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© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001
Editor: Our membership wishes to express its deep concern regarding the present situation pertaining to water usage, particularly as it relates to the massive development currently in effect or planned for the near future.
We are painfully aware of the 100-year drought that we are enduring. We are all cooperating with and abiding by the water usage restrictions. We do understand the absolute necessity of curtailing any and all but the most vital water usage. We are all prepared to "do what is necessary" to get through this most difficult of times.
What we do not understand is how the County Commission, as our elected leaders, can support, tolerate and even aggravate this cruel situation by permitting more water consumers through the planned developments and projects.
We are aware that Pasco wishes to advance via such development, and we realize the ultimate benefits to be gained.
Nevertheless, it is painfully most obvious that the commission should take immediate steps to severely limit, if not temporarily stop any development during this emergency.
Water is our life's blood; let's not drain it to our extinction.
-- Evelyn Vider, president, Forest Hills Civic Association
Editor: What's wrong with this picture: Embassy Hills, a quiet, well-kept development of middle-income families. Children riding bikes. Seniors taking a walk. Widows walking their dogs. Mothers pushing their baby strollers. A 200-unit low-rent apartment building.
Our commissioners sent letters on conserving water during "one of the worse droughts in the country" and pledge to keep sending them. They then approve a second low-income apartment complex within a mile of one already completed.
These commissioners certainly are not our commissioners, disregarding our pleas and condemning us to more traffic congestion, noise and crime -- with no appeals available to us.
Time for a change.
-- June Birmingham, Port Richey
Editor: Don't start crying now. You knew if Peter Altman was elected commissioner, you were going to subject Pasco County to all the bleeding-heart licentiousness that his sort of thinking encourages.
Don't be surprised if any number of less-than-desirable pockets of marginal society develop around the county over the next four years, with Mr. Altman's assistance.
We are the dupes of sewer commerce when areas of development attract the sort of citizen that will in turn attract porn palaces and low-life saloons. It is far from the sort of atmosphere that enhances property values or residence propitiousness. At the same time, there is an attempt to make us understand that something worthy is being established. We all know that the less affluent require safe, durable housing. We are not insensitive to the obligation of every jurisdiction to provide areas where such shelter can be established. However, these sections cannot be of such magnitude, either in actuality or potential, that they threaten the tranquility and character of their neighbors. Regrettably, such intelligence would seem to elude the planning of Altman and Co.
-- James A. O'Connor, Hudson
Editor: Please be sure that your living will has no loopholes that will keep you alive whether you want to be or not. The hospitals and doctors will second-guess your last wishes and ignore the wishes of your family.
My husband is being kept alive on a ventilator even though he has a living will stating otherwise. He has already gone through a living hell this past year, wherein he totally lost his speech, had surgery for colon cancer, had a feeding tube inserted into his stomach as he can no longer swallow and, because his lungs no longer function, was put on a ventilator against his wishes. Before the ventilator, he was on oxygen 24 hours a day. He is confused between the ventilator and the oxygen machine and thinks the ventilator is the oxygen machine. If he knew the difference, he would not accept the ventilator.
The hospital and doctors will not abide by his living will and are keeping him on earth instead of releasing him to eternal peace.
He has told me many times during our 40 years of marriage that he does not want this. He indicated to the doctors on Feb. 10 that he wanted to go home to die. They will not release him.
On Feb. 12, our son was asked a question, and he answered it honestly. They misconstrued his answer, and we were escorted from the hospital by deputy sheriffs with a restraining order against us. We were not allowed into the hospital. After three days, they lifted the order from me, but not our son. When I returned to the hospital, my husband's condition was that he didn't know me.
It is tearing our family apart at a time when we should be together. My husband's condition is terminal. He may only have a short time left, and, by the judgment of the doctors, he will remain on the ventilator.
My advice to anyone who has a living will is to read it over carefully so this does not happen to you and your family. Be sure you have power of attorney or anything else that will protect you and your loved ones.
-- Beverly Laine, Zephyrhills
Editor: The Catholic school system has, for countless people, been the source of quality education regardless of religion. A person may travel the globe and find a school or monastery or convent on top of some hill or mountain in most every country.
The educators in that system have managed somehow to obtain the land for these institutions before it became unaffordable. The same scenario has taken place in Florida (except, of course, for the hills).
The Archdiocese of St. Petersburg -- which encompasses the counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus -- has purchased land at the intersection of Hudson and Hays Road and has plans to build a modern high school for 800 students that will open in the year 2003.
Additionally, it is anticipating the purchase of more land to build another school and a retreat house.
In order to accomplish the above, the diocese has begun a massive fundraising program with a goal of $60-million. At this time of the year, there are over a half a million people who are a part of this diocese.
St. Michael's, on State Road 52, is a church in this group, and its share of the fundraiser is $1,740,000.
Last week, as I sat in on the Pasco County Board of Commissioners meeting, I reasoned how this could help our community. I listened as the proponents of the school impact fee relate horror stories about overcrowding and the need for more schools.
The situation is critical, and I think that I know part of the reason and how the above could help.
In most northern cities, a great percentage of children were educated in Catholic schools (at one time, the Catholic parochial school system was the largest in the United States, even bigger than that in New York City). It doesn't take a mastermind to understand that, if there would be more kids in the Catholic schools, there would be more room in the public schools.
It has only been in the last few years that Catholic schools even existed here in west Pasco. So naturally, by necessity, all the Catholic kids depended on the public school system.
It is going to take a few years, but this fundraiser will help build new schools, and the future generation of children will have their choice of schools.
-- Al L. Meyer, Hudson
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