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    Metro week in review

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 23, 2002

    City may get water from juice maker

    DADE CITY -- In what may turn into the trendiest tap water around, juice behemoth Pasco Beverage Co. has announced to state officials its intention to provide water to the Dade City municipal supply while at the same time expanding into the bottled water business.

    The company argues that the city can use the water -- Pasco Beverage holds permits to pump a million of gallons a day from the 16 wells on its property -- and the company wants assistance in dealing with its wastewater.

    Pasco Beverage, formerly Lykes Pasco, claims the majority of the store brand product sold in the $5.3-billion annual juice market.

    The company's application indicates it expects a 260 percent increase in orange juice production, and will begin selling bottled water in two to three years, starting at about 20-million gallons per year but eventually reaching 107-million gallons per year at the end of 15 years.

    A spokesman said the company will most likely move into private label water bottling, providing the water for grocery store brands, rather than competing in the name brand market.

    "This is a partnership that is by no means unheard of," City Manager Doug Drymon said Monday. "Overall, I'm very positive on this."

    As rain falls, sinkholes continue to gape in Hernando

    SPRING HILL -- As the rains came last week, sinkholes continued to open in Spring Hill.

    So far, they appear to be concentrated around three drainage retention areas owned by the county and on four pieces of private property.

    County officials could not give an exact number of sinkholes because they are changing and collapsing. Some of the holes are large -- 20 feet by 20 feet -- and others are just several feet in diameter and depth.

    "There's nothing we can do at this point," said Hernando County spokeswoman Brenda Frazier. "It's still a very unstable situation."

    County workers said they must wait for the holes to stabilize before they patch the land.

    Hillsborough students can now use cell phones

    TAMPA -- In a reversal of school district policy, Hillsborough County students were given the all-clear to tote cell phones onto campus.

    The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have left parents wanting immediate access to their children in an emergency. School districts across the country have responded by allowing cell phones on campus but insist they be turned off during school hours.

    Hillsborough will now allow them for use only after the final bell, not during school hours or on school buses.

    Hernando County began allowing middle and high school students to bring phones to school, and students there are free to call during lunch.

    Other counties, including Citrus, Pinellas and Pasco, are considering lifting the ban as long as phones are turned off and stowed during school hours.

    Divided commission adds penny to price of gas in Pasco

    DADE CITY -- After everyone had put in their 2 cents' worth, the Pasco County Commission on Tuesday decided to raise the gas tax by one penny per gallon for the first time in 18 years.

    Following a contentious meeting, the commission voted 4-1 to approve the increase. Commissioner Ted Schrader voted against it when he saw that the commission was not going to approve a second penny, as well. The first penny does little for his district in east Pasco, he said.

    Three commissioners, including Schrader, voted in favor of a second cent, but it failed. Four votes were needed.

    Commissioners representing west Pasco argued that the second cent would unfairly be used to build roads in east Pasco, even though west Pasco residents have had to pay assessments to fix their streets.

    The 1 cent is projected to raise more than $1-million a year and take effect Jan. 1. The money will be used on an additional maintenance crew to work on roads and ditches. It will also be used to pay for street lighting throughout the county.

    In short . . .

    The Rev. Henry J. Lyons, who is now entering the final third of a 5 1/2-year sentence for racketeering and theft, is looking for a new church to lead. Lyons sent a letter to Victory Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, which has been searching for a pastor, but church officials said the recruitment deadline had passed. Lyons, who is due for release in January 2004, was convicted in 1999 of swindling $4-million from companies doing business with the National Baptist Convention USA, the nation's largest black church organization.

    TARPON SPRINGS -- Eight months after the announcement of a massive project to add a hotel and casino boat to the landmark Louis Pappas' Riverside Restaurant, the deal has fallen apart. Louis Pappas plans to carry on his family's legacy and continue to run the restaurant.

    LARGO -- Despite some dissent from a crowd of protesters and a city commissioner, the Largo City Commission voted to go ahead with its plans for a $22-million city library. Commissioner Marty Shelby tried to put an 11th-hour stop on the project until September, when voters could have their say in a referendum, but that was denied by the rest of the commission.

    Coming up this week

    This is the last week to use your stamps before postage goes up again. Starting June 30, the price of a postage stamp goes up 3 cents to 37 cents. There are other price increases for priority mail, express mail and money orders.

    A decision is expected next week from three federal judges overseeing a lawsuit involving lines for congressional and legislative districts in the state. It is a tug of war in a state nearly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and could help determine control of both Congress and the Florida Legislature. Elections officials are eagerly awaiting a ruling so they can realign voting precincts before the Sept. 10 primary.

    -- Compiled by Times staff writer Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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