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Think: How do you spend your time?

Out of all the resources available to us during our lifetime, none is more precious than time.

As we spend our money, we can look forward, in most cases, of replenishing it next week or next month. Running low on food? Stop at the grocery store and buy more. Car running low on gasoline? Stop at your neighborhood gas station and fill up. All of these resources that we consume daily can be renewed, with one exception: time.

Time is finite. Once spent, wisely or foolishly, it is gone forever. We simply cannot wait for the next supply to arrive; we can't renew for another year.

So how are you going to spend your time? Playfully? Productively? Helping yourself? Helping others?

Look around you. There are people all around that need your help. We read about people that devote their lives to helping others. You don't need to change your lifestyle or give away all of your earthly possessions. You can make a difference by simply giving one or two hours a week to help someone else. The rewards are substantial: a feeling of self-worth, the gratitude of another human being, the feeling of accomplishment.

And it takes so little. Take someone to and from a doctor's appointment. Do some grocery shopping. Help a person with diminishing eyesight sort through his mail. Help with the housekeeping. Mow the lawn. Wash the windows. Help someone get over the hard places.

None are monumental tasks. None will take you more than a few hours. But I guarantee you'll feel pretty good when you're done.

Joe Sutsko, director, Faith in Action of Upper Pinellas, Dunedin

Let's get financial priorities straight

Re: Pinellas okays plan for airport's future, Dec. 22.

Is this really government by the people? To the consternation of the citizenry, the County Commission has approved $223-million for the expansion of St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, just after the airport lost much of its traffic. This is a complete waste of money. All the while a proposed plan is still being kicked around to add a 6-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax in the county for roads.

Those with longer memories will recall that the Penny for Pinellas money was sold to us as being a solution to handle our road issues forever. And it should have, but the money got squandered on other projects. A full accounting of where that money has ended up is in order.

One will recall also that the Pinellas Trail was sold to us as being a low cost/high reward project when it was pushed through without adequate debate from both sides. It has probably cost already 15 times what we were told, and more money is being earmarked for it, while a very small percentage of residents use it.

Please, get the priorities straight. We need to spend the money on the airport like we need a hole in the head; and not one more dime should be spent on the trail. Use the $223-million to replace antiquated roads and draw bridges.

Claude Hensley, Feather Sound

Teachers' good news deserved spotlight

Re: Now U.S. board certified, 48 teachers sigh with relief, Dec. 19.

It was nice for the Neighborhood Times to recognize these teachers, but I was very disappointed in the way the story appeared in your paper.

I am a physical education assistant at Rawlings Elementary School. I was excited for Todd Haraminac when he found out he had passed his National Board Certification. I can only imagine how hard he worked to earn this prestigious recognition. It must have been mentally and emotionally draining, not only for him but his family.

When Todd told the PE staff at Rawlings about the interview he had with the St. Petersburg Times, we were all so happy that he was being recognized for his hard work. The Times also sent out a staff photographer to take pictures of Todd teaching PE.

I cannot believe that a color picture of a 14-year-old and her messy bedroom made the front page of the Neighborhood Times (Parents emote on messy subject), and a great accomplishment of National Board Certification was put on Page 5, without a picture.

I am sure if there was some negative publicity to report about a Pinellas County schoolteacher, it most definitely would not have made the front page of the Neighborhood Times but the front page of the St. Petersburg Times instead.

Tony Calandra, Tierra Verde

Thanks for showcase to all those elves

I would like to thank the Times and Donna Winchester for the Dec. 22 article in the Neighborhood Times, "Elves' help strapped parents.

Blanton Elementary School was blessed to have the support and generosity of the staff and families of Brooker Creek and Oldsmar elementary schools, and the staff and customers of Bob Evans Restaurant at 2401 66th St. N in St. Petersburg. The restaurant staff was very supportive, especially Debbie Matteo, who coordinated the project for Bob Evans.

I would like to offer special thanks to the caring and generous customers of Bob Evans. They were responsible for more than 100 Blanton students receiving presents. And, of course, the project could not have been accomplished without the support and dedication of Blanton's outstanding administration and staff.

Educating today's students is so much more than teaching the "three R's." It involves developing the total student and preparing him or her for life after school. This requires the support of the total community.

Bruce Love, community involvement assistant

Blanton Elementary School, St. Petersburg

Little interloper did not have to die

I have an office in South Pasadena. On arriving one morning last month, I found that a young male raccoon had fallen in through the ceiling tiles after somehow getting into the building. I assume he was seeking warmth as the night before had been cold.

Unable to get the animal to leave despite leaving my doors wide open, I called Pinellas animal control. They promptly showed up and in minutes, the cowering raccoon was snared and put in a cage. Not once was this animal threatening to anybody; it just was terrified and holed up in a corner.

After it was caged, I asked if the animal would be released to the wild, possibly a park like Veterans Park near Bay Pines, known for its raccoon population, or perhaps a more remote location. The officer replied that the animal would be taken back to the county facility and euthanized. I asked that the raccoon be spared, offering to take the animal to my rural property in east Manatee County so that it could be set free. The officer declined, citing the possibility of rabies.

It seems wrong to me that when we live in an area of declining wildlife that animal control would not relocate the animal, perhaps after testing for rabies. I will remember this winter solstice for a long time to come with a heavy heart. I will not forget the terrified eyes. I did not want it to die.

Al Kaspar, Gulfport