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Hernando recap

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 31, 2002

TELLONE LAUDED BY SCHOOL BOARD: Hernando County School Board members gave Superintendent Wendy Tellone her first evaluation in May. On a scale where 1 is unsatisfactory and 5 is excellent, Tellone scored a 4.65 average. Her rating topped anything received by her predecessor, John Sanders, who spent six years on the job. The board votes in June whether to extend her contract. Any pay raise will wait, at Tellone's request, until teacher, support staff and administrator salaries have been resolved.

JEWELER PLEADS OUT: Goldsmith Jewelers owner Steven Clemente pleaded no contest to drug charges in May, while investigators continued looking into complaints from about 20 customers about their missing valuables. They eventually tracked down many missing items at a repair shop in New Port Richey. Clemente's shop, once a reputable business in Spring Hill, is now closed, and Clemente is deeply in debt to a former landlord and Huntington National Bank. His downward spiral came, acquaintances said, after a 1999 armed robbery of the store.

DROUGHT LEADS TO BURNING BAN: Tinderbox dry conditions in some areas, despite recent much-needed rains, led Hernando County commissioners to institute a ban against outdoor burning. Outdoor burning must now be permitted by the state Division of Forestry. Outdoor barbecues are allowed only in enclosed facilities. If the ban remains in effect, it could impact Fourth of July fireworks displays.

RECYCLING EFFORT KICKS OFF: Hernando County began a test run of its pilot recycling program for 10,4000 single family homes in the 34608 ZIP code area of Spring Hill. If successful, the program could expand to 21,350 Spring Hill homes. The state mandates that each county recycle at least 30 percent of its trash, and leaders are considering raising that level to 50 percent.

SKATE PARK BREAKS GROUND: The county broke ground on a new $250,000 skate park for Hernando County teens. The sometimes controversial project drew criticism, and kids involved in the push for the park vowed to raise half the money themselves. They held spaghetti dinners, washed cars and led other fundraisers. They drew support from other backers, including the Hernando County Mining Association. The skate park, which will be at Pioneer Park, is slated for opening in late summer.

HERNANDO FALLS SHORT ON FCAT: Roughly two-thirds of Hernando County's sixth-graders can't do what the state considers basic math. Seven of 10 freshmen in the county aren't reading up to standards. And less than half the fifth-graders are able to do the math they should know. That's the bad news from this year's FCAT assessment. The good news -- or the even worse news, depending on your perspective: In most cases, Hernando County's students are performing higher in reading and math than 60 percent of the students around the country.

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