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Where is the common sense?

Letters to the Editor
Published February 21, 2007


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Re: Habitat focuses on own move Feb. 15 story

I have had just about enough of Hernando County and its officials' lack of judgment and common sense. Why in the world would they make Habitat for Humanity move from its present location near the airport?

Has Gary Fischer lost all his common sense? His ability to continue to represent the residents of Hernando County as zoning administrator is in question.

What's wrong with having a thrift store on U.S. 41? There is an 84 Lumber store just up the street and it doesn't seem to be causing great concern.

I would rather have a thrift store in that location than a cement plant, or a dump, or whatever else might be considered industrial.

To make this wonderful nonprofit organization move is just plain wrong. This is a perfect example of government overstepping its place and ruling by the letter of the law instead of the intent. I am fed up with this style of county government.

These officials work for us, the citizens of Hernando County. We are not supposed to fear our county government and its officials. We are supposed to look to them for help and guidance and for long-range planning for what's to be, not undue pressure, duress and enforcement for enforcement's sake.

Can't we all work together to make Hernando County a kinder, nicer place to work and live? A place where helpful suggestions and a "we want to make it work" attitude from our officials is the norm, and what our county should be known for, instead of heel-grinding suppression and enforcement without common sense?

Donald Montgomery, Brooksville

Re: County hires conservation pro Feb. 1 story

Land manager is a sensible move

In 1988 Hernando County voters approved a referendum providing a small portion of their property taxes be dedicated to the purchase of sensitive lands. The residents of the county, many of whom moved here in order to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful landscape, were watching it be replaced by subdivisions and strip malls, decided that the only way to preserve it was to purchase it.

Most would agree it is not fair to place unreasonable restrictions on private landowners when they played by the rules to develop their lands. You would have to be blind not to know that in the near future our county will be as built up as those to the south. So, since we wanted green spaces in our county to remain, taxpayers were willing to put up a few dollars each year to make sure they are there for us and future Hernando residents.

Over the past 17 years, this fund has purchased some beautiful properties. Among the lands that now belong to residents are Cypress Lakes Preserve in Ridge Manor, Fickett's Hammock in midcounty, and the proposed improvements to Bayport Park in the westernmost portion on the county. Residents near Brooksville will soon have Peck Sink preserved with these funds.

Unfortunately, simply purchasing lands is not enough to preserve them. They also need to be managed in order to maintain the resource. Up until recently the management has been left to a few employees of the Planning Department to squeeze it into their other duties. Many of the plans, such as making the properties more accessible to the public, keeping out off-road vehicles that damage the land, and fostering the ecosystems present on the properties, were not able to be realized.

The hiring of a full-time conservationist, part of whose salary comes from the Sensitive Lands Fund, was a decision that was long overdue. I applaud the county commissioners for approving this position. I especially applaud the residents of Hernando County for their continued support of this program.

Michael Liberton, Webster

Re: Manatee abuse around sanctuary caught on tape Feb. 13 story

We must all speak up for manatees

I want to tell you about a recent encounter I had with manatees in Hernando County. About eight to 12 manatees swim in a local canal daily, with little to no distractions except occasional onlookers or swimmers. I read your article and watched the news recently about manatee harassment, and then reflected on my own behavior.

Earlier in the week I was swimming with about eight manatees, as I have done every day for the past month or so. One very social manatee kept coming around me and two other swimmers and at one point even came into very shallow water so he could have his back scratched more and more. After about 20 minutes of him staying next to three of us, I decided to get my 4-year-old daughter from the dock. I brought her into the water for a picture. I held my daughter, all of 32 pounds of her, over the manatee, but not bearing any weight on him. I did not want to scare my daughter or my new friend.

As harmless as it seemed at the time, and knowing I did not harm or agitate the manatee, I started to think about the onlookers. Speaking as an advocate for these beautiful mammals, I crossed the line because of my seemingly harmless action. As an onlooker I would have been angry, but none of them spoke up.

I am sorry and I wanted to tell others that it is easy to get carried away in the moment when surrounded by these animals. It is our duty to respect the manatee. In the month that I have been swimming with them, I can only think of this one instance when I have gotten carried away. I swim the river bottom daily picking up any human debris that may harm them, and I also keep an eye on other swimmers so they do not harass or disturb our beloved manatees. So, for the onlookers who are scared to say something when they see the manatee harassed, it is our responsibility to speak up for them.

With as much advertising as the state does to bring in more tourists using the manatee as a lure, you would think they would try harder to save them and not exploit them. A few simple solutions could go a long way: Businesses that rent boats to novice boaters should have guards on the propellers. Boats that are registered at homes where manatees are frequent must install propeller guards. Post manatee etiquette rules at local parks.

Daniel Blevins, Hernando Beach

[Last modified February 20, 2007, 20:35:44]


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