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Cyclist leaping without a helmet a troubling photo

Editor: I was gravely concerned to see the young man's picture on the front of the Hernando Times July 10. An 11-year-old boy was performing stunts on a bicycle, shown leaping several feet into the air _ unfortunately he was not wearing a helmet.

Hundreds of children suffer permanent scarring, facial deformities and brain damage from performing similar stunts on bicycles, skateboards, and more recently scooters. The ultimate price of this lack of concern can be loss of a child.

No child should be in motion on an open-wheeled device without proper head protection.

Further, when a child advances to more exotic tricks and stunts, he or she should also have appropriate wrist and knee protection. In many communities including our own county, it is the law that all children under 16 must wear head protection while riding a bicycle.

R. Joseph Paquette, M.D., medical director

Spring Hill Regional Medical Center's

Emergency Department

Residents should be proud

of Sheriff's Office's efforts

Editor: I am writing this letter in response to Mr. Martin's letter about the professionalism of our Sheriff's Office.

I am a law enforcement officer in Pasco County. I am also a resident and taxpayer of Hernando County. I would like to address some of the issues brought up by Mr. Martin. I would like to see his documentation on deputies in this county not carrying their weight.

What I see is an agency of deputies and detectives that are doing more than carrying their weight. I have met many of the employees of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office _ on a professional level, personally and as a citizen. We should be proud of their accomplishments and their true professionalism _ an agency that stresses putting people on the street and not making a bunch of departments designed for their political friends.

I see more marked patrol units on the streets of Hernando County than many other larger agencies. The deputies I have encountered, as a citizen, have all been courteous and professional.

I would like to also let Mr. Martin know that I am not the only citizen of Hernando County that works in the law enforcement field who works in another jurisdiction. I personally know of at least 20 such individuals, and in each case, we work elsewhere because we do get paid much better than the personnel here in Hernando County.

I would also challenge Mr. Martin to come up with a solution to the traffic enforcement problems here in Hernando County. Not only for the citizens of this county, but I am sure that every sheriff and police chief in Florida would love to better control these traffic violators, short of putting a cop at every street corner. Maybe Mr. Martin should be addressing the citizens that violate the traffic laws.

And, in closing, I would like to say that most citizens would lose 25 percent to 50 percent of their annual salary when they leave a certain field they are working in for many years and go on to pursue a career in a totally new field starting at the bottom.

I would also encourage Mr. Martin to attend the Sheriff's Office Citizens Academy to help enlighten him on the perplexities of running a sheriff's office the size of ours. And maybe then help come up with some solutions to these problems.

Bradley T. Kokoris, Spring Hill

Nimmagadda center supporter

works to benefit the community

Editor: Due to commentaries of the past few weeks, I feel compelled to write this. I am writing as a personal friend and admirer of Weenie Rogers Ghiotto, not just as chair of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council.

Over the last several months, Weenie and I have had countless discussions about the Nimmagadda Cultural Center as she deliberated over how she could make a meaningful contribution to our project.

During these discussions, her concern, as always, was for this community and how it could benefit from further exposure to all forms of the arts. Those who know her, know her to be an unselfish and ardent supporter of any project that she deems worthwhile. Her interest in our project was no different.

The inability of the council to place the cultural center anywhere other than overlooking Hunters Lake and its inability to alter the name of the concert hall, at this time, are due to the fact that both of these situations were decisions that were made over a year ago. The council could simply not renege on year-old agreements.

The members of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council and its many supporters, including Weenie, are good-minded people who are working hard and making financial contributions to make this a better place to live for all of us. I have been deeply disheartened that so many good people are being made to feel that their efforts have been questioned.

This cooperation among everyone involved (including the press) has made this project attain such unusual success in a short period of time. Weenie's interest in the project's success was also in a spirit of concern and cooperation. At no time did Weenie or I feel that we were involved in a "squabble," as the headline indicated.

I cherish my personal relationship with Weenie and I am convinced that she has certainly not abandoned her desire to work toward improving the quality of life in the community she loves so dearly.

Barbara Manuel, Brooksville

Withdrawing donation

to center mean-spirited

Editor: Re: Withdrawn donation of funds, June 28 letter from Ronald P. Roth, Jr.

I have read several rebuttals to Mr. Roth's letter from stalwart friends and allies of Margaret Ghiotto. I have always held Mrs. Ghiotto (Weenie, as she is known to many) in high esteem for her decades of generosity and community service. I believe she was also a member of the state Legislature and is considered by many to be one of Florida's premier women _ politically, socially and culturally.

But, unless I am mistaken, Mrs. Ghiotto's staunch supporters merely vilify Mr. Roth for having attacked a local icon, but they never address the issue he raised with regard to Mrs. Ghiotto's having rescinded her $200,000 donation to the Nimmagadda Cultural Center. Did she in fact withdraw her donation over a matter as trivial as choosing a name for the center's auditorium? None of her friends deigned to offer comment. And since we have not heard from Mrs. Ghiotto herself, I can only wonder at the truth of this charge.

That is a lot of money, and the cultural center has been struggling for years to get its feet on the ground. To withdraw such a sizable donation of funds and land seems puerile and mean-spirited, especially in the absence of a plausible explanation.

I am sure Mrs. Ghiotto will continue to flourish with or without my continued admiration of her deeds and standing in the community.

However, I had thought Mrs. Ghiotto would be above such petty behavior, and if she had a valid reason for rescinding her donation, other than the one given by the press and expounded upon in Mr. Roth's letter, I, for one, would like to hear it. I firmly believe that charity taken back is a worse sin than lack of charity.

As for Mr. Roth, unpopular as it may be to malign the usually generous Mrs. Ghiotto, he is still entitled to his opinion _ or has the Brooksville elite rescinded the right to free speech as well?

Michael Gallo, Brooksville

GOP is doing nothing about

Medicare HMO problems

Editor: Medicare HMO coverage may be facing more serious problems at the end of the year.

Up until this year, HMOs had to tell customers they are leaving a county by July 3. This would give other HMOs a chance to see if they would come to the county and give customers a chance to find a new HMO.

Now, Tommy Thompson, appointed by George W. Bush, has changed that date to the middle of September. As Mr. Frank Colletti, a Republican, stated in the July 12 paper, Medicare and HMO problems have to be addressed in the Congress, controlled by Republicans that is doing nothing about this.

Karen Thurman has been fighting to correct this problem, but is in the minority.

Horace Hall, Brooksville

Florida developers should use

and protect shade trees

Editor: The best news that I have read in the papers for a very long time is the new awareness of architecture and greenery.

I have long wondered why parking lots are so unpleasant and anti-ecology. Not only does the intense Florida sun create a furnace of heat thrown back from the asphalt pavement, but there is no shade to ameliorate the heat.

Why on earth are palm trees planted as useless decoration when a shade tree would give so much more comfort and beauty?

And has anyone ever considered using good old-fashioned cool gravel in parking lots instead of asphalt?

I am pleased that Wal-Mart listened up real quickly and is now planning to use as many existing trees as possible in their new location on U.S. 41. That alone will draw many more customers.

Let us hope that the planners of the new Brooksville hospital will also "hear the word" and keep all the beautiful trees surrounding the pond as well as those on the perimeter of the proposed location.

Jean Lane, Brooksville

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