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Letters to the Editors

Join the protest against moving county offices

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001

Editor: Re: Moving the Tax Collector and Property Appraiser offices to strip malls:

I have several things to say to the County Commissioners and I hope other Citrus County taxpayers will join me in protesting the move of these offices to strip malls. First, you are elected by the people, paid by the people and are supposed to act in the best interest of the taxpayers of Citrus County.

Second, you have known for a year that the lease on the office space in the Masonic Building was going to expire. Why wait until now and act hastily to make a decision that is financially irresponsible? The space will continue to be available on a month-to-month basis if you need it.

Taxpayers own the Stovall property two blocks north of the courthouse, which we could build on, pay off a mortgage with lower payments and own. We would not have to pay exorbitant rent ($12,447 per month) at two strip malls to outside corporations. One is based in Miami and the other in Ocala. Building a new building would use local labor and provide local jobs. What is wrong with that?

I urge everyone to attend the May 8 board meeting at 1 p.m. in the Masonic Building. It wouldn't hurt to give the commissioners a call, too, and let them know what you think. Citrus County Administrative Offices telephone is 341-6065.
-- Jean Feather, Inverness

Don't blame newspaper, people for opposing aquifer storage plan

Editor: Re: Aquifer storage plan innovative, not reckless, April 27 letter to the editor from state House Majority Whip Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey:

First, the Times would have shirked its duty to the people had it not addressed the issue of pumping untreated water into the aquifer. A politician's statement of "unsubstantiated claims by unqualified people" would imply a dissent with the people's right to have an opinion on a matter that not only impacts the environment, but also our health. That right is inalienable no matter how unqualified he deems us to be.

We are surrounded by mistakes that can only be laid at the feet of politicians and scientists. The Everglades, which Fasano mentions, is a gigantic flaw in the experts' plans to control nature. It began with the flood control system built to control flooding by Lake Okeechobee when we were hit almost yearly by hurricanes, then the encroachment of sugar cane farming, and more recently other farms/orange groves.

What proven technology does Fasano point to? Is it the fact some counties have used the program? I've read of two or three counties that employ the ASR program, however, it was indicated they cleaned the water, then pumped it into the aquifer.

I don't agree with the program, but my dissent here is primarily addressed to a politician in faulting the Times and the electorate for being in opposition to something directly impacting our lives.
-- Albert Johnson, Beverly Hills

People have not yet spoken on hydroplant construction projects

Editor: Hy Power wants control of three dams and their waterways. On the west end of the Greenways is the Spillway Dam, and Hy Power wants to construct a hydroplant alongside it. The state has given construction permits. The project also has a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, P-10893.

They want the Inglis Main Dam also. That is FERC P-10892. At the east end of the Greenways is the Rodman Dam, and their permit there is FERC P-11088. Then they would control the entire length of the Greenways, coast to coast. Research has just revealed how far their plans for control will go. The Inglis project is a pilot project. If they win that, then the other two hydroplants can move forward.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers harmed this state when they cut two rivers, the Withlacoochee and the Oklawaha, with the structures and dams. With no maintenance, they are in a state of deterioration. The spillway dam at Inglis will collapse with construction alongside it, according to Bill Edwards, structural engineer.

Edwards viewed the underwater tapes taken by DiveTech in 1992, and also the core borings of the area taken 30 years ago, before the spillway dam was built. The sub-strata of that area is full of solution channels and voids, pointing to vulnerability of the structure with excavation alongside it. He stated in the administrative hearing, where he was accepted as an expert in his field of underwater structures, "Driving down the sheet piling to seal the area from the channel creates dynamite-like explosions underground. You will lose the spillway dam and the Withlacoochee River, opening the path for saltwater to come in."

Leaving the Rodman Dam in place if a hydroplant is built there means the Oklawaha River cannot be reconnected. If Hy Power builds a hydroplant at the spillway dam, the Withlacoochee River cannot be reconnected. I am not advocating reconnection of either river, but further study should be made of whether aging structures should, or could, be bypassed. Special interests will try to block any attempt to reconnect these rivers. My concern is for the safety of the Spillway Dam and the lives and property that will be lost as a result of ignoring the warnings of danger.

FERC has issued an order denying the rehearing on P-10893. Hy Power now has their okay to begin construction at the Spillway Dam. However, FERC stated that the dam was not part of the project and they would not look at its safety and would not require Hy Power to do so. FERC also stated it did not guarantee that construction would not harm the aquifer. The dam and the aquifer belong to the state, they stated in the order.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrote that the dam is not part of the nationwide permit and it belongs to the state. The state Department of Environmental Protection stated in the hearing it would not oversee the safety of the dam.

Nobody is minding the store.

The corporation has two permits from the DEP to begin construction. The issue went through the Appeals Court and the ruling was for Hy Power. However, the people have not yet spoken. Do not remain silent, you who live in Levy County, Citrus County, and all who care about this beautiful state.
-- Betty Berger, Inglis

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