Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hundreds make pleas to Hillsborough County commissioners to save programs

TAMPA — They begged county commissioners to protect parks, save senior programs and guard Head Start.

They waved signs and carried banners.

With the Hillsborough County Commission set to eliminate more than 1,100 jobs and trim $140 million from its $1.1 billion operating budget, more than 600 people turned out Thursday evening to show support for their favorite programs. More than 200 people signed up to speak.

"Raise my taxes if you must, but keep my program intact," said Denise Andretta, 57, before collapsing into a chair and fighting off sobs.

Andretta suffers from a brain injury caused by a car accident and has been riding horses for eight years at the county's Bakas Equestrian Center, which caters to physically and mentally challenged adults and children.

The meeting was held in a central county recreation building instead of County Center to accommodate the huge crowd.

Commissioners said little and made no decisions, using the evening as an opportunity to let the public air concerns.

Leonard Plotkin, 58, made his way to the microphone with the help of a cane. He spoke on behalf of Camp Sparks, which serves children with disabilities, Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind and Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board.

"Do not take money from the people who need it," said Plotkin, who lives in Northdale. "The quality of life becomes so small for those people who need someplace to go, a helping hand."

Others invoked the names of their favorite county employees or told their personal stories of triumph thanks to county-sponsored programs.

Shane Robinson, 21, a volunteer at the Ruskin Community Center, stood at the microphone with four young children, one holding a handmade sign reading "Save All Our Coaches." He warned commissioners to make the best decisions or face consequences on election day.

Laquida Jennings, 19, recently graduated from Jefferson High School and plans to attend St. Leo College with the help of scholarships.

"If it wasn't for the Boys and Girls Club, I don't think I'd be traveling down the road I'm on," she said,

Ann-Mary Kapusta, 71, waited patiently for her turn before the commissioners. Her husband, Edward, has Alzheimer's disease and spends two days a week at the Ruskin Senior Center.

"It's an absolute godsend," Kapusta said, praising the center's staff for their dedication. "If he didn't have it, I absolutely couldn't keep him at home. They're essential to my survival."

Mark Nash, an aide to county Commissioner Kevin Beckner, watched from the back of the auditorium as the parade of people made their way to the microphones.

"People involved in their government — it's a beautiful thing," he said. "Our elected officials want to know what the community wants."

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Hundreds make pleas to Hillsborough County commissioners to save programs 07/16/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2009 12:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lego T-rex and scores of other brick sculptures free to see in Tampa

    News

    TAMPA — Envision the effort that went into building a basic Lego model with your kids. Now imagine arranging the same toys to look like the Mona Lisa or an 80,020-piece Tyrannosaurus rex.

    Eliana Goldberg, 5, of Wesley Chapel looks at a Lego sculpture called "Everlasting" at The Art of the Brick exhibit, which opened Friday in Tampa and runs through Sept. 4. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  2. Rick Scott signs medical marijuana, 38 other bills into law

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott
  3. St. Pete qualifying ends. Seven for mayor. Eight for District 6 on primary ballot

    Blogs

    The smiles of the faces of the workers in the City Clerk’s office said it all. The qualifying period for city elections was almost over.

    City Clerk Chan Srinivasa (2nd left) and Senior Deputy City Clerk  Cathy Davis (1st left) celebrate the end of qualifying period with colleagues on Friday afternoon
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Registered sexual predator charged in assault of woman in Brooksville

    Public Safety

    Times Staff Writer

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County deputies arrested a registered sexual predator Thursday after they say he attempted to assault a woman and fled into a storm drain.

    Lee Roy Rettley has been charged with attempted homicide, attempted sexual battery and home invasion robbery.