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Thanks to tired county workers

Once again the residents of Pinellas County are counting their blessings. We are very fortunate that we have not seen the destruction that many of our neighboring counties have. However, the damage in Pinellas is great and will require lots of time, effort and sweat to get our community back to its normal beauty.

Our dedicated employees have worked long hours to help keep citizens informed and safe, and they are exhausted. My fellow commissioners join me in saying how very proud we are of their efforts in response to the dangers posed by all the season's storms: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. I ask our citizens' patience and cooperation as we allow them to get some rest and then resume their normal duties and responsibilities.

We also appreciate the way residents are working together and helping one another through this cleanup period. Many communities throughout Florida have been greatly affected by the devastation of these storms, and all of our resources are stretched very thin.

Our emergency plans include a contract for plant and tree debris removal. But debris contractors hold agreements with other Florida counties as well. This normally wouldn't be a problem, but due to the unprecedented statewide cleanup, some of the contracted resources for Pinellas County's plant and tree debris removal may be pulled to respond to those areas.

For today, though, dozens of the contractors' crews are working in the unincorporated areas of the county. They are first concentrating on areas that had not had tree limbs picked up after Frances. Fortunately, that's only about 15 percent of the unincorporated communities; the majority of communities had a sweep before Hurricane Jeanne.

For those who can take tree debris to a dropoff site and dispose of it at no charge, Pinellas County is operating temporary sites (for individuals only, not for commercial businesses). The Solid Waste Operations Center is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Other sites, open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, include Keystone Road and East Lake Road (the southeast corner); Belcher Road and 118th Avenue (on the northwest corner); and 4300 28th St. N (approximately 400 feet north of 42nd Avenue N). Construction debris or other garbage is not accepted at these sites.

Again, I am proud of the tireless efforts by county employees during this remarkable hurricane season. And I know that our community is strong and resilient. Thank you to our citizens for your help and cooperation as we face the challenging days ahead.

Susan Latvala, chairman

Pinellas County Commission

County not playing fair after damaging property

Re: Family needs no geyser, but gets one, story, Sept. 28.

This is in response to the Palm Harbor couple, Eric and Sue Chapman, whose home was ruined when a backhoe driver for the county was clearing debris from the latest storm and hit a fire hydrant, thus causing flooding in their home.

While accidents do happen, I am completely disgusted by the immediate response from the county that the Chapmans will not receive a check for the replacement value of the items damaged by a negligent county worker and that the items' value will be depreciated.

Amazing, isn't it? What is the county going to save by depreciating their carpet? $100? $200? If they negligently damage someone's property, they should repair or replace it, not depreciate it.

How would the county like every taxpayer to depreciate their taxes based on the county's shoddy work or services? That is not possible because the county has all the power and can place liens on your property for failure to pay.

So, unless the county does the right thing for this family, I suggest the Chapmans contact an attorney to level the playing field for them.

Rick Whitelaw, Palm Harbor

Retailer had good plan when the power went off

I just wanted to comment on the intelligent actions of Home Depot on U.S. 19 at Curlew Road. Operating only on emergency power, customers were escorted to the items they wanted so they would not be injured walking around in the darkened store (lit only by emergency lighting). Then they were escorted to the few cashiers (operating on emergency power).

A well thought-out plan. This maintains the Home Depot presence as a good neighbor.

Robert D. Colestock, Clearwater

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