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Largo felling perfectly good trees at park

As a last resort _ after dealing with city, county and park personnel and the Environmental Protection Agency on the phone _ I am resorting to this public complaint system, for a little sympathy at least.

I am a morning walker at Taylor Park, Eighth Avenue, in Largo. It used to be a beautiful, peaceful, quiet place for a morning walk. It is now like walking through a lumber camp. Chain saws and chopping machines abound.

Someone in high authority has decided to cut 40 to 60 trees. Whoever they are, they are doing a good job of it because no matter where I complain, or how much, they still are cutting.

Some of the answers received to the question "Why are you cutting?": They are old trees. They might blow over in the wind. They are not pretty trees. We are planting new and better trees.

I am also getting older and might blow over in a strong wind. Some of the trees were 3 to 4 feet in diameter. I, for one, have never seen an ugly tree. I hope I can live another 100 years to see the new, better trees grow to be 3 feet across.

I thought a park with lots of different trees would be a great learning experience. Remember the leaf collections, when you took a book along and identified as many trees as you could? Also, the poor night herons are so confused, they have changed nesting trees from years past.

Sarah Lucas


Live oaks are lovely

but a lot of trouble

Re: Natural beauty being scarred, letter, March 20.

This letter referred to the beauty of a "stand of live oaks." After living with four live oaks on our property for 18 years, I'd like to tell you something about living with live oaks.

We have one live oak over our driveway that drops dry, slippery leaves for several months every year. After weeks of this, the acorns come and you can turn your ankle on them. After weeks of the acorns come the long, soft, fuzzy hangings that cling to everything. Just when you think all these droppings are drawing to a close, heavy brown droppings cover everything and have to be swept and picked up.

We retrieve from five to nine trash cans of "live oak" debris every week for several months a year. Those sharp-pointed leaves are imbedded in all the flower beds, bushes and vegetable garden. It's fine if everything likes acid soil; otherwise, keep lime on hand. This year we have wiggly, fuzzy caterpillars dropping from the oaks as an added attraction. We're told they will be around for one month.

My eyes adore the beautiful live oaks, but my body is weary of raking and sweeping the leaves. If I ever move, I too will love the "stand of live oaks" _ but from afar.

Meta E. Ritz


Now even water isn't free

at restaurant; what's next?

I recently had dinner at a small, long-established restaurant in Clearwater. I was really surprised when my bill showed I owed 20 cents for two glasses of water.

What is next? Will we have to pay extra for silverware, napkins, salt, etc.? One thing I don't believe that they will charge for: a small, polite, after-dinner belch.

Joe Daily,


Prompt, wonderful EMTs

gave lifesaving help

On Feb. 16, a Sunday, I awoke from a nap unable to breathe. I live alone and figured that I had enough breath for one phone call, so I called 911 for the first time in my life and then managed to unlock my front door. Almost immediately, two wonderful men arrived with their equipment while I was still on the phone with the operator. I don't remember much after that, but they took me to Morton Plant Hospital's emergency room and literally saved my life. After a few days at wonderful Morton Plant Hospital under the care of my wonderful doctor, Dr. John Rinde, I am fully recovered from the pneumonia.

Since this was my first experience with 911, I want to say "thank you!" to the operator and the fine young men from Sunstar Emergency Medical Services who answered my call for help. They didn't ask me if I had insurance or who would be responsible for paying the bill. Everyone involved was very professional and efficient, and I am very grateful for their prompt and lifesaving assistance. Thank you, Sunstar!

Katherine D. Jaberg,


Wild animals nearby

put residents at risk

We read with great interest the story about a caretaker at the Savage Kingdom facility outside Orlando being attacked and mauled by a Siberian tiger. What happened in Sumter County could very well happen here in Pinellas County. That headline could read that children at Starkey Elementary School were attacked by a tiger or leopard that escaped from Mr. Vernon Yates' collection of pets, as he calls them.

The evening news on Fox TV quoted an animal trainer as saying, "A wild animal is always wild and can never be trusted." In all the stories that we have read regarding the problems with Mr. Yates' compound, there has never been any mention that the Starkey Elementary School playground is diagonally across the street from Mr. Yates' pets (wild animals).

We live at the Gardens and hear not only wild animals roaring but also the joyful sound of children from Starkey Elementary School at play. On the same street is Casa Celeste, a retirement/assisted-care facility where the elderly residents are also at risk.

Perhaps it's time that the parents of the children who attend Starkey Elementary School and the management of Casa Celeste join the residents of the Gardens and put pressure on our state and county officials to remove these wild animals from this residential area and ensure the safety of all residents. It seems to us that in Pinellas County, animals have more rightsthan people.

Harold and Caroline Johnson


Humans took away "wild,'

must coexist with animals

Even though I'm strongly biased in favor of Vernon Yates, it's not the intention of this letter to take sides. The energies of both viewpoints surely could be better spent against our burgeoning crime problem or drugs in school. My suggestion, after the dust settles, is for well-meaning individuals on both sides to join hands.

The comment that Vernon's animals would be better off in the "wild" or in someone else's back yard is both naive and selfish. We humans must understand that there is no "wild" left _ we've taken it all. "Wild" is now downtown after dark or grade school during recess. It is everyone's responsibility to learn how to coexist with animals which once were segregated from humans, but now, because of us, must be integrated _ a sharing of this planet Earth.

Vernon Yates has an interesting microcosm of what once was strong but now needs our help, and I'm sure most of his objectors enjoy visiting the zoo. Why doesn't Vernon invite them over so they can learn firsthand? A little understanding goes a long way. Hopefully, they'll eventually recognize a distant roar from their favorite tiger, understand the reason for the call, and smile.

To turn our backs on nature is abandoning ourselves.

David Raber