1. Archive

Toll will be human, not animal

Editor: I have been reading about so much concern regarding the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter location on Commercial Way and Spring Hill Drive, and the potential plight regarding the wild animals in the vicinity.

However, I have not seen, heard or read of any concern regarding the actual construction of another boxlike Eckerd on the southeast corner of the dangerous intersection of Commercial Way and Cortez Boulevard. Perhaps this relates to the potential plight of killing human beings as they attempt to enter the parking lot by using the U-turn on Commercial Way, which also is used for Best Western and Weeki Wachee Springs, and are forced to exit onto Cortez Boulevard by the U-turn and entrance/exit to Weeki Wachee Plaza.

I urge you to check with the Florida Department of Transportation and they will show you the blueprints for the above, and you will be able to read the powerful political name responsible for its creation and actual construction. It is the Sembler Co. of St. Petersburg.

The DOT will tell you there will be no change in the movement of traffic at this intersection. Vehicles going north on U.S. 19 will continue to have their right turn onto State Road 50 toward Brooksville with the same yield sign that hardly anyone complies with.

The plight of wild animals vs. the plight of human beings: I guess there is no concern with reality, only money.

David A. Long, Weeki Wachee

Despite appointment,

office needs improvement

Editor: Re: Official lands federal post, Nov. 9 Hernando Times:

Bill Appleby, Hernando County director of Emergency Management, has been selected for part-time service with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He deserves congratulations. He will help to improve management of national disasters occurring at same time. Naturally, some members of Hernando County government are delighted about the selection because it brings recognition to the county and to themselves.

Hernando County residents, however, would be served better if Appleby concerned himself full time, or more, with the ongoing, money-wasting, time-consuming, feuding-staff emergency in his own department. Obviously, leadership and supervisory skills do not always accompany technical skills.

A remedy is simple. All department employees should be directed immediately by some higher level of authority, and in their own time, to reconcile their personal differences promptly and permanently. Adequate counseling should be available from the county Human Resources Department so that outside counselors are unnecessary. The employees, if unable to do so, should be replaced. Only then will the community's confidence be restored in the department's ability to function effectively in an emergency.

The Hernando County Board of Commissioners, operating in a deteriorating economy, has a major decision to make. It must decide whether county government should be a computerized social club for some who are salaried, paid overtime, superannuated and otherwise benefitted, to be members of it.

James A. Willan, Brooksville

Someone must know

what's going on with road

Editor: Wanted! Reward offered!

Whoever has the final plans for finishing the U.S. 41/State Road 50 Bypass intersection in Brooksville, please return to the proper authorities.

Clem Johnson, Spring Hill

Amendment is needed

to control corporate farms

Editor: Re: Don't let the Constitution be our guide on pigs' rights, Nov. 9 column by Jan Glidewell:

I am in agreement with the present effort to place an amendment on the 2002 ballot that would ban the use of pig gestation crates. In a perfect world, with a perfect Legislature, I would be in agreement with Glidewell that this matter, along with other issues, would be more properly handled by legislation. But we do not live in a perfect world, and we certainly do not have a perfect Legislature. Since the Legislature would not deal with the issue, there is no other choice.

And make no mistake that the issue here is as serious as it gets. It strikes at the heart of our survival in Florida: our water.

Hog factory farms produce waste on a scale never before seen in agriculture. An average factory farm in North Carolina has about 3,700 animals and produces 38,480 pounds of feces and urine every day. North Carolina hog factories produce 19-million tons of waste a year. That's 2.5 tons of hog waste per resident, per year.

Runoff from North Carolina factory farms contributes to nutrient pollution, algae blooms, fish kills and diseases. The more than 167-million pounds of nitrogen released into the air every year contributes more nitrogen pollution into the coastal region through the air alone (as ammonia) than all of the municipal and industrial sources combined. Blown downwind, this ammonia nitrogen subsequently rains down on sensitive rivers, estuaries and coastal waters, possibly affecting waters as far away as Chesapeake Bay. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not currently regulate any air emission from hog operations.

There has been new research on the impacts of these hog factory farms on public health. For example, the University of North Carolina and Iowa State University have conducted studies that link this industry to increased rates of asthma and other respiratory ailments in communities adjacent to the farms, and to psychological problems, such as depression. The testing of groundwater wells down gradient of North Carolina hog farms indicated that more than 10-percent of them were contaminated with nitrate.

Present day hog factory farms have little in common with the traditional family farms of the past. They are highly mechanized for mass production. The hogs are treated like raw materials in an industrial factory and spend their entire lives cramped together in big warehouses. Their feeding, reproduction and nursing are facilitated by mechanical devices. Everything is controlled, from additive levels in feed, to dosages of antibiotics, to exposure to daylight.

These factory farms have been forcing out the small farmer just like chain stores have forced out the small mom-and-pop retail stores. In North Carolina, since 1983, about three quarters of the hog farmers have left the business. Further, these new corporate farms go beyond the raising of animals; they are called "integrators" and combine company-owned farms, contract farms, and farming-related business (feed mills, transportation, etc.) under a single company. A relatively few corporate entities dominate the entire pork industry.

Many states have now placed moratoriums on new corporate farms so these huge and powerful corporations are beginning to look to Florida. If they are allowed to come to this state, our aquifer, our waterways, our fragile environment will be assaulted as never before. Once these conglomerates are established, it appears it is difficult to regulate them and probably impossible to get rid of them.

Please sign a petition and help to get this initiative on the ballot.

Isabell Spindler, Beverly Hills