Bagpiper believes his hobby helps his asthma

EDITOR: I've been a bagpiper in the Wyoming Valley Pipe and Drum Band for 10 years. I'm turning 63 in August. Recently, at several parades, I've had to step aside and let my band mates take my place in line. It's not my age that's stopping me from doing what I love. It's my asthma and COPD.

I was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma 15 years ago. Many people are surprised to find out that I am able to play the bagpipes with my asthma and lung complications. "A bagpiper with asthma, how unusual, one-of-a kind!" they say. Yet, I like to think my hobby helps my lungs. As I keep the bag inflated by blowing into it through the blowpipe, I can feel my lungs growing stronger with each breath.

Unfortunately, it saddens me that my daughter and my grandson have also been diagnosed with asthma. It's very important to me that we are able to still spend time together, without our asthma affecting us.

My daughter has been actively participating in the Fight for Air Walks, sponsored by the American Lung Association. When I was asked to perform at the Wilkes-Barre Fight for Air Walk, I thought it would be a great opportunity for my daughter and I to spend time together, fighting our asthma together.

There are many occasions when my asthma and COPD can interfere with my enjoyment in performing. The most recent was at the walk I participated in with my daughter. My lungs couldn't make it. After one lap around the track, I had to step to the side.

It means a lot to support a cause that is so close to our family. I'll keep coming to the walks, bringing my daughter and bagpipe along, as long as I'm able.

I'm proud to support the American Lung Association and its efforts to fight lung disease and to ensure healthy air for all Pennsylvanians. My family is only one of the many that your support could help result in cures for the lung diseases that have affected those across Pennsylvania.

Please join the fight against weakening air pollution regulations. Please contact your elected officials and let them know that we expect them to fight for clean air and stand up to the companies that want to put profits before people. Healthy air means healthy lungs.

Butch Modzelewski

Wilkes-Barre, Pa

Vote NO on HR 2309

EDITOR: Many rural post offices wall be shut down under HR 2309, the so-called Postal Services Reform Act.

These post offices are a focal point in maintaining a sense of community in rural areas, places where people meet, visit the hairdresser, market, etc. Eliminating the offices is one more attack on the vitality of rural life in our county and region.

HR 2309, however, goes way beyond weakening our rural communities. This legislation does not reform the United States Postal Service (USPS); it is an attempt to push USPS out of business. Government exists to meet important basic needs of citizens that they cannot meet by themselves. That's why we have government funding for transportation, infrastructure, Medicare, and, yes, postal services.

That is not to say that all these services must not be made as efficient as possible. If they are inefficient, we pay more taxes to support them than are necessary. However, the biggest financial challenge facing USPS is the legislation enacted in 2006 by Congress requiring USPS to refund retiree health obligations for the next 75 years. This requirement is placed on no other organization in the country. It is responsible for 85 percent of the red ink in the USPS books since 2007. The legislation is a clear attempt to begin putting USPS out of business. HR 2309 moves the process further along.

It will end Saturday deliveries. It will eliminate more than 200,000 jobs when we are trying so hard to create jobs. It does nothing for all of us, and can only benefit those who are seeking private investment opportunities which will require huge increases in costs to all of us, and, probably, an additional government subsidy.

Congressman Hinchey says he will vote NO on HR 2309. Tell Congressman Reed to vote NO as well to - protect the average person in his district and indeed the whole country. His local office telephone number is (607) 654-7566. Tell Congressman Tom Reed to vote NO on HR 2309.

Irene Stein

Ithaca, NY