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Nuclear plant shut down for faulty valve

CRYSTAL RIVER - Florida Power Corp. shut down its nuclear power plant Tuesday so that workers could replace a malfunctioning 800-pound valve, a utility official said. Steam was escaping from the valve when it should not have been, company spokesman Mark Jacobs said. The valve is designed to open automatically and release steam if the pressure becomes too great in one of the reactor-cooling systems. The repair should take two weeks at most, Jacobs said. The nuclear power plant was shut down Jan. 22-24 after operators discovered that radioactive water was leaking from a relief valve. Jacobs said the two valve problems do not appear to be connected. The shutdown Tuesday came just four weeks and a day before an 11-week shutdown is scheduled to begin to replenish the uranium fuel in the reactor. In the first 10 months of 1989, the plant ran at only 32 percent of its capacity, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. For consumers, that can translate into higher electric bills. When the plant is shut down, Florida Power's fuel costs shoot up $250,000 to $300,000 a day. Citrus makeshift jail called a model

TALLAHASSEE - Sheriff Charles Dean thinks Citrus County's makeshift jail in the county auditorium works so well that the state should consider it a model for use in other counties. Dean sent his second-in-command, Maj. Buddy Mortimer, to the capital Tuesday to pitch the idea to the jail review committee of the state Department of Corrections (DOC). Under court order to relieve overcrowding in the old jail in Inverness, county workers converted the auditorium into a jail in 10 days last October by ripping out the stage and dividing 10,000 square feet of floor space into three "bullpens" surrounded by chain-link fence topped with razor wire. County officials estimated the transformation cost at $220,000, about half the cost of a conventional "fast track construction" jail of the same capacity. Dean wants the state to approve the concept so that the county could construct a similar building in the future.

Big cowboy boot finds home on the mall

EAST LAKE - A 17-foot tall concrete cowboy boot, long a landmark in northeast Pinellas County, has been moved to its final resting place near the intersection of East Lake and Tampa roads. The one-ton boot, which has marked the Boot Ranch for nearly four decades, will become the centerpiece of a landscaped island near a shopping center, said Timothy Lanier, vice president of Rosewood Property Co., the firm that purchased the ranch. The white, green and red boot had been moved to a temporary resting place in September while the shopping center, which has a Jewel Osco food and drug store in it, was being built. Other development on the ranch property will include a rental retirement community, offices and homes.

Pinellas hopes to streamline courts

CLEARWATER - Pinellas officials may pay a Virginia court consultant more than $500,000 for a study they hope will make the county's judicial system more efficient and economical. "There has never been a study of this magnitude conducted anywhere in the United States," said Gay Lancaster, assistant county administrator. Officials said the study is necessary because of the drastic increase in the number of cases handled by the court in the last decade. Records show that from 1979 through 1988, the case load has increased 71 percent. The number of judges handling those cases has increased 77 percent. But the procedures in use have remained virtually unchanged. The study, which could take two years, will examine staff efficiency, case management, record keeping, public service, public access, security and automation and technology.

Opposition could delay landfill opening

BROOKSVILLE - Any opposition to the proposed Hernando County Northwest Landfill will make it difficult for officials to open the site by the state-imposed deadline of Jan. 1, 1992, officials said Tuesday. If no objections to the county's design are filed with the state Department of Environmental Regulation (DER), the landfill could be ready by May 31, 1991, according to county records. The DER is not expected to rule on the plan until June. The new landfill, near Norris Bishop Loop Road, is needed to replace the Croom Landfill in the Withlacoochee State Forest, which the DER has ordered closed by Jan. 1, 1992.

Lead study will begin in Hillsborough

TAMPA - The head of Hillsborough County's Health Department said Tuesday that his agency will begin a pilot program within weeks to test children for lead poisoning. The program eventually could lead to screening for thousands of youngsters who are at risk for lead poisoning. The health department's decision came in response to a story that appeared Sunday in the St. Petersburg Times, Dr. Donald Kwalick said. The Times reported that Hillsborough County tested only five children for lead poisoning in 1989. "This will show us if we do or don't have a problem (with lead poisoning)," Kwalick said. "I think there could potentially be a problem." For years, federal officials have urged local health departments to test children for lead poisoning. But when federal money ran out in the early 1980s, Hillsborough virtually stopped screening children. In Pinellas County, officials continued testing and eventually acquired their own specially equipped laboratory to reduce costs. Pinellas screens up to 6,000 children a year.

Redner plans anger Brandon businesses

BRANDON - For six years, Dianna Meeks has been taking her daughters to the Florida Suncoast Gymnastic Academy. She said she likes the wholesome atmosphere of the place and the lessons in sportsmanship and health her two girls get through their training. But if nude-dance entrepreneur Joe Redner gets his way, Meeks and the parents of the 400 other young gymnasts who take classes at the academy will have to drive past Mons II on their way to workouts. Redner, proprietor of Mons Venus on Dale Mabry Highway, plans to open Mons II at Philip Lee Boulevard and State Road 60 by March 1. Mrs. Meeks, treasurer of the academy's booster club, vowed to collect petitions and organize pickets to keep Redner out. Parents especially don't want the business near the academy, which has students ages 3 to 19, mostly girls. Other area businesses also oppose it. Redner, who has said he is convinced he will have no problem at his new site, could not be reached Tuesday.

- Compiled by DAIL WILLIS from staff reports