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Moving "natural' library would leave a feeling of loss

Re: "Library could go natural," Oct. 11.

The library at Boyd Hill Nature Park has been "natural" for 10 years, and doesn't need to "go" anywhere. The nature center may undoubtedly need room, but I question the library's need for visibility.

I applaud the city planners and architects who creatively erected the library on its current natural environment of wonder, beauty and serenity. These visual and spiritual gifts of nature would be lost if the library were moved to the Lake Vista area. Rather than a serene and enriching setting for reading, personal reflection and study, the new proposed location would offer immense traffic and crowds rushing to the pool, the ball field, the huge recreation center and the playground. This environment of physical activity, though clearly visible, audible and accessible, isn't a conducive environment for those searching for greater knowledge and understanding. Perhaps a locator map of St. Petersburg's South Branch Library at Boyd Hill Nature Park could be posted at the Lake Vista Recreation Park to direct those interested in the resources available at the library.

If urbanization demands that "nature take its course," and the library be moved for convenience and exposure, I hope the planners will at least consider a designated area within the nature park (or center) for those who enjoy reading and meditating in a natural environment.

As a "friend" of the Boyd Hill Nature Park, I have and will continue to support efforts that maintain natural habitats and promote environmental awareness. However, the Times article did not provide necessary details of the proposed nature center. Perhaps, if the educational services and benefits of this new center were made available to the community, it would be easier to support the city's "swap" deal without a natural feeling of loss.

Patti Cooksey-Fisher, St. Petersburg

Perkins' educational efforts lauded

I want to publicly applaud the staff at Perkins Elementary, one of the magnet schools. Since my son, Eric, transferred into Ms. Weeks' second-grade class during the second week of school, he has:

1. Discussed the Cuban refugee problem with me;

2. Informed me that the bald eagle is on the endangered species list;

3. Spelled words like "Tyrannosaurus Rex";

4. Started speaking Spanish;

5. Begun reading books with chapters in them;

6. Talked about musical instruments I never heard of;

7. Constantly sung around the house!

It is as if all five of his senses have been awakened. I love it. Thanks, Perkins.

Gini Oliva, St. Petersburg

Animal Control is caring, dedicated

My husband and I adopted a wonderful little dog from Pinellas County Animal Control five days before your article on a distemper outbreak being discovered there.

We never thought Maggie could have such a destructive disease, but within a few days, she was showing all the symptoms.

When my husband called Animal Control, on a Saturday afternoon, veterinarian John T. Ervin, told him to bring her out immediately. For 2{ weeks Dr. Ervin treated Maggie. He explained everything to us and told us her chances were not too good. We all hoped and prayed, but she didn't make it.

Pinellas County Animal Control is government-operated. It must take in any animal or stray animal that is brought in. Many of these animals have never had the series of shots to prevent diseases. The animal owners are responsible for this outbreak, not county dog control.

We want the public to know how caring, loving and feeling the staff at Pinellas County Animal Control are. We thank Dr. Ervin, operations manager and the entire staff for everything they did.

Yes, we will go back to Pinellas County Animal Control for another dog because we trust and admire it.

Katie and Chuck Wachtman, Pinellas Park

Times' news coverage is outstanding

Current publications reinforce the history of your newspaper's reputation as an outstanding periodical.

I refer to the Oct. 16 spread "What is north? What is south?" in the City Times section, pertaining to the similarities and differences of the two regions of our Pinellas County. Its subhead _ "Special Report: What Is the Character of Pinellas County?" _ magnetized my curiosity.

Such articles as "Who we are, degrees of difference, Pinellas gumbo, similarities" etc. made excellent reading as well as conveying information.

The displays and compilations of differences of businesses, myths and realities, miscellany etc. were most capably explained in "How we did it." You can see why City Times is my favorite section.

Then, to follow a week later with the current front-page daily series "Gambling in America" is the icing on the cake. I can only imagine the cost, the planning, the miles of footwork, the investigations and the research required to produce such a pair of projects.

All the changes made in the Times recently have also made it more readable, more informative and a better newspaper.

To each and all, my congratulations.

Truett Farmer, St. Petersburg

Re: "North and South Pinellas."

In the context of the project, what is a "shopping center"? You count 24; I would say there are several thousand.

Donald J. Smith, St. Petersburg

Infant was taught to swim; I was there

I have been reading about Pauline Petsel, the woman who teaches small children to swim. I was present when the picture of her daughter swimming at a few weeks of age was taken, and saw that she was not pushed but actually made a crawling/swimming motion through the water with her eyes open.

At the time I was employed by the city of St. Petersburg and managed all their swimming pools and beaches. The picture was taken at North Shore swimming pool and I was present, being slightly apprehensive, but not worried as I had observed Pauline on many occasions working with small children. However, this was the youngest child I had ever seen actually swim.

The city pioneered what we called "Mother and Child" swim classes in which a mother worked with her own infant in a small group guided by a certified instructor. This was probably 30 years ago. Pauline Petsel was instrumental in developing many of the techniques we used in these classes. At the time she worked for us as a paid instructor and was certified as a Red Cross water safety instructor. This training and certification is required of all instructors and guards working at city pools. Many of these special teaching techniques were new, and we worked closely with the local Red Cross and some informal state groups to share information.

Our formal "Mother and Child" classes held at the pools taught children 2 and older. When a child reached 4, he could enroll in our special 4- and 5-year-old classes. In cases of special need we often would teach children younger than 2. Even a very young child can be taught to jump into the water, come up, turn over onto his back and kick in a circle until someone comes to his assistance. However, we found that a 2-year-old child usually remembered what he was taught from one swimming season to the next.

Pauline Petsel was a pioneer in developing techniques for teaching small children to swim at a time when most organizations thought children should be 8 or 9 before taking lessons. I still have a copy of her book and it still is as usable as when it was written. Pauline should be praised for her contributions in this area of instruction.

Ray Lydon, St. Petersburg

Treat animals with respect, not abuse

It seems as though each week I read one more heartbreaking story written about some poor creature that had its fate decided for it by humans. But it also seems that most people are blind to the abuse they inflict upon these wondrous animals.

Animals bless this world with their stunning beauty and grace. Yet, as with many things, people have found plenty of ways to corrupt this gift.

Probably as far back as time can recall, people have been using innocent creatures to make a profit, no matter what this means for the animals. We keep them chained and caged, away from all other species, and we force them to change their normal behavioral patterns so we can parade these confused creatures in front of millions of strangers to make money. We skin their furin a vain attempt at capturing their unique beauty. People are even so heartless as to get rid of dogs and horses without a second thought when they become too old to race or show. They are even killed when it suits the owners' purpose.

The list of abuses goes on and on, and it will continue to get worse unless people stop supporting these acts of cruelty. I wouldn't expect people to run to the picket lines to protest these things, but it would help a great deal if people found more humane ways to spend their money. Buy a fake fur that looks real. Take a boat ride to see dolphins in their natural habitat. Even watching a nature show where animals interact in the wild is much more enjoyable than paying to see them live as they do nothing more than pace back and forth in a cage.

I wish that everyone would at least consider these things before they decide to spend money toward continuing this abuse. Paying these people to kill or to entrap is just as bad as doing the deed yourself.

And no brief amount of pleasure or smiles derived from these acts can ever excuse or make up for an animal's loss of freedom or loss of life!

Heather A. Manning, St. Petersburg

City streets should not be sacrificed

Re: "USF yields, Third Street to be open, but narrow," Oct. 13.

We are excited about the planned additional facilities at USF that will benefit students and residents alike, but our city streets cannot be sacrificed. This campus was designed as an urban campus, meaning with characteristics of a city, including public roads. In particular, the closure of Third Street goes well beyond just eliminating our entry way to the "downtown area, where many of them shop and work." Major concerns also include hurricane evacuation routes, response time for emergency vehicles, access to Interstate 275, limited access to public property and museums, and hazardous traffic congestion on Fourth Street.

It is essential that USF continue to work with the surrounding neighborhoods to develop an acceptable plan for all concerned.

Note: May I suggest holding the public hearings in the evening instead of at 2 in the afternoon during the work week?

Kelli Post Lineberger, president,

Driftwood Property Owners Association,

St. Petersburg

Low-flying planes pose risk to campus

We read in the Oct. 12 Times, "Privatizing tower alarms controllers." It should. Even the present condition is scary. Low-flying planes skim over the university's rooftops, dropping blithely into Albert Whitted Airport. The library and administrative buildings are especially vulnerable. And now a new library building is going up, and presents an even larger target.

One wonders _ on the fringes, as a spectator and non-participant _ is anyone addressing the potential for catastrophe? Is reducing the number of air controllers the answer? What does the concerned public think? And the university staff? Does one hear the silence of contentment or of hesitation to speak up? Perhaps of frustration from the experience of voicelessness? Of lost leadership?

The ethics of leadership _ now such a concern locally, with professorial chairs, courses and seminars galore _ would seem to warrant that the Times, as local monitor and seeker after truth, might see its way to speak up on behalf of the public and the university and the picture _ if nothing more _ of a safe downtown. The present scary airway is really something, something correctable, something that needs to be corrected _ a public health menace, so to speak. Certainly something more than a matter of "privatizing" _ a trade-off concept fraught with peril.

A flyway at a safer angle is the obvious answer. Dredging into Tampa Bay to extend the runway will have less risk to the environment than the present risk to university lives and structures. Human error or mechanical _ it's just a question of time.

Lyman Warren, M.D., St. Petersburg

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