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Inmates' labor poses a danger to the public they're serving

Re: Make inmates fill sandbags during hurricane season, Sept. 17 letter

Editor: Maybe inmates could cut our grass, too. During hurricane season (or at any time of the year), it is a homeowner's responsibility to care for and protect their residence.

It is a wonderful gift that our county provides the bags and sand to assist us during a crisis. If they did not provide them, we would be fighting the crowds at Home Depot or Lowe's, paying for the materials and (when we arrive back at home) filling the sandbags.

I went to Veteran's Park Sept. 11 to enroll my 4-year-old son in soccer. On one side of our parking lot, our county was giving away a hurricane supply kit. On the other side of this parking lot, the county was supplying sand and bags for our safety. This site did have inmates wearing black-and-white striped uniforms while assisting the public.

I do not feel comfortable with inmates having such a freedom. Because of their crimes, the public does not want them in the society, regardless of the situation. There is a reason why they are incarcerated.

The letter writer comments that her granddaughter held the bag while she shoveled and that there were "no inmates in sight." Two things come to mind here: I certainly would not want inmates around a child in fear they may attempt to escape and take the child hostage with them, and, second, these inmates are in jail and their freedoms have been taken from them. Unless, of course, we need them to fill sandbags for us?

These inmates are paying for their crimes. They are in jail. They are not able to run to the store or go see a movie or visit with their family without a guard watching over them, etc. They do not owe us anything. We especially don't need their assistance to care for our own homes.

Perhaps the county worker that the writer mentions (who is also being paid with our taxes) should be the one to "fill sandbags and stockpile them for hurricane season."

Or perhaps each resident of our county should just be thankful that this assistance is available for our safety and not complain over who fills the sandbags. It's your responsibility, not the inmates', not county workers'.

Mary Weigle, Bayonet Point

Homes that can't withstand storms burden the insured

Re: Councilman's comments show autocracy, Sept. 16 letter

Editor: Although I do see the letter writer's point about not wanting any council member telling property owners what they can and cannot put on their property, I also see New Port Richey council member Tom Finn's point.

It is common sense that if a strong storm were to hit a coastal area that contained mobile homes, most of them would be severely damaged. The comparison to different colored houses is irrelevant. Although you may feel it is your right to put up a structure that would not survive a strong storm on property you own, it definitely hurts insurance companies who are forced to continually insure your mobile homes, even though they will not withstand these strong storms. This hurts not only mobile home owners, but all homeowners. Our insurance problem in this state is already bad enough. Why should we continue to put up structures that will be torn down by these storms time and again?

S. Berg, New Port Richey

Don't underestimate value of playhouses to neighborhoods

Editor: Neighborhood associations have too much power.

A playhouse in the back yard to keep your children safe, occupied and in your sight is certainly not an eyesore. Today's world is not safe. Don't people remember when their children were young? Let your children and their friends play in their own yard instead of the street, which is where they'll go.

Peg Coltey, Port Richey

TV, others sensationalize storms with wild forecasts

Editor: I am about sick of all this hype playing out with all these local TV stations concerning these tropical storms. They prey on people who don't understand the weather. Enough!

To take this one step lower, I was in a chain home improvement store in Port Richey on Sept. 13 at about noon, when I heard an associate announcing that Ivan had changed course according to the store's security team and was heading right at the Tampa Bay area. She had me convinced since I was working in the field and did not have access to weather reports.

After I returned home, I saw that the hurricane had kept its northwest course and was not heading toward the bay area like that associate and security team had said. I felt like they were playing this up, just like some of the television stations. The store should get their weather forecasts from better sources and be ashamed of themselves.

I feel people would be more safe trusting their own instincts. Hopefully the rest of the hurricane season will be low key and we will not have to be subjected to anymore TV hype and the like.

James A. Pallace, New Port Richey

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