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Letters to the Editors

Channel dredging project is a fiasco

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

Editor: Re: Residents, state seek compromise, Feb. 2 Times.

The dredging project for the Hernando Beach channel can only be described as a fiasco. Some four or five years ago, at a public meeting held in the Coast Guard Auxiliary building, everybody present, with the singular exception of one beach resident, thought it would be a great idea to contract for federal (Army Corps of Engineers) involvement in the channel dredging. This majority opinion was based on two premises.

Most of the cost of the project (80 percent) would be paid by what is commonly referred to as "federal" funds. The weakness of this premise soon became apparent when it was learned there is a cap on the amount of money the federal government would contribute. The cost of the project became much higher than originally anticipated, thereby increasing the amount to be paid by Hernando County.

There is really no such thing as "federal" money. The money the federal government contributes to any project comes from the same place as our income taxes, real estate taxes, gasoline taxes, cigarette taxes and sales taxes. It comes from your pocket and mine.

The second premise of federal involvement in the project was that future maintenance of the channel would be performed by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard does not have enough funding or personnel to maintain the channels for which they are presently responsible. For the past two or three decades, the Coast Guard's responsibilities have steadily increased, and its funding from the federal treasury has steadily decreased.

When future maintenance becomes necessary on the improved channel (if ever it is improved), the federal government will not do it, and it probably will not permit anyone else to do it.

It should now be apparent to everybody that the primary priority of state and federal agencies is the perpetuation of their own existence and the exercising of the power vested therein. They could not care less whether our channel is dredged.

There are two options available to the county to have the channel dredged:

1. Urge our federal representatives (U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite) to exercise their influence to break the present bureaucratic deadlock.

2. Bite the bullet and walk away from the contract with the Army Corps of Engineers. Sacrifice the money already invested. Hire a consultant to obtain a permit for maintenance dredging, and contract at the county level for the work. This will restore the channel to the condition that it was in 15 years ago.

This approach will not satisfy pie-in-the-sky ideas about the beaches and idealistic channel conditions. It will result in a functional channel at a fraction of the cost presently facing the county. This will not produce the best channel on the west coast of Florida, but, based on my 20 years of experience sailing this coast, it will not be the worst one either.
-- Albert G. Lyons, Jr., Hernando Beach

Hernando County needs another cable company

Editor: When I opened my bill from Time Warner Cable, once again there was an increase in the cost for local service. This has been the fourth increase in the last couple of years. Since these increases, the quality of programming has gone from bad to much worse.

I get three Spanish channels (no one I know speaks Spanish), and nothing but more infomercials and channels with reruns.

I do not use the Road Runner Internet service, so what gives? Am I supposed to be getting better sound and picture quality? I don't think so.

More than a year ago, there was a forum with the Hernando County commissioners, Time Warner and concerned customers about these issues and the cost. What happened to the commissioners promising to look into this?

We need an alternative cable company in Hernando County to give Time Warner some competition. Because of this monopoly on cable service, consumers have no choice but to use them.

Did someone say he saw antennas for sale?
-- Marcia Amen, Spring Hill

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