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Animal Services boss deserves our thanks

Editor: Re: Tale illustrates need for Animal Services change, July 3 letter to the editor from Art Cotton:

Either Mr. Cotton gets a different edition of this newspaper, or something is very wrong here. If you can tell me the picture of the Great Dane with the broken leg somehow constitutes "harassment," please tell me how? Jim Varn has one of the most distasteful jobs in this county. He is the one who must pronounce life or death when people slip up at night and drop pets over the fence at the shelter. He is the one who must go out to places like this and find what he does and not throw up. How he doesn't resign is a miracle in itself.

This case was not "meaning well," it was not wanting to do a "good thing," it was not some mistaken "desire to help." It was out-and-out neglect. Do you think the Dane did not feel pain because he was a dog? If this had been a human child, you would be screaming for justice. Animals are no different. They need, they feel, they get sick, they get hurt.

This reminds me of a case in Indiana. A professional dog handler went out of town and left 19 giant schnauzers in their crates to starve to death. Do you know how long it takes a dog that size to starve to death? I am sure it was not pretty. He meant well, though, so it was okay. They were, after all, just animals.

Mr. Varn, I may not agree with you at times, but you keep your job and bless you for it. If I start thinking about something as sick and senseless as this whole case, you have my permission to harass me.

James T. Marsh, Spring Hill

Criticism of Brooksville patron unfair

Editor: Re: Withdrawn donation of land is criticized, Ronald Roth's June 28 letter to the editor about Margaret "Weenie" Ghiotto's retraction of funds donated to the proposed cultural center in Spring Hill:

I find it a blatant disregard for fact-finding. The letter was outright vicious. For whatever reason, he seems to be angry at her and Wal-Mart and Brooksville. Maybe he was having a bad week, but I think it was in bad taste.

Now, allow me to clarify some truths about Weenie. To begin with, if the cultural center was next door to the Christmas House, it wouldn't benefit the business because the Christmas House is closed in the evening when the center would be open. And if you look closely, Brooksville doesn't have any more crime than Spring Hill. When Weenie was asked about having the place named after her mother, she emphatically said no. She did, however, say that rooms could be named in memory of loved ones or those that have contributed to the Arts Council.

Let me share a few of the things I am aware of Weenie doing over the space of many years. As a resident of Brooksville, and the owner of a 50-year-old, world-renown establishment that has brought more business into Brooksville than any other, why shouldn't all her efforts go into the town?

She has given away thousands of redbud and dogwood seedlings to anyone wishing to take them home and plant them; donated many oak and tulip trees for Tom Varn Park; planted tulips at the courthouse; the Beautification Award is in her name because she has single-handedly done more than anyone to encourage beautification in the town; she has given donations for education to schools and to individuals.

She has sent students overseas to help further their education; she has given freely from her own pocketbook to those she heard were in need (I know this from personal experience); she allows the Lions Club (this being their biggest fundraiser), the Heritage Museum, and the Ladies' Junior Service League to sell their products at the Christmas House, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the organizations.

Each year she gives gift certificates at Christmas to every police officer and firefighter in Brooksville; she gives to numerous charities; she has served on the board of First Florida Bank and Brooksville Regional Hospital; and she is responsible for much of the improvements made to the town. She is probably the most selfless person I know.

So, Mr. Roth, if you feel Spring Hill is being discriminated against, perhaps you would like to do some of the same "self-serving" acts in our own fair town.

Cyndi Bustos, Spring Hill

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