© St. Petersburg Times, published June 15, 2001
Re: Clearwater Beach branch library.
Please do not write off the Clearwater Beach Library. Our children need it. We need it. The senior citizens in our midst who don't drive need it, and it is good for tourism. It is one of the few things to do on Clearwater Beach on a rainy day.
As it is, the children and seniors of Clearwater Beach can walk or ride their bikes to the library when they need to do research or to read for recreation. Our children can order books and tapes needed for school assignments.
We don't understand how the city has the money to expand the hours of the Countryside Library and subsidize both the Long Center and Ruth Eckerd Hall but can't afford a relatively small payment of $100,000 a year for a library that has been here for years and is a definite asset to our community.
First they took our pool, then they gave it back (thank you). Then they took our civic center, now they want you to remove our library. Please don't close the library. We need our library!
-- Sandy Britton, Clearwater
Re: Quick fix for U.S. 19.
A reader's opinion for a U.S. 19 quick fix would be to lower the speed limit to 45 mph. Nice try, but no cigar. With that approach we'd go from a maddening slow pace to total gridlock. We don't need a step backward, we need the political movers and shakers to get off their hands and start flexing some muscle.
There isn't another city (Pinellas is a city) anywhere I know of that is this size but doesn't have a limited-access freeway. Our local, tourist and commercial traffic with all the necessary support vehicles needs a way to get from point A to point B in an orderly fashion. Overpasses, not stoplights, with functional signage that can be seen and understood will move traffic the way we so desperately need.
Who out there can step up and deal with the land acquisition, complaints from existing business on U.S. 19 and the creative funding needed for a project this size? We need direction and leadership, not just that old, slow head-shaking with the all-too-familiar "they don't print that much money." Actually, they do.
-- Your constituents are waiting and dying. Is there anybody out there?
Dave Day, St. Petersburg
I moved to Seminole six years ago because of the quality of life, but lately it seems the city is either unaware or doesn't care about the proliferation of signs which adorn street signs and light poles in the county, and Seminole is apparently less concerned about this eye pollution than her sister cities.
I am referring to the signs proclaiming "LOSE 40 POUNDS THIS MONTH" and "EARN UP TO $7,000 WORKING AT HOME." And then, of course, there are the yard sale announcements left decorating our street signs until they rot and fall off. Come on folks, there are telephone numbers on most of these signs. Give them a call and tell them to stop polluting your town!
Perhaps its time for Seminole to consider establishing an oversight committee to review the placement of all signs, including those strangely worded warning signs on the bayou bridge and the proliferation of four-way stop signs in residential neighborhoods. For example, we have not only grown from two stop signs on 98th Way to a four-way stop at the corner of 98th Way and 54th Avenue, but the city also added four more signs announcing the stop signs are ahead.
-- Philip A. Bellefleur, Seminole
For many years, I have thoroughly enjoyed Times photographer Jim Damaske's wildlife photography, including the "What's for dinner?" bird photo June 8.
But the caption writer misidentified the bird. The birds in the photo are loggerhead shrikes, which are becoming more common in Pinellas County.
Shrikes resemble northern mockingbirds, our state bird, in that they have the same colors: white, gray and black. The shrike is a stockier bird with a bold black mask, black tail and white wing patches.
Shrikes perch on telephone wires or fences and feed on the abundant Cuban anoles, rodents, small birds, grasshoppers, caterpillars and other insects that make up its completely animal diet. Since they lack strong claws on their toes, shrikes often impale their prey on thorns, barbed wire or hurricane fencing and use their beaks to dismember the prey.
Shrikes have experienced declines in numbers due to pesticides; however, in Pinellas County, the population appears to be increasing.
-- Joyce King, Largo