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Coach's attitude is nothing to cheer about

I signed my 8-year-old son up for football and my 6-year-old daughter for cheerleading with the Seminole Youth Athletic Association last June. The football practice involved two hours a day six days a week in full uniform with the coaches screaming at the boys, calling them ladies, cheerleaders and sissies, until the children were scared to death and some of the boys cried or quit.

Our family has been involved in soccer for four years and baseball for two years. My husband coaches, and I'm a team Mom, so we are not sideline parents. But this is the first time we ever have experienced such a thing. The boys were learning to hate the game.

Some parents would not allow their boys to quit because they had spent $70 to sign them up. I was afraid if I let my son quit, he never would want to play football again. But we do not raise our children with verbal abuse, and after complaints to the head of the association did no good, I withdrew my son from the program.

We asked for a refund. The group refused because my son had been issued a uniform. We accepted that loss.

But at the same time, I asked if I could get my $35 back for my daughter because her cheerleading uniform had not been issued. First the people said I could and that I would have to wait for the paper work to be done. Several calls and weeks later, they finally informed me that they had decided not to refund this money.

How can they do that? After the way they treated my son and the other children, they ought to be ashamed to say they are doing this for the kids.

Karen R. Walker

Response: The Seminole Youth Athletic Association says its policy is that once equipment has been purchased and issued, no refund is given. So you will not be refunded the $70 for your son's equipment. You will get back the $35 for your daughter's uniform, however.

The association's secretary says it also has investigated the other complaints in your letter and has taken appropriate corrective action.

Some common-law marriages recognized

My common-law husband and I have lived together, been in business and filed joint tax returns since 1960. We got along so well that we did not want to ruin anything by getting married.

He is collecting Social Security now, and I will be eligible in a few months, but because common-law marriages have not been recognized in Florida since 1969, I will not be able to collect wife's benefits.

Do you have any suggestions?

G.B.S.

Response: You probably cancollect.

A woman may be eligible for a wife's benefits under Social Security provided: her husband is 62 and has enough quarters of coverage; she is 62 or has minor children in her care; and they have a valid marriage.

Three types of marriage are considered valid by the agency, according to Norm Bungard, assistant manager of the local Social Security office. The first and most common is ceremonial. The second is de facto, in which a wedding ceremony occurred but some legal impediment was involved (one of the parties had not divorced a previous spouse, for example), and the third is a common-law marriage recognized by the state.

In Florida, common-law marriages in effect before Jan. 2, 1968, are recognized. A common-law marriage is defined as one in which a couple present themselves to the public as married and live together as a married couple for a period of time.

To convince Social Security that you had a valid common-law marriage you need only to provide some documentation from before Jan. 2, 1968 _ a joint tax return, mail addressed to you as Mr. and Mrs. or a mortgage in both names, for example.

Feedback

In response to the Action column of Sept. 2 in which we suggested that a large increase in a reader's water bill might have been caused by the city of Safety Harbor Water Division estimating the readings for several months, that department called to assure us that it does not estimate water readings.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or if your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write: Times Action, Barnett Plaza, Suite 1140, 101 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa 33602, or call your Action number, 264-3300, Ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request for Action. Calls will be accepted anytime except between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, while messages are being transcribed.

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