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Dogs own city

Winter Park, once known as the “city of trees,” is now known as “governance by dogs.” Don’t talk against the dog park if you want their support to get elected in the future. Don’t print information about your neighborhood park that is now “owned” by dogs if you are on the Parks and Recreation Board because you just might be removed for no cause. Winter Park taxpayers now get to pay for 300 non-resident dogs to play in 13 acres of waterfront land. It didn’t matter that only 56 Winter Park residents bought tags to use the dog park. Oh well, goodbye “city of trees.” Do you welcome the new “governance by dogs”?

—Nancy Shutts

Winter Park


Keep pay raise

I’m getting a 500 percent pay raise! Ferrari of Central Florida opens at 8 a.m.! I like our new commissioners and really think they’ll do a great job. Productive dialogue would be more likely to occur if this commissioner pay thing wasn’t presented as a 500 percent pay raise.

One could say “first pay increase in 50 years” or “here in Winter Park, even less affluent people can consider public office.” If 20 hours a week is a reasonable assumption of time spent for a commissioner to properly prepare and attend meetings, not counting all the campaigning time, this outrageous 500 percent raise brings their hourly rate from $2.31 per hour to $11.53 per hour. Bring on the Ferraris!

I supported Steven Leary, as I think he’ll make a great commissioner. We disagree on this pay raise point and that’s OK. We’ll still be able to have coffee, respect each other and communicate. I’ll learn from him; he’ll learn from me. Out of this frame of mind comes better governance. E-mail me at john@skohomes.com

—John T. Skolfield III

Winter Park


Merit pay is key

(Re: “Great Experiment in merit pay” by Robin Grenz in March 24 issue)

So, Ms. Grenz, the best we can hope for in determining the merit of those who teach our children is … ignorance? We can only blindly trust that the school bureaucracy knows best? For most of us, merit is a key variable in our employment. But not for some employees. Their positions are protected by politicians. Politicians whose re-elections are financed by contributions from unions. Unions, which are funded by contributions from the very employees who don’t have to worry about things like … merit.

—Jeffrey Payne

Winter Springs


Keep kids healthy

The proportion of children in the United States who are overweight has grown significantly, with one out of three children considered overweight or obese. Children are spending less time being active and more time in front of screens. Demanding schedules contribute to the shift in activity. Families prepare fewer nutritious home-cooked meals and eat fewer fruits and vegetables.

One way to determine if your child is overweight is by calculating their Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI uses height and weight measurements to estimate body fat and can easily be calculated using a program online. Once you know your child’s BMI, it can be plotted on a standard BMI chart. Children fall into one of four categories:

Underweight: BMI below the 5th percentile

Normal weight: BMI at the 5th and less than the 85th percentile

Overweight: BMI at the 85th and below 95th percentiles

Obese: BMI at or above 95th percentile

If you’re worried that your child may be overweight, make an appointment with your doctor who can assess their eating and activity habits. He may also screen for some of the medical conditions that can be associated with obesity.

Overweight children often have weight-related problems. Children who are considered obese (BMI at or above the 95th percentile) are at risk for health issues such as obstructive sleep apnea, high blood pressure and anxiety, to name a few.

Overweight children also tend to grow faster and enter puberty earlier. A recent study shows obese teens are 16 times more likely to become severely obese in adulthood compared with those who are normal weight or overweight.

The best prevention for becoming overweight is living a healthy lifestyle — choosing nutritious foods and daily physical activity. Here are five ways to reach a healthy weight:

— Exercise – Regular physical activity burns calories and builds muscles. An hour a day is a good guideline to follow.

— Reduce screen time – No more than two hours a day.

— Portion distortion – A clenched fist is about a cup, the recommended portion of pasta, rice, cereal and other starches. A meat portion should be about as big as your palm. Limit the amount of added fats (butter, mayo or salad dressing) to the size of the top of your thumb.

— Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day – a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber fills you up and helps digest food. Make fruits and vegetables a part of every meal.

— Don’t skip breakfast – Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism to help burn calories all day!

You can help by setting a good example. Let your children see you eat healthy foods in the appropriate serving sizes, enjoying treats in moderation and exercising regularly. Helping children lead healthy lifestyles begins with parents who lead by example.

For more information on healthy eating habits and risks related to obesity, visit KidsHealth.org

—Lloyd N. Werk, M.D.

Division Chief of Consultative

Pediatrics

Nemours Children’s Clinic