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People & parties

Rent a bachelor, support a student

Published May 22, 2005

NEW PORT RICHEY - Mark Cotroneo is single, good looking and physically fit.

Thursday night, he was also embarrassed.

A standing-room-only crowd of mainly women went wild when it came time to bid on the 33-year-old during a bachelor auction at the Karl Reef nightclub.

"I know it's for charity, but I'm like, don't bid any more," Cotroneo said later.

But bid they did.

The winning amount was $190 for a date with Cotroneo, one of 19 bachelors who participated in the event.

Nearly 250 guests packed the Karl Reef for the Community Service Council of West Pasco's fourth annual Bachelor, Baskets and Services Auction, which raised about $8,000. Last year, about 160 guests raised close to $6,000.

"I thought it was fantastic," said event co-chair Bonnie Howard. Next year, "We may have to hold it at a different place, because every year it grows."

The Community Service Council has 92 members. The organization encourages networking and friendship and gives money to a number of local causes, including special projects for nonprofit groups and scholarships.

Because of the success of the auction, Howard said, the group will try to increase its scholarship contributions. Five $500 scholarships, one for an adult and four for students, have been awarded yearly.

The auction included gift baskets and services, such as window tinting, in addition to the bachelors. The Karl Reef donated the space and the hors d'oeuvres.

B.J. Knehans of Port Richey placed the winning $500 bid for a date with Tom Gault of St. Pete Beach. "It's for a good cause," Knehans said. Gault had offered two possibilities for the date: an 18-hole round of golf with dinner at the 19th at St. Petersburg Country Club, or a trip to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and dinner in Sarasota. Knehans prefers the latter.

Joanne Grassi of New Port Richey told CSC's Roger Smith, laughing, "Hey, listen, I'm going on a date. I've got to pay for it, though." Grassi bid $140 for time with Clark Cornwell of Hudson. Cornwell flew in from a second home in Ocean City, Md., for the auction.

Grassi and Cornwell plan to drive a convertible to Tarpon Springs, where they will have lunch at Pappas' Riverside Restaurant, and then take a stroll along the Sponge Docks and watch a sunset from the beach.

Cornwell also participated in the event last year, when a woman bid $115 for a date with him. Although, "(It's) kind of new for me," Cornwell said of the idea of people paying to go out with him. "I've been doing this dating thing all along."

Jennifer Stewart writes about social events and personalities in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 727 869-6231. Her e-mail address is

[Last modified May 22, 2005, 01:07:21]

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