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Regarding recent articles and an editorial about the expansion of James Madison Park and the fate of the two nearby "historic homes," they many have been architectural gems in their day, but in my opinion are no more.

Back in the 1950s the Anna and Cornelius Collins home at 646 E. Gorham St. was purchased and converted into four apartments. In the process, they sacrificed what must have been a grand staircase off the original entrance to build an outside stairway for tenants. And I don't believe their revised kitchen resembled the original.

The second floor apartments, probably using the space of two former bedrooms, consisted of a living room, bedroom, efficiency kitchen and a bath in the hallway connecting the two. Inasmuch as we occupied one of these for three years in the 1950s, I believe any resemblance to the original home was lost during conversion.

The Conner house at 640 E. Gorham St. is, in my opinion, an undistinguished brick home with little to recommend it architecturally. I don't believe it will be worth the astronomical cost of moving either of them.

Get on with the future and expand the park into what will become an extraordinary lakefront green space.

- Marilyn B. Hurst, Madison\

Lower lake level to save Cherokee Marsh District 18\Ald. Michael Schumacher is right to sponsor a request to review the lake level policy for the Yahara lakes.

This policy alone isn't a complete solution to the high water problem. But holding Lake Mendota at a lower level when possible will increase its capacity to hold rainfall and runoff and will reduce flooding and wetland destruction in Cherokee Marsh, Lake Mendota and downstream.

Dane County, the city of Madison and other government units have done much in recent years to address high water levels. Newly acquired and restored wetlands will help temper flood surges. Funds were allocated to repair the locks and dams and to improve computer modeling and monitoring. A variety of efforts are working to improve storm water management.

But Lake Mendota's maximum levels continue to rise as development results in increased runoff, and rainfall become more extreme. Shoreline wetlands in Cherokee Marsh continue to erode.

One of the objectives in Dane County's Flood Mitigation Plan of 2004 is to ensure that the Department of Natural Resources gives flood risk high priority in the lake level orders for the Yahara lakes. The city's request is only asking the county and DNR to follow through on this objective.

- Jan Axelson, Madison\

Defending obese health care workers\Regarding a Thursday letter on obesity, discrimination starts with "casual observation" and apparently ends with determining that certain groups categorized by profession, race or political view should be held to higher standards than other groups.

Health care workers are ordinary people who give many weekends, holidays, nights, evenings and double shifts to care for people who are ill. Having worked in health care for over 30 years, I can accurately report that the stress involved in caring for hospitalized patients has increased dramatically. Some people don't want to be counseled about obesity by someone who is considered "thin" because that person "doesn't understand the struggle."

I'm sure that no one wants to be obese, but since there are many factors that effect weight - genetics, medical conditions, economics, etc - people of all professions, races and political views become obese.

Did the letter writer receive substandard care from a heath care worker who was "obese?" How hard does he work to keep his weight under control?My employer offers incentives for healthy lifestyles and I appreciate that. And, by the way, I am not obese - as if that matters.

- Jane Jenson, RN, Oregon\

Child care quality rating scale needed\It is indeed a positive step to create the new Department of Children and Families. Wisconsin residents should also know how critical it is to encourage their representatives to vote for a state quality rating scale as well.

These scales, in effect in many states, rate the quality of all child care programs that receive state child care subsidy dollars - our tax dollars - for families in the W-2 program. They tie reimbursement levels to the quality rating.

Currently in Wisconsin, child care programs with high staff turnover that are terrible experiences for young children receive the save amount of subsidy per day as centers or homes with experienced staff who offer rich, wonderful experiences for children.

Our tax dollars pay the same amount for terrible care as for fantastic care. We need to tell our representatives that this is not acceptable. We should reward excellent early care and education programs with higher reimbursement rates and encourage low-quality centers to improve - or close.

- Joan Laurion, Madison\

Voter impersonator scenario unlikely\A June 30 letter supporting voter ID outlined a method of impersonating a voter who has moved, and voting in their name. The personal risks to an impersonator outweigh the rewards, making this scenario unlikely.

Potential impersonators have to know that a specific person has moved out of Wisconsin. If a voter moves within Wisconsin, the registration system automatically takes them off the rolls at their old location.

They have to know the person was registered for a specific polling place. They have to be sure that the poll workers, observers and other voters do not know them or the person they are attempting to impersonate.

They have to be sure that the person has moved without intent to return, and is not voting absentee. They have to know that the municipality has not purged the voter rolls. (Madison purged theirs recently.) It's not likely that someone would wait in line to commit a felony, with many witnesses present, when even a successful crime will result in no personal gain. Elections are not stolen by squeezing in one extra vote.

Let's look for ways to make voting more convenient, not more difficult. Maximizing participation will make our democracy stronger.

- Paul Malischke, Madison\

Bus wraps provide needed city income\I fail to understand the bus wrap issue. They are helping to bring in money for the city, so what's the big deal?

Some people have said that they can't see where they need to get off. All the Metro Transit buses that I have ever ridden make audible announcements before each stop. Even if the audio isn't working, there is a sign in the front of the bus that shows the name of the stop they are approaching, so what's the problem?

Some people complain about the beer wraps. When they can name a single instance where any of the wraps forced their children to start drinking beer, then they can complain. Alcohol education starts at home. If the parents don't care about the kids enough to educate then about the dangers of alcohol, how is it the fault of the bus wraps if they start drinking.

The wraps are doing nothing but bringing money into the city, and I see nothing wrong with that.

- Bill Otten, Madison\

Funds for everything but unwrapped buses\The City Council has determined that Madison is too impoverished to forgo the potential revenue from 20 fully wrapped buses.

This was decided despite strong opposition from bus riders and without mention of a large boost in transit aid working its way through Congress. It was done keeping in mind only Metro Transit's budget and excluding the rest of Madison's spending.

Bus wrap opponents should measure every new, expensive city project proposal against what it would take to remove full bus wraps. Elaborate fountains in Peace Park, a permanent building for a year-round Farmer's Market, the replacement of the Tenney Park shelter? Forget this stuff if you can't unwrap the buses.

- Chuck Litweiler, Madison\

'Collider' headline was over the top\The July 1 front-page headline "Will collider destroy Earth?" is a classic example of how the media like to keep readers alarmed and upset.

Does the State Journal have a science expert who evaluates stories like this for merit, or do you publish whatever the Associated Press offers when it appears provocative and sells papers? For those of us with sufficient science education, the article comes off as at least naive and perhaps ignorant.

All businesses are in business to make money. But along with that, in the media business, comes a social responsibility to convey at least a modicum of truth. In this area, you failed. What's next, an alien visit?

- Rich Roberts, Brooklyn\

In Epic vs. WMC, turnabout's fair play\Kudos to chief executive officer Judy Faulkner and her management team at Epic Systems Corporation for standing up to Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and their conservative agenda.

WMC seemed full of pride and superiority when they were throwing their economic weight around last year to get their "business friendly" candidate elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Now that the shoe is on the other foot and they are getting a taste of their own medicine, apparently it is hard to swallow.

For those who think that Epic's anti-WMC stance is somehow "unfair," here is what I was taught growing up: If you are in the game, then turnabout is fair play. Expect it. If you can't handle what the other team throws at you, then sit on the bench and stay out of the game.

- Joe Usher, Middleton