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A helping hand from 'guv'na'

Lutz's colorful fundraiser allows the city's civic association to make more than $18,000 in gifts to 10 local institutions.

By BILL COATS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 19, 2002


LUTZ -- Style Kitten and the Southern Belle have chipped in where the Mad Scientist and the Swamp Cannibal left off: They are helping pay the bills of the Old Lutz School.

Lutz's historic school building received $3,000 Thursday, as one of the leading beneficiaries of the $18,031 raised this year by Lutz's three guv'na candidates.

That makes the guv'na competition the chief source of revenue for the schoolhouse's preservationists over the last two years.

In each of the previous 21 years, the group staged a four-night howling Halloween fund-raiser. They transformed the building into the Haunted School House, and characters like the Mad Scientist and the Swamp Cannibal raised $8,000 to $10,000 a year. But that was shut down for fire-code violations.

"We don't have any revenue coming in now," said Phyllis Hoedt, co-chairwoman of the Citizens for the Old Lutz School Building. "This helps pay the insurance and the electric bill."

Despite having only three candidates, this year's guv'na competition was the second richest in the 12-year history of Lutz's colorful community fundraiser.

Brett Montegny, a 28-year-old consignment-store owner, won by dressing as "Style Kitten" and raising $8,542.57. She was rivaled by Cheryl Benton, who raised $7,483.83 in the antebellum regalia of a southern belle. Stacy Ironside, a salon owner who retained her true identity, raised $2,004.78.

Their success allowed the Lutz Civic Association, which sponsors guv'na, to bless 10 Lutz institutions with money Thursday.

The Lutz Nature Park, nearing completion at the western edge of the Oscar Cooler Youth Sports Complex, also received $3,000. The money will be used to maintain the park and extend its boardwalk.

The Lutz Volunteer Fire Department will fold its $2,700 into the department's $130,000 budget, said Ben Fisher, president of the department's board. The department raises most of its money through an annual mailing. Lutz's growing population has prompted the department to create three paid positions so someone always staffs the fire station.

"We'll put it in the budget and put it to good use," Fisher said.

Joshua House, the children's home on Hanna Road, received $2,430, but that wasn't its first gift in this year's competition. On June 22, Mrs. Ironside treated all the Joshua House children to pancakes and pony rides at a joint fundraiser for the guv'na candidates.

Three area Boy Scout troops received $900 apiece. The Lutz Leagueretts softball league received $1,500. Angels Unaware, a home for the disabled on Livingston Avenue, received $700. Maniscalco Elementary School was given $2,000, of which half is designated for the music department.

-- Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 269-5309 or coats@sptimes.com.

Guv'na grants

$3,000 Citizens for the Old Lutz School Building

$3,000 Lutz Nature Park

$2,700 Lutz Volunteer Fire Department

$2,430 Joshua House

$2,000 Maniscalco Elementary School

$1,500 Lutz Leagueretts

$900 Boy Scout Troop 12

$900 Boy Scout Troop 21

$900 Boy Scout Troop 212

$700 Angels Unaware

$1 was kept by the Lutz Civic Association to purchase gift items for the guv'na candidates.

-- Source: Sharon Espinola, Lutz Civic Association

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