Withlacoochee River Electric – Friend Or Foe?

In a Nov. 14 Hernando Today front-page article regarding electric utility rates, David Lambert, manager of public relations for Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative Inc., lays questionable groundwork for justifying a suggested 4 to 7 percent rate increase. He says, and I quote: “We know everyone is feeling the pain,” and adds that Withlacoochee, and its procurer, Seminole Electric Cooperative Inc., are feeling the pain, too.

May I remind Mr. Lambert, several thousand Hernando County schoolteachers are feeling the pain; they’re not getting a 4 to 7 percent (superintendent excluded) pay raise. They’re getting a 2.39 percent pay increase. Several thousand other Hernando County residents will receive no pay raises at all. In fact, they’ve lost their jobs. Mr. Lambert, that’s pain. Lambert laments, the meters just aren’t spinning. Well, Mr. Lambert, when the meters aren’t spinning, Withlacoochee can’t keep on winning; they must make “real world” adjustments.

Next Mr. Lambert launches the “mother spin” when he says “the cost of fuel to produce electricity has decreased slightly.” One of the fuels he refers to as decreasing slightly is natural gas, which has gone from $14 a thousand to around $7 a thousand. That’s a reduction of 50 percent. Rather than passing that price reduction on to its customers, Withlacoochee increased rates by 11 percent, and now wants to increase rates another 4 to 7 percent. This isn’t the first time Withlacoochee has trotted out this horse. It’s happened at least eight times previously, resulting in the fuel cost adjustment portion of monthly utility bills now exceeding base fuel costs by more than 100 percent.

Finally Mr. Spin says we should all feel lucky, as he compares Withlacoochee’s rates with their price gouging cousins, Tampa Electric and Progress Energy. Mr. Lambert, here’s a little “no spin/no bull” for you. We the people, your customers have our bellies full of bovine scatology (BS), all the way from bailouts, to tax breaks, to billion dollar CEO bonuses and unjustifiable utility rate increases. Withlacoochee Electric is sucking over $1 million a month from Hernando County residents using unjustifiably high utility rates.

Bottom line, stop raping us, and then trying to convince us it’s consensual love. If you’re interested in inviting Mr. Lambert to a local meeting, you may contact the author of this letter to the editor at jg@americaretoday.com.

Jim Gries

Weeki Wachee

WREC Rate Hike: No More Than 7.25%

BROOKSVILLE –
In an era of double-digit utility rate hikes, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative customers might rest a little easier knowing they won’t be zapped with a double-digit hike next year.

The public cooperative known as WREC won’t settle on a final number until later this month but has set a range of 4.5 to 7.25 percent, said David Lambert, manager of member relations.

The goal is to keep the hike as close to that first number as possible, Lambert said.

“We know everyone is feeling the pain” in this economy, he said.

If the cooperative does decide on a 7.25 percent hike, the cost for 1,000 kilowatt hours – a little less than what the average WREC customer uses each month – would rise from about $113 to about $121.

WREC and the Seminole Electric Cooperative of which it is a part are feeling the pain of a souring economy, too, Lambert said.

WREC is suffering from a record number of foreclosures and the slowed pace of development. The co-op has paid millions for new infrastructure to serve developments that are far behind schedule, Lambert said.

“The meters just aren’t spinning,” Lambert said.

The cost of fuel – natural gas and coal – to produce electricity has decreased slightly, Lambert said.

But CSX Transportation plans to nearly double the fees it charges to move coal by rail to Seminole’s Palatka power plant. That will wipe away much of the savings the cooperative has enjoyed by streamlining its operation, Lambert said.

“It’s been a critical issue for us,” he said.

Seminole has filed a formal complaint against CSX with the federal Surface Transportation Board, contending the increases are unreasonably high.

An increase of 7 percent would still be less than the hikes approved by the state this week for Tampa Electric Co. and Progress Energy, which will raise rates by 12 percent and 25 percent respectively.

Lambert also pointed out that WREC does not have tiered rates that rise with power use. The company also gives back profit to WREC customers, or “members,” through credits on a December bill. The credits are divided up based on the amount of energy used and the duration of membership.

The co-op expects to give back some $14 million this year and roughly the same amount of credits as last year to its more than 71,000 customers in Hernando County, Lambert said.

That’s fine, but any increase hurts, said George Gubitose, first vice-president for the Brookridge Homeowners Association. The retirement community has some 2,700 homes and is served by WREC.

The power co-op already increased rates by 11 percent earlier this year.

“If they’re going up over a half a percent, it’s too high,” Gubitose said. “We have too many fixed-income people here. These people, they don’t have it.”

The new rates will take effect Jan. 1.

How much would WREC bill surge?

Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative hasn’t settled on a final number, but officials say they will keep a rate increase for next year to no more than 7.25 percent. At that percentage, the cost for 1,000 kilowatt hours – a little less than what the average WREC customer uses each month – would rise from about $113 to about $121.

Reporter Tony Marrero can be reached at 352-544-5286 or lmarrero@hernandotoday.com.

Is Pulling Over For Funeral Processions A Dying Tradition?

It’s a common enough sight: a police cruiser with its lights flashing to clear the road ahead for a hearse and the chain of cars behind it.

What’s less understood is the appropriate response from the motorists approaching the funeral procession.

Southern tradition holds that it’s respectful to pull over and allow the cortege to pass – regardless of what side of the road a motorist is on. But in this age of heavier traffic on wider roads, is it time to let the custom die in the interest of safety?

The answer is mixed.

There’s the one side that completely ignores the procession altogether. As folks who work in local funeral homes can tell you, respect for the dead has declined.

“It’s a sign of the time,” said Doug McCaul, funeral director and owner of Pinecrest Funeral Chapels. “It’s sad, it really is. But that’s what we have to live with.”

McCaul recalls two instances when his hearse was nearly broadsided by distracted drivers. But those are the exceptions, not the rule, he said.

Others interviewed gave similar accounts of motorists cutting into the procession, honking horns and ignoring traffic directions by deputies.

“It’s not like the old days,” said Ellen Hartmann, who works at the Brewer and Sons chapel on Mariner Boulevard. Occasionally, she’ll help direct traffic and it’s not uncommon to hear irritated drivers honking their horns, she said.

For Hartmann, it boils down to respect. People “would have a heart attack” if motorists were whizzing by their family, she said.

Mark Downing, owner of Downing Funeral Home, says motorists will take advantage of any gaps in the procession to cut across lanes. Typically there are no more than 10 or 12 cars in the procession, so Downing doesn’t see what the rush is about.

“It upsets the family that there’s no respect,” he said.

Downing usually hires a minimum of two deputies to escort the cortege for safety reasons.

There are exceptions. Generally, the older generations will pull over and occasionally put their hands over their hearts. McCaul has noticed that rock truck drivers typically pull over and line workers for the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative remove their hats or helmets as a funeral procession passes by.

In Florida, yielding to a funeral procession is not only considered courtesy, but the law. State statutes say a funeral procession has the privilege to pass through intersections regardless of a traffic light’s color or stop sign. It further states that all motorists and pedestrians will yield the right of way to a funeral procession.

It’s not a complete carte blanche. Lead vehicles must have the proper lights and markings to distinguish that it is a funeral procession. Cars and trucks in the cortege have to turn on their lights and yield to approaching emergency vehicles.

Ronda Rich, an 11th generation southerner and author of “What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should),” believes pulling over for a funeral procession is a firm tradition in the former Confederacy.

Rich never witnessed the act when she lived outside the South, for one. And there have been times when she has had to explain the tradition to “outraged” Northerners who visit her Georgia town.

“They think it’s a ridiculous practice,” she said, but she explains “that Southerners have always had a respect for death.”

From a personal standpoint, Rich has lost her mother and brother this year and seeing motorists take a minute to pull over eased her sorrow. Motorists on major interstates and thoroughfares can get a pass because it can be dangerous to pull over.

But on normal roads and through small towns, “it is still possible and there really is no safety issue,” she said.

Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or kmartin@hernandotoday.com.

Wingnuts’ First Poker Run Is Nov. 15

BROOKSVILLE –
To recruit more “trikers,” Larry Goulet took an unorthodox approach.

When he passed someone along a two-lane highway, he turned around, coaxed him to stop and gave him his best sales pitch. He was starting a trike club and he wanted more members.

“People would pass us and we’d make a u-turn and flag them down,” Goulet said. “It worked.”

On Saturday, Nov. 15, a large collection of trike riders will be passing through town – stretching from Weeki Wachee to Inverness.

Goulet’s club – the Spring Hill Wingnuts – is organizing its first poker run. The winning hand will win $500. The 82-mile run will end in front of Trikes by Tony, a shop in Inverness where several of the local riders are customers.

The proceeds will benefit the Hernando Food Bank.

In the 1950s, those driving their roadsters with the top down would wave to each other while passing along the highway. If they were pumping gas at the same station, they likely would strike up a conversation about their chrome-wheeled machines.

Nowadays, local trikers are the ones who enjoy a culture that harks back to the roadster days from 50 years ago. When someone sees a Honda Gold Wing parked outside a restaurant, he or she often will circle around it and nod in approval.

A trike is a three-wheeled version of a motorcycle. The most popular “converted motorcycle” is the Gold Wing, Goulet said.

In six months, membership has grown from five members to 75. The Spring Hill Wingnuts is the first and largest trike-riding club in Florida, according to its Web site.

“We have an absolutely delightful club,” said Goulet, who is the club’s president. “We have some nice-looking machines and a great membership.”

Most of the members are retired, including Richard De Angelo, of High Point. He said the club’s long-term goal is to increase its already robust membership and continue raising money for local charities.

Hernando-Pasco Hospice will be among those he hopes will benefit from future poker runs.

“Anything that comes up, we’ll do it,” he said.

For him, triking is a safer way to enjoy the open road. It’s also best-suited for those who are intimidated by motorcycles.

“Most of us are retired. We don’t feel safe on two-wheelers anymore, but this still keeps us young,” De Angelo said.

The Wingnuts regularly take day and overnight trips. A number of them recently returned from Key West, Goulet said.

For more information about the club, visit http://fl-1wingnuts.trisite.org.

Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or wholt@hernandotoday.com.

Another Publix To Open Off County Line Road

SPRING HILL –
The eighth Publix store in Hernando County will be built along County Line Road, a company spokeswoman said.

The Villages of Avalon – a housing development and new plaza opening at the corner of Anderson Snow Road – will include a 45,000-square-foot store with a bakery and pharmacy.

“It’s our typical, average-sized store,” said Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten.

It will be located less than four miles from the store located at Mariner Boulevard and less than three miles from the one at the corner of Barclay Avenue and Spring Hill Drive.

Despite the proximity to the other stores, there is no fear of overlap.

“It’s not going to be a replacement store,” Patten said. “There are no plans to close any locations there.”

Construction has not yet begun, but stores generally open within nine months of the groundbreaking, she said. That could mean it would be ready to open by summer 2009.

Since Publix announced it would purchase 49 Albertsons last summer, several stores are being transitioned.

In Hudson, the former Albertsons at Tower Oaks Terrace, located at 12101 Little Road, will become a Publix before the end of the year.

The grocery chain is following its pattern of opening new locations within a few miles of existing stores.

The Hudson store will be located less than four miles from the Publix located at the corner of Hudson Avenue.

Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or wholt@hernandotoday.com.

Citrus County Deaths Of Mom, 3 Kids May Be Murder-Suicide

FLORAL CITY – Greg Maslowski called 911 and told them to come quickly. He had just found his stepdaughter and her three boys, all younger than 4, dead in his home.

“I’m outside the house. I’m not going in the house,” he told a 911 operator at about 10 a.m. Friday as his wife screamed and shrieked in the background. “I’m not even going in the room.”

As he spoke with the operator, his wife cried, “Please God. No, no, no.”

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is treating the deaths at 4983 E. Stoer Lane in Floral City as a murder-suicide, said Heather Yates, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. Authorities said a firearm was recovered nearby.

The woman, 23-year-old Alicia Chomic, was found in a bedroom with her sons, Anthony Michael Lietz Jr., 15 months; Damian Michael Lietz, 2; and Thomas Anthony Goldsmith Jr., 3. Deputies say the four likely died sometime Thursday night.

Chomic, who has recently lived in Pasco County, and her older children were on a bed; her youngest child was in a bassinet.

Citrus County records list Greg and Vickie Maslowski as the owners of the property, identified as a mobile home.

The Maslowskis were taken to an area hospital, suffering from distress after discovering of the bodies, deputies say. They weren’t there when the deaths occurred.Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said Chomic’s mother was so upset authorities were not able to talk to her much.

“It’s very tough for us to pull a lot of information out,” Dawsy said. “We will be interviewing her again tomorrow, but we felt right now that we have enough information.”

Deputies said Chomic had moved back to the home of her mother and stepfather with the children in the past week. Public records indicate she had lived for the past several years in Pasco County.

Chomic’s mother, Vickie Maslowski, and stepfather came home Thursday night and noticed that the door to the room Chomic shared with her sons was closed. The stepfather said on the 911 call that the couple thought Chomic and the children were sleeping.

“There was no sort of movement or anything,” Dawsy said. “So they never went in and checked. So we’re taking it from there and moving back on a timeline.”

Friday morning, Chomic’s mother went into the room and found the bodies.

“The problem is, is I’ve got three people that look like they’re passed away in my … three children,” Greg Maslowski, 45, told the 911 operator. “My wife’s going crazy.”

Investigators have contacted the boys’ fathers and said they had not found a suicide note or letter.

Reached Friday evening, Greg Maslowski declined to comment.

Little was known late Friday about Chomic’s background or what might have led her to kill her three children and then herself. Public records show she had lived in Pasco County from at least 2004 to 2007, at several addresses in New Port Richey and Port Richey.

One of those addresses was the Ebenezer Vincent apartments in New Port Richey, a small apartment complex of about two dozen units, populated mostly by lower-income residents. Several neighbors at the complex contacted Friday evening said they did not know Chomic.

Floral City is a rural community about 60 miles north of Tampa. The home where the apparent murder-suicide occurred is on a quiet street near farms and open fields.

Neighbors said they didn’t hear anything unusual Thursday night or Friday morning and couldn’t recall having seen the mother and her children before.

Neighbor Tammy Shelton said she didn’t hear gunshots and that her three dogs – who normally respond to anything, even car lights – didn’t appear to hear anything, either.

Neighbor Alicia Diamond said her own father heard the victim’s first name and rushed home from work, worrying that his daughter was dead.

Tribune reporter Josh Poltilove, and News Channel 8 reporter Peter Bernard contributed to this report. Information from the Associated Press also was used in this report.

Hooters Gal Makes Second Swimsuit Calendar

SPRING HILL –
The scenery is a major draw for any Hooters restaurant.

Beautiful women like 19-year-old Kaylie Kushmer greet you, serve you food and say “goodbye” as you walk out the door.

For a lucky few, they had a close-up view of a photo shoot – one that included the local Hooters waitress in a black, two-piece swimsuit decorated with sparkling rhinestones.

“The customers were coming in and they were getting a behind-the-scenes experience,” said a giggling Kushmer.

They might have had the closest look at the bubbly brunette, but they surely are not the only ones who were able to see her don the skimpy swimwear.

For the second year in a row, Kushmer has been featured in the annual Hooters Calendar. Her latest photo can be found at the bottom of the June page of the 2009 edition, which is on sale at all Hooters locations and online.

The tanned and slender business student stands 5 feet 9 inches tall. She has long curly hair and her bright eyes change color whenever there is a change in her mood, she said.

They were a grayish-blue on a recent afternoon as she gleefully talked about her calendar shoot, her fondness of Hooters and her future.

Kushmer is a full-time student at Pasco-Hernando Community College and plans to transfer to the University of South Florida next year. After that, she wishes to attend law school.

The Central High School graduate was born in Brandon and relocated to Hernando Beach while a sophomore in high school.

Her managers at the Spring Hill restaurant learned of her second consecutive inclusion in the calendar before she did. Instead of simply telling Kushmer, they threw her a surprise party and announced it then.

Up to 15 percent of the waitresses across the country sent photos to the calendar committee. The judges chose about 80 out of the thousands of submitted photos.

Kushmer was not the only one from the Spring Hill location who tried out for a chance to be in the calendar. The competition side was the one thing she found unappealing. Her smile vanished for the first and only time during the interview when she mentioned it.

“There are others here who tried out who should have made it,” she said.

Kushmer first applied at Hooters when she was 16 years old. To be a hostess, one must be 17. The minimum age requirement for a waitress is 18.

The hiring manager politely turned her away following her first visit, but as promised, she reapplied on her 17th birthday and was hired. One year later, on the day she turned 18, she worked as a waitress for the first time. It was a double shift.

She wore a sash that advertised her birthday to everyone. She set a personal record for tips.

Kushmer’s photo is seen by managers as an inducement for customers to spend more money – or at least buy more calendars. She laughs whenever they remind her.

“They try to convince us it helps sales,” she said. “They’ll tell us (before our shift), ‘You have to sell 500 calendars and there’s no excuse not to because Kaylie’s working today.'”

Her inclusion in the 2009 calendar also allows her to take part in activities with the other models. When the group visited Kushmer’s location for a recent appearance, they warmed her heart with compliments about her co-workers and customers.

“They kept saying, ‘That’s the nicest (restaurant) we’ve ever been to,'” she said.

She wasn’t surprised by the comments. She remains employed at the U.S. 19 location because of the comfortable atmosphere. When she attends school in Tampa, she might entertain the idea of signing on at a second Hooters, but she has vowed to continue waitressing in Spring Hill during the weekends.

“This restaurant is much different from the others,” Kushmer said. “It’s a lot more fun and easygoing.”

Because she goes to school during the week, most of her work hours are scheduled for the weekends. Football season is particularly busy and draws the most regulars.

She loves the chain so much she has hopes for a successful, lucrative career as a business attorney that would grant her the capital to purchase her own Hooters restaurant.

In the meantime, she plans to focus on her studies, relish her job and pile on more happy memories.

As long as future calendar shoots remain a possibility, Kushmer’s bosses do their best to ensure she doesn’t detach from her roots. Tampa might be bigger and the lights might be brighter, but Hernando County is home. Those reminders never stop coming.

“They keep telling me that under my name it had better say, ‘from Spring Hill, Florida,'” she said. “It will. I love it here.”

Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or wholt@hernandotoday.com.

area-deaths-ar-285361

Vedelle G. Dalby, 82, of Spring Hill, died Saturday, Sept. 27, at Hernando-Pasco Hospice Care Unit, Chatman Boulevard, Brooksville. She was born in Federal, Pa., and moved to this area 21 years ago from Pittsburgh, Pa.
Mrs. Dalby was a homemaker, president of the Oakridge Fire Department Auxiliary, a member of the Pennsylvania Bowling League, member and past president of the Pennsylvania Club of Spring Hill, and a Christian by faith.
She is survived by her husband, Wilbert.
Arrangements by Merritt Funeral Homes, Spring Hill Chapel.

Joseph J. Bobak, 81, of Weeki Wachee, died Saturday, Sept. 27.
Survivors include his wife, Mary Esther; a son, Kenneth A. Bobak of Weeki Wachee; four daughters, Cynthia Fletcher, Beverly Ann Marusa, both of Brunswick, Ohio, Teresa DeMarco of Medina, Ohio, and Patricia Jo Kackley of Strongsville, Ohio; a brother, Dr. Edward Bobak of Garfield Heights, Ohio; a sister, Helen Danilowicz of San Diego, Calif.; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Grace Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home, U.S. 19, Hudson.

Mary D. Pallay, 91, of Brooksville, died Saturday, Sept. 27, at her home. She was born in Jersey City, N.J.
Mrs. Pallay worked for a Garage Door Company as a cable roller.
Survivors include her son, Bob Kazmierski of Brooksville; a brother, Edward; two sisters, Jennie and Josephine; seven grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, Commercial Way, Spring Hill Chapel.

Elisa Cintron, 83, of Spring Hill, died Sunday, Sept. 28, at Hernando-Pasco Hospice Care Unit, Chatman Boulevard, Brooksville. She was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, and moved to this area seven years ago from Freehold, N.J.
Mrs. Cintron was a retired gift and card shop owner in Middletown, N.J., and a member of Christian Life Assembly of God.
Survivors include her husband, Angel G. Sr.; a son, Angel G. Cintron Jr. of New Port Richey; a daughter, Lourdes Cintron of Spring Hill; two sisters, Isabelle Flecha of Fort Lauderdale and Felicity Flecha of Atlantic Highlands, N.J.; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Merritt Funeral Homes, Spring Hill Chapel.

William L. White Sr., 75, of Ridge Manor, died Saturday, Sept. 27, at his home. He was born in New York, New York, and moved to this area 16 years ago from Miami.
Mr. White was a volunteer fireman during the ’50s in Zephyrhills. He was a member of Kairos Prison Ministry, the Emmaus Community and Spring Lake United Methodist Church.
Survivors include his wife, Lorraine; a son, William White Jr.; four daughters, Denise Flynn, Cindy Burke, Georgette White-Roig and Kimberly White-Pinilla; 12 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Turner Funeral Homes, Brooksville Chapel.

Evelyn Huhn, 82, of Brooksville, died Thursday, Sept. 25, at Kindred Hospital. She was born in Manistique, Mich., and moved to this area 16 years ago from Clearwater.
Mrs. Huhn retired from Honeywell and was a Lutheran by faith.
Survivors include her husband, Robert; two daughters, Sharon Sugamosto of Shelby Township, Mich., and Donna Franz of Brooksville; two brothers, Kenneth Schubring of Atlanta, Ga., and Wesley Schubring of Sarasota; a sister, Marilyn Rudquist of Rochester, Mich.; three grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Arrangements by Merritt Funeral Home, Brooksville Chapel.

Alma Fleischman, 88, of Brooksville, died Monday, Sept. 29.
Survivors include a son, Leonard; a daughter, Joy; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
Arrangements by Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, Brooksville Chapel.

To Pull Or Not To Pull The Plug

Today, the most routine medical procedure requires your initials and signature in various places to document you are aware of all the possible death scenarios. After you sign off on these possible tragedies so as to decrease medical liability, you are presented with “living will” documents to fill out.
The instructions to fill out this life-and-death decision are generally as follows. “I, John Doe, want to choose how I will be treated by my doctors and other health care providers during the last days of my life. I do not want to suffer unnecessarily and I do not want to be kept on machines that will serve only to delay the time of my death. My choices about treatments which have little chance of making my condition better, if I am unable to make my own decisions, are listed below.”
This official questionnaire asks you to check box “yes” if you want treatment or “no” boxes if you do not want treatment. The box checked will determine if you receive certain types of treatment to, or not to, preserve your life. In other words: to pull or not to pull the plug — that is the question. Before you rush to automatically pull the plug, remember times are changing.
No one wants to exist permanently in a vegetative state only to die. This dependent quasi-dead life would make the person a burden to family and society without awareness of the world or ability to contribute to others. Few, if any, individuals would see this state as desirable. Everyone would want the plug pulled if there is no chance of being a cognizant, feeling human being.
The question that immediately should strike the person filling out this life or death decision document is who is going to determine that your body and mind cannot heal sufficiently to live a meaningful life? A person in an unconscious or permanently confused state cannot make this decision. The professional assessment that CPR, life support, surgery, blood, tube feeding are only going to “delay the time of death” and have “little chance of making my condition better” will be initially made by medical professionals. A designated surrogate will be the one to integrate this information and make treatment choices.
This life-and-death decision has to be based on assumptions about the probability of one’s health improving. The person who would have your best interest at heart would be your most intimate relationship. This person would be best able to protect you in the hospital and decide what would be the best for you. Leaving the evaluation solely to professionals could eliminate the necessary time for your body to sufficiently recoup to make an accurate decision.
There is no medical staff that can predict with certitude the course of an illness or a traumatic accident. The best a group of professionals would be able to do is to make a series of educated guesses of the probability of a person’s chance of recovery and weigh it against the cost factors of keeping the person alive.
Financial concerns influence our cultural attitude toward life and death. Government pricing of allowances for specific services and procedures directly influences the medical industry’s perspective of long-term care. This medical pricing is influenced by the state of the treasury. As the generational war unfolds, young people’s resentment will increase, as they are required to shoulder the burden of the taxes for the “baby boomers,” who have not saved for their own health and retirement expenses. The flood of geriatric patients will result in radical cutbacks in services, especially for the acute and chronically ill, to avoid bankruptcy. The scarcity of resources makes it more difficult to be on the side of prolonging the patient’s life.
The sanctity of life is under attack — especially for the elderly. Prolonging artificial life at all costs as during the 1970s is over. Suffering is no longer seen as an inevitable part of living but something to eliminate even at the expense of ending life. Euthanasia has been passed in Oregon and is being considered in other parts of the USA. Death is the final answer to physical suffering of the patient and psychological pain of the loved ones. Europe is pulling the plug early and is spending substantially less per patient. There is a real incentive for patients to die early.
Before you check the box for prolonging your life, you may be under the misconception there would be no possibility for your recovery. The “culture of convenience” is making it more likely that our government-dominated medical industry might decide to make sacrificial lambs of people over a certain age to appease a more aggressive and politically powerful segment of voters.
Checking “yes” to treatment and designating a trusted loved one to watch over you when you may be temporarily incapacitated is probably the best way to prevent your meaningful life from being snuffed out before God intended. Although a loved one would be hard pressed to go against the prognosis of the authorities, this individual would have the greatest motivation to exhaust all possibilities before giving up on your life.
Death may be cheaper and a final solution to an aging population. But it should not be left in the hands of a medical establishment that receives its instructions from centralized government bureaucrats.

Dr. Domenick J. Maglio, Ph.D., is the author of “Invasion Within” and “Essential Parenting.” He is a psychotherapist and the owner/director of Wider Horizons School.

Cemex To Idle Brooksville North Plant

BROOKSVILLE –
Faced with a hobbled housing market and plummeting demand for its products, Cemex will temporarily shutter its Brooksville North cement production plant by the end of year, company officials confirmed Monday.

“Most” of the employees will be transferred to Cemex’s Brooksville South plant on Cobb Road, but some will be laid off, Cemex spokeswoman Jennifer Borgen said.

“We’ve had a severe downturn in the housing market, and we’re taking the necessary steps to meet those challenges,” Borgen said. “Now, unfortunately, we made the tough decision to idle our Brooksville plant.”

The company plans to reopen the plant on U.S. 98 north of Brooksville “when conditions improve,” Borgen said.

Borgen, a Houston-based spokeswoman who evacuated to Dallas as Hurricane Ike threatened, couldn’t cite the total number of employees working at the Brooksville North plant, how many will get pink slips or what kind of severance package they will receive, if any. Borgen said she’d heard employees were informed of the move Friday but couldn’t confirm that.

Local Cemex officials directed media inquires to Borgen.

The company is moving forward with a $230 million project to build a new cement kiln at its Brooksville South facility on Cobb Road, Borgen said. The second kiln was expected to add some 30 jobs to the company’s roughly 200-member Hernando work force. It now appears those positions will be filled with existing employees.

The company last year bought out Rinker, the Australia-based maker of ready-mix concrete and aggregates, for $14.2 billion. The Brooksville South Plant had been a Rinker facility.

The mining and cement production industries have been among the county’s most stable, said Mike McHugh, the county’s director of business development who worked in the industry before coming to the county.

McHugh said he doesn’t recall a cement plant ever being idled in Hernando County.

“So it certainly speaks to the difficulties in the construction and housing market right now,” McHugh said.

But it also makes sense that the company is moving operations to its new, more efficient facility, McHugh said.

Cemex last week announced total earnings of some $1.25 billion for the third quarter of this year, a decrease of about 3 percent compared to the same period last year.

The company estimates its earnings for the first nine months of 2008 at about $3.55 billion, an 8 percent decline versus the same period last year. About half of the drop of earnings “is the result of the lower expected performance from our U.S. operations,” the company said in the earnings statement.

“We continue to face a challenging economic environment in most of our markets,” Rodrigo Trevino, CEMEX’s chief financial officer, said in the statement. “Volumes during the quarter have been negatively affected by the continuing downturn in markets such as the United States, Spain and the United Kingdom.”

The company projects its domestic cement volume in the U.S. for 2008 to decrease by around 18 percent; ready-mix volume to decrease by about 28 percent; and aggregate products to decrease by about 28 percent.

The continued decline in the residential construction sector is the main culprit, company officials said. That decline, in turn, affects the industrial and commercial sectors.

Foreign-exchange fluctuations, including the depreciation of the Mexican peso, have also taken a toll on earnings, Trevino said.

The news comes as Hernando’s unemployment rate continues to climb, hitting 8.4 percent in July, according to the state’s Agency for Workforce Innovation. The state’s jobless rate is 6.1 percent.

Reporter Tony Marrero can be reached at 352-544-5286 or lmarrero@hernandotoday.com.