Open up the schoolhouse doors

I want to address this open letter to the members of the Lynchburg School Board.

I attended last Tuesday’s board meeting and listened closely to all that was said regarding whether or not to allow restored citizens to serve as volunteers in our schools. Apparently, this question has been under consideration for years now, and each time the question comes up, the board has decided to keep its current policy of not allowing restored citizens to volunteer. I wonder whether you have ever considered this from the standpoint of what, to me, is the main issue: to forgive or not to forgive?

I don’t know any of you personally, but since we live in the Bible Belt, my guess is that most of you are probably Christians. I’d like to remind you of the man who once asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his neighbor. He asked if seven times was enough. Jesus’ reply was “No, not seven, but 70 times seven.” It seems that you are not willing to forgive these restored citizens, who have already paid their debt to society for their wrongs, even once.

As Christians, I imagine that you say the Lord’s Prayer at least weekly. Let me ask you whether you really mean it when you ask God to forgive you your trespasses the same way you forgive those who have trespassed against you, for example, these restored citizens. Would it be OK with you if God showed you the same degree of mercy and forgiveness that you are showing them? More pointedly, Matthew 6:14-15 tells us that “if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.” John 20:23 says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Who among you is willing to be responsible for keeping anyone from knowing the marvelous forgiveness of God when they have already repented and are now changed into the kind of people who want to help our school children get all, and the best, that out education system has to offer them. More and varied volunteers means more educational opportunities.

My prayer is your committee will recommend allowing restored citizens to serve as volunteers, and that the full board will ratify that recommendation.



Cleaning up Virginia’s waters

Last week, Virginia released its final version of the Clean Water Blueprint, technically called the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan. Virginia’s plan is on track to achieve its 2025 goals, provided it accelerates efforts to reduce pollution from agricultural sources and growing urban and suburban areas, while continuing progress in the wastewater sector.

Clean water is a basic part of life. In addition to drinking water, I enjoy hiking along the Rockfish River; fishing, kayaking and swimming in Sherando Lake; and crewing a batteau on the James River.

The Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration just released the final version of its plan to clean up local waters and the Chesapeake Bay. I want to thank the governor and all who have worked on this critical project.

It calls on everyone to do his part to stop pollution from entering our waterways — from homeowners to farmers to cities to wastewater treatment plants. This strong but fair plan is just what I was hoping to see. But now comes the hard part — putting it into practice. Farmers and others are willing to do their part but there must be funding for any mandates.

That’s why Northam and our state legislators must support the funding and policies needed to make healthier waterways in Virginia a reality. Countless Virginians like me who depend on clean water will be grateful.



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