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letters to the editor
Cull the herd

For 20 years, I began my workday with an early morning drive through the deer herds of Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon.

I eventually hit one that turned back into my path as I stopped. That accident caused little damage to my car, and the deer limped away.

I also have several friends who have debilitating and permanent limitations, similar to multiple sclerosis symptoms, from Lyme disease. For these reasons, I have followed the culling debate in Mt. Lebanon with interest. At this point, debating suburban encroachment on deer environments seems silly in Mt. Lebanon, where much of the housing is over 40 years old. The problem is that suburban landscapes provide more food and shelter than many woodlots do. Contrary to what many people seem to believe, deer density is not higher in mature forests, but in transitional zones near clearings – like corn fields, orchards or suburban yards. That’s why capture and relocation will not work.

Areas with few deer now probably can’t support more. Automobiles and landscaping aside, if I were raising children in Mt. Lebanon, the threat of Lyme disease alone would make me a supporter of culling. Even the most observant parent cannot scan their children and pets every day for deer ticks. Just one missed tick could cause a serious disease which often goes undiagnosed until too late.

Careful culling has been done many other places, and poses very little, if any, risk. The municipal government has spent years now debating the issue and exploring alternatives. It’s time to cull the herd.

Kathleen Smith


Online fundraisers: the new spaghetti dinner?

The Internet continues to add conveniences to everyday life – and fundraising is no exception. Thanks to websites like Go Fund Me, Kiskstarter, Indiegogo and YouCaring, raising funds is as simple as a few clicks of a mouse.

In recent weeks, The Almanac has written several touching stories that have included online fundraising links.

In a brief about proceeds from collegiate basketball games benefitting medical bills for 2-year-old leukemia patient Aiden Zangrilli, a Go Fund Me link was also provided for those who couldn’t attend the games.

In a story about the Fabus family establishing the Joey Fabus Childhood Cancer Foundation, a Go Fund Me link was provided – and in previous stories about Fabus’ fight, links were provided to help with medical bills and, ultimately, funeral expenses.

When Bethel Park resident Deborah Johnson lost her home to a fire in January, a neighbor set up a Go Fund Me page to help her rebuild.

In this week’s issue, in the story “Local series on Freemasons seeks backers” on page 22, an Indiegogo link appears at the end of the piece.

The links are easily sharable on social media, allowing the potential for far more visibility and less overhead than a spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

In theory.

A quick glance at the frequently asked questions on Go Fund Me’s website – arguably one of the most popular online fundraising sites – notes that a five percent Go Fund Me fee is deducted from each donation automatically, and another three percent processing fee is deducted from each online donation.

And, while all of the above causes are legit, beware of those who set up an online fundraiser to take advantage of giving people, or to poke fun. For example, earlier this month, a campaign by an Arizona woman to fix a crack in her in-ground swimming pool – her personal, in-ground swimming pool – went viral. She received so much backlash for the campaign that she removed the post.

We are all for making it easy and convenient to help out those in need, but before you break out your credit card online, be sure you are donating to a worthy cause.