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    Season has Dunedin workers on the move

    This time, four employees are shifted to new rooms in the city's temporary digs at a senior center to make way for snowbirds.

    By LEON M. TUCKER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 21, 2002


    DUNEDIN -- First it was rain. Now it's the snowbirds who have forced City Hall workers into yet another move.

    As the busy fall season at the Dr. William E. Hale Senior Activity Center approaches, four of the city employees temporarily stationed there during the renovation to City Hall have moved to other rooms in the center to make way for the scores of seniors expected to drop in this fall.

    Among other activities scheduled to begin when the busy season starts Oct. 1, computer classes will be held in a room occupied for three months by four City Hall workers.

    "Since they have moved out, we can start our first class on Oct. 8," said Terry Trudell, the center's program coordinator.

    Trudell added that there have been few complications with the relocation of City Hall.

    "We just adapted the classes by moving them to other rooms we have," she said "We've been able to do that, so it has worked out well."

    In June, the city had to move its entire administration operation, as well as public meetings, from City Hall, 542 Main St., to the center on S Douglas Avenue because of a construction debacle.

    Workers had not properly secured the exposed roof, allowing heavy rains to cause about $200,000 in damage to the inside of City Hall.

    "Everyone's very comfortable," City Manager John Lawrence said of moving to the senior center. "And I don't feel our citizens have been impacted one bit."

    New Millennium Construction of Tampa had a $367,000 contract to replace the building's roof and install a new electrical and air conditioning system, but it was fired last month after city officials concluded that the project had been abandoned.

    The city is considering bids it has received from three contractors to complete the renovations, which are expected to wrap up by the end of the year.

    A Times article revealed that New Millennium senior manager Richard Champoux has been convicted of five felonies -- including grand theft, passing bad checks and possession of cocaine -- since 1990.

    Hoping to avoid a similar situation, Lawrence said criminal background checks into the companies that participated in the bidding are being conducted.

    "We plan to do it in this situation," he said. "But I don't think it will be a common practice with us."

    In other commission news, the well-used but run-down Sterling Recreation Center is a step closer to construction of a new facility.

    Commissioners on Thursday awarded a contract for $141,490 to Harvard Jolly Clees and Toppe Architects, a St. Petersburg firm, for the design of a recreation center. City officials estimate that the cost to rebuild the center at 550 Laura Lane will be about $2.2-million. Construction is expected to begin in August 2003 and could last 10 months.

    -- Leon M. Tucker can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or tucker@sptimes.com.

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