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Neighborhood Notebook

By JOSH ZIMMER, JACKIE RIPLEY and RICK GERSHMAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002


Residents have chance to try touch-screen voting

KEYSTONE -- Hillsborough County's decision to spend $12-million buying new touch-screen voting machines meant many citizens would have to be re-educated in the use of new equipment.

Keystone residents and anyone else who can't wait for the next election can learn how to cast their ballots at a meeting March 4.

The AARP Greater Keystone Chapter 3555 asked for the presentation by county Department of Elections representatives, chapter spokesman Allen Phillips said. The meeting starts at 1 p.m. at Keystone United Methodist Church, 16301 Race Track Road.

For some older residents the change in technology may be daunting, Phillips said.

"A lot of the people out here don't even have a computer," he said. "Some of the folks out here would like to see how it works."

Alligator spotted near high school

NEW TAMPA -- Wharton High School officials Friday were attempting to catch an alligator seen next to a retention pond on the outskirts of the school's property.

The pond is in wetlands divided from the main campus by a fence with a locked gate, Wharton assistant principal Lanness Robinson said. The gator should not pose a danger as long as students stay on their side, he said, but officials don't want to take any chances.

Billy Harter, a gator trapper, was told this one is about 5 feet long. It was spotted Thursday on the bank of the pond, he said. Harter searched for it for 45 minutes without success. Typically, he would leave a trap behind, but he could not do that at Wharton because it might endanger students.

"If I hung a bait out there and a kid came up and pulled it out of the water," a gator might be on the other end, Harter said.

Gators that are trapped are destroyed within 24 hours, said Harter, whether or not they pose a threat.

This one, he said, is "just doing what he's supposed to do."

Wal-Mart faces opposition to plan for open storage

TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- The Town 'N Country Alliance is against a plan by Wal-Mart at Waters Avenue and Hulsey Road to use a parking lot west of the store for open storage.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is seeking a major modification to its site plan, a change that would reduce the number of parking spaces from 571 to 462 and would expand its garden center. The petition also calls for placing containerized steel storage units in the existing parking lot to the west of the store.

"It will be a tremendous eyesore," said Stan Hafiers, president of the Morgan Woods Home Owners Association.

The Town 'N Country Alliance plans to send a spokesman to the scheduled public hearing April 8.

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