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Notebook

Truck routes stir up Sun City Center

By JAY CRIDLIN and JANET ZINK
Published February 13, 2004

More than 500 people turned out Feb. 5 for the county's town hall meeting in Sun City Center.

They browsed displays with information on everything from solid waste and water department services to fire rescue and library services. Residents also raised concerns about the region with county commissioners, who were on hand to hear audience comments.

Proposed changes to the county's truck route plan dominated the conversation. The plan specifies which roads heavy trucks can use. Sun City Center residents worry that a proposal to remove Lithia Pinecrest Road and Balm Wimauma Road from the plan will send more trucks to State Road 674, which cuts through the heart of their community.

"Everything we need must be approached from 674," Walt Cawein, president of the Sun City Center Community Association, told commissioners. Residents in Sun City Center, many of whom travel in golf carts, he said, use the road to get to the doctor's office, grocery store, restaurants and post office. Putting more trucks on that street could be deadly to residents.

Cawein invited all those in the audience who oppose the new plan to stand, and hundreds got on their feet.

"We get the message loud and clear," said Commissioner Tom Scott.

Weigh station critics speak up

SEFFNER - Residents butted heads with Florida Department of Transportation officials Feb. 5 over planned truck weigh-in motion stations on both sides of Interstate 4 in Seffner.

At the meeting, residents expressed concern over what effect the $20.8-million station, which will be located to the north and south of I-4 between the Mango Road and McIntosh Road exits, would have on neighborhood noise and traffic on nearby U.S. 92.

Engineers unveiled their latest design improvements, such as a berm lined with grass and trees separating homes from the stations. To reduce noise, engineers said it might be possible to raise the height of the berm and install signs prohibiting the use of "Jake Brakes," an engine braking system found in many diesel trucks.

And Capt. Troy Thompson from the DOT's Office of Motor Carrier Compliance said authorities would patrol U.S. 92 for truckers hoping to avoid the weigh scales.

Though residents complained throughout the evening, DOT officials reiterated that the site had already been finalized, and construction would begin in 2007.

DOT spokeswoman Marion Scorza said the next public meeting on the issue would likely take place in September.

Reward tops $5,000 in horse slaughter

THONOTOSASSA - The reward for tips leading to the capture of a local horse's killer is up to more than $5,000 following a fundraiser in Thonotosassa on Sunday.

About 200 supporters turned out at Chugger's Sports Bar and Grill, donating more than $300 to the reward pot, said organizer Lisa Love, a friend of the horse's owner, Randell McDaniel.

Police say the horse, a cross-breed Arabian named Snow Girl, was slaughtered for its meat Jan. 5, eliciting a ground swell of community support.

A Jan. 17 fundraiser brought in $1,200, which came on the heels of a $1,000 reward from Hillsborough County CrimeStoppers and $2,500 from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to call the CrimeStoppers hotline at 1-800-873-TIPS.

Online petition supports preservation

Members of the Brandon Historical Association are urging people to sign an online petition supporting a bill that would increase state funding for historic preservation and other cultural activities.

Rep. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, sponsored the bill to put some fees collected by the state's Division of Corporations into the Cultural Institutions Trust Fund rather than the General Revenue Fund. That money would then go to cultural and historical preservation grants.

The bill suggests dedicating $2-million each year to historic preservation grants; $1.75-million to historical museums; and $14.3-million to cultural grants. Any remaining funds would be used as state matching funds for the Cultural Endowment Program.

Go to www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/624084149 to sign the petition.

Chili for sale at Valentine's Day dance

THONOTOSASSA - If sipping dollar bowls of chili sounds like your idea of the perfect Valentine's Day, you're in luck.

The Hillsborough River State Park Preservation Society is gearing up for its fifth annual Valentine's Day Square Dance and Chili Cookout at the park's recreation hall at 15402 U.S. 301 N in Thonotosassa.

Last year, about 200 people attended, said park manager John Baust, adding that it could be even higher this year.

"There's a lot of people who love chili and a lot of people that love to square dance, and they think that's a great thing to do with their sweetheart," Baust said.

The festivities begin at 6 p.m. Saturday. The park's usual $4 admission fee will be waived, but the society will sell chili for $1 a bowl.

For more information about the event or to make reservations, contact Hillsborough River State Park at 987-6771.

[Last modified February 12, 2004, 12:52:02]

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