Thank Florida farmers for bounty
Millions of Florida families will gather together today around a table to share a feast of Thanksgiving. Among the many blessings we have to be thankful for are the farmers who work tirelessly to provide our nation's bounty.
While many offices, businesses and restaurants will be closed to celebrate Thanksgiving, Florida's 47,000 farms will not cease their work. The job of providing the food and fiber that feeds the world is never done. After all, Mother Nature does not recognize holidays.
Dairy farmers will milk their cows two or three times today. Meanwhile, our kids will enjoy a full glass of locally grown milk with their meals, and we'll savor a scoopful of ice cream with our warm pecan pie.
Shrimpers, fishermen, clammers and oystermen came off the water late last night with boats full of fresh Florida seafood. For many of us seafood lovers, a Florida feast would not be complete without their fresh catch, and stuffing would not be as flavorful without their oysters.
Growers in South Florida have worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to harvest the vegetables that make up our salads and green bean casseroles at today's meal. Florida is known as the nation's "winter salad bowl" because our growers provide 80 percent of the fresh vegetables grown during the winter months.
Nearly every dish of your Thanksgiving feast was made possible by the ranchers, farmers and growers who work day in and day out, all year long to provide the food and fiber that feeds our nation.
This Thanksgiving, when you say grace over your meal, and you give thanks for your family, your friends and your blessings, don't forget to give thanks for America's farmers.
Adam H. Putnam, Florida commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, Tallahassee
Spirit of giving is alive, well
I am a member of a group of men called the Friendship Club of Summertree. We passed a motion to buy a Thanksgiving dinner for everyone at the Holy Ground shelter in Hudson. We were told that there would be about 50 men, women and children.
A group of us went to different stores to get the best buys and good produce. Our last stop was the Publix on Little Road near Hudson Avenue, where we were picking up three 25-pound turkeys. A woman who was behind me in the checkout line said, "I guess someone is going to have a great Thanksgiving."
I told her we were bringing the turkeys to Holy Ground along with all the other fixings. When the cashier rang up the turkeys, this lady handed him a $100 bill and paid for them. We were completely taken aback and marveled at her generosity. She said she lived near Holy Ground and was very happy to help.
The spirit of giving is alive and well in Pasco County. We don't know who that lady is, but if she reads this letter, we want to thank her.
Joe Faherty, New Port Richey
Care pricing is baffling
The health care issues of today are profoundly baffling. My current policy has a $5,000 deductible, and I recently received a notice from my insurance carrier stating that if I choose a 2014 Affordable Care Act-compliant policy, my premium would climb from $321 to $705 per month. I guess the bonus is that the policy would have a deductible of only $3,500.
And then there are the intriguing costs of the trip my son and I made to a local urgent care facility. I had an earache, was treated for 45 minutes and paid $110. My son (who also has a $5,000 deductible plan) had a rash and was in and out in 20 minutes with a prescription in hand. He paid $178.23. My billing code was 99214 and his was 99204. I asked what my son would have paid out-of-pocket if he had no insurance, and the attendant replied, "$165." I rest my case.
William J. Dixon, Odessa
Stalking charges dropped | Nov. 21
Wrong message on bullying
The charges against the 12-year-old girl involved in the bullying and suicide of Rebecca Sedwick were dropped.
The girl's attorney, Jose Baez, claimed there wasn't any evidence to prove this child was involved in bullying and stalking.
But by exempting this child from the responsibility of her actions, society is simply telling today's youth, "Go ahead and bully others. You won't have to face any external consequences for your behavior."
Instead of a slap on the wrist, I feel both girls should also be required to serve some sort of probation along with community service. Although the younger girl claims she herself had also been the victim of bullying, that does not give her the right to torment others.
As sad as this situation is, I hope it encourages parents to not only teach their kids how deal with bullies, but also to vigilantly monitor their children's online behavior.
Carrie Hoeh, Tampa
The new John Birch Society Nov. 24, Robyn Blumner column
Source of the problem
Thanks to Robyn Blumner for the in-depth insight by comparing the John Birch Society to present-day politics.
If anyone was wondering what possibly could have gone wrong with our government, there will now be no question as to why.
There was one sentence referring to Claire Conner's parents that really explains the attitude of the radical right-wing thinker. Her parents didn't believe in either Medicare or Social Security, though they both accepted the benefits, of course. That is exactly what is going on with the current conservatives.
Mary Jane Callihan, St. Petersburg