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Letters to the Editors

Front Porch article was misleading

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 9, 2000

Re: Front Porch group spars with critics, Aug. 2.

I was not at all surprised at this negative article. (It was about time for me to receive some of the heat instead of giving the heat.) Why not? Because your newspaper has always done a poor job in getting to the true problems that continue to plague our black communities on the south side of St. Petersburg. One of the reasons for your poor reporting is that every time something happens in our communities, your reporters run to the Coalition of African American Leadership and the Uhuru organization for comments. That is wrong, because a majority of the African-American residents in this city (or county, for that matter) do not support, recognize or even affiliate themselves with these two groups. So please stop saying that they are our community representatives.

The meeting the article focused on, a meeting that I scheduled, planned and held, was only to inform the residents, get them involved in the process and to restructure a council that was intended to be resident-driven in the first place. Unfortunately, with the current control of the Governor's Revitalization Council of South St. Petersburg in the hands of members of the Community Development Association, Coalition of African American Leadership, and the Uhuru group, there was no way for them to allow a peaceful gathering of grass-root residents.

This meeting, and many more, was supposed to have been the responsibility of the Front Porch council. Instead, the council's executive board chose to play games such as calling secret meetings, voting on issues with only five to nine council members present (the council has 21 members), and never once inviting the residents out to a meeting. (Residents were totally left out of the whole process.) In the original statements made by Patrick Hadley (who is in charge of Front Porch statewide), he said, "At every meeting the residents need to be there and participating."

Can you finally understand?

Over the years, I have volunteered my time, my energy and my money for the betterment of my community. To have your newspaper print a quote suggesting that the reason for my calling this meeting was a ploy for my political career (my plans for running for City Council) was the most hurtful thing ever written or even said about me in my life.

Many people know me, and while they may not agree with me or even like me, they can't say that the work I've done wasn't about bettering my community.

So, a word of caution to your reporters: Before attacking anyone's morals or values, please try to get a feel for that person's true heart. And stop sacrificing the true people and the hard work that we do just so you can sell newspapers.

I know I may have just killed my chances in running for City Council, but these things needed to be said, so that maybe our people (African-Americans) can free themselves of our color.
-- Chrisshun Cox, St. Petersburg

EMS workers are ultra-dedicated

For the past five years, I have had the privilege of working with Pinellas County Emergency Medical Services in the Continuing Medical Education office. I recently retired. I have never worked with a group of people who have been more dedicated and committed to a task than this group of 1,350 EMTs and paramedics. Very often they put their lives on the line for the sake of helping or saving the life of a person in great need.

Pinellas County should be very proud of such a group of professionally trained and capable people.

The next time you hear or see a fire truck or ambulance on its way to an emergency, and you are on the road they are traveling, move over and let the emergency vehicles get to their destination as quickly as possible. You might also breathe a prayer for the rescuers and people in need. God bless Pinellas County EMS!
-- Del Schwanke, Oldsmar

Eckerd would spoil quaint ambiance

I recently went to a local business that I patronize on Madeira Way. The owner brought up the possibility of the sale of the whole apex from the Apple Restaurant to, but not including, the Subway on Madeira Way in Madeira Beach. The reason for this sale is to build another Eckerd Drug Store.

She went on to talk about the investments that the affected business owners have made and what a detrimental impact this change would have.

I feel extremely sorry for the business owners in the affected areas, but I am also sorry for the loss it would mean to the quaintness and the small-town feeling people get when they drive over the bridge from the mainland to the beach. Now they see a little diner, a beauty salon, a real estate office and an antique shop.

If I were to drive over that bridge and immediately see an Eckerd Drug Store, I would feel as though I was in Miami Beach or some other metropolitan area. It certainly would not make me feel as though I was entering a unique place to stay.

I have strong feelings for not wanting this change. A lot of it is purely selfish, and I'm sure I'm not alone. The old Cajun Diner, now the Apple, was my high school hangout (the pictures are in my Seminole High year books). This is where I first learned about french fries and gravy. This is where I ate breakfast the day after I got married.

I don't know what can be done to prevent big business from ruining the ambiance of Madeira Beach, but I, for one, will not patronize this company and I will encourage all in my sphere of influence to do the same.

There already is an Eckerd Drug Store a stone's throw away that serves the public quite well. And, as we all know, once an Eckerd appears, a Walgreens is sure to follow.

I am encouraging the public to let their opinions be known. I don't know that it will affect the final decision, but it certainly may help to let Eckerd know that we will not support it.
-- Nancy Clark Bloomer, Redington Shores

Veterans help the entire community

I manage the club of one of the largest veterans posts in the St. Petersburg area. Veterans aim in part to put on programs that benefit the community as a whole. I am coordinating an event whose entire proceeds will go to hospice. I sent letters and made telephone calls to more than 100 local businesses asking for donations to help raise money for this charity. The response to this request was less than 10 percent. How sad.

The veterans of this country fought in various wars to protect our interests and our way of life. This allows businesses to conduct business in their own way, unencumbered by undue influence. This is not enjoyed by others in many parts of the world.

Our veterans have done so much for their country and now champion causes that help their communities. They keep on giving.

Working around members of this very special group, I have seen how truly dedicated they are.
-- Barbara Pitchford, VFW Post 6827, St. Petersburg

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