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© St. Petersburg Times, published January 18, 2001
Editor: Re:Man gets 15-year term in home invasion case (brief), Jan. 11 Hernando Times:
It simply amazed me what occurred at the sentencing of Carl Roger Campos. Two years ago I would have seriously hurt this man if he got in my path. As I addressed the court, I found some compassion.
I let the defendant know that I choose not to be a victim anymore, and that God had given me the strength to come to the courtroom and to directly address him for the trauma and loss his crime of the Goldsmith Jewelry Store robbery/home invasion had caused.
I described my hyper-vigilant behavior that occurred prior to his arrest. What it felt like to be driving home and wondering if someone was following me. To be at work, and thinking, is someone casing to rob me? To be at home, constantly expecting a home invasion.
Well, now things have changed. His 15-year sentence would provide for him a similar experience. He would now have to watch his back with vigilance.
When I was his age (25), I was working as a probation officer for a maximum security prison. One of the inmates inspired me to transform my life. I told Campos he had choices. He could seek people within those walls to take him down any path he wished. Which one would he choose?
Circuit Judge Jack Springstead's courtroom was completely silent. Campos then began to express his regrets and ask for forgiveness, never breaking eye contact. Somehow, I accepted that his remorse was genuine.
How true it is that our most difficult times turn into extraordinary spiritual growth. The intent of my testimony today is simply to encourage the defendant to do the same. I honestly believe, without a doubt, he will.
-- Helen Clemente, Spring Hill
Editor: Re: Lawyer: County okay on severance money, Jan. 12 Hernando Times:
Excuse me, but it is my understanding that former executive of the Economic Development Commission, Rick Michael, was terminated, not because he was so proficient in his job. Why then all the discussion about a $25,000 severance bonus? Why would one even consider giving somebody who has been fired a severance bonus, which would imply he did a good job but the company is cutting back, etc.?
And the arrogance of the EDC to deny the county attorney's office access to his employment contract is incomprehensible. That alone warrants not giving him a dime.
We need the EDC and all their baggage like we need the plague. We have plenty of businesses and probably more restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in the entire country.
We don't have enough water for the people here already; the post office is like Christmas time 12 months a year, and all the shopping parking lots are filled. We are overpopulated as it is.
Send the EDC north to Homosassa, along with my sympathy.
-- Charles Miller, Spring Hill
Editor: Re: Columnist takes wide swipe at EDC, board, Jan. 16 letter to the editor:
I don't know if Commissioner Chris Kingsley or Commissioner Diane Rowden holds the proper position concerning the Economic Development Commission.
But after reading Commissioner Kingsley's letter to the editor, I do know that Kingsley would benefit from some lessons in brevity and English usage.
-- Adam Butcher, Spring Hill
Editor: Hernando County residents and County Administrator Paul McIntosh should be embarrassed by Hernando County's pitiful contribution to recycling. By not recycling materials we are showing a disrespect for this Earth and the gifts God has given us. Raw materials are, in many cases, a limited resource. Not recycling takes up valuable landfill space and causes us to waste these valuable resources.
I'm sure Mr. McIntosh and his staff could find state and federal moneys that are available to offset some recycling costs if they were interested enough in doing so. Remember, we are just guests on this wonderful Earth, and we have a responsibility to leave this planet a better place for future generations. We should not take all the good things for ourselves and leave our offspring with our waste.
-- J. Lemieux, Spring Hill
Editor: At about 2:30 p.m. Jan. 14, near the intersection of State Road 50 and U.S. 19, Hernando County Deputy W.S. Powers stopped a vehicle being driven by a 25-year-old St. Petersburg resident, Gary Grim. The alleged reason for stopping the vehicle was that the deputy saw the registration tag was expired.
While the deputy was going over the citation, driver Grim got back into his vehicle and took off. The deputy then pursued him, with both vehicles exceeding speeds of 100 mph east on State Road 50. Several vehicles were damaged during this pursuit through several major intersections. Luckily no one was killed,and this time of year we have a lot of snowbirds in the area.
I feel that Deputy Powers used poor judgment in this matter and that both the deputy and his supervisor for that time frame should be disciplined. The people of Spring Hill do not need this type of mind-set by our law enforcement servants on our streets and highways.
-- B. Bridge, Spring Hill
Editor: I would like tothank U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman's office for the recent assistance she and her staff gave my wife and me. We are from Manchester, United Kingdom, and have visited Florida on many occasions. We are self-supporting, healthy, have no criminal records and have many friends here.
This year we purchased a six-month visa from the American Embassy in London, instead of the three-month visit on the visa waiver program, because we were hoping it might be possible for us to retire in Florida and the extra time would allow us to purchase a house and car, and also to organize investments and health insurance.
Due to an error made by the Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector upon our arrival in Philadelphia, our passports were incorrectly stamped for the three-month stay instead of a six-month stay. In an attempt to rectify the problem ourselves, we contacted the Tampa INS. We were treated like criminals and threatened with deportation if we did not leave by the three-month limit. We then contacted the INS in Miami and Washington, D.C., and the American Embassy in London with no help.
Regardless of who we contacted, the reply was the same, until we contacted Thurman's office. Thurman's office staff gave us solace and was able to correct the problem quickly. With regret, we have come to learn and accept the fact that because we originate from the UK, we will never be allowed to permanently move to the USA.
Someday I hope to understand why retirees from the UK cannot move to the USA when all categories of people from all over the world welcome the chance of coming in, regardless of their health, financial position and political beliefs. Friends have told us that we would be welcomed if we came in on a small boat claiming to be destitute. Then we would be provided with food, clothes and money.
Our desire to live in the USA has rapidly diminished, and we have now decided that when we return to the UK this time, we will not be returning to the USA, as there are other places that welcome people who can be of benefit to their country.
-- Brian H. and Sylvia Bent, Spring Hill