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Writer wonders if there's more to runaway shelter

Editor: I imagine that the "Runaway shelter hopes for July opening" headline is applicable only if they catch up with the shelter before July rolls around.

Would you also write a story on what caused the shelter to run away in the first place?

Vern Russell, Brooksville

To planter of signs: Pay for advertising

Editor: To the so-called business owners who put up the bright yellow signs, "WE BUY HOUSES," at nearly all intersections in Spring Hill, I would like to tell you how great a citizen you are.

You have the gall to go around putting up these ugly yellow signs all over Spring Hill. You should be like the rest of the business owners here in Spring Hill and buy advertisement in the newspapers and the advertising magazines.

The signs are disgusting, ugly and distracting, and only take away from our town.

Don't be so cheap; pay for your advertisements. Also, the so-called business that puts up signs all over that say, "WORK AT HOME." Get a life and do the same _ pay for your advertisement and don't dirty up our town.

Bill Luecke, Spring Hill

Big-box ordinance deserves support

Editor: The big-box ordinance would greatly help our senior citizen population, our young people with small children, and tourists in Hernando County.

It would provide more shopper-friendly amenities such as covered walkways for pedestrian safety, canopies or porticos at all customer entrances, landscaped sitting areas in front of stores so people can sit down, more trees and shrubs along the foundations of buildings, sidewalks leading into parking lots with benches for sitting and shielded display areas. Now is our opportunity to make Hernando County unique in the Tampa Bay area and to stop the sprawl on U.S. 19.

Nearly 80 years ago, Sinclair Lewis in Main Street warned us about the homogenization of our culture: "Nine-tenths of the American towns are so alike that it is the completest boredom to wander from one to another. . . . The shops show the same standardized, nationally advertised wares; the newspapers of sections three thousand miles apart have the same "syndicated features.' "

In her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs wrote: "Everyplace becomes more like every other place, all adding up to Noplace."

Sprawl is often mistaken for economic development. Brian Ketcham, a traffic and environmental engineer in New York City, explained the costly side effects of retail sprawl in the Metro Planner newsletter of the American Planning Association in 1995.

A 150,000-square-foot big-box store will attract 5,000 to 10,000 shoppers a day, Ketcham said. If 90 percent drive, as is likely, then a big-box store can attract from 2,700 to 5,600 auto trips a day _ 1-million to 2-million auto trips per year. Assuming an average round-trip distance of 8 miles, this means an additional 8-million to 16-million vehicle miles of travel per year.

A 150,000-square-foot big-box store will directly increase traffic congestion costs by $5-million per year, increase the number of traffic incidents each year by about 190 property-damage incidents and 55 personal injuries, with one additional death every three years at a total added cost burden of nearly $7-million a year. (Three people from Spring Hill have been killed on U.S. 19 within the last two months.)

Air pollution and noise will likewise increase. Of even greater consequence is the impact of big-box-generated traffic on other traffic.

A study by the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C., was featured in the Florida Metro section of the Tampa Tribune. This study "paints sprawl as a global disaster, prompting pollution that sickens people from Tampa to Thailand and warming the planet with carbon emissions from too many cars. Although polls show Floridians are increasingly upset about sprawl, evidence shows not much is being done to stop it."

Al Norman, journalist and author, listed several serious environmental and economic issues of big boxes:

The impact of traffic on air-quality standards.

The threat to water quality and aquifers.

The mismanagement of storm water and sewage.

The reduction of wildlife habitat.

The loss of open space and unique natural areas.

The homogenization of rural landscapes.

The expense of costly new infrastructure - water lines and roads.

The deterioration of historic commercial centers.

The overdependence on the automobile and superhighways.

Support the big-box ordinance at its hearing on July 31. The future of Hernando County depends on it.

Linda Prescott, Hernando Beach

Better, more services needed for youth

Editor: Re: Editorial, Friday June 22, 2001, "Counseling program in need."

I highly commend School Board member Gail Coleman's courage to express concerns about "sub-par counseling services" and the full board for commissioning a survey at Coleman's suggestion.

Okay, so some people are offended and defensive. It's a highly emotional issue. But, face it, it affects a lot of people's lives for many years, and too many students are bypassed and ignored or, as they say, "fall between the cracks." (I believe, too, that these are the students who have trouble fitting into our society and become impoverished, mentally sick or involved in crime. But that's another subject, or is it?)

A good percentage of students don't have the self-confidence, high self-esteem or mentoring it takes to even ask for counseling. We must do this for them. If they know counseling is available to them, they may feel it's not for them. They already feel like failures.

For many years, I have felt there should be a teen pull-out section in the newspapers. I would like to ask our "specialized educators," the guidance counselors, to write articles for this section.

These articles, written by professionals, will inspire, motivate and guide our youth. Maybe those kids bypassed by the system, who feel they don't measure up, may glean a glimmer of hope and see a future for themselves.

Get them reading, talking, thinking and doing the right thing! What do you say?

Grace L. Larkin, Brooksville

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