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Abused children need someone

Editor: With all of our current worries _ terrorist acts, the threat of further attacks, the war in Afghanistan, planes crashing and all of the many lives lost _ it is easy to forget about the atrocities that are occurring in our own back yard. It would be nice to believe that all of the children in our own community are safe. But the sad fact is that last year more than 680 children in Hernando County were under the jurisdiction of the dependency court due to abuse or neglect.

There is an organization of caring adult volunteers who dedicate their time to ensure that these children find safe, stable homes where they can thrive. It is called the Guardian Ad Litem Program. Its volunteers are court-appointed advocates who speak up for the best interests of abused and neglected children, many of whom have been removed from their homes and are in foster care. The volunteers serve, at no cost to taxpayers, as an additional safety net to ensure a child does not get lost in the overburdened court and social service system, and does not return to an unsafe home. Many times, a volunteer is the only constant adult presence in a child's life.

It doesn't take any special background or knowledge to be a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer. They are everyday people from a variety of backgrounds who share the desire to care for some of the most vulnerable children in our community. Each advocate is thoroughly trained and supported so they can work effectively and with confidence.

Here in Hernando County, the volunteers were able to help 499 children during the year 2000; however, more than 180 children had to navigate the system without a volunteer. If you are interested in truly making a difference in the life of a child, please call the local office at 754-4226 or visit our Web site at www.guardianadlitem.org. New volunteer training will be held in the Brooksville office in January.

The most important thing we can do right now for our community and our nation is to take care of our children. They are the future. Make 2002 the year you decide to step forward and become a powerful voice in a child's life. A child in Hernando County is waiting for your help.

Amy Robertson, recruiter/trainer

5th Judicial Circuit

Guardian Ad Litem Program

Wal-Mart has positive

impact on community

Editor: I am sick and tired of hearing the whining people from CAUSE complain that the "proposed" Wal-Mart site is the reason for the two bear cubs being killed on Osowaw Boulevard. The person who stated she came along just a couple of minutes after the cubs had been hit can look at herself as part of the problem because there she was on that road, and if she had been a couple minutes earlier, she would have hit the cubs herself. Then how would she blame Wal-Mart for her existence there?

The place where the bear cubs were killed was not in front of the proposed Wal-Mart site, as these people would like you to think. It was quite a distance west of U.S. 19 and away from the site where Wal-Mart wants to build its supercenter.

How, pray tell, will the Wal-Mart increase traffic down Osowaw Boulevard? Most of the people frequenting the store will not be going further down Osowaw into the area where the preserve actually is.

Maybe Arlene Edrich, Linda Prescott and the other members of CAUSE should do their part to reduce traffic in that area and move! Isn't it amazing that someone will move into a place and then decide that no one else should come there because, somehow, they were the last of the chosen ones to be allowed on that hallowed ground.

Why is this piece of land so important to the existing wildlife, when the surrounding land obviously was not, as evidenced by the existing Chevron station, Discount Auto Parts and Spring Hill's own smelly sewer plant. And let's not forget Hernando County's western garbage transfer station, the church and the mobile home park, all within approximately one-half mile or less from the proposed Wal-Mart site. All of these surround the parcel of land in dispute, and already isolate this piece of property from the preserve, which is basically across the street from the sewer plant and next to the dump.

If you leave the politics out of the equation and ask residents _ "Would you like to have a Wal-Mart supercenter close by you, rather than across town, and even more so, a Sam's Club closer than 20 miles away?" _ I honestly believe an overwhelming majority would say yes.

Has this town forgotten the help that Wal-Mart gave after the no name storm of 1993? I would much rather have a company with deep pockets invest in the town's future than some small company that can offer only its condolences in times of need.

I have a problem with changing the petition they already have collected 1,000 names on. It appears they must have been getting some resistance by coming out against Wal-Mart and now want to change the petition by taking Wal-Mart's name off it and disguise it as being concerned only with disturbing the environment.

Maybe someone needs to be checking into the adjoining lands, or the political interests and contacts of the people coming out against this so strongly, and see what the real reasons might be for all this negative energy.

Lynette Ball, Spring Hill

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