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To The Editor:

It feels like the end of an era. We once were of the belief that, “It couldn’t happen here.” “Those awful, unspeakable events only happen in big cities.” “I don’t have to worry about the safety of my kids/family; I live in Northern New York.” Those thoughts passed through our minds in a constant loop of naive thinking that afforded all of us a good night’s sleep. Rest easily. Those dreadful people live in places where they have dark alleys and bars on their windows. And then there was Wednesday, August 13.

While the events of the past week are almost impossible to comprehend, the fact remains that two little girls were abducted and subjected to the unthinkable. Parents and community alike suffered the agony of not knowing. Nothing can change the facts; nothing will erase the memory.

We can do little to control the actions of others, however, as a society; we can control our reaction to a situation. To say that I am proud of my community’s reaction to last week’s events would be the understatement of the century.

The outpouring of support from the public to aid law enforcement agencies during those most critical hours was nothing short of herculean. The Heuvelton Volunteer Fire Department opened its doors immediately and allowed investigators from all levels of government to use the fire hall as a command center. We welcomed them with open arms. Some searched, some delivered food, some prepared meals and cleaned up, some offered their expertise, some held each other; many gathered and prayed.

We will be forever grateful to the media and law enforcement from the local, state and federal ranks. Their willingness to concentrate their focus on the immediate needs of one small community was paramount in reuniting the girls with their parents. I have no doubt in my mind that the intense search and media coverage prompted the captors to release the girls in an attempt to protect their filthy secret. I am confident that, in the end, others will be protected by the excellent work these fine people did on behalf of those two little girls, their families and our community.

Few could argue that it could have been done better. Your reaction to this atrocity says it all. Your community was rocked by a tragic and horrifying event. You reacted with faith, hope and charity. Well done, my friends. I am proud to be a member of such a close-knit and supportive area.

Barbara Lashua, Mayor

Village of Heuvelton

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