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Letters to the Editors

Handicapped drivers need those spaces

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001

Re: Parking in space for handicapped cost $261, April 26 letter

Editor: Although the writer is apparently familiar with the rules and law concerning the requirements for parking in a handicapped space, and has taken full responsibility for his actions including paying the fine, I am inclined to believe that many are not fully aware of the consequences and inconvenience that these actions cause upon the handicapped.

I am a relatively young man in my 40s and due to complications from surgery I had to have one of my legs amputated above the knee. Fortunately there have been amazing advances in medical technology that have enabled me with the use of a prosthesis and physical therapy to begin to learn how to walk again. The process has been painful and has required a great deal of adjustment on my part. I must admit that I never truly comprehended the things that are taken for granted in life until I became disabled myself.

Yes, the writer did learn his lesson the hard way, but it makes me wonder how many times throughout various trips to the "malls, supermarkets, and flea markets" that the rule was flouted by parking for just "a minute or two" in a handicapped space without getting caught.

While I am still a relatively young man, a few extra spaces down might not present a major problem for me, but when I was in a nursing home for rehabilitation and recovery, I saw many folks who were much older than me and those few extra steps cause them heat exhaustion, or great pain and fatigue. Some of these people struggle with every breath and step they take. Of course we can't forget those who have to push the wheelchairs.

My purpose is to answer the writer's question "When is enough, enough?"

I feel it is necessary to mention here that those handicapped parking permits are not free, neither are the special wheelchair auto tags. The handicapped pay additional charges for them. After filling voluminous forms to many different agencies, I was denied free access to public transportation, had to pay for ramps to be installed at my home and on my vehicle. The fine paid ($261) was almost half of my monthly income including food stamps. I lost my business and I am totally disabled. So is $300 or $500 or $1,000 or the sky the limit? I believe that there should be no monetary fine. I believe mandatory community service to the disabled would give the flouters of the law a better understanding of what their actions cause.

Instead of observing the passing parade of automobile drivers who frequent the various malls, supermarkets, and flea markets, why not shuttle a handicapped person to the grocery store, or perhaps take them for their weekly blood tests or doctor visits? Why not take them to their physical therapy sessions or help them build a ramp so they can access their home? Spend a day organizing their cabinets so they can reach things. The possibilities are endless. But of course it's much easier to write a check and go on one's merry way.

I did not receive a penny of that fine, but I would have much preferred that someone spendan hour to mow my yard and keep their money. Be kind to the handicapped, a smile, a kind word, hold open a door, park where you are supposed to, all these things can be done for free.
-- Michael Bolton, Hudson

When it comes to our water, just say no

Re: Pasco incensed over desalination delay, May 3

Editor: My initial impression to the story was maybe the commissioners will start looking out for the residents of Pasco County.

Then I figured, they haven't so far, so why should this be any different?

To me, what we ought to do is clear. Using the dates and numbers in the article, we should stop pumping the quantity of water the desalination plant would provide beginning the date the desalination plant was to have come online. We should announce that now, so if Hillsborough doesn't want desal they can find other alternatives, and do whatever we need to do politically to work it out in the meantime. Work it out with Tampa Bay Water, but make it happen.

If Hillsborough County's NIMBY attitude means they won't do desal, fine. Let them find more well fields in their county. But we need to stop, just stop, destroying our county for their sake.When will our commissioners just say no?
Ernest Lane, New Port Richey

County workers are our employees

Editor: With the potential delay of building the desal plant by Hillsborough County comes a major dilemma. That dilemma comes from an over anxious building boom that is rapidly draining more water from Pasco's underground water supply.

People in the know in Pasco can blame other counties for drawing too much water, but it should have served as a deterrent to allowing so many new developments in Pasco. Unfortunately, we have very few, if any, forward thinking people in Pasco County government.

All the moaning and groaning over the possible delay in building the desal plant could have been prevented if people in government had listened to wiser heads of county residents instead of fulfilling their greed by accepting campaign donations from developers. It's about time our people in government, who are really our employees, began listening to the bosses who have proved to be the wiser heads.

I am sick and tired of hearing these employees say that the bosses don't know all the facts. So what happens? Now any misuse of water by the bosses will be subject to stiff fines.

Many of the bosses are beginning to find that the Board of County Commissioners should fine itself. I agree wholeheartedly with that opinion. I propose we fine them by not paying them. That should be their fine.
-- Shep Shepardson, Holiday

"That's why I became a teacher!'

Editor: With so much negative publicity regarding the education field today, one can't help but wonder why teachers choose this career. Teachers in the public schools get threatened by students and blamed by angry parents. We get little pay and poor insurance. Why do we do it?

It's not for the money or the high-profile job. It's because every so often a special moment shines in our classrooms that reminds us that what we do really does matter.

Recently, I gave my seventh-grade students a writing assignment. They were to choose a career they would be interested in researching. Many students aspired to become pediatricians, veterinarians and professional football players. However, among all the high-paying, instant-gratification jobs, this is the one that brought goose bumps to my flesh:

"When I grow up I want to be a teacher. I have many reasons why I think that teaching is the job for me.

"One reason is that I really like little kids. So, if I become a teacher, I would probably teach at an elementary school. Little kids, like for instance, second and third graders, pay much more attention to teachers than seventh and eighth graders do.

"Another reason would be that I would like to be in a part of someone's life. Without teachers, the doctors, nurses, pediatricians and other people really wouldn't get the education they need.

"To become a teacher, you would need to know all of your subjects in order to teach all of them. If you're teaching at an elementary school, you have to teach all of the subjects by yourself.

"You would also have to have a lot of responsibility! You would need to know how to teach all the subjects you are required to teach that year. Also, you would need to have a lot of organization so you don't lose any of the kids' papers. And you would have to be ready to grade a lot of schoolwork. Two schools that I think would hire me would be J.D. Floyd and Westside Elementary Schools.

"Teachers don't really get paid that much, but they do get more than minimum wage per hour. Some teachers get paid eight hundred dollars every two weeks.

"In conclusion, I hope that I become really successful in the career that I choose. But I really think I would do good at teaching other kids."

-- Autumn Glavey

That's why I became a teacher!
-- Crissi Brandhuber, Spring Hill

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