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    Despite road work, center stays busy

    The Largo Community Center still draws faithful attendees as work continues on West Bay Drive to widen it.

    By JULIANNE WU

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 6, 2000


    LARGO -- Despite a road widening project a half-block away, business is booming at the Largo Community Center, which is planning an open house Thursday to show off its classes and facilities.

    The community center is near the intersection of Fourth Street NW and West Bay Drive, the latest section of road to be worked on since construction began last May. When finished, West Bay will be widened to four, 12-foot lanes with left-turn lanes at some intersections. It also will have a 30-foot-wide median with trees and other landscaping.

    "I haven't noticed any drop off in attendance" since construction began, said Bev Harris, who teaches fitness classes for seniors and those with special limitations. "In fact, I now have about twice as many people enrolled in my classes.

    "These people are so keyed into their fitness program and socializing," Harris continued, "that they aren't going to let a little construction bother them."

    Her classes normally range from 28 to 30 people, she said.

    For rec center users Christine Parker and Marian Cole, both of Largo, the construction hasn't caused any problems, at least not yet.

    "It's not so bad getting here," said Cole, a retired New Jersey school administrator. "The curve in the road is a new phenomenon, but we had been warned ahead of time there might be some delays."

    Parker, who worked for the Pinellas County Schools for 40 years before retiring in 1992, added: "We've been fortunate that Fourth Street hasn't been blocked off. I usually walk because I'm only a block away. But, I'm very dedicated to Bev (Harris), and I'll make her classes even if I have to climb over barricades."

    Largo City Engineer Mike Staffopoulos said that despite the construction, there are still four lanes open for traffic, two in each direction.

    "We believe this project will still be completed in February but should have a better idea when we get a new schedule later this week," he said.

    In a few weeks, Staffopoulos said, Ajax Paving Industries will close the section of Fourth Street that leads to the Largo Community Center to lay bricks. A similar brick design has already been laid in the intersection.

    "At that time, we will inform people that for several days, they will have to use such streets as First Avenue NW (a parallel street to West Bay Drive) or First Street NW (also called Railroad Boulevard and just west of Missouri Avenue) to get to the community center," Staffopoulos said.

    The road widening project will eliminate West Bay's crooked bottleneck that has existed because of two 10-foot lanes in each direction, with small bumps in the pavement. Costs for the West Bay widening project are estimated at $4-million.

    - Information from Times files used in this report.

    @0987$temp$

    $STPT ID: +

    Paper: Date: 12/06/00+

    Page: 3 Section: SEMINOLE TIMES +

    Byline: Compiled by Times staff writer

    Headline: Seminole briefs+ Notes: +

    Learning about dementia and Alzheimer's diseas

    SEMINOLE -- Dr. Richard M. Orlan, who specializes in geriatric and internal medicine, will give a seminar on "Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease" at 2 p.m. today in the Roskamp Auditorium at Freedom Square retirement complex, 10801 Johnson Blvd.

    Topics will include the differences between normal aging dementia and Alzheimer's disease, the causes of memory loss and the effects of medication interactions. The seminar is free, but reservations are requested. Call 398-0379.

    Christmas parade set in honor of Pearl Harbor Day

    CLEARWATER -- Bayview Gardens, a 36-acre retirement community operated by Morton Plant Mease Life Services, Inc., will have a Christmas parade and dedication in honor of Pearl Harbor Day on Thursday at the complex, 2855 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. The parade, which falls on the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, is dedicated to the veterans of all wars.

    There will be a flag-raising ceremony and a 21-gun salute at 1 p.m., with a "jazz session" for residents and the public. Entertainment will be provided by the Buddy Verdi Orchestra and the 23 Skidoo Jazz Band; refreshments will be sold. The parade starts at 2 p.m.. Parking for the public is available at Bethel Presbyterian Church, 2905 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., and Clearwater Mall. For information, call 797-7400.

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