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Hernando County fined for pollution

Published April 28, 2007



After decades of polluting South Brooksville, and 14 years of failing to clean the mess up, Hernando County will pay a $25, 000 fine.

"We made a commitment to that community, but again, there's still work to be done, " said Pamala Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which levied the fine. "We're still staying on top of it."

The W Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard site housed the county's Public Works Department from the late 1950s to 2003. Solvents, paints, fuel and pesticides spilled into the ground, fouling the Floridan aquifer and polluting neighboring yards.

The site sits just 50 feet from homes in the predominantly black Mitchell Heights neighborhood, and residents accused the county of racism.


Meter reader rescues woman from flames

Nathaniel Welch, a water meter reader, was working in New Tampa Thursday around noon when he heard screams and saw smoke at 18112 Birdwater Drive.

"Putting his own safety aside, " he ran into the burning house, said Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jace Kohan.

Inside, Welch found Traci Wilson, the homeowner, struggling to lift her 72-year-old mother, Betty Menendez, out of a wheelchair.

Welch stepped in, quickly picked the woman up and carried her to safety.

Fire Rescue personnel arrived soon after and doused the flames, which started with a grease fire in the kitchen, Kohan said. And Welch went back to reading meters, he said. "He didn't make a big deal out of it or anything."


Soldier home on leave is killed in collision

An Army private scheduled to depart for Iraq early next year was killed in a wreck early Friday in Hernando County.

Pvt. Andrew Cuthbertson, 19, arrived home for two weeks of leave Thursday. He and his fiance, Danika Pavelski, 19, spent the night visiting friends. On the way home at 5 a.m. Friday, they were traveling in a friend's pickup when, officials say, the driver ran a red light and collided with a Postal Service freight truck at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Powell Road.

Cuthbertson died at the scene. Pavelski, 19, received minor injuries. Rickey Scroggins Jr. of Bushnell, the 23-year-old driver, and passenger Heather Crouse of Brooksville, his 18-year-old girlfriend, received head injuries and were taken to Tampa hospitals. Both were listed in serious condition Friday night.

[Last modified April 28, 2007, 01:19:40]

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