Letters from the week of March 8 

Martin: "The Shaft," February 22

Dirt Track
Here's hoping David Martin will keep up the great investigations! I look forward to the Pitch digging up the politicians' secrets.

Paul Cox, Kansas City, Missouri

Feature: "The Bloodsucker of Valentine," February 22

Plasma Screen
I just read your article about the ZLB plasma donation center in midtown, and it disturbed me. My husband and I usually go there every week to be able to afford the little things in life, like a tank of gas or a birthday present for one of our three boys. We rely on our donations — sad to say — until this little bad spell is over.

My husband is in school to become a computer geek, and I am waiting for my turn to finish school. I work at a sandwich shop part time, and I play the role of mommy full time. I always dislike going there to make my donations because of the environment and the noisy, rude people. I always feel like I have to keep one eye on them so I don't get robbed in the parking lot — or worse. It scares me to know that so many people I am sitting next to in the waiting room are junkies or prostitutes or dealers.

I still feel obligated to my family to continue donating, but your article was frightfully eye-opening. Thank you for writing about it in a very candid manner. Maybe somebody will shine a light on this problem and do something about it, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Name withheld by request

Type O Negative
Your article was very offensive to a lot of people I know who go to ZLB Plasma Services. Some of us go because we have bills to pay. I go there because it is my gas money throughout the week — especially when you're living paycheck to paycheck because you have no one out here to pay your bills for you or help you out.

Yeah, I know there are dope dealers and people who do that stuff in there, but the way you guys wrote it makes it sound like most of the people in there are like that. Quote: "99 percent of the people in that place are drug addicts." Maybe some of us in there go because that little bit of money will help us out for the week.

If you're going to write something, you should know more about what you're writing, not just look at things from the bad point of view. There are other sides to the story, but just like a newspaper, you go for the negative side of something to get a better story. You guys wouldn't like it if someone wrote a story about the Pitch, saying they never have anything good to say unless it's about a new bar or something. That's not doing anything but giving the people a new place to get drunk and act stupid — think about it. Amanda Jones, Shawnee

Antibody Production
Thank you for this story. The plasma center is trouble for any neighborhood.

We worked in an office building nearby, and the apartment building next to it, and we ended up moving our office because of the dealers and addicts wandering up and down the street. Every day, random people would go to the plasma center, donate, then come around the back side of our office and yell up at an apartment window next door, sometimes scream, for some guy named Ray. "Ray ... RAAAAAAAY!"

We'd see people shooting up behind our office in broad daylight. There were drug deals right outside our front door, which had one-way glass, and often there would be deals happening less than 6 feet away as we stood there and watched. The idiots had no idea we were there. We were so close, we could accurately describe the dealers to the police, from the puffy coats they wore right down to the shit stains we saw on their exposed underwear because their pants were always falling down. And seldom did the police respond and make a bust. Too bad.

I live and work downtown. If I were a city leader, I'd never allow a plasma donation center, quick-cash store or pawnshop to set up shop anywhere in my neighborhood or city. They are trouble. Chad Gerlt, Kansas City, Missouri

High Blood Pressure
I don't know what else to say but thank you! The article was well-researched, and I believe it will be instrumental in the fight to clean up the street that I so dearly love. We still have a long way to go, but with input like yours, I think we will get there sooner.

I bought the News Room with my partner, Alan Conger, in March of 2000. The area was coming along great, really great. Then, when ZLB moved in, our business slowly started to decline. Friends of mine who frequented my place started to go elsewhere. They would say it was too dangerous down there. Then the shooting of a couple in the Family Dollar (good customers of mine) occurred. Then things started to dramatically go downhill. To date, our revenues are down over 53 percent. I will fight this until ZLB is gone! Kevin McGraw, Kansas City, Missouri

Café, February 15

Hamburger Helper
I was delighted to see that Local Burger received a restaurant review! If he returns, I would suggest trying smoothies and salads.

I am saddened by the lack of enthusiasm for the restaurant from the local WL population (white liberal). Local Burger actually tries to promote sustainability and all that stuff, but people just complain that the portions are small. Customers make unfair comparisons of the food to Burger King fare. Enough ranting. I hope Local Burger makes it, but it may not stand up to Midwestern expectations. Thank you for reviewing my favorite restaurant in Lawrence. Bernadette Kuhn, Lawrence

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