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Hernando letters: Cruel fallout from the housing mess

Builder Steven Bartlett will be sentenced April 16.

Builder Steven Bartlett will be sentenced April 16.

Cruel fallout from the housing mess

Everyone is aware of how bad the housing situation has become. I'd like to make people aware of another problem that is a direct result of that. Not only are residents walking away from their homes because the bank is taking them, they are leaving behind their pets.

I assume they think someone will be coming along shortly and will have to deal with the issue of finding homes for these animals, or having animal control put them down.

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. More frequently the animals end up starving to death. They wait in the home or out in the yard for their master to return.

I recently found out about this firsthand. I saw a dog in my neighborhood tangled up on his run without food or water. I asked the man who lived across the street and he said the people had left and the house was foreclosed. He couldn't have cared less about the dog. He also told me there was a dog in the garage.

I notified the police and animal control. We listened at the garage door and could not hear anything. Because he had no warrant, the officer could not check to see if there was a dog in there.

Meanwhile, the dog out back was tangled so closely to the tree that he couldn't help but sit in red ants. I freed him from the knots and allowed him to run freely while still hooked to the cable. He could not wait to find some grass and roll on his back to scratch himself. I gave him water and food, which he devoured.

Animal control was to return and pick him up. I doubt I will ever find out if there was a dog in the garage (unless it ends up being another sad article in the Times).

Everyone, please pay attention to what is going on in your neighborhood. Report any neglect, including abandonment, to animal control. They will take care of it quickly and spare any further suffering.

Margie Lane, Spring Hill

Progress' plans not in our interest

For Hernando County residents who received an invitation and did not have the opportunity to attend the recent open house regarding Progress Energy's high-voltage power line project, you may want to visit Progress Energy's Web site. For residents who did not receive an invitation, you may want to visit the site as well.

What has been proposed and will be installed in the coming years, through eminent domain if necessary, are 500 kilovolt transmission lines. The proposed routes are available on the company Web site, along with scores of public information provided to ensure Progress Energy remains within legal requirements regarding public notification of this project.

What is not provided on the Web site is more important.

Neither the Web site nor the literature distributed at the open house addresses the effect of the drilling necessary to erect single structures of 165 feet in height or H-frame structures 120 feet tall on properties near the drilling. There are no independent statistics provided that address the effect drilling may have regarding sinkholes. Here is a quote directly from the Southwest Florida Water Management District's Web site: "Increased numbers of sinkholes can generally be attributed to Cover-Subsidence Sinkholes changing or loading of the earth's surface with development such as retention ponds, buildings, changes in drainage patterns, heavy traffic, drilling vibrations or declining ground-water levels."

Recently arriving residents of Hernando County may not be aware of the numerous home insurers who left Hernando County because of sinkhole claims years ago. Should Progress Energy choose to use either proposed route that cuts through established residential areas, you can be certain more insurers will be leaving Hernando County.

The second, and perhaps most important, piece of information not available at the Progress Energy site is the result of the company's "cost-benefit analysis" (CBA) regarding the three proposed corridors. Those who filled out the questionnaire at the open house were asked to rank multiple factors that are of importance to the general public regarding this project. Among the criteria we were asked to rank were six separate items that included "protecting wetlands" to "protecting species" to "protecting existing parks," proving Progress Energy is concerned about lawsuits from environmental groups.

One question regarded protecting children, specifically limiting the number of schools near the corridor, proving Progress Energy has some concern for the children. Two items regarding property values, "limiting the number of residences" and limiting the number of "lots or parcels affected," proving Progress knows that property values will be adversely affected.

I assure you, Progress has already completed its CBA for each proposed corridor and the ultimate purpose of the public hearing process is to sell the residents on the most cost-effective corridor for the corporation.

Interestingly, the last reference to profit criteria listed on the questionnaire was the most telling. It said Progress Energy wants to "minimize cost of construction for our overall customer base." Funny thing is, though, most Hernando County residents who may suffer adverse consequence from this project in lower property values, loss of property through eminent domain, sinkhole damage, or inability to purchase reasonably priced homeowners insurance, are customers of Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative and will see no benefit from this project.

E-mail your concerns to Progress Energy Florida at energy

planning@pgnmail.com or the Florida Public Service Commission at www.psc.state.fl.us.

Vincent Roth, Spring Hill

Cutting bus hurts more than riders

It's disappointing to learn about the proposed consideration by the Hernando County Commission to cut THE Bus to four days a week. THE Bus transports the elderly, the poor, volunteers, students and the disabled to destinations across the county and through the city and marketplaces that spur business profits.

Cutting bus schedules one day a week may mean that a no-show will occur for volunteers giving their best, and saving paid positions for schools, hospitals and organizations. College students may need to reschedule their classes or drop a course that conflicts with THE Bus schedule. Then, the elderly and disabled are often the target populations for cuts taxpayers resent supporting in any case.

I have a stake in all this, having served on the board for assuring public transportation to the disabled and those in need, recognizing how public transportation allows scores and hundreds of volunteers to fill positions that save thousands of dollars to critical-need services in the county.

Unfortunately, students have come to rely on THE Bus to assure their transportation to college campuses locally. Fortunately, students are allowed a discount for public transportation that provides access again to their goals, rising to levels that will help the rest of us through their education and services, once graduated from their specialties.

I note all this because taxpayers who are delighting in savings are saving pennies against the dollar value supported by volunteers and students eager to impact the community with their good works.

Deron Mikal, Brooksville

Throwing the brickbat at deceitful builders | March 5, Times editorial

Heed lesson of previous case

The editorial was right on target. It mentioned the Clyde Hoeldtke home builder case in Pasco County in 1995.

I happen to have personal knowledge of this case. As a probation officer I was assigned his case and ordered to transfer him to his home state of Colorado, since the court placed him on house arrest. I immediately called the judge's secretary to advise the court that Florida's Interstate Compact does not allow house arrest cases transferred out of state.

Shortly afterward, I received a call stating this was the judge's order and to send him to Colorado. We weren't about to knock heads with a judge's order, so off he went to his million-dollar-plus mansion in a spectacular mountaintop community. The reason I know this is because Inside Edition ran a spot regarding this case and showed aerial photographs of the home where he was "serving his time." On house arrest you are still able to work, so naturally he was allowed to bounce around "scouting out properties for possible business ventures."

As stated in the editorial, the Times hopes Judge William Swigert sends a clear message to builders when he sentences Steven Bartlett on April 16. The Hoeldtke case sent a message all right — a bad one.

Mr. Bartlett, aside from his affection for fancy cars, tricked-out motorcycles, strip clubs and gambling, decided to "roll the dice" by turning down the plea deal of 24 months in prison. That was the low end of the sentencing guidelines.

Hopefully, Judge Swigert will again show Bartlett that gambling doesn't pay, especially when it's someone else's money.

Gene Huber, Spring Hill

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Hernando letters: Cruel fallout from the housing mess 03/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:34am]

    

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