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Tampa Bay in brief

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 14, 2000


Water officials begin to plan for droughts

Tampa Bay's water woes just keep getting worse.

On Monday, experts reported some grim facts to the board of Tampa Bay Water: In October, one of the driest on record, demand averaged 254-million gallons of water per day. In a typical October, demand is closer to 226-million gallons of water per day.

So, board members took action. They asked their staff to develop a drought mitigation plan so the region will have a comprehensive plan for handling this and future water shortages. The goal is to put in writing what actions must take place as water levels drop and demand skyrockets.

In developing this plan, Tampa Bay Water officials will seek advice from city and county public utility departments about what water conservation efforts have been successful. Warren Hogg, evaluation and permitting manager, said a preliminary report likely will be delivered to board members next month.

So far in November, water demand is 260-million gallons a day. The typical amount is 227-million gallons a day.

Lyons denied time off his prison sentence

LARGO -- Former Baptist leader Henry J. Lyons has lost a bid to trim time off his 51/2-year prison sentence for racketeering and grand theft.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Richard Luce ruled earlier this month that Lyons was not entitled to time off his sentence under a recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court, which declared unconstitutional a 1995 get-tough-on-crime sentencing law.

The Supreme Court ruling required that many inmates sentenced under the 1995 law be resentenced under older, more generous guidelines.

But Luce ruled that the sentence Lyons received also was possible under those older guidelines. So he is not entitled to time off, the judge ruled.

Lyons also is pursuing another avenue to cut time off his prison term. In that fight, Lyons' attorneys argue that the minister should serve his sentence under older, more generous prison rules granting inmates time off for good behavior.

His attorneys say his racketeering offense was committed before Oct. 1, 1995, or before state lawmakers changed the law and required inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.

A decision in that challenge is pending with the Florida Department of Corrections.

Judge Bonanno scheduled to appear before jury

TAMPA -- Hillsborough Circuit Judge Robert Bonanno is scheduled to appear before a grand jury Wednesday to answer questions about what he was doing in a fellow judge's office after hours last July.

The grand jury is looking into allegations that Bonanno was in the darkened office of Circuit Judge Greg Holder while Holder was out of town on military duty. A bailiff said Bonanno seemed to be trying to conceal himself from her after she happened upon him.

Bonanno later said he was there to chat. Holder called for an investigation.

Jerry Hill, state attorney from Polk County, was assigned by Gov. Jeb Bush to oversee the investigation and he has taken the case before a grand jury. The parade of witnesses so far has made it clear the investigation has expanded well beyond the Bonanno incident.

Now the probe appears to have come full circle back to Bonanno. His lawyer Ralph Fernandez confirmed Monday that Bonanno will appear Wednesday.

Water board asks for drought plan

By the day, Tampa Bay's water woes just keep getting worse.

On Monday, experts reported some grim facts to the board of Tampa Bay Water: In October, one of the driest on record, demand averaged 254-million gallons of water per day. In a typical October, demand is closer to 226-million gallons of water per day.

So, board members asked their staff to develop a drought mitigation plan so the region will have a comprehensive plan on how to handle water shortages. The goal is to put in writing what actions must take place as water levels drop and demand skyrockets.

In developing this plan, Tampa Bay Water officials will seek advice from city and county public utility departments about what water conservation efforts have been successful. Warren Hogg, evaluation and permitting manager, said a preliminary report likely will be delivered to board members next month.

"You can't prevent a drought, but you can put plans in place so you know what to do when you see early warning signs," Hogg said. "That way you're managing your resources, and you're not responding in crisis management mode."

A final version is not expected for 60 days.

So far in November, water demand is 260-million gallons a day when the typical amount is 227-million gallons a day. This month's demand so far exceeds demand in April, which was 257-million gallons a day.

Water use typically is the highest in April and May, at the tail end of the dry season.

Festival of Trees needs volunteers

UPARC Foundation, the Children's programs at Hospice of the Florida Suncoast and Kids Kommittee Inc. need volunteers for the Festival of Trees, held Nov. 21 to Nov. 26 at Harborview Center in downtown Clearwater. Helpers are needed to set up the trees Nov. 18 to 21, deliver trees on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28, greet visitors, and help performers. For information, call Ray Hoopes at 446-2858.

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