Praise for coach Justin Kunick
I never had the pleasure of meeting the late Justin Kunick. I was introduced to his story and that of his baseball team just a few months ago, when they entered my company's annual uniform sponsorship contest. Several students at Fivay High School wrote nominations for Coach Kunick's Falcons, and the team easily made the final round. It was then that I came to know of Coach Kunick, through the words of his players, family and friends.
The support for the Fivay Falcons was overwhelming, logging more comments than any other contest entry. Everyone in my office was moved and inspired by the team and the town that came together in support of a beloved baseball coach.
I had the privilege of informing interim coach Matt Hayes of the Falcons' landslide victory last Thursday, and I couldn't wait to finally meet the man who had touched so many lives. A hush fell over my entire office the next morning when Coach Hayes called to inform me of Justin's passing. I was at a complete loss for words — the feeling was indescribable. How could I feel such pain of loss for a man I had never known? Then I realized: I had known Justin Kunick.
The essays written by his students told of his life, his struggle and, most of all, his gift for teaching. The contest video made by the team allowed me to meet players whose lives he changed for the better. The outpouring of community support for Coach Kunick and the Falcons allowed us a glimpse into the hearts of those who also might not have ever known him personally, but were touched by his selflessness and generosity. I did not have to shake his hand to know him or understand how he made a positive impact on countless lives.
I managed to ask Coach Hayes if he had been able to tell Justin that the Falcons had won our contest before he passed. He confirmed that Justin knew of the win, and was very proud of the team for seeing it through to the finish. The only thing that kept my office going last Friday was the thought that Coach Kunick left us on a win — a win for his team, his school and his community. We can all take comfort in the fact that he will now be with the Falcons forever, encouraging them to "rise above" from the best seat in the ballpark in the sky.
Carty Dougherty, Orlando
Closing primary is undemocratic | May 2 letter
Closed primary is a symptom
I'm a Democrat. I am listed as having no party affiliation. However, I have always voted for Democrats across the board whenever I have voted. I was not asked to be the write-in candidate by James Mathieu — I volunteered.
This may or may not affect Mike Fasano in winning the Republican primary. From what I understand, he isn't well-loved by the Republican Party, but that is not my issue.
I think those opposed to my write-in candidacy are missing the boat. You can't disenfranchise Democratic voters. If they really are Democrats, they won't vote for a Republican. Why are the Democrats not speaking up and putting pressure on their party to field a candidate?
If Democrats are so upset they can't vote for Mike Fasano, they should push him to switch parties and become a Democrat.
Joe Verola, Port Richey
A savings plan is part of retirement
I recently attended an AARP town hall meeting in Land O'Lakes. The focus of the meeting was to collect data from AARP members regarding Medicare and Social Security. I was surprised at how many attendees had a difficult time differentiating between these programs. I also noticed a somewhat generalized fear that, in the long term, these programs would not meet the needs of the attendees and certainly not of their children and grandchildren.
A strong feeling of "not in my back yard" permeated the meeting, meaning "Don't you dare touch these programs in my lifetime.'' Rather than the optimistic feeling that this is a great country and, working together, we can solve problems, a certain feeling of pessimism seemed to be present.
Many of those present did not seem to know that Social Security may be looked upon as a pay-as-you-go trust fund. Workers and their working colleagues make regular payments into the trust fund. At the end of one's working years the trust fund provides a financial safety net, not a retirement plan.
I felt if this group of seniors wished to help their children and grandchildren they should encourage a savings and investment plan that begins with the first dollar earned, continues with periodic investments and the lets the concept of compounding do the rest.
There are several reasons the Social Security Trust Fund is in the shape it is in. We are emerging from the deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Although the employment numbers are improving a number of people who normally would be paying into the trust fund are unemployed. The political climate is such that austerity is the mantra even though, while in and coming out of a recession, spending at the governmental level is needed to support employment.
Working people spend money and that improves the economy, and they also contribute to the Social Security Trust Fund and Medicare.
Bob Bucklin, Land O'Lakes
Real traffic input falls on deaf ears
On Monday, April 30, representatives from Country Club Estates, Signal Cove and Leisure Beach had an audience with state Sen. Mike Fasano and District Department of Transportation Secretary Donald Skelton. We were again trying to get relief from the traffic mess that the Hudson Walmart and the new Walmart gas station have caused. Entering and exiting our communities has become increasingly dangerous.
We assumed that the community representatives were going to be able to present our concerns and discuss the recent DOT traffic study. Community residents stood next to DOT employees and counted cars with them on the second. A few examples of what we found: The entrance to Leisure Beach has 89 U-turns an hour at its intersection plus 140 autos entering and exiting. This is 229 vehicles per hour contending for this intersection. Almost 700 vehicles per hour enter Walmart at the U.S. 19 entrance alone, with no traffic light. We counted vehicles entering and exiting Signal Cove, Country Club Estates and all Walmart exits as well.
The meeting started with Fasano saying that there is no way we are going to get a traffic light in any of the entrances to our communities, Walmart is already there so we will live with it and no way will there be changes to the Beacon Woods light. When we asked for the results of the DOT traffic study, Secretary Skelton said, "We are still analyzing the numbers." DOT plans call for shutting off our ability to go north from Leisure Beach in order to facilitate Walmart customers' U-turns. Fasano's renegade Republican, for-the-people persona didn't really shine through in this meeting. It was obvious that Walmart is his priority and the surrounding communities are not.
Jack LaManna, Hudson
Many thanks for the firefighters
I would like to thank all of the firefighters for the excellent job they did and are still doing in containing and keeping the fire away from our homes April 30. It is a very scary experience to go through.
Much thanks also go to the Sheriff's Office deputies who were consistent in driving in our area and advising us to evacuate. Thank you all again for your efficiency.
Elizabeth Bridwell, Hudson