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Observations reveal problems with airpark

Re: As kids look on, plane falls from sky, story, Jan. 18, and Officials: No plans to close airpark, story, Jan. 20.

The reporting of the recent tragic aerial collision and airplane crash in Clearwater generates many observations.

For one, the airport manager was quoted as having stated that no one was at fault, that it was just an accident, that accidents happen.

Nonsense! Accidents don't just happen, they are caused. Another report contradicts this off-hand, "just an accident" conclusion by describing the characteristics of the wings' attachment to each of the airplanes as at least contributing to the "accident" by obscuring the pilots' visibility.

Then there is the amazing statement by city officials that building a control tower would be impractical. Of course. A control tower would merely monitor and direct landings and takeoffs _ an impractical matter in the operation of a busy airport.

I won't even touch on the analogy drawn by a city official between shutting down the airport and closing the roads just because there are auto wrecks. And then, there is the strain of offering a hurricane as a reason to keep the airport open.

Finally, there is the tragic death of pilot Bela Toth. There is universal agreement among those who knew him that Mr. Toth was a fine person who enjoyed popularity, friendship and love from all those with whom he came into contact. The newspaper report included the fact that he was 79 years old, was a vigorous and healthy man and recently had passed the medical requirements for a pilot's license.

With all due respect to the family and friends of Mr. Toth, one must wonder what the criteria are for such licensing. When questions are increasingly being raised about the testing and licensing of automobile drivers in their 70s and older, the greater speeds and quicker decision requirements of flying should warrant even more questions. Is there anyone at age 79 who has the reflexes, the response time and the field of vision that would warrant a license to fly an airplane at the speeds of flight?

But never fear, the Clearwater Executive Airpark will remain open, and that's a certitude! This busy airport, conveniently located in the heart of the city, brings in too much money to the city and has too many members and supporters who are highly influential in and out of government.

Keep 'em flying!

Berwin A. Cole, Clearwater

Maas building an unknown investment

Re: Is Harborview Center worth investment? editorial, Jan. 23.

The editorial states, "The price has been huge. Retrofitting the old Maas Brothers department store cost almost $12-million."

Twelve million is not huge enough.

At a special meeting of the Clearwater City Commission on June 14, 1996, a participant "objected vehemently to spending $14-million of the taxpayers' money on something that will never see a return." It was acknowledged at the meeting that the actual cost of the project "is not known."

The lack of factual cost figures was evidenced by a commissioner's comment that he "hoped that no commission ever engages in this type of project in the future."

Poor financial management over the project by the city eventually led to the demise of the then-city manager. Is a similar situation developing today?

Hal H. Ebersole, Clearwater

Kudos to lawmaker's service to elderly

Re: Bill to put defibrillators in senior centers, story, Jan. 12.

We were very pleased to read that state Rep. Tom Anderson has again led the way by introducing a bill in the state Legislature that would provide an opportunity for automated defibrillators to be placed in every senior center in Florida. He led the city of Dunedin to national recognition as an elder-ready community, now renamed "Community for a Lifetime," as it embraces cradle-to-the-grave services.

Rep. Anderson has a remarkable talent for bringing together various agencies and individuals for a common purpose. This was evidenced this past year as the city of Dunedin, Neighborly Care Network and Mease Hospital combined efforts to provide the first Dunedin Adult Services Center. We personally can attest to the quality of care and professionalism of the staff, as well as the T.L.C.

Rep. Anderson has the courage to stand by his convictions, even if he may stand alone.

George A. Engblom, Dunedin

State shouldn't pay for defibrillators

Re: Bill to put defibrillators in senior centers, story, Jan. 12.

Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin, is a fine fellow, and I voted for him and received a thank you note. But for the life of me, I don't understand why the state has to be called on to pay for the defibrillators to be put in senior centers.

What has happened to the old idea that if a group has a need, they ban together and obtain the article? This is what many other centers have done, as mentioned in the story.

The story also implies that the 250,000 deaths a year due to cardiac arrest all took place in senior centers. The 250,000 deaths are prefaced with "statistics that I've seen indicate" This is a hedge if I ever heard one.

It appears that there are no more conservatives. Everyone is for spending and then they wonder why their taxes are so high. Defibrillators today and a hike in the gas tax tomorrow.

Bob Clune, Palm Harbor

Writer missed real problem in schools

Re: Can't quit teaching, story, Jan. 4, and Teachers are the reason for poor education, letter by G. Lesmeister, Jan. 20.

I take exception to the views expressed by letter writer Mr. Lesmeister regarding the "truths (as he perceives them) about the real problem in the schools."

Today's teacher is, above all else, a trained professional asked to perform in a career that seems to stand out as the most prone to meddling by amateurs. By and large, teachers enter their profession because of a love for enriching the lives of young people. Yet, well-meaning, but dangerously simple-minded, individuals are fond of meddling, using the "I pay, therefore, I say" principle. Teachers are treated as hired help and are subjected to extensive second-guessing by people who lack the inclination, education and background to walk a millimeter in their shoes.

School administrators do not relish the idea of hiring police officers to maintain control in school classes and hallways. Teachers could (and, in the past, did) maintain discipline if given the authority to do their jobs, rather than the onerous responsibility of following the dictates of school boards. Indeed, the increasing popularity of charter schools can be attributed in large measure to the fact that their teachers are given the responsibility and authority to enforce discipline. If parents do not like the results, they are free to take their children elsewhere. But few of them do.

It is a relief that Mr. Lesmeister did not "go on and on." Perhaps he would be well advised to consider that physicians do not accept interference in their practice of medicine, and that engineers do not allow amateurs to tell them how to construct a bridge. But attitudes like those espoused by Mr. Lesmeister seem to abound. As a result, the country is facing increasing defections from the medical profession, and we are in danger of losing our competitive industrial edge. Too many problem identifiers, too few problem solvers. And if opinions like Mr. Lesmeister's prevail, we will find fewer teachers in our future.

Yes, teachers are concerned about keeping their jobs, but so are/were many of us (probably including Mr. Lesmeister). We do what we can do under whatever circumstances prevail. So, perhaps he would take a giant step and bring his priceless knowledge into the classroom by volunteering as a teaching aide. He might even convert some of the "socialists" to his obviously superior political platform.

Michael Bishara, Largo

Seek solutions to education problems

Re: Teachers are the reason for poor education, letter, Jan. 20.

We (parents, teachers, students, politicians) can all continue to place blame on each other or start to put some productive ideas on the table. A teacher's salary is shameful. These are the men and women who are molding our children. I, myself, am a mother of three children, and I can see the difference in each of their learning capabilities.

My eldest son had the same kindergarten teacher I had. He's been a straight A student all of his academic life. My daughter was not so fortunate, and although she is an honor student now, she struggles with her studies. My youngest is now in kindergarten, and the education he is receiving is just short of ridiculous. They just started getting homework after Thanksgiving. Yet, he is expected to be able to write a whole sentence before he can move to the next grade. I understand how busy teachers can get, but when they do not have time to check homework, it's time to limit the number of students in each class or review that teacher's job performance.

And I don't think teachers should have to use their income to supply the school with paper, pens and crayons. This is a state that has a lot of nursing homes and other full-care facilities. If you do not educate the children, who do you think will be taking care of you when you get older?

We need to take a serious look at the amount of money our government officials are wasting on their outrageous salaries and luxuries. We, as a people, cannot keep letting teachers pay to educate our children. We all know what the problem is. How about discussing possible solutions? Stop the blaming game.

Alexandria Olivo, St. Petersburg