St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on October 16, 2001 · Page 13
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 13

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St. Louis, Missouri
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Tuesday, October 16, 2001
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Page 13
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'l OCT ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH TuesdayJ- October 16 2001 mi B llXINOIS WW in Mil Greg n py rreeman t ""V SILtoday.comlreeraaii W gfreemanpost-dispatc Readers comment on good Samaritan, mothers letter, more Let's turn today's column over to the readers. ... - Dear Greg, , I read your column about . . . going .bald with particular interest. Apparently you haven't noticed that in addition to a balding head, you have a body that seems to be getting more rotund by the day. " Charles J. Dear Charles, Now that's hitting below, er, above the belt. Besides that, the opposite is true: I've pulled off 40 pounds in the last year thanks to Weight Watchers. I like to think that I'm a mere shadow of my former self. (I unfortunately can't report growing any additional hair). Greg, ;.; I was disappointed to read your column saying that the United States had no other choice than to go to war against terrorism. We never tried to sit down with (Osama) bin Laden to find out why he is so angry with us. It seems to me that would be the smart thing to do rather than respond to brute force with brute force. Jason M. Dear Jason, If someone walks up to me and punches me in the face, it's highly unlikely that I'm going to say, "Hey, why did you do that? Let's talk about your grievances and what made you feel that you should punch me." No, peaceful man that I am, I would like.ly punch him back. I'm afraid I'm not as optimistic as you that bin Laden would sit down with us to discuss his grievances. Besides, if we did that, wouldn't it send a message to every other terrorist that they might be able to change our foreign policy if they harmed us in some way?, Mr. Freeman, I thoroughly enjoyed the letter that the mother wrote for her daughter, explaining what happened on Sept. 11 and why we are going to war. As an African-American woman myself, I appreciated the acknowledgment that African-Americans have fought in many wars for this country and that we believe this is our country as much as it is anyone else's. My husband served in the Persian Gulf War, and I am proud that he went to defend our country. It is because of people like my husband, and brave men and women of all colors who went to war, that we can enjoy many of the things we do now. Did you ever serve? Theresa W. Dear Theresa, No, I never served. The war in Vietnam was winding down and the draft ended just before I became draft age. But I have tremendous respect for those who have served, as well as those who are serving now. And, as you pointed out, they are men and women of all colors. My hat is off to them. Greg, J:ist wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the column you wrote about the woman who had lost her photos before a good Samaritan found them. (He refused to take a $100 reward, saying only that he hoped the good deed he had done for someone else would someday be returned to him.) On a day when I woke up depressed, worried about attacks and anthrax and who knows what else, there was your column just the kind of bright spot I needed for the d,ay. Thanks for a good news story. JillH. Dear Jill, The story was a delight to write. I only hope there are many other good Samaritans dut there like our guy. Dear Greg, I love it when you write about your son. I've been enjoying those stories over the years, but lately I haven't read as many. Why don't you write more about him? Jackie G. Dear Jackie, Our son is away at college, out of state. Since I don't see him as often, I'm left with telling stories about embarrassing things he did as a child. Since I've been warned by my wife to keep some of those stories out of print or else I'm at a loss for son material. (He'll be home for the holi--f-days, though!) courses uu on trad A - hu V'i u H 6; fi T v i Mini 4 ti X " "t IT r ?r i K 'X 4 DAVID CARSONPOST-DISPATCH First-grade teacher Pat Hewlett chats with some of her students at Lake Elementary School in Granite City before the start of school Monday. The students include Tyler Mayes (left) and Mike Parker (center). Monday was the first day back at school after a teachers strike led to 19 days of missed classes. "It's very good to be back," Hewlett said. "You can tell the kids are eager. A month out of first grade is way too long for the kids." Number of makeup days will decide if lessons are cut By Aisha Sultan Of the Post-Dispatch As Granite City schoolteachers resumed lessons Monday where they left off four weeks ago, signs appeared of lingering academic effects from the protracted strike. Teachers reviewed stale homework assignments. Many of their questions in class began with "Do you remember .. . ?" And they searched for areas that could be cut from lesson plans if 19 missed schools days are not made up. Students had attended school for a week and a half before teachers went on strike. A federal arbitrator probably will decide within the next month how many missed days will be recovered by extending the school year and eliminating holiday breaks, Superintendent Steve Balen said. Barry Grote, chairman of the math department, said he was operating as if it were the third week of school, rather than the middle of the semester. "We don't know where we are going yet," Grote said. "We have to know how many days are left in the year." In the worst case, in his accelerated algebra class, he figures he would skip the concepts of trigonometry introduced near the end of the year, if forced to condense the material. Joann Aleman's lOth-grade American literature class is about 100 pages behind in the textbook. She said she might have to cut a novel enjoyed by many students "A Separate Peace." Plus, she will assign papers that must be written at home, rather than worked on at school, and students will spend less time on the poems of Edgar Allan Poe. "Even though I regret it, I have to cut my losses," Aleman said. , In some ways, the first day back resembled the first day of school, all over again. A few students were handed new schedules because some classes had nearly 40 students. Usually, class sizes are balanced in the beginning of the year, rather than in mid-October. Other classes waited for maintenance requests filed earlier in See Granite City, B5 Two men are held on federal immigration, ; tax charges 1 ' -' A - - Suspects are owners of 3 St. Louis-area restaurants ; By Michael Shaw Of the Post-Dispatch The owners of three Cancun Mexican Restaurants in the St. Louis area have been arrested on charges of income tax evasion and hiring illegal immigrants to work at the restaurants during the mid-1990s. ,. Pedro Munoz, 43, and Erasto Becerril, 3JB, were arrested Oct. 9 on a four-count federal indictment in East St. Louis. Both are Mexican citizens who are here under legal permanerit-alien-resident status. - They are accused of skimming large sums of cash from restaurant proceeds and then concealing it from the Internal Revenue Service between 1995 and 1998. The charges allege they hired illegal aliens between 1994 and 1998. They own Cancun franchises in Swansea, Collinsville and St. Ann. They are being held in the St. Clair County Jail. If convicted on the tax evasion counts, each defendant could receive a maximum of eight years in prison. Conviction on the hiring charge would bring up to six months in prison. Workers at the restaurants are worried about their jobs, but so far, the restaurants have remained open. "We don't know what is going to happen," said Alejandro Martinez, a manager at the Collinsville restaurant, and a Cancun employee for the past seven years. "Everyone here is worried." i He said the wife of one of the owners is now running the restaurants. After a series of raids four years ago, Martinez said, the restaurant always checked that all employees were legally admitted to the United States. The previous raids turned up 36 illegal aliens, who were charged and deported. The current charges identify 48 employees who worked at the restaurants illegally, including relatives of Becerril. f - - Munoz filed a false corporate tax return in 1998 and Becerril aided him, according to the charges. The Cancun chain began in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1988. The investigation was headed by agents of the Internal Revenue Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Reporter Mike Shaw: E-mail: mshawpost-dispatch.com Phone:618-235-3988 , ' More planning by state will delay start of Hwy. 40 project Reconstruction is put off at least a year, to 2004 ByPhilSutin Of the Post-Dispatch Commuters who drive Highway 40 (Interstate 64) are getting another year's reprieve from the rebuilding project that planners and motorists alike predict will snarl traffic for years. Rebuilding the highway from Tower Grove Avenue to Spoede Road was expected to begin in 2003 and last from seven to 10 years. But now it will be 2004 at the earliest because planning is taking longer than expected. Work on the $500 million project could begin even later than that, because no money is available. Under current conditions, the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council could allocate funds for construction no earlier than 2006. Linda Wilson, a spokeswoman for the district office of the state Transportation Department, said Monday that the delay was the result of: The state's decision to do an environmental impact statement. The effort to reduce the scale of the project so it affects fewer homes and businesses. The environmental study goes past engineering details to include the project's impact on See Highway, B3 "We keep talking about how our kids lag behind academically, but we keep applying the same concepts over and over again in our schools." JOYCE WEEKLEY, who enrolled her granddaughter in the Ptah Academy of Arts and Sciences mnr r fl J L Wit v ANDREW CUTRAROPOST-DISPATCH Anuke Hathor (right) sits with Davion Stewart, 8, (center) and other pupils Monday during a meditation session that begins each day at the Ptah Academy, near Fairground Park in St. Louis. The academy is one of only a handful of private schools in the region that was founded and is operated by African-Americans. Ptah Academy is meeting a demand of African-Americans, founder says Families are willing to pay for alternatives, she believes By Matthew Franck Of the Post-Dispatch The ribbons of incense and the children who meditate beneath them at the start of each school day leave no doubt that the Ptah Academy of Arts and Sciences isn't your typical school. The tiny private school, which opened last month in St. Louis, has attracted about 30 children with a curriculum that offers to educate the mind, body and spirit. Outsiders might call the approach New Age for its inclusion of yoga, organic meals, tai chi and daily "inner-studies," or sessions of meditation. But there are more fundamental differences that set the new school apart. The Ptah Academy is one of only a handful of private schools in the re gion that is founded and operated by African-Americans. In fact, excluding a few religious schools, Ptah is the only tuition-based private school run by African-Americans in the city of St. Louis. And several private school educators say they believe it is the first such school to open in the city in decades. Ptah founder Donayle Whitmore said her small school is proving that African-American parents are searching for a wide range of options and many See Academy, B6 Westfall orders new hearings on appeals of , assessments J He looks into capping! increases at 17 percentj By Carolyn Tuft i Of the Post-Dispatch j 2001, St. Louis Post-Dispatch St. Louis County Executive George "Buzz" Westfall hijs ordered a county review board to open a new round qf appeals hearings for homeowners hit with big increases in their assessed valuations this year. ., I , : , Westfall also said he was researching whether he can cajp at 17 percent all assessment increases in the county. Such a move would bring savings to about 86,000 homeowners wljo were hit with assessment increases ranging from 17.1 percent to 95 percent. ; "If I had the authority, il would roll it back to 17 percent' Westfall said Monday' afternoon. "I'm still looking Into that. This is a big deal and I wfll do everything I can to correct it." In some cases, the reassessments this year, when couplqd with tax rate increases, have led to doubled property taxes. Westfall, a Democrat, directed the county Board of Equalization to open a new appeal period after hearing about possible assessment irregularities and being deluged with phone calls from taxpayers. The deadline for appeals, he said, will be Nov. 30. See Assessments, BS

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