Today's Letters: Let's rethink that city idea

Published May 3, 2007

Re: Time for Spring Hill to be city April 20 letter to the editor

Recently there was a letter to the editor saying it is time for Spring Hill to become a city.

How wrong can that writer be?

With property taxes and homeowners property insurance at record levels, who needs another tax increase when residents are screaming for tax relief? It would take an increase of at least 4 mills to run the city.

Enough said.

S. E. Ross, Spring Hill

Audubon won't give up the fight

The Hernando Audubon Society, composed of hundred of members from across all parts of Hernando County, has declared the Hernando County Commission vote to approve the comprehensive plan amendment for Hickory Hill a setback for growth management.

This is a frustrating and disappointing day for all the Hernando County citizens who urged their County Commission to protect rural areas in our county and support our county comprehensive plan. We have maintained that the proposal to amend the comp plan to allow Hickory Hill would set a dangerous precedent and undermine good growth management and planning in eastern and northern Hernando County.

Conservation organizations committed to protecting open spaces, habitat, water quality, and promoting smart growth in Hernando County (Hernando Audubon Society and the Hernando Alliance for Open Land Conservation) noted that last week's vote was a reminder of what is at stake unless more residents act on their desires for quality of life and open space. The issue of Hickory Hill has served to create tremendous outpourings of public concern about the future of Hernando County and the losses occurring due to growth and development.

We need a strong comp plan that protects natural areas and the quality of life for county residents. The County Commission has cast a vote that undermines good growth management.

The Hernando Audubon Society will continue to oppose the Hickory Hill Comprehensive Plan Amendment when it is transmitted to the Florida Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee. This might be a perfectly good project in a part of the county where 1, 750 homes would be appropriate, but not in Spring Lake. We encourage Mr. Thomas and Mr. Sierra to work with the county to redesign a project that would be consistent and compatible with our county's current comp plan.

Joe Murphy, conservation chair, Hernando Audubon Society

Elder abuse needs to be reported

While it is not often spoken about, the National Center on Elder Abuse estimated that in 1996 more than 500, 000 Americans 60 years old and older were abused. Only about 16 percent of elder abuse cases are reported, leaving 84 percent of elder abuse cases unknown.

Elder abuse can take many forms. It is not only physical abuse or emotional abuse, but also sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect and abandonment. While all of these types of elder abuse are caused by another person, such as a family member or caregiver, elder abuse can be caused by the elder themselves.

Self-neglect cases are the most reported elder abuse cases. Self-neglect can be a result of an elder's inability to care for themselves or the result of an illness, such as dementia. Most self-neglect cases are solved by connecting elders to community support groups that help them continue to live on their own. Other self-neglect cases are treated medically, as would be the case with an elder with depression or another physical or mental ailment.

Elder abuse is a crime and should be reported as soon as it is suspected. For more information about elder abuse or to report suspected elder abuse, call the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).

Jennifer Warmington, Mid-Florida Area Agency on Aging

Re: FCAT scores vary widely April 26 story

Writing-test story lacked some facts

Poor! Poor! Poor! The best way to describe the article written by Tom Marshall and contributed to by Donna Winchester regarding the FCAT writing scores released April 25. Mr. Marshall, you should have done your homework before writing about the information you downloaded off of the Department of Education Web site.

As a writing resource teacher working at the only middle school (Dolores S. Parrott) not mentioned in your article, you failed to mention the successes that each of the five middle schools achieved on the essay portion of the test. All of the middle schools scored a 4.0 or better for the first time since the test began in 1992.

In fact, the 4.1 state average is the highest for middle schools since the test's inception. Why not write about the district's 4.2 average for middle schools? Instead, your article focused on the achievement levels based on the multiple-choice part of FCAT writing.

Although the information you reported was accurate, it has nothing to do with the school grade nor will it have any bearing on the Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, and the various subgroups that fall under the domain of the No Child Left Behind Act.

We are extremely proud of the accomplishments that our eighth-grade students achieved, scoring 4.2, the highest in the school's history. I know the other middle, elementary and high schools are also proud to see their scores rise from the previous year.

If a 3.5 in writing is "proficient, " then why not give credit to our students who showed a gain of 16 percent from the previous year, a 28 percent gain in students who performed at 4.0 or better, or reporting that 89 percent (277 out of 310 students tested) are writing "proficiently." All you had to do was pick up the phone and do a little research.

Furthermore, you quote Commissioner of Education Jeanine Blomberg, who states, "In 1999, only 34 percent of the state's fourth-graders scored a 3.5 or above out of 5." That's inaccurate since our rubric is based on a scale up to a 6.0 None of us read about the 72 students at the five middle schools who scored a 6.0 on their essays, a number I believe to be a record-setter as well.

Teachers work too hard and the little positive press schools often receive shouldn't go unnoticed. I am extremely proud of the students at Parrott and I commend the teachers at my school for supporting writing. I'm sure I speak for all my colleagues at the other schools.

Next time get all of your facts.

Walter T. Cermak, Spring Hill

Shows, theaters are appreciated

I recently attended the wonderful production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the forum at Stage West in Spring Hill. I am always astounded at the talent exhibited by the actors, singers and dancers in our local theaters.

This production was outstanding! The actors met the challenge and came through with the utmost professionalism. I applaud those who volunteer to entertain us at Stage West, the Show Palace and the other theaters in our area. We truly appreciate their efforts.

Barbara Kocsis, Spring Hill

It's far from fair to exclude this event

From April 20-29 the Hernando County Fair was given front-page coverage in the Hernando Times every day. On April 21-22, the Spring Hill Relay for Life event took place at Springstead High School. Thousands of people from the community participated, including hundreds of cancer survivors. We raised $170, 000 in our fight against cancer. Yet, there was not one story or photo in the newspaper.

I believe that a community event of this magnitude should be worthy of at least one article and photo. The people who organized the walk, the participants, those who helped set up and particularly those folks who stayed for the full 18 hours and walked the track the entire night in very cold weather deserve proper recognition.

Those of us who participated were very disappointed with your lack of coverage this year.

Loretta Pizzo, Spring Hill

Brown-Waite is a friend to veterans

I had tried unsuccessfully for seven months to try to get Medicare to reverse itself and pay an ambulance charge. In June of last year, my husband was diagnosed with three herniated discs and it took two trained professionals to get him onto a gurney and into the ambulance for a trip to the emergency room. This claim was initially denied, as was my first appeal, because the powers that be felt he could have been transported by automobile.

I'm 72 years old, suffer from osteoporosis and my husband outweighs me by 50 pounds. Was I expected to lift him? Drag him? If anyone has ever had a herniated disc (let alone three), they would know this was not an option. All supporting records were sent in with the first appeal, and, frankly, I felt angry and frustrated by the decision.

I then sent the appropriate papers in for the second appeal with a copy to U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite. I received a very nice letter from her stating she would look into the matter. Thankfully, a short time later, I received notice that the second appeal had generated a favorable decision and the claim had been paid.

In my heart of hearts I really feel this claim would have just gone unpaid (as so many do because it is easier to pay the darn thing than fight, and I am sure this is factored in, too) if Rep. Brown-Waite had not inquired on our behalf.

Thanks, Rep. Brown-Waite, for looking out for veterans and the little guy.

Cynthia Audrey Ballin, Dunnellon

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