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2010: A year for Zephyrhills to celebrate milestones

Doc Thayer’s radio station, WZPH-FM 96.7, set a world record for playing 1 million songs in a row without any commercials.

EDWARD LINSMIER | Times

Doc Thayer’s radio station, WZPH-FM 96.7, set a world record for playing 1 million songs in a row without any commercials.

It was a year of milestones in Zephyrhills.

The city celebrated its centennial. So did Zephyrhills High School.

Doc Thayer's 100-watt radio station, the Zephyr 96.7 FM golden oldies, played its one millionth song in a row without commercial interruption.

And toasting those accomplishments became a little easier, after the City Council relaxed its decades-old blue laws to allow alcohol sales at 11 a.m. Sundays — two hours earlier than before, and on par with the rest of Pasco County.

"It's easier when you're consistent with some of the county ordinances and rules," City Manager Steve Spina said of the September vote.

The year began with a contentious holdover from 2009: the debate over animal control services. Council member Manny Funes pitched the idea last year of hiring local trapper Tim Wilcox to handle stray, abandoned or runaway animals. Funes believed Wilcox could provide a greater range of services at a better cost than Pasco Animal Services, which the city contracts with.

But the city's analysis showed it would cost more money to hire an outside trapper. In the meantime, Funes had become so involved in Wilcox's proposal that the city attorney asked Funes to recuse himself from the council vote. The rest of the council opted in January to stay with Pasco Animal Services.

Funes continued to butt heads with other city officials.

In May, Funes fired off a memo leveling charges of official misconduct against Spina. He alleged the city manager broke the law by personally investigating a complaint against Zephyrhills police Capt. Jeffrey McDougal instead of allowing the police to review the matter. (An anonymous complaint sent to City Hall two months earlier alleged McDougal had failed to disclose his involvement in a 1992 case where a notary improperly notarized legal documents.)

But the council voted down Funes' request for a formal investigation into Spina's handling of the case. In a second 4-1 vote — with Funes dissenting — the council told Funes to "cease and desist" his pursuit of the matter.

"Is it in the best interest of the city to continue to beat this dead horse?" council president Lance Smith asked in May.

There was also bickering this year at the city's signature industry, Skydive City.

Officials at the skydiving mecca have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle since February with Freefall Express, the vendor who used to provide the flights for the skydivers. The lawsuit came shortly after Skydive City canceled its contract with Freefall and told the vendor to leave the airport premises — although the suit also involves disputes over property, finances and flights Skydive City provided without the proper licenses.

Even with the matter moving its way through the court system, the city extended Skydive City's lease at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport for another two decades.

Earlier this year, the city also approved a 30-year airport lease with Ariel Homes, which plans to build corporate hangars. And the city in December moved forward with a plan to purchase 42 acres to expand the airport.

There was also some happy news for the city's seniors. This fall St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church opened its double red doors to Pasco County's Elderly Nutrition Program, once again providing a local site for retirees to enjoy free meals and camaraderie.

The program had been without a Zephyrhills location for a few months, after the county and the First Church of the Nazarene reached an impasse. The church said it could no longer shoulder the electricity costs for the program, and the county said it couldn't afford to pick up the tab.

St. Elizabeth's had space to offer and the desire to be a greater force in the community.

"It's part of our outreach," pastoral associate Michael Demeule explained in October. "As Christians that's what we do, we reach out and try to affect the community in a positive way — in a Christian way."

2010: A year for Zephyrhills to celebrate milestones 12/28/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 8:38pm]
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