1. Archive

Story unfair in treatment of sheriff's deputy

Re: Deputy in school bus incident penalized, story, Jan. 27.

First, I'd like to say that I am absolutely disgusted by the way this report portrayed Pinellas Deputy Brett Savage.

I have had the privilege of working with Deputy Savage, and without a doubt he is an outstanding deputy. This report was 100 percent against Brett and confirms that the St. Petersburg Times digs to find any way to slam a police officer. There was not one piece of that report that reflected on Brett's positive contributions to the people of Pinellas County.

How about looking at his personnel file and tell us why you didn't advise the citizens of this county that Brett is hard-working and dedicated to the Sheriff's Office?

I will not pass judgment on Deputy Savage's actions, either for or against the decisions he made on the date in question. And I will not pass judgment on the Florida certified law enforcement officer who initiated this incident. I was not present during this incident and can't say either way what should have been done.

One thing I will say is that the Times should try a bit harder to provide the citizens with well-balanced information so they can formulate their own opinion, and not be subjected to antilaw enforcement garbage.

Christopher S. White, Palm Harbor

Campus police at the root of the problem

Re: Deputy in school bus incident penalized, story, Jan. 27.

Thank goodness little Randall Davis is safe! But let's not displace blame for the school bus incident. The Pinellas County schools campus police should be questioning their own.

The campus police are state-certified law enforcement officers with full arrest powers. They have uniforms, drive marked police cars, make traffic stops and carry guns _ but they can't issue a ticket? Does this make sense to anyone?

Campus police Officer Mike Kazouris should have issued the ticket and not even involved Pinellas Sheriff's Deputy Brett Savage. Kazouris was behind the school bus in a marked patrol car in full uniform and witnessed the violation. Officer Kazouris pulled over the motorist and then claims he didn't think he had jurisdiction to issue him a ticket. Lazy or incompetent?

Bus driver Barbara Fieler should consider Officer Kazouris' gross misconduct before passing judgment on Savage. Little Randall was safe, but Deputy Savage was thrown under the bus!

Judith Holland, Dunedin

Giving a little could mean a lot to many

Re: Food pantry runs short in deal to buy property, story, Jan. 14.

I find it thoroughly disgraceful that our combined communities in the Pinellas County area cannot see fit for each member of our society to contribute $1 toward the purchase of the food pantry property located in Clearwater. Better yet, why can't the owner (or owners) of said property donate the $1.5 million-property to Religious Community Services? The owner/owners will then have a tax writeoff to a nonprofit organization.

RCS has added a fee of $1 for each and every visit to the food pantry due to the high cost involved in processing information and bagging food (another hardship placed on people little able to afford the $1, much less able to purchase food). Their many volunteers, and the various grocery stores and individuals that donate, give a much-needed service and pride to the communities at large.

Many seniors, disabled, unemployed and single-parent households must use the services of the food pantry in order to try to rise above the poverty level and just survive.

Those that "have" seem to just want to keep it for themselves, and yet the many that "have not" are happy to contribute what little they can for the joy of giving back to the beautiful world we have all been given.

Lyn Zerin, Clearwater

Society plays key role in poor education

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

I am currently an exchange teacher from the Pinellas County school system in Nagano, Japan. I continue to keep informed about what is happening back home by reading the St. Pete Times online. After reading the letter from G. Lesmeister, I feel compelled to submit my letter in defense of our teachers.

Based on my experiences both at home and here in Japan, I strongly believe that whatever problems plague our schools are not the fault of our teachers, but of our society as a whole. To properly educate our youth requires the cooperation and support of all of us.

Students in Japan significantly outscore their peers in the United States on standardized tests. Is this to say that the teachers are superior here in Japan? Hardly the case! It is due to the tremendous support of the society as a whole.

From infancy, children are taught respect, self-discipline and the value of education. The success of the children is the responsibility of the student, parents, school, teachers and the community. It is an obvious team effort.

Rather than undermining schools and teachers, everyone should be asking how they could play a positive role in the education of our youth. Get involved! Our children would benefit from everyone's commitment to education.

Teachers deserve respect, appreciation and support for the incredible job we are doing.

Jane Hayes, Indian Rocks Beach

Airboat's history traced to several states

Re: Airboat was imported from Minnesota, Adolph Hanson's letter, Jan. 21.

Actually, several states have connections to the world's first commercial airline. The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line's Benoist Airboat No. 43 was manufactured in St. Louis by Tom Benoist in 1913.

It was then taken to Duluth, Minn., for a summer carnival called "The Lark of Duluth," and Lark of Duluth was printed in large letters under the wing.

The airboat was next taken back to St. Louis where 10 more feet were added to the wingspan and other modifications made. It was then sent to Paducah, Ky., for use.

After Tom Benoist and Percy Fansler, one of the airline's founders, signed a contract on Dec. 13, 1913, with St. Petersburg Mayor Noel Mitchell and local businessmen to implement the airline, Benoist arranged for Airboat No. 43 to be shipped by rail from Paducah to St. Petersburg for the Jan. 1, 1914, launch of the airline.

The airboat did not arrive in St. Pete until Dec. 31, the day before the inaugural flight was scheduled, creating great anxiety on the part of local promoters. Those who uncrated the airboat commented upon its rough-looking appearance. The hull was painted dark green, possibly to hide former wear, and it still bore traces of the painted-over legend "Lark of Duluth." The hull also bore the signatures of nearly 50,000 people who had witnessed the airboat's flight in one state or another since June 1913.

Of course, none of those who signed the hull knew at the time the airboat would be used in the world's first commercial airline.

The full-sized working replica, built by the Florida Aviation Historical Society, on permanent display at the St. Petersburg Museum of History is true to this history. The replica includes the dark green paint, and under the upper wing are the letters "of DU," the remnant of the "Lark of Duluth" signage.

As is so often the case, good things come from a diversity of places!

Will Michaels, executive director

St. Petersburg Museum of History