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October 30, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Despite lack of coverage, Haiti is still in need of help

Jake Palmateer
Daily Star

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I am not sure who has a shorter attention span, my 2 ½-year-old daughter or the news media.

The Haitian earthquake captivated the country for several weeks. But by April, Anderson Cooper and Geraldo Rivera had moved onto the next disaster: The BP oil spill.

After talking with Pastor Thomslay Budlaire Laguerre of Haiti last week, it seems clear his country remains in dire need of help.

But it isn't simply a matter of massive fundraising efforts and shipping aid to Haiti.

Both Laguerre and his host, Pastor Jeff McLallen of South Edmeston Community Church, said millions of dollars in aid raised by public fundraising efforts has reached the country but not the people for which it was intended.

McLallen, who visited the county in June, also said much of what has been pledged by foreign governments has not yet reached the people.

"Acres of earth-moving equipment sit in the harbor, not having moved since they were delivered, an indicator of paralysis in the country," McLallen said.

Pilfering of aid shipments is rampant, and the Haitian government has been slow to coordinate distribution of the relief, they both said

Laguerre is focusing on 3 acres of land he is purchasing and has taken in 10 families.

Several area churches, including The Family Worship Center in Wells Bridge, are raising funds to support that effort.

McLallen said finding a secure way to ship the aid has been a struggle, but the effort may soon see progress.

Laguerre spoke in terms of revival and spiritual renewal. And he meant not just for the Haitian people, but also for Americans.

At 39 years old, Laguerre is a notable spiritual and political figure in Haiti, according to McLallen.

Laguerre is a supporter of presidential candidate Wilson Jeudy, a devout Christian and political reformer.

The Haitian pastor ended our interview with a blessing for me to assist in writing a good story. Sometimes I need all the help I can get.

McLallen called me later in the week to give me the address where donations may be sent:

Burlington Flats Baptist Church

101 Arnold Road

Burlington Flats, NY 13315

Autumn's splashes of color may be starting to fade, but it was all about green at the Oneonta Job Corps Academy on Thursday.

Students, staff and administrators at OJCA unveiled a greenhouse complex powered by solar energy.

OJCA Deputy Director Chris Kuhn laid it out by the numbers: 1,000 man and woman hours, more than 50 students, seven football fields of dirt, four months of work, more than $100,000 and 3,222 blisters.

"Okay, I made that last one up," Kuhn said to laughter as more than 100 people gathered outside the complex for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

But Kuhn's point was well taken.

It is clear a lot of work went into the complex, which is set in a picturesque corner of the scenic Homer Folks campus off West Street in the town of Oneonta.

Although the complex will be shrouded in snow soon, the site, with its outdoor garden, pond and fruit trees, should really blossom this spring.

Some area hunters who were denied deer management permits before the Oct. 1 application deadline may get a surprise in the mail.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is sending out about 5,000 additional permits across the state. Area wildlife management units slated for permits include 4P (440) 7M (90) and 7P (590).

Because DMPs are issued at point-of-sale locations through a lottery system, in some years not enough hunters apply for or are issued as many permits as the DEC desires for individual WMUs.

Jake Palmateer can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 221, or at jpalmateer@thedailystar.com.