Letters to the editor

Noisy air boats

I was kept up last night by an airboat that did not stop until 2 a.m. This goes on about every night and during the daytime. I must close my windows and turn something on that makes sound so that I can drown out the noise from these airboats (but even that only helps a little).

I was walking along Arbuckle Creek the other day and I saw several pontoon boats, some other small boats and some kayaks – everyone enjoying the peaceful serenity that the creek and surrounding area provides. Then came the noisemakers, these airboats that filled the entire area with their noise. I stopped to talk to a man and woman who were fishing close to the bank of the creek and they said that they were pulling up to go to a small lake several miles away because of the noise. I know people in Spring Lake who complain about this, and even people as far away as Lake Placid.

This is democracy at work – a few individuals (even one) have the right to overrule the nights of many others and destroy their peace. They have the right to destroy the peace of others.

Donald A. Devine


Remembering Bill White

Bill White was a writer for Highlands Today. He did sports, a column and interviewed veterans. I have 80 of his columns in a folder and they are as interesting today as they were when written 10 years ago. I’ve just received word he has passed on in his native Texas.

Bill was one of the first people to befriend me when I moved here in late 2001. I was a cashier at Barnhill’s Buffet. He ate there often.

Later, when I worked for Habitat For Humanity, I met a volunteer, Bert Moore, who had been a Marine in World War II and fought in Iwo Jima. I got the two together at the store and Bill wrote him up. Bert’s neighbors at Buttonwood Bay didn’t realize they had a hero amongst them. He and his wife had been wintering there for 20 years. Still do.

When Hurricane Charley damaged Bill’s mobile home and car at Whispering Pines, we spent the night at Highlands Today. Sounds crazy, but I remember it distinctly.

Bill created the Smile Patrol in the newspaper. When someone smiled, they were rewarded. On Dec. 9, 2003, Dianne Kurek became Smile Patrol Club member No. 44. She was a Toby’s Clown. As he wrote, “the Patrol is our way of honoring those folks who have the best interests of the community in mind.” She was a free meal for two at Barnhill’s.

Bill moved to Florida in 1974 and worked for the Tampa Tribune in Brooksville before being shifted to Sebring. For several years, he’d take his vacation to Washington, D.C. so he could see the great fireworks display around the monuments on the National Mall. He wrote about it in the paper. It was on such a trip that he was at Camden Yards in Baltimore watching the Orioles play the Yankees. Something went seriously wrong with his body and he was taken to a hospital. There was surgery and long rehab in the Washington area. He quit his job and moved to Texas to be near his kin.

I visited him twice and he came here once. I think Mark Pinson of Highlands Today and I were his best friends here.

Now comes a note in the mail from his sister saying he is gone. She adds that he donated his body to the University of Texas Medical Center. That’s just like Bill, thinking of others.

Bill was a blessing to Highlands County. He will be missed.

Bob Hummel