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Need is growing for Early Intervention

Thank you for your extensive article, "An Ounce of Intervention," on the crisis facing the Early Intervention Program. This is the kind of publicity that is encouraging to those of us who have been urging the state for many years to increase the reimbursement to a realistic level for agencies that provide essential services to very young children with demonstrable disabilities.

Because providing these services has meant that the agencies have been continuously losing money in order to do so, many have ended or restricted their EI programs. This has created a local backlog of over 150 children and their families waiting to receive the services that their individual evaluations have demonstrated are needed in order for the children to be able to have a chance to overcome their developmental disabilities.

The article may have given the impression to those readers who are not acquainted with the EI program that it is only for children with the most severe challenges, such as those who were featured in your article. It is important for parents and the public to understand that EI is also needed to prevent life-long disabilities when children demonstrate delays early in their lives.

For example, children demonstrating language delays may be found to have a treatable hearing loss resulting from early ear infections, which can then be overcome with speech and language services, coordinated with the all-important caregivers. As a speech pathologist for many years, I have personally assisted hundreds of children whose early delays were ameliorated through EI, and who went on to success in school later on.

Of course, the "elephant in the room" is the enormous increase in children diagnosed with autism, which has pressured educational programs at all levels to provide the essential interventions, many to the breaking point. The incidence has increased from 1 in 10,000 when I first entered the profession, to 1 in 70, conservatively, at present.

Some local early childhood classrooms have several children out of fewer than 18 enrollees with the diagnosis or suspicion of autism. In my opinion, New York State and the nation as a whole must deal with this looming crisis by diverting funds away from less urgent needs, both for the treatment and prevention of autism.

TAWN R. FEENEY, CONESUS

Questions from the loss of Hart's

Hart's Local Grocers officially closed on March 22, after five years of struggling attempts to capture a consistent customer base from, essentially, the hundreds of people migrating back to downtown Rochester.

This migration and revitalization was an impressive attempt to rebuild a fallen downtown. It has seemed to be working, as I look from my 17th-floor perspective and watch the resurrection of empty, failed real estate that sat vacant for decades. And more and more pricey residential real estate is being conceived and built around the Inner Loop. This all represents progress which (to me) is unprecedented in recent local history.

The closing of Hart's was a (predictably) disappointing loss of a vital and basic resource for me, a service that most residents take for granted. I live downtown, and I love living downtown. I do not drive. When Hart's opened, it was a hopeful prospect for my personal needs, conveniences, and other commerce in the epicenter of exciting new residential growth.

I remain puzzled and frustrated as to why these grocers failed after only five years. Granted, they over-estimated their audience, and (probably) didn't have the right demographics before going all "specialty-local provider" and organic with their products. That led to higher price tags on everything because of their significant lack of buying power. And they may not have considered the fact that people would rather travel further out to the big-box suburban grocers, pay less, and get precisely what they want, when they wanted it.

I personally was a dedicated customer of Hart's-from the time it opened. It was a tremendous and convenient resource, only a block away, and I never shopped anywhere else after that. I liked the relationships I developed, from department managers to checkout providers.

It was a business gamble, and they lost. I wonder who is to blame here. Were their demographic estimates premature? Were the "specialty" intentions over-reaching? Or was it the almost complete absence (to this day) of residential sidewalk traffic?

This retailer will be sorely missed – not only because of convenience and the "local" relationship I had with them, but also because it implies a much bigger problem to consider: Which comes first, the cart or the horse?

Build it and they will come, they say, but every attempt and failure shines a light on a much bigger question: Is the urban experience really returning to Rochester, or are we just another empty "shell" being occupied by complacent tenants who are too reluctant to support local business and walk the streets, before and after dark?

JIM CAPPELLINO, ROCHESTER

'Hotel Mumbai' and the need to remember

I take exception to Adam Lubitow's closing paragraph of his review of "Hotel Mumbai" ("I can't help questioning the necessity of a film such as this....") I read the book but, more important, I was witness to the horrors of 9/11.

That day, I stood across the river, watching the Towers burn – and fall. The following days were a nightmare – the constantly wailing sirens, the photos of missing loved ones plastered all over the city, desperately seeking news of friends who worked in the area, charred paper lying in the gutters. But worst of all was the smell that permeated the city and surrounding areas – of burning concrete, paper, wires, and plastic. And bones.

We vowed to never forget that day. Yet for too many of us that memory is fading. We need a film such as this to remind us that this horror can happen again – here.

CHRISTINA GUTT, PENFIELD

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