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Today's Letters: Community has many volunteers

Published August 14, 2007


Re: Relying on volunteers for city service is risky editorial, July 31

Good grief! It would seem that your editorial writer, in an effort to belittle Clearwater Beach citizens, insulted the citizens of Clearwater, many of whom faithfully volunteer regularly throughout the city.

"Volunteers," states the editorial, "get to choose whether they work or not. They are not obligated in the same way that employees are, and they feel freer to just not show up. They typically cannot be relied upon to perform essential tasks that must be accomplished daily, because there is a risk of the jobs not getting done."

Tell that to the staff of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where the volunteers outnumber staff at least 20 to 1, or to Tampa Bay Harvest, which has in excess of 500 volunteers with only one paid staff member, or to the RCS Food Pantry or Hospice or Meals on Wheels, city advisory boards or dozens of others.

If volunteers are working successfully at other libraries and recreation centers in Clearwater, why would the editorial writer assume they could not on Clearwater Beach? Is she trying to make a special point about the beach community?

Well, we're told, there have been no volunteers recently at the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center. So, a good reporter would have made an attempt to find out why. Did he ask if they need volunteers? Have they asked for volunteers? Is it possible that volunteers have not been welcomed at the recreation center and library in recent years? A look at the lists of volunteers throughout the city would reveal that Clearwater Beach residents are to be found volunteering in organizations all over town, so why wouldn't they volunteer in their own community?

Clearwater Beach has added more to the real estate tax income of Clearwater in the last five years than any other community. But the city manager decided to spend that additional tax money elsewhere, (proposing) closing both our recreation center and our library.

Did the beach community demand to have the tax money from our community spent in our community? No! We stepped up to bat as beach residents have always done. We volunteered to help rather than demand that our library be left open and another one closed. Already we have a list of volunteers and more to come as people return from vacation. We also have a list of ideas for new programs because we know our community and understand what would be interesting to our people.

The St. Petersburg Times is so prejudiced against our community that they want to hinder us in any way they can. Nevertheless, we will succeed and save money at our facilities while tax money from the beach goes to help other, perhaps less affluent neighborhoods continue to enjoy their recreation centers and libraries. We are excited about it. Too bad the Times is playing spoilsport.

Anne McKay Garris Clearwater

Re: Online survey too complicated letter by Martin Altner, Aug. 2, and City dedicated to hear from public letter by Doug Matthews, Aug. 8

Survey has new online address

After reading Mr. Altner's letter and then Mr. Matthews' letter, I knew that an explanation was necessary.

The Clearwater Downtown Partnership is engaged in helping to research and provide information to our members as well as the city of Clearwater's Economic Development Department.

Our downtown is currently being revitalized with several new and great projects that will increase the retail and commercial spaces available and it is important that we invite and encourage businesses that we believe will succeed.

As part of our research efforts, we created an online survey that we e-mailed to a few thousand names. The survey address was made up of very disjointed letters and numbers that did not make sense and many had trouble with the online address.

Our efforts are similar to, but separate from, the work being done by the city of Clearwater. Information about the partnership can be found at

I apologize for the difficulty. We have fixed the problem and have shortened the survey address down to We have learned our lesson and from now on we will make sure that we do not use a long or difficult online address.

Dwight Matheny, chairman, Clearwater Downtown Partnership

Re: Finally, the truth story by Kameel Stanley, Aug. 12

Bullwhip stood in way of real story

Great story. Well written as usual. I have always thought that the St. Petersburg Times is a great newspaper and I have benefited from the articles it writes.

But, in my opinion, in this case the bullwhip that Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall brandished prevented them from getting the real story.

This is a local story and that is why it has always gotten my attention. Some day we will know the whole truth.

Richard S. Lee, Largo

Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

[Last modified August 13, 2007, 20:10:49]

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