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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 29, 2001

INVERNESS -- At the 2001 Citrus County 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Contest on Thursday and Friday, fourth- through sixth-grade students from public and private schools addressed topics as diverse as tornadoes, lobsters and Elvis Presley.

The contest was sponsored by the Citrus County School District, Tropicana and 4-H, a University of Florida-Citrus County Extension Office program for youth.

On Thursday, 24 students in fourth and fifth grades from 12 schools presented speeches on topics such as the advantages boys have over girls in school, racism and eyeglasses. Two judges chose the four top speakers.

After presenting certificates and pencils to all the speakers, Citrus County Extension Office Director Mary Sue Kennington announced the four place winners, all of whom received plaques.

First place went to Shae Powers, 10, a fourth-grader from Pope John Paul II Catholic School. Her speech was called "Thoughts & Dreams About a Baby," and she talked about her new baby brother, although she would have preferred he were a she. Shae is the daughter of Erin and Brian Powers.

Second place was awarded to Josh Nolan, 11, a fifth-grader from Rock Crusher Elementary School. His topic was what he called the greatest invention of all times, "Television." Josh is the son of Beth and Mike Nolan.

Kristen Arcuri, 10, a fifth-grader from Lecanto Primary School, lamented about her "Brothers," who, she said, are annoying. She figured a good way to handle them is a couple of quick smacks upside their heads when her mom wasn't looking. Kristen is the daughter of Wanda Arcuri.

Jake Nolan, twin of second place winner Josh, received the honorable mention plaque for his speech on being "The Middle Child." Parents should go hug their middle children, he said, "because I know they are the best kids you have."

Friday found nine sixth-grade students from five schools taking center stage. Topics ranged from secret codes to angioplasty surgery.

As she did on Thursday, Kennington presented certificates and pencils to the speakers and announced the winners.

First place went to Ashlyn Morris, 12, from Inverness Middle School, whose topic was "Mom" and she talked about how understanding and helpful her mother is. She is the daughter of Pam and Gene Morris.

Second place was awarded to Austin Lewis, 11, from Citrus Springs Middle School. He spoke on "My Best Play Ever," which detailed his come-from-behind touchdown that led his team to victory. He is the son of David and Michelle Lewis.

Stephanie McKay, 12, a student at Pope John Paul II School, received third place with her speech, "My Mom." She told how her mother, a native of Colombia, and her father met and married even though dealing with a language barrier and how her mother keeps cultural traditions alive for the family. She is the daughter of Martha and Jim McKay.

Honorable mention was awarded to Michael Mavros, 11, a student at Lecanto Middle School, whose speech on "Secret Codes" revealed that Queen Elizabeth II, the current British monarch, will switch her handbag from her right to her left hand as a code to her guard that she wishes to stop speaking to a person. He is the son of Renee and George Mavros.

All of the participants placed first and second in individual school contests.

Clubs and organizations

The Yankee Air Force Inc., Florida Division, is moving into a portion of Building 2 at the Dunnellon Airport on Tuesday. This is the first step to the planned Military Aviation Museum. The group is open to anyone who would like to show support of those who fought for our country. Meetings are at 1 p.m. the second Saturday of each month at the Angela Santos VFW Post on State Road 200 across from Oak Run in Ocala. People wishing to donate artifacts or become a member should call Carolyn Mills at (352) 489-3120.

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The guest speaker at the next Man to Man Prostate Cancer support group will be Walter Wynn. He will demonstrate using the Internet to search for cancer information. Afterward, he and Dr. C. Joseph Bennett Jr. will lead a discussion of on evaluating information taken from the Internet. The group will meet at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Robert Boissenault Oncology Institute, 522 N Lecanto Highway (County Road 491), Lecanto.

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Citrus County has added a Vista volunteer to its staff. The group is seeking a donation of office equipment for this position. Needed are a desk and a computer that is equipped with Office 95, 98 or 2000. If you can help out with a tax-deductible donation of these items, call 794-5414 ext. 221.

The Eyeopeners Toastmasters Club 9694 has moved its meetings to the Whispering Pines Park recreation building, 1700 Forest Drive (State Road 44 and Forest Drive). Meetings will be from noon to 1 p.m. every Friday except the first Friday of the month. For more information, call 637-3055.

High fives

The Florida Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America recently held a Road-e-o testing the skills of the heavy equipment operators on various types of landfill equipment. Citrus County brought home three prizes.

Tony Parrish competed in the dozer event and placed fourth. He has been a Solid Waste employee since 1975. Sammie Walker Jr. competed in the landfill compactor event and placed third. He has been a county employee since 1984.

Prime DeVaughn has been employed at the landfill since 1975. He participated in the self-loading scraper event, placing first. Not only did he out-perform his competition, he did it with a perfect score. This qualifies him to participate in the SWANA international competition later this year in California.

Solid Waste Management Director Susan Metcalfe explained that the "course tests their ability to maneuver equipment. It's quite complicated, involving tight turns and backing up ... there are barrels set up that define the lanes. Touch one and you loose a point, knock one over and it's 5 points. If they crush one, they can kiss it goodbye."

Participants also were scored on their ability to do a timed and complete safety check of their equipment, and to describe what and why it was done for each of the required points.

Metcalfe added that these skills are "really necessary in order to get our job done efficiently and safely."

The accomplishments of the three men were recognized at Tuesday's Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Other honorees on Tuesday were Clarence Wayne Raby Sr., an 11-year employee (custodian), who received an Employee Service Award. He is retiring this month. Also receiving an Employee Service Award was Joan E. Lambertson, a 15-year employee (legal secretary), who is retiring this month.

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Citrus Memorial Hospital took time on Wednesday to treat its 300-plus volunteers to hot dogs, hamburgers and all the trimmings as part of National Volunteer Week.

Turnaround was fair play as CEO Charles Blasband, CFO Emery Hensley and COO Dwight Bruining manned the barbecues and ducked the smoke. They were joined by soon-to-retire vice president Fred Stone, former head of human resources, who flipped a wicked burger with the rest of them.

"They do a lot for us," said Blasband. "They're a very integral part of our hospital family. This is just a small payback for all they do for us."

Dishing up beans, salad and brownies were SHARE Club leaders.

"I think it's the least we can do for our volunteers. They do so much for us," said SHARE Club coordinator Barbara Whittemore.

Eugene Gallagher, 71, president of the CMH Auxiliary and a 12-year volunteer, noted that the auxiliary numbers 263 members who put in 63,000 man hours last year. Most of the members are retirees, including Dr. William Ortolf, a retired Baptist minister who gave the invocation. He is also in charge of pastoral care at the hospital.

Through various fundraisers, the auxiliary managed to raise enough money last year to award $9,000 in scholarships and purchase $23,000 worth of equipment for the hospital.

Volunteers are scattered throughout the hospital. They work in intake, man the information booth, sell gifts and gum in the gift shop and in general make life a little easier for the paid staff and more pleasant for the patients.


American Legion Post 155, Crystal River will hold its annual Legionnaire of the Year award dinner on May 5 at the post home, 6585 W Gulf to Lake Highway (quarter-mile east of County Road 486) in Crystal River.

The award recognizes the post legionnaire who has contributed his time, effort, good will and more for the benefit of the post during the past year. The presentation will be at 2 p.m., followed by a prime rib dinner. Donation for the dinner is $8.50, including tax. The public is welcome.

For reservations, call the post on Monday or Tuesday at 795-6526.

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A new Submarine Veteran's Base is being organized in the Crystal River Area and will be called the Sturgeon Base in honor of the three U.S. Navy Submarines that have carried the name. The first USS Sturgeon SS25, was commissioned in 1912 and saw action in WWI. It was decommissioned with honors in 1922. It was equipped with internal-combustion engines.

The second USS Sturgeon, SS187, was commissioned in 1938 and performed 12 war patrols during World War II, sustaining a record 196 depth charges in one attack. It was decommissioned with honors in 1945.

The third USS Sturgeon, SSN637, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, was active in the Cold War and is presently on active duty with the U.S. Fleet.

The new Sturgeon Base is open to all submariners. For information, call Dale Danielsen at (352) 732-4180, Gene Ludlow at 341-3412 or Lenny Marcoux at 563-1695.

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