Letters to the Editor, Oct. 29, 2017

Farmington Daily Times
Letters to the Editor

Took a little trip
Have you ever been sad and happy at the same time? Well I have. Recently I had the pleasure of traveling with the Farmington Shriners club to the Salt Lake City Shriners Children’s Hospital. Thirty-eight of us bused up there, and I will never be disappointed of what I found.  
The hospital is a beautiful site itself. And inside is what everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. We were taken on a tour and the sad and the happy part of this trip was the kids. They did not think they were any different than anyone else. 
One little girl as pretty as a picture, blond hair, blue eyes, had the left arm off at the elbow, the right arm had one finger and she had no legs. She was in an electric wheelchair and operating it like she was in NASCAR around the halls. 
We were shown where they make the wheelchairs for each child, and as the child grows they change the wheelchairs to fit. We had the privilege of a demonstration of how they make the prosthetics for the children. And teach them how to use them. We were in the lobby and young man about 12 or 13 came running by me and I looked down. He had an artificial leg, laughing like nothing was wrong. You see, they look at each other like there is nothing wrong, they have a playground for the kids and a gym. When we went through the gym there were some kids playing basketball just like the kids down the street from you.
The Shriners Club donated $1,000 to the hospital and took over $1,000 worth of toys for the kids, so when you hear of a benefit for the kids it does not go to the pocket like some think.
We hold breakfast and different fundraisers and donate ourselves to raise the funds for the kids.
This trip was sure an eye opener of what we have.
Jerry Billings

Put an end to drunk driving
Every four years since 1996, San Juan County Partnership has completed a countywide needs assessment to assess the identified priorities and needed services of county residents.  One of the three highest ranked priority needs each time we have done the survey has been drunk driving.  However, when we look at the actual data, we see that the rates of alcohol involved traffic fatalities have decreased.  
In 1996, there were 31 alcohol involved fatalities; in 2015, there were 17.  The numbers decreased significantly from 32 in 2002 to 6 in 2009.  In recent years, from 2011-2015, the numbers have been relatively level.  
The San Juan County rate is still over twice as high as the overall New Mexico rate and 4 ½ times the national rate (NM Dept. of Transportation, UNM and FARS).
Over the past 20 years, alcohol involved traffic deaths in the county have decreased, while non-alcohol involved fatalities have stayed consistent.  Alcohol involved traffic crashes have decreased from 365 in 1996 to 186 in 2014 and teen alcohol related crashed have decreased from 42 in 1996 to 9 in 2015 (NM Dept. of Transportation, UNM and Traffic Research Unit).
While the numbers have improved, we can still do better.
How do we explain the improvements we have made in reducing alcohol involved fatalities and crashes?  Prevention efforts have raised public awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, along with the consistent efforts of our law enforcement agencies. Officers are assigned to additional enforcement efforts throughout the year and especially during the holidays.  They devote many hours to traffic patrols and sobriety checkpoints to ensure our safety.
San Juan County Partnership thanks our law enforcement agencies for all that they do for our community.
Pamela Drake

Executive director
San Juan County Partnership