The Weekly Planet and former art director Todd Bates have won first place for cover design in the national Alternative Newsweekly Awards.

The awards, covering work published in 2002, were announced last weekend at the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention in Pittsburgh. The Planet competes in the large-circulation category.

Bates, who now works as a nonfiction book designer in Seattle, was honored for three cover designs, including the one about government intrusions on personal privacy pictured above.

Re: "Climbing Out of Hell" by Eric Snider (June 4-10)

Thank you for bringing us Eric Snider's exploration of teenage suicide. It is disheartening that the government and general public give so little attention to the prevention of this leading killer of our youth.

Surprisingly, teenagers who are given mental health questionnaires seem rather willing to discuss their experiences with suicidal thoughts.

If public schools and the media are so excited about pushing anti-smoking, anti-drug, and safe sex education agendas, why not see the same emphasis given to suicide prevention?

As your article said, it's time to free suicide of its taboo status and talk about it more openly, especially with those most vulnerable to it.

—Partho Roy

Re: "The Battle Over Horse Creek" by Tim Ohr (May 7-13)

I read with interest the article by Tim Ohr concerning phosphate mining. Several things puzzle me when I read articles similar to his. One of the things I do for fun is referee soccer. As a result, I get to travel all over the state of Florida and visit a lot of suburbs. These areas used to be rural landscapes that were pine flatwoods or agricultural areas. I don't see a lot of native species at these complexes and in the neighborhoods that surround them.

I also do not see a lot of the wildlife that once used these areas as their homes. It would be interesting to see Tim do an article similar to the one he did on mining and substitute suburban development for mining and see what kind of conclusions he would draw. Suburban sprawl is permanent and mining is only a temporary disturbance of the area. Let's face it: Ultimately even the mining areas are going to be developed into suburban areas.

One exception to this is some unreclaimed mining areas that have been mined during the turn of the century. Some of these areas have been permanently put aside for wildlife. Peterson Park in Lakeland would not exist as a wildlife area if it had not been mined. If there are any urban or suburban areas that have been abandoned and set aside for wildlife, I would like to see them.

Sadly, it seems that Mr. Ohr has found only another way to make money. Reading his life story that was in the article, I got the impression that he is only in it for the money. If that were not true he would go after the biggest impact that is currently happening in Florida. This is suburban sprawl and the automobile. Unfortunately, the urban pseudo-environmentalists are only going to buy books about how to fix things that aren't in their back yard.

—Frank Foreback

Re: "Incubating a Creative Class" by Mark Leib (May 28-June 3)

Let's all thank Mr. Leib for finally saying about Tampa's theater scene what needed to be said, and for so long now. It is clear that Tampa theater will continue to reside in a "community theater" mentality until it begins to actively build a "professional" consciousness. All major cities recognize that a thriving community requires that community to support the arts. When will Tampa learn?

—Dr. D. Davis

Re: Our ongoing and not completely contrived controversy over "Red Meat" and other diversions.

Keep the comics (they're great!) but get rid of that damn crossword puzzle that I have seen no one in my building able to complete, including me. Perhaps the creator of the puzzle can sell it to Donald Rumsfeld to help in extracting information from "enemy combatants" by forcing them to try to complete it.

—Charles Jackson

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