Upon leaving one of the local government buildings on Jan. 22, I approached at Port St. Joe government official with the issues I had addressed in a letter that was published in the local newspaper, The Port St. Joe Star, in October 2012, pertaining to the slogan “We Breathe Water”. I also mentioned the RESTORE Act that could be put to better use for all citizens in Port St. Joe and the Gulf County areas, other than the proposed construction of fishing piers and boat ramps. To my knowledge, in all the years I have owned property in Gulf County, traffic has never been backed up with tourists on Highway 98 waiting to put a boat in the water or people trying to get a place on the dock or shoreline to fish. The response from the paid government officials was not only defensive, but to me as a Florida resident and taxpayer of Gulf County, offensive and shocking, “Why don’t you go back to New Jersey!”
Being a North Florida born and raised Floridian myself, the daughter of Regina Buzzett Misiaveg, a North Florida born, bred and educated mother, and the daughter of an immigrant farmer, Charles Joseph Misiaveg, Sr., born in Lithuania and raised in Chicago, I was taught by their examples: integrity and strength of character. The harassing and bullying by the local government officials will not make me leave my home in Gulf County, Florida, nor will these hostile acts mute my freedom of speech.
Perhaps, these intimidating tactics worked for the Port St. Joe and Gulf County government officials previously, to avoid having their decisions questioned or challenged but these hideously rude methods will not for many. The unsolicited recommendation for me to “Go back to New Jersey” is an offensive outburst.
As a Marine Corps widow, I have a complete understanding of unity within community and caring for your own. It was appalling to read that local government officials want to have a citizen stripped of their right to vote; beyond unconscionable or imaginable. Couldn’t the time and energy wasted on this issue and telling people to return from whence they came before relocating to Port St. Joe and Gulf County areas be put to better use?
I am a teacher. Having taught high school, it was my job every day to sell a product now one really wanted but was mandatory. A local culinary arts program would give the students incentive to be selected for a program other than one required for graduation. Couldn’t some of the RESTORE Act funds be used for developing a high school culinary program in an existing new building having a state-of-the-art kitchen? This would be a high school course that would not only be of interest to high school students but provide them with an occupation when graduating, and a place for all of us to dine during lunchtime, supporting the program both monetarily and with community interest.
Upon the death of my husband, becoming a single mother of two teenage daughters, I have utmost respect for single parents and grandparents bearing the sole responsibility of raising children. Couldn’t some of the RESTORE Act funds be used for an existing community center to fund a much needed after school program?
If paid, government officials cannot stand being questioned or are intimidated by the innovative and creative visions and ideas that others have for Port St. Joe, Gulf County or anywhere in the United States of America, then they should not have placed their name on an election ballot. No one made them run for office.
Having learning over the years that dying with dignity is not about how we die, but the way have chosen to live, doesn’t restore man to give back, to reconstruct, to renew, to revive? As a Gulf County resident beginning the last trimester of my life, I will continue to honor the standards, teachings and expectations of my parents, Regina and Charles Misiaveg, and to carry on the core beliefs of my grandfathers, Joseph Misiaveg and W. D. Buzzett, by conveying the voices of those that have been silenced by various circumstances within the Port St. Joe and Gulf County areas.
Katherine Misiaveg Shimonis
Citizen and Gulf County taxpayer