Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

December 5, 2012

In Your View

ASHLAND — Simpson article quite inspiring

These comments relate to the article penned by Fred Simpson as published recently in a Sunday edition of The Independent.

First, we applaud Fred for sharing his experineces and style of adaptations to his physical and mental changes. His vivid descriptions and poetic quotes underscore his daily trials, his strong motivation, and his positive outlook as he faces a progressive disease.

Next, on a personal level, my husband and I have been on Fred’s long list of friends for many years. Fred, who is just a great guy, is very social and can talk at length to anyone at any time on any given topic.

Oh, and what about his talents in basketball? To our knowledge, Fred was a star shooter and high point man in most games he played in schools, including Holy Family. He holds a distinction of being one of the best players emerging from our region. One would never  hear about his record when talking to Fred. His modesty is obvious.

Finally, we thank Fred for this article. We believe that those who read Fred’s article will feel inspired, if also afflicted, to face diseases like Alzheimer’s with persistent courage and daily faith.

John and Wanda Huffman, Ashland

Panel needs full access to records

It is preposterous that the Child Fatality Review Panel set up by executive order July 16, 2012, by Governor Beshear to review child abuse deaths and critical injuries will receive redacted files. These are the same records any citizen can receive if they submit an open records request. The panel needs enough detailed information about the case to determine if the case was handled properly and, if not, how can the child protective service processes be improved to protect the lives of Kentucky’s children. Redacted files do not provide that level of information.

Between 50 percent and 60 percent of the child fatalities and near fatalities that occur in Kentucky annually have had prior contact with the Cabinet. This means the Cabinet has received at least one complaint on the child’s caretaker for abuse and neglect and completed an investigation that determined abuse or neglect had not occurred.

The death of 2-year-old Watson Adkins, who was found dead in the home of an aunt and uncle on Sept. 29, 2011, is a case where two investigations had been completed by the Cabinet prior to the child’s death. Neither of these investigations found substantiated abuse.

After the fatality, The Mountain Eagle in Inez made an open records request on Watson’s case. Gary Ball, the newspaper’s editor, said, “What I got was so heavily redacted that I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.” These are the same redacted records the Child Fatality Review Panel will receive.

It’s clear the 2013 Kentucky Legislature needs to adopt legisation to improve upon the governor’s executive order. At a minimum, the legislation needs to give the panel full access to the children’s files who have died from abuse and neglect. There needs to be provisions in the legislation to ensure this level of transparency.

Jerry Cantrell, Louisville

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Jerry Cantrell is the retired executive director of Bellewood Home for Children.

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