Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on January 15, 1995 · 124
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 124

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St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 15, 1995
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124
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12 TIMES SUNDAY, JANUARY 15. 1995 CT - - .r. i, 1WW Timet photo CHERIE DIEZ Roy Hart and his fiancee, Joan Rubino, left, and Joyce and Jerry Trissel skate through a dance number at the Southland Roller Palace in Pinellas Park. All are members of the Silver Rollers, a roller skating group consisting mostly of seniors. Rollers from Page 1 with him to the rink and wears skates that are 40 years old. "I just skate around, that's all," he said. And that's fine. Roller skating is not a high-pressure sport. Lay, the flirt, skates with an artificial knee. He first hurt it in 1931 when he was roller skating in the street and was struck by a car. Many of the members just come for the company. Lay was reunited at the rink with Marie Valluzzi, 76, who knew him decades ago in Chicago. Dunnington said the other skaters help her when her arthritis pain gets too bad. "They cry with me," she said. Charles Cote brought his wife before she died. Beatrice had Alzheimer's disease and could not skate, but the other skaters helped him feed her and take care of her while she watched. Cote knows she loved to watch. "She always knew who I was," said Cote, 70. "I just skate around, that's all. And that's fine. Roller skating is not a high-pressure sport. " Henry Weber "She couldn't tell me, but she knew." The group started out as a birthday club. Members pay dues of $1 a month and every month they buy a birthday cake. Lay had his birthday last week. He got a T-shirt that read "Dirty old skater" on it and they threw a party at Rainbow Roller Land. "I'm a party guy," he said. The Silver Rollers don't get depressed about birthdays. They just put on the roller skates and the organ music and party. "Who wants to get old? It's just a number," Lay said. Weber added, "It's just another day, is all it is." Parade from Page 1 parade didn't occur, but the after-parade ceremony was switched from Dorsett Park to the Mount Hermon church because water from overnight storms was still standing in the park. About 400 people gathered outside the church under cloudy skies at the end of the parade, but only about 100 went inside for the ceremony. A local NAACP official told the group gathered in the church that past political, economic and social gains secured by King for most black people in the United States are being eroded, and that the key to reversing that backward trend is for blacks to "rediscover God." The Rev. Walter Campbell, president of the North Pinellas chapter of the NAACP, said it was really God, ,not Abraham Lincoln, who emancipated the slaves, and it is time to again call upon God to enable black people "to get where we are going, to get what is our inalienable right" to a fair share of the American dream as envisioned by King. "He's the same God who broke the shackles and chains of slavery in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi," Campbell, pastor of Bayview Baptist Church in Clearwater, said in his prepared remarks. "He's the same God who opened up restaurants and water fountains in Florida . . . who changed the seating arrangement on busses and unlocked college doors . . . who will carry us on." Speaking on a theme of "Where are we going in times like these?" Campbell said black people "cannot allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that we are now in the so-called promised land enjoying milk and honey." An NAACP official said that past political, economic and social gains secured by King for most black people in the United States are being eroded, and that the key to reversing that backward trend is for blacks to "rediscover God." "There may be a few isolated cases of realized dreams," he said, "but for the majority of our minority, this is not a reality." Robert Gaines of Clearwater, assistant deacon at Mount Hermon, echoed the words of Campbell, saying that the "only solution for black people is to return to God." "As Dr. King said, the Lord wants all Americans to be united, and no government program will bring people back to loving one another," said Gaines, a plant operator at Kennedy Middle School in Clearwater. Babies from Page 1 Healthy Start, said that's why the coalition is so insistent on confidentiality. "We protect that with great energy," she said. Stanley said she was not aware of any families objecting to the reviews in Hillsborough County. Hospitals normally are reluctant to let outsiders look through their files, but Pinellas Health Director John P. Heilman said administrators are cooperating with this program. Bayfront Medical Center spokesman Rob Sumner said Healthy Start's pledge of confidentiality comforted the hospital. "We think research like this is going to help," added Emily Stehle, spokeswoman at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater. Kaczmarek says her information can help. For example, of those 11 babies whose deaths were classified as "sudden death, cause unknown," 10 had mothers who smoked during pregnancy. "That's scary," Kaczmarek said. "That's very scary. Court seoyiity A suspected felon's escape fuels the debate over what can be done if anything to upgrade safety in Pasco County courthouses. By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE Tkm Staff Wrttar DADE CITY It's a point that William Lockhart could make with only one thing: a gun. So one day last year, the court administrator for Pasco and Pinellas counties took a small Colt handgun, placed it in a leather case and put it in his briefcase. Then he walked in the front door of the Pasco County courthouse in Dade City. When he reached a security checkpoint leading to the judge's chamber and the building's three courtrooms, he gave the private security guard at the door his briefcase for the required weapons search. The guard took a quick look inside, then cleared Lockhart through the door. Lock-hart's point was made. "Courthouse security in Pasco County is wholly inadequate," he said Thursday. "I could have had three or four weapons that day. It wouldn't have made a difference." The courthouse security debate was renewed Wednesday when a defendant escaped from sheriffs deputies delivering him to court for a trial on armed burglary and grand theft charges. Most agree, though, that the escape of Albert Leon Fletcher would have been difficult to stop regardless of security measures at the courthouse. Fletcher, 24, made his escape before he ever stepped inside the building. He picked the locks on his handcuffs and leg shackles in the van transporting him from the county jail in Land O'Lakes. When the van stopped outside the courthouse and its doors were opened, Fletcher bolted. Two shots fired by a deputy to stop him apparently missed. Fletcher was also awaiting trial on murder charges in Polk County. Even so, Lockhart said, "sometimes it takes an incident like this to get something done and get people looking at the overall security issue once again." Last fall, county commissioners rejected a call by Pasco County judges to spend an additional $110,000 to pay for added security in Pasco courts, including armed deputies and X-ray machines for packages and briefcases. The lost budget battle left Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper furious the day after Fletcher's escape. "I've been distressed for years that the County Commission has never thought it important enough to the judges or the citizens of this county to adequately secure the courthouses," Tepper said. "We shouldn't have to wait until someone escapes or gets killed before something is done," she said. "We react rather than anticipate needs for security." Tepper said one of her recommendations on increased security may have prevented Fletcher's escape: a sally port in which prisoners could be unloaded from vehicles. Had Fletcher bolted from a van parked in a sally port an enclosed, protected area he would not have been able to run far before locked doors prevented his escape. Judge Maynard F. Swanson, though, said he thought security at Pasco courthouses was adequate and noted that in his seven years on the bench in Dade City he knew of only three escapes. "It's not like people are skipping court every two days," Swanson said. "It's a very rare occurrence. "We can have perfect security in the courthouses," he said. "But it comes with a price tag. You have to weigh the risk and cost. I don't think people should panic on this question. We could have perfect security. But our courthouses would be fortresses. And that would be a bad atmosphere to support the administration of justice." Lockhart disagrees and points to security at airports as an example of the kind of strict security people tolerate. ;SC8PS8 12IWS USUI no si trail of f si Albert Leon Fletcher fled Wednesday while being moved to the courthouse in Dade City. Authorities think he is long gone. But residents remained jittery. By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE Timet Staff Writer DADE CITY Leroy Ford doesn't trust strangers especially in the past few days. A murder defendant sprinted to freedom through the streets of his neighborhood Wednesday morning, escaping from Pasco County sheriffs deputies delivering him to the nearby county courthouse. Albert Leon Fletcher, 24, was still at large Saturday. Police no longer think Fletcher is anywhere near the Mickens-Harper neighborhood running along the east side of U.S. 98, across the street from the Pasco County courthouse. But residents like Ford are still jittery. "I'm not unlocking this door for nobody," Ford told a reporter from behind a locked screen door last week, more than 12 hours after up to 40 police and sheriffs deputies ended an intense search of the area. Ford, a retiree who has lived in the same house on First Street since 1948, said, "It's no offense. This thing's got everybody upset right now. That man could still be right out there in some trees someplace and we'd never know it." Probably not, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Jon Powers. "We don't believe he's still in the area," Powers said. For that reason, "the classic massive manhunt that went on in the neighborhood ended" Wednesday night. Fletcher picked the locks on his handcuffs and leg shackles during a drive to the courthouse from the county jail in Land O'Lakes in a sheriffs van early Wednesday morning. As a sheriffs deputy opened the van's back doors, Fletcher bolted, fleeing across U.S. 98 as a deputy fired two shots to stop him. Police do not have any evidence either shot hit him. Fletcher wa3 two hours away from opening arguments in his trial on armed burglary and grand theft charges. He had been sentenced to 17 years after a trial in the summer on similar charges. And he faces the death penalty in a first-degree murder case set to go to trial in Polk County in March. Powers, of the Sheriffs Office, said deputies have no solid leads on Fletcher's whereabouts. It's going to be harder to convince some nervous residents. The Mickens-Harper neighborhood is a quiet place on most days, a small subdivision of single-family homes where residents know their neighbors and can notice a stranger easily. Many residents of the area are elderly, unaccustomed to deputies pacing their streets with shotguns drawn. "We're just praying he's out of town," said Lillian Clark, owner of Lillian's Beauty Salon on North Delmar Street, who lives in the same building as her salon. "I wouldn't let my grandkids ride their bicycles outside at all yesterday," she said. "It's going to be hard to keep them in today. But I still don't want them out alone. Somebody will have to stay with them." Clark's daughter, Stephanie Samuel, is more confident. "He won't be lurking around here with all the police who've been around here," she said. "I'm still jittery. But not like last night." Mary Pittman, who lives with her daughter on Delmar Street, likes to sit in a lawn chair in her driveway most sunny mornings. She passed on that habit Wednesday but was back in the chair Thursday, sure of her ground. "He's long gone," she said of Fletcher. "He'd be crazy to show his face." WANT TO HELP? Allison Kaczmarek of Healthy Start wants police, doctors and others to call her when they hear of a baby who has died, so she can learn more for her study. To reach her call Healthy Start at 539-2333. To find out more about staying healthy during pregnancy, call the nearest Pinellas Health Department office or (800) 451-2229 451 -BABY. "We know that there's education out there don't smoke when you're pregnant. It's on TV, it's on posters, but people are still doing it." Of course, those statistics don't prove that smoking caused those babies' deaths. But such tidbits can give Pinellas County better information on dangers for babies and pregnant women. Doctors already know many of those hazards. Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, poor nutrition and too much stress all can damage an unborn child. The study is designed partly to identify which risk factors affect Pinellas County the most. Ultimately, "we're hoping that we're going to be able to see a ' reduction in the rate" of infant mortality, Kaczmarek said. Kaczmarek will play the role of a detective in some ways, studying babies who die of unknown causes, babies who die of abuse, babies who die of disease, babies who die in car crashes. She wants to know about them all. She is asking police and emergency personnel to call her when a baby dies so she can study the infant's case. A panel of medical professionals will meet in private to review her findings. The names of individual babies and mothers won't even be mentioned in the closed meetings, Kaczmarek said. General data will be publicized so the information gets to the people who need it most. "These kids have got to be able to be born healthy," Kaczmarek said, "because everyone needs to have a fighting chance." Tuesday, January 17. Each month, the Price Checker Coupon Book offers you great values from all kinds of local businesses and services. Everything from home improvement companies to hair salons, restaurants to repair shops. And, Price Checker's handy pocket-sized format makes it easy for you to take along when you're out shopping! Look for your local Price Checker edition, inserted in home-delivered copies of the 'limes on Tuesday, January 17. For limes home delivery, call 1-800-388-4637. For advertising rates and information, call (813) 893-8725; toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext 8725. n:;9 it i:j tke GG2724 Nol available in east 01 central Pasco County. ram I? ran v35 mm World news. National news. State news. FIND IT III THE I mriffi i itTiin-n-r- in rin innn

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