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© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 2001
With the dedication last week of the memorial to TyRon Lewis, the demoralization of south St. Petersburg is now complete. The degrading of American values cannot go any lower then this.
Since when do we honor criminals with a memorial? All we need now is a plaque so all of those who helped destroy parts of our city in the riots can proudly display their names and share in this honor. His name on this memorial is a disgrace to the others who share it.
Memorials are supposed to honor those who go above and beyond the call of honor and commit acts of selflessness for no other reason than the fact that it was the right thing to do. Lewis was no hero or martyr. He was a two-bit criminal who was just continuing down his self-appointed road of destruction. He not only shouldn't be honored, but should be held up as an example to children of what happens when a teenager's life goes wrong.
The problems of south St. Petersburg are not attributed to race, as some will have us believe. The problems of south St. Petersburg are violence and hate. It is hatred so deep that it even turns on itself at times. If this city is ever to be viewed as a whole, we need to work toward ending the hate and violence. This memorial only strives to incite and keep alive the deep hatred within. Economic growth will only occur when the crime rate goes down and all people can feel safe walking the streets.
If we have to memorialize TyRon Lewis, put his name on a halfway house or drug clinic as an example to children of how not to live your life.
-- John Hamilton, Gulfport
Re: Driver running red lights.
On Oct. 19 at 12:35 p.m. on the corner of Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue N, the traffic light turned red. I stopped. The car beside me went right through the red light. Guess who was behind me? A police officer. Didn't do anything. Another car pulled up beside me and the driver rolled down his window, said, "Did you see that? The police officer is too busy picking her teeth." I went to the police station, was told it is the officer's discretion to do something.
What's the problem? Do more people need to get killed by drivers going through red lights?
I'm just fed up with drivers doing stupid things and having police officers see this and do nothing about it.
-- John A. Trunzo, St. Petersburg
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the residents of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County for helping St. Petersburg Local 747 raise money for their fallen brothers and sisters in New York City.
Because of my personal connection, I have always felt an intense pride in the firefighters and paramedics of St. Petersburg Fire Rescue. It was overwhelming to see residents finally realize how important and dedicated the men and women of the Fire and Police departments are. My next greatest wish would be that the leaders of this city would also soon come to the same realization.
Please accept the humble thanks from a proud wife and daughter of one active and one retired among St. Petersburg's bravest.
-- Susan A. Schwartz, St. Petersburg
Re: Snell Isle neighbors keep out time share, Oct. 7.
Why would Snell Isle residents object to wealthy Europeans' spending money in their community via time shares?
I can understand, if not agree with, closing a local railroad station to keep out the low- and middle-income people who are among those who use the rails. But keeping out high-income people? That's old-money snobbery! These are the same kind of groups that are turning St. Petersburg into a hell of speed bumps.
-- John Elvin, St. Petersburg
It was a beautiful day -- even more so being a weekday holiday -- which meant extra time for gardening and all those domestic chores that are too numerous for a two-day weekend. Louise, my faithful companion for 16 years, thought so, too. She slipped out the backyard gate in search of a doggie adventure. Never mind that she is totally deaf, partly blind and arthritic -- the day was calling.
I discovered her absence almost immediately, but by the time I checked the alley and garage, gathered my cell phone and her leash, she had a 10-minute head start on me. Trying to think like a dog, I followed her trail out the gate and down the alley and searched the immediate surrounding areas, asking neighbors doing yardwork and children playing if they had seen her. Everyone was sympathetic; some offered a dog sighting, but there was no trace of Louise.
Frantic, I called my best friend and he came over to join the search. We searched by car, then on foot, separately and together, but three hours later had still not found her. We retreated to my house to call the local police, animal services and the Times to place a lost-dog classified ad.
We searched until midnight, made fliers and posted them throughout the neighborhood. Finally, exhausted, I went home to spend a few sleepless hours until dawn, when I started searching again, putting up still more fliers. At 9 a.m., I got back on the phone. Animal Services said they could give no information on the phone. I would have to come there and look for Louise.
The folks at Animal Services were as curt in person as they had been on the phone, refusing to look at my picture of Louise. "Just fill out this form and wait by that door," I was told. Someone escorted me through the four large kennel rooms full of abandoned dogs: mothers nursing litters of newborn puppies, a pair of twin golden retriever puppies that should have been in a television ad, old, faithful family retainers that lay depressed in their cages. But no Louise.
At the SPCA, the counselor not only looked at my picture of Louise, but she made a copy of it for the files in case she was not found right away. She took me to their much more crowded, much less modern kennels where in companionable chaos, the staff was treating and working with the animals. Halfway down the doggie aisle, there was a seemingly empty cage. I crouched down, and there out the "back door" was Louise, sunning herself on her makeshift patio. A kind stranger had called the SPCA when he saw Louise limping down First Avenue N at 19th Street. The doggie ambulance was sent to collect her, she was given a distemper shot and some medication for her arthritis, and fed and sheltered for the night. For all of this, they asked me to reimburse them only $36. I would have given a hundred times that if I could have.
In these uncertain times, it is heartening to know that the kindness of strangers can make a huge difference. We all can't be heroes like the firefighters and police officers. I can tell you, though, that to me, the person or persons who called in with Louise's whereabouts, my friends who helped me search, my neighbors who offered support, and especially the SPCA, which rescued Louise, are all heroes to me. Thank you for getting Louise home safe and sound.
-- Ginger Warder, St. Petersburg