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A game of musical chairs

By JIM ROSS, BRIDGET HALL GRUMET and GREG HAMILTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 16, 2001


More than 350 people crammed into the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10087 in Beverly Hills last week to learn more about medical programs. Many people had to stand.

U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman stood to lead people in the Pledge of Allegiance. But she took pains to issue a warning.

"I'm not responsible if your chair is not available when you sit back down," Thurman said.

ON A SERIOUS NOTE: Citrus Slices doesn't like to get serious, but here's an observation that just couldn't go without mention.

Before that medical meeting at the VFW started, Thurman asked the people in attendance -- almost all of them elderly military veterans or their spouses -- to observe a moment of silence in honor of the military personnel being held in China. (This was before these people were released.)

The crowd -- more than 350 people, all cramped and sweaty on a warm spring day -- immediately went still.

How quiet was it? You could hear someone in the kitchen cutting strips of plastic wrap.

Now back to the silliness.

GO, GATORS: County commissioners were admittedly surprised last Tuesday when Stephanie McLeod, now a graduate student at the University of Florida, marched into their meeting with plans to conduct a focus group survey on the spot. "This will only take 15 or 20 minutes," she said, as commissioners exchanged looks of bewilderment.

McLeod said she wanted to pick commissioners' brains about growth management in Citrus County, the topic of her master's thesis. Just as commissioners agreed to answer her questions in writing, not as a live focus group, County Administrator Richard Wesch jumped in to offer his support.

"For the record, since it is for the University of Florida, I would be happy to participate," said Wesch, who earned his law degree at UF. "If it was another school, I don't know."

BUMPER STICKERS WE LIKE: If the people lead, the leaders will follow. Also: If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

- Staff writers Jim Ross, Bridget Hall Grumet and Greg Hamilton contributed to this report.

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