I read a Jan. 30 article in The Post and Courier about a 10-inch round cannonball found during the restoration of The Battery's seawall being saved from destruction.

This is a historical artifact that deserves to be preserved. Local government officials have always taken the position to have them destroyed due to the liability and possibility of them exploding. I understand their concern.

To my knowledge, no one has ever been killed or injured by transporting an original cannonball, although some have by trying to disarm them incorrectly. This should be done by a professional knowledgeable in the process of disarming antique ordnance.

We need to make a concerted effort to save all such artifacts. Cannons and cannonballs are important to our military history.

I believe they will find more projectiles while restoring the seawall, and some may be very rare, like a round from the 12.75-inch Blakely, a gun imported from England and positioned on the corner of East Battery and South Battery. There is not one round from that huge artillery piece in this city, and any artifact related to it needs to be saved.

And, by the way, that 10-inch shell that was recovered was not a Union cannonball but a Confederate shell left behind. The U.S. Army or Navy did not have a smoothbore cannon that could reach the city of Charleston from Morris Island or the blockade.

The federal forces did have rifled cannons that could shell the city and did for 586 days, the longest siege of the War Between the States. Remember, this was not a "civil war."

Keith A. Purdy


1st Regiment, South Carolina Artillery, Inc.

Provincial Circle

Mount Pleasant

Doctors needed

The Jan. 27 article titled "Where have all of the doctors gone?" by Liv Osby, lays out what most South Carolinians know - it's hard to find a doctor, or more importantly, a specialist, in more than half of the state.

The statistics are impressive, but Ms. Osby didn't address the real question, which is how we are going to provide adequate health care for all the people in our state.

Training more doctors may be part of the solution, but as the writer states, it takes at least seven years (and hundreds of thousands of dollars) to train a doctor. Just as importantly, there is no guarantee that they will take a position in an underserved area and stay there, considering the much more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.

I am especially concerned that the article didn't mention the practical alternatives to supplying more doctors - physician assistants, nurse practitioners and, yes, midwives can be trained much more rapidly.

Used effectively, PAs and NPs can dramatically reduce the demand on a physician's time, and if set up with a network of (remote) physician support, they can provide treatment for a majority of regular medical needs.

Trained midwives could eliminate many of the 35 (plus) mile drives to the nearest hospital, except when the expectant mother is experiencing complications.

Just as importantly, if these skilled people (or candidates) can be recruited from the areas needing increased service, there is a higher likelihood that they will stay in their community.

There is no reason that such a model couldn't be more widely used. With today's medical and communications technology, we don't need to have a physician look at every sore throat, bruise or even some broken bones; images, measurements, blood work, and other information can be forwarded to a remote physician along with treatment recommendations. The doctor can approve them or ask for further information and, when necessary, direct that the patient be moved to an urgent care facility or a hospital.

If we are going to make health care widely available at a reasonable cost, we must consider all possible methods of delivery.

Fritz Saenger

Cove Bay Lane

Mount Pleasant

Tree solutions

There appears to be a much simpler and less expensive method of helping the situation for I-26 from Summerville to I-95. It could be said that the underlying problem is simply poor visibility. This problem can be greatly reduced by the following fixes.

For daytime: Selectively extract those trees which obscure the most light from shining on the roadway from directly above the lanes.

For night time: Place small reflectors along the treeline of the offending areas. Attach reflectors of four or five inches in diameter to the top of tangible supports extending five to six feet high above the ground every 400 feet to 500 feet along both sides of each lane to delineate the edge of the tree lines.

Of course, high visibility highway painting, reflective median markers and rumble strips along the edges of each lane would all combine to make a safe drive also.

Henry B. Mizell, Jr.

France Avenue

North Charleston

Don't merge

The Post and Courier's Jan. 9 front-page story outlining the proposed merger of the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina is deeply disturbing. In fact, it's beyond disturbing.

The proposed merger is a highly questionable idea that would lead to the degradation of MUSC, an institution that is developing into one of the Southeast's, if not the country's, leading medical institutions.

First, according to The Post and Courier, "MUSC Board of Trustees Chairman Tom Stephenson said there is 'little or no synergy' between the institutions, and that the College of Charleston doesn't bring worthwhile assets to the table."

The College of Charleston has no recognizable medical or scientific expertise to contribute to "a Lowcountry research university." Faculties and academic programs are diverse to the point of incompatibility.

Moreover, a merger would almost certainly dampen MUSC's highly successful recruiting of top medical talent. Equally significantly, the merger could adversely impact the excellent quality of medical care that MUSC's patients receive.

The fact that the College of Charleston's outgoing president, George Benson, and several local legislators are pushing the merger idea is cause for even greater concern. Apparently, Mr. Benson sees the merger as his legacy, having failed to develop a strategic vision for the College and having failed to increase its staggeringly meager endowment of $61.1 million, one of the lowest in the country for comparable educational institutions.

It is inappropriate for Mr. Benson to play any continuing role in this discussion in light of his lame duck status.

State Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis seem to have equally questionable motives, the later having engineered the legislative appointment of his questionably qualified brother Michael to MUSC's board last year.

Moreover, Mr. Merrill's telling The Post and Courier that his planned legislation might "direct leaders from both schools to come up with a plan and merge within the next three years" reveals the political motives behind this initiative.

For those of us who are MUSC patients, it may well end up being a call to arms.

C. Stephen Heard Jr.

Seabrook Island Road

Johns Island

Sanford responds

If a friend invites you to a Super Bowl party and you can't go, it means you hate him, right? Most people I know would say, heck no, don't read into it, it just means you couldn't make that party on that day.

In the same vein if you vote against a bill with 500 parts, then you must be against all 500 parts, right? Again no, it just means you didn't like the whole of the bill.

But recently Bill Stern, the chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority, applied this convoluted logic in condemning the votes Sen. Tim Scott, Rep. Jeff Duncan and I cast against the $1.012 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Since it had some money in it for the port, his point was that our votes were against the port. Never mind the fact that Sen. Scott and I had worked for harbor deepening money and other aid to the port this year. Let's look at how much money was in this bill for the port - $16 million.

Out of a $1.012 trillion bill, that represents one thousandth of one percent of the total spending in the bill! So if I vote against a bill that has in it one thousandth of one percent for "you," it's crazy to then think that says I am against "you."

In my mind it's that I didn't think the other 99 percent fit with what taxpayers were looking for.

More significantly, a bill like this represents a way of doing business that is bankrupting our country. We are given a massive 1,582-page bill and then asked to vote on it in less than 48 hours.

We are essentially asked to take on the approach Nancy Pelosi had suggested at the time of the Affordable Care Act, and vote on it and then find out what's in it - because there is no way one can fully research a 1,582-page bill in two days.

Yet, according to Mr. Stern's reasoning, we are to vote for it regardless, just because there is a sliver of money for the port, never mind what else might be in it.

There is something in bills like these for everyone, and it is for that reason I think we should be all the more circumspect about looking at a bill like this if we are going to watch out for the taxpayer.

REP. Mark Sanford

Cannon House Office Building

Washington, D.C.

No-win situation

I do not condone for one moment driving under the influence. I have no firsthand knowledge of what S.C. Department of Transportation Director Robert St. Onge was facing, but if I had to deal with the situation at the SCDOT I would be drinking too.

When Gen. St. Onge took the director's position he knew he was in a no-win situation and that he was managing the decline of the S.C. highway system.

South Carolina spends just under a billion dollars of federal and state money on road maintenance and infrastructure each year but needs an additional $30 billion over the next 20 years to properly maintain our roads.

As the economy gets better, South Carolina's population increases, and more drivers come of age, more drivers and trucks will be using our roads.

My mentors taught me, "Don't bring me problems. Bring me solutions." Here are mine:

1) The director of the SCDOT needs one boss, not the governor and a committee.

2) We must have more effective and usable mass transit funded by federal and state dollars. A light rail system is necessary.

3) The gas tax needs to be increased to fund necessary road repairs. Businesses that buy a lot of fuel will pay more, but we will have safer roads.

We have some of the worst roads in the United States. Previous advertising tag lines refering to DUIs regarding South Carolina's "Highways or Die Ways" (taken out of context) are too true. Our roads are in terrible condition.

South Carolina has made major strides, but more work must be done.

Our leaders have their heads in the sand.

B.F. Attaway Jr.

Hidden Lakes Drive

Mount Pleasant

A great country

Sometimes I wonder if I'd be better off being one of the "useful idiots" in this country rather than one who sees clearly the major historical con job being perpetrated on its citizens.

Those who benefit handsomely from our present government policies aren't idiots. They believe "I got mine, I'm good" and continue to support the rot-out of this country.

A prime example: politicians who aspire to be only who they are so they can grab the jewels, fly above the rest of us and make sure their families and close buds fly with them.

They will do or say anything to keep the ride going.

No, I'll continue to hang with people who believe as I do - who know what made this country great and know not to change a winning formula.

Just ask Coca-Cola what happens when you fool with a proven winner.

Greg Firpo

New Castle Loop

Goose Creek