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Citrus slices

By Times staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 26, 2001

War memorial committee gives report, but just one

When the Citrus County World War II Florida Memorial Ad Hoc Committee met last week, veterans commissioner and committee adviser Curt Ebitz explained plans for the memorial and efforts to fund both the one in Tallahassee and the traveling memorials.

After several minutes of in-depth explanations, Ebitz paused. At that point, committee chairwoman Ann Burch called on County Commissioner Josh Wooten, who is the committee's liaison to the state.

"Curt gave my report," Wooten said.

However, the newly elected commissioner was not about to be outdone. He pledged $500 to local fundraising.

"I have to do something with my commission salary," he said.

OH MAN: Last week, Superintendent David Hickey and School Board Chairwoman Patience Nave met with the editorial board of the Citrus Times.

Although there were several issues discussed, the divisive issues related to religion in the schools took center stage.

When asked how the board should handle its opening prayer, Hickey was unequivocal. "I have five ladies on the board," he said. "I pray a lot."

GOING MY WAY? The ticklish issue of the County Commission meeting site re-emerged during a goal-setting session last week, when several commissioners suggested the commission move its meetings to the Lecanto Government Building instead of renting the Masonic Building in Inverness.

Commissioner Vicki Phillips said it would be more efficient to hold meetings and have all administrative staff in Lecanto, and she suggested the matter be put to a referendum.

"The Board of County Commissioners should be where the people of Citrus County want them," Phillips said.

"You may find that they want us in Bushnell," Commissioner Jim Fowler said.

TIME IS MONEY: Sheriff Jeff Dawsy and Hickey joined commissioners for part of the goal-setting session to discuss the idea of a 1-cent sales tax that could pay for the county's water quality projects, upgrading the sheriff's facilities and building new schools.

Dawsy worked the room as if it were election season, offering handshakes and warm greetings to residents and county officials alike. Then he gave a lengthy presentation about his need for $4.5-million in upgrades to his radio system and about $9-million for a larger headquarters and expanded Emergency Operations Center.

By the time Hickey got his turn, he promised to be brief -- something Dawsy has never known how to do, Hickey said.

"I had him as a student in '71," Hickey recalled. "I'd give him a hall pass for two minutes. He'd come back in three minutes and want to give me a half-hour dissertation on why he was late."

LEGAL STRATEGY: Circuit Judge Richard Tombrink Jr. had only scheduled three hours last Wednesday for the trial of Citrus County's lawsuit against Scott Adams and Charlie Strange, owners of a County Road 486 logging and mulching business who refuse to get county development permits.

Adams grew restless as the county's attorney took the entire time presenting her evidence. Adams said he needed a chance to present his witnesses that day because they were "working people" who were losing a day's pay while sitting outside the courtroom.

"They're going to kill me," Adams said.

"That's one way to end the case, although that's not what I had envisioned," Tombrink said, chuckling.

WE SEE WHAT YOU MEAN: Representing himself at last week's trial, Adams walked a fine line between questioning the county's witnesses and offering his own testimony about the activities on his log yard.

Paula Ballinger, a county code inspector, testified that she saw dump trucks bring trees and debris to the property.

When Adams asked if she had seen large trucks take trees away from the property to a saw mill, Ballinger said no.

Adams paused.

"You didn't observe very good then, isn't that correct?" Adams asked.

- Times staff writers Mary Ann Koslasky, Barbara Behrendt and Bridget Hall Grumet contributed to this report

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