1. Archive

Commission should snuff out fireworks during drought

I read in the Times that Pasco County has banned fireworks at least through the Memorial Day weekend in view of the current drought. It is not clear whether Pinellas County has such a ban. If not, the Pinellas County Commission should institute such a ban at least through Memorial Day and possibly through July Fourth, in view of the current drought, the raging forest fires and the fact that Pinellas is in the danger zone for major conflagrations.

Norman Howard, Clearwater

Message to sheriff

is not getting through

Re: Deputy speaks out on transfer request, story, April, 27.

As a citizen living in an unincorporated area of Pinellas County and being served by the Sheriff's Office, I would like to commend Cpl. Darren Romero on his integrity. He could have given the Seminole City Council a "bunch of rhetoric," as he said, but chose instead to give them the truth. Others in the Sheriff's Office could take some lessons.

We have had some wonderful deputies and we have had some who were not so wonderful. We have had some experiences with the Sheriff's Office that were great and some not so great. When we want to discuss these experiences with superiors at the Sheriff's Office, they do not want to hear about it.

It angers me that the Sheriff's Office not only treats its "customers" with disrespect, but it also treats employees this way. For Sheriff Everett Rice to assume the matter was closed shows poor management on his part. If 10 out of the unit's 14 deputies have requested transfers, then it is obvious to this mere citizen that there is a problem at the Sheriff's Office. These deputies deserve respect, and they are not getting it.

Romero said, "The transfer requests were intended as a message that there was something wrong with unit as a whole." Apparently, Sheriff Rice is not getting the message.

Michele Petys, Clearwater

Local health care professionals

are angels during emergencies

In the course of 1{ weeks, our two children, ages 3 and 2, required emergency transportation to the Mease Countryside Hospital emergency room for two unrelated illnesses. The feeling of helplessness is hard to describe as your child lies there, one semiconscious, the other having difficulty breathing. Entrusting their care to total strangers, you pray that the best of the best are on duty when you need them.

In a matter of seconds, these incredibly professional people swooped in and took action that only true angels can do. With the utmost calmness and unwavering dedication to their work, they transformed a critical situation into a stable environment that gave us a feeling of hope. I cannot say enough about the Dunedin Fire Department, Palm Harbor Fire Department and Sunstar Ambulance Services, the first ones on the scene.

The staff of the emergency room was unfazed by a semi-uncooperative parent and the rude tone of my questions. Upstairs on the pediatric ward, our child was in the care of angels 24 hours a day. One angel, a nurse named Kathy, called in on her day off to check on our son.

You may have not have realized it, but as parents, we were in your care, too. Although you never treated us in a traditional manner, your presence was very therapeutic to us.

Our emergencies ended happily, and I realize all of them don't. But if anything can be done to save children, it is very reassuring to know God's angels are right here in my hometown. In all the terrifying confusion, my wife and I forgot to thank them, again!

Rick and Janet Whitelaw, Dunedin

Why do all the experts

come from outside the area?

Re: City wants to cash in on corporate sponsorships, story, May 19.

It appears another Clearwater City Commission vote regarding the hiring of outside experts is forthcoming. This time the company is in California. Does it not make one wonder if there are any experts in Clearwater?

Marilyn Gerrish, Clearwater

Billboard industry almost

torpedoed local work

Re: Billboard legislation will add fairness to process, letter, April 24.

In the referenced letter, a local billboard executive criticized the Times for bias in reporting about proposed billboard legislation in Tallahassee.

By using very careful wording, the author argued that the proposal was needed to properly compensate a billboard owner when local government required billboard relocation or downsizing. He failed to point out that the U.S. Constitution already requires "just compensation" when any property (including billboards) is "taken" through government action.

The proposal was really to establish special supplemental compensation in excess of what is required by the Constitution. What the billboard companies were seeking was the same special compensation levels mandated by Congress in 1978 for certain federal-aid primary and interstate roads. Why did the billboard industry get this special supplemental compensation from Congress? The answer can be found in the Phillip Stem book The Best Congress Money Can Buy.

By using political influence in Tallahassee, the author's trade association was seeking to make it too expensive for local governments to require removal of inappropriately placed billboards. In the last 10 days of the legislative session we came very close to overturning 10 years of work by Pinellas County. In 10 days without staff analysis, with only three minutes of public input, the Legislature almost overturned a key element of a full year of unprecedented cooperation by the Pinellas Mayors Council and the board of commissioners.

The people of Pinellas County should be grateful to the legislative leaders who saw through this sham for what it really was: a baldfaced plan to win in Tallahassee what they couldn't win locally. The Legislature was right in not overturning local decisions on community appearance. We are also grateful to the St. Petersburg Times for accurately reporting on this legislative threat.

William C. Jonson, president,

Citizens for a Scenic Florida, Clearwater

Mistimed traffic signals

add to U.S. 19 headaches

I would like to add my 2 cents to the U.S. 19 controversy. We usually try to avoid U.S. 19, but once in a while it seems like the shorter route. However, no matter when we go, it's the timing of the lights that causes us to rethink going that way.

When we leave early in the morning, as early as 5 a.m., we still seem to have to stop at every traffic light, even though the traffic is light. And the lights have no relation to the cross streets. There may be no traffic on the cross streets, but the lights keep you waiting and waiting. Then you travel to the next light and wait again.

Several years ago there was talk about doing something about this situation, but I've seen no improvement. It seems to me that a lot of road rage could be avoided by a good traffic light system.

Bob Cooper, St. Petersburg

Clearwater roundabout leaves

bus rider stranded in the sun

I am over 65 and ride the bus to Clearwater Beach, and there is no shelter or even a bench to sit on at the last stop before the drawbridge. There used to be a nice shelter, but they removed it to make room for the roundabout. It would be nice to have a place to get out of the sun while we are waiting for the bus.

Charles J. Smith, Clearwater

Residents will miss

officer's caring presence

We would like to send a special thanks and congratulations to one of Clearwater's best: Officer Sheila Waters, who has been promoted to sergeant and been sent to a different area.

She had worked in Wood Valley since Feb. 28, 1998. She was more like family to us than a police officer. Waters always had time for the residents of the community. She was faithful in attendance at all of our functions.

Wherever Chief Klein sends her for duty, the area and her co-workers will be getting a jewel of a person. Her smile and attitude have endeared her to the people of Wood Valley. We are proud of you, Sheila, but we will miss you. You are always welcome in our community.

May God bless you and keep you safe.

Virgil, Margaret and Connor Jetton,

and Jo Ann Wolfe, Clearwater

Loose dogs have made life

miserable for many residents

My sympathy goes out to the poor people putting up with nuisance dogs. Tougher fines must be enforced.

Residents anywhere shouldn't put up with loose dogs and barking dogs that disrupt someone's life. People have gone dog crazy and don't seem to care about their neighbors.

Some residents are talking about selling their homes because of the problem. What a disgrace.

Gary Nowlyn, Belleair Bluffs