Editor: The water tower is a distinguishing feature of our larger neighborhood. Beacon articles have shared a variety of opinions about what to do with the tower. Many would like it preserved and have tried to put that responsibility off onto the city of Seminole. Because the tower is not actually within Seminole city limits, that obligation is unjustifiable.
A notable feature of democratic society is that a body of citizens can inform its elected officials of expectations regarding use of tax dollars. Local citizens in community organizations such as FAST (Faith and Action for Strength Together) are courageously and appropriately advising their elected officials where they want their tax money spent; in FAST’s case on affordable housing, using Penny for Pinellas funds.
Suzette Porter’s May 18 Beacon article, “Pinellas commissioners offer lease agreement on water tower,” concluded with a suggestion from Commissioner Ken Welch, similar to an idea that I have twice now shared in writing with local community leaders who have headed up Save the Water Tower and also Save the Tides. There are a number of municipalities that are accessed along Park Boulevard and travelers use that tower as a landmark. Residents in each of these cities could prompt their elected officials to use a portion of their Penny funds to save the tower. Tourist tax dollars make up a good portion of Penny funds, and this landmark points tourists toward the beaches and to those cities where tourists spend their money.
Pow Wow parade attendees may remember my family’s appreciation of the tower. This was demonstrated through the contribution of a replica of the water tower on our float, which my husband constructed. Our group, Seminole Goes Green, marched in the parade recognizing the tower as a recycling drop-off site, and the birds painted on it as honoring ecology.
Editor: What happened financially to put this beautiful safe city of Belleair Bluffs into such a dismal budget level? At the last commission meeting it was stated that our millage rate is the highest of all surrounding cities, yet there are budgetary issues.
Also, home prices have risen over 10 percent, which will bring in more money; has anyone looked into how much more revenue that would be for this beautiful safe city of Belleair Bluffs? Why hasn’t money been put aside over the years in case SWFWMD discontinued its grants for road repairs?
Approximately two years ago, you wanted to place a 10 percent utility tax on both our electric and utility bills! But, thank God that some concerned citizens and myself rallied to inform many residents about such a rate hike and it was decided to be a 5 percent utility tax on our electric bills. Where has that money gone over the last two years in regards to the budget?
Now, two years later, without showing any budget/financial figures to the residents of Belleair Bluffs, you want an additional 5 percent utility tax added to our electric bills. Then it was brought forward that only half of that 5 percent would go toward roads! So, where is the other 2.5 percent going? And, if repairing/maintaining roads is an ongoing matter, why hasn’t the budget been adjusted over the last several years for such ongoing matters?
Editor: I have lived here in Pinellas County since 1953 and I remember when the water tower was built and became a landmark for Seminole.
The water tower served Seminole for many years and it stood for proud recognition for the community.
We have had enough growth here with Seminole City Center and the congestion now is an overload. We still have more stores moving into the area and we protested to keep CVS from building at Park Boulevard and 113th Street.
Now you want to destroy our landmark for the city of Seminole and sell the land and put something in its place to make more congestion in the area.
Editor: The title and the three rights mentioned in our Declaration of Independence, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” is rooted in natural law, as noted by John Locke, physician and English philosopher. The “Pursuit of Happiness” was originally termed as being “property” by Mr. Locke. Political society, in his “Two Treatises of Government” existed for the protection of one’s estate. Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, replaced property with the pursuit of happiness perhaps by which to limit government, or to tax property, as Ben Franklin noted, as a means of financing civil society.
Today, we are seeing a myriad of topics regarding personal “rights.” Our Bill of Rights enumerates them. Many in our society see health care, free education, free housing, and an increased taxation on the top producers as being a “right.” These “rights” are not enumerated in the Constitution. The General Welfare clause was not meant to override states’ rights, as was noted in the Tenth Amendment. I fear that as the federal government increases its stranglehold on the rights of the states and its people to legislate their own laws, that our most important unalienable right, “the right to own property,” could potentially be jeopardized. Former President Ronald Reagan once so eloquently stated, “Freedom is only a generation away from extinction.”
Re: ‘Seminole Middle School students charged with battery,’ May 4 Editor: I am more than appalled by the Seminole Middle School principal’s reaction, as reported in the media, to violence against her teachers.
While the arrested students may be the specific problem, the broader problem is the principal and management of the school. Why is she still a principal? What have employee reviews shown? Has the county taken notice or action?
The ultimate responsibility lies with the county. Not only are teachers being hit, threatened, intimidated (by the principal?), the properly behaved students are at risk. I can’t even imagine the effect this chaos has on the learning process, assuming one exists.
Nor does it appear this is a new problem at the school. Does the county care? Do the school board directors know or care? Incidentally, I tried to post this on the Pinellas County School Board website under “reviews,” but was unable to. My fault or negative reviews unaccepted?
Re: ‘Three SMS students charged with battery,’ May 4 Editor: I am writing this letter in reference to a recent article in your paper concerning the recent arrest of three students at Seminole Middle School.
As a former student and parent of a former student, I am outraged at how Mrs. Bryan, the principal, handled this situation and attempted to lay blame on teachers and staff. Parents need to know that they do not have to tolerate such incompetence and disregard for a safe learning environment.
If your child is bullied, you need to know that as a parent you can take action. Florida law states the following concerning the crime of battery: Any actual and intentional touching or striking of another person against that person’s will. If this happens to your child, you have the right to go to the school resource officer and request to press charges. I know because I chose this option and my child was never bullied again.
School administrators prefer to handle things in-house, which protects their school reputation but does little to deal with the actual problem. Be an active part of your community and help protect our children, not the reputations of incompetent administrators. Don’t forget to be a knowledgeable voter and rid our community of administrators that don’t have our kids’ best interest at heart.
Re: ‘Seminole Middle School students charged with battery,’ May 4 Editor: As a retired educator, I find the situation at the school unacceptable. The principal, Wendy Bryan, is trying to keep her meaningless “school grade” up by not administering proper discipline.
If there had been consequences in the beginning, perhaps three young people would not have a felony arrest record.
A friend had a large TV and cart dumped on him by a disruptive student as he was trying to get the other students to safety as per protocol. The principal decided that it was his fault even though the student had a history of disruptive behavior and had been Baker-acted.
As the Association rep, I actually had to inform her that she couldn’t do that. And yes, that principal still has a job.
Editor: I have enjoyed the discussion of saving the water tower. Now that I am a six-year-plus resident of Seminole, the smile brought to my face as I was heading west on Park, seeing the water tower for the first time, looming large in the distance.
I was surprised to learn of the specifics of the water tower, such as who actually owns it, the ongoing costs associated, and most of all that it had not been in use for years. I do not have the affection for it as some who have been here their lifetime, but it is cute.
I did not choose to settle in Seminole due to the “Eiffel Tower of Seminole.” I chose Seminole for its beautiful Seminole Lake and park, access to bay and Gulf and all that goes with it. The wide selection of housing for all phases of life, families, empty nesters, and the young starting out. I was aware of the diverse educational opportunities and great public schools, the fine city hall, post office and firehouses and other public parks. Last but not least, the revitalization of the Seminole Mall, now Seminole City Center. I am beyond happy with my choice to move here with or without the water tower.
I feel the costs by far outweigh any sentimentality going forward. How about using those expenses to enhance other amenities or future ones?
Editor: Just 90 days ago a young, college aged Seminole man started a Change.org petition asking the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners to find a way to protect and preserve the Seminole Water Tower.
This young man went so far as to formally present his early petition results to both the Seminole City Council and the Pinellas County Commission.
The number of local area residents signing this petition has now grown to over 710 local individuals and families who publicly support saving this important community landmark. The commission has been made aware of the results of this petition through numerous emails and should be aware of this overwhelming support of the community to save the Seminole water tower. The commissioners have now been forwarded a 25-page updated document containing the written comments of every citizen who has made them on the Change.org petition.
Additionally, as it relates to community support for Saving The Water Tower:
Editor: As a 35-year resident of the city of Seminole, I find the discussion on the water tower somewhat amusing.
A handful of people, most of whom do not live in my city, are asking my elected officials, for whom they can’t vote for in any election, to spend my tax dollars on a rusted out piece of junk.
I’m glad there were four members of the council who really understood that spending $500,000 of my tax dollars was foolish and, by the way, were never going to find a “public purpose” for this expenditure.
For those people who don’t live in my city please don’t tell me or my elected officials how to spend our tax dollars!
Editor: Our city of Seminole should take great pride in having our Seminole Chamber of Commerce working with the city for the 38th Annual Kids Appreciation Day scheduled for Thursday, May 25.
This affair, designed for all local K-5 age kids, will feature food, drinks, games, entertainment and so much more; it is both a proper and heartfelt salute to these young minds that, hopefully, will someday become leaders in this community.
The four clubs that make retirement life in the Seminole Garden Apartments more active and enjoyable take great joy in donating $800 to this program. It is just one more way that we can express our appreciation for this very fine community and the life we enjoy within its boundaries. Question: would any group or individual consider joining in support? It is amazing what rewards can be realized by showing we care!
Clive Holmes Resident of Seminole Garden Apartments Seminole
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