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THE RACE FOR SPRING HILL FIRE AND RESCUE DISTRICT

In the Spring Hill Fire and Rescue District election, there are three candidates, two openings and one issue. Incumbents George Spina and Frank Colletti want to be returned to office; challenger Gene Panozzo wants to replace one of them. The top two vote-getters will win seats on the five-member board.

All three contenders name a single issue as the focus of their concerns: growth.

The board oversees operations within a special fire and rescue taxing district encompassing Spring Hill. In recent years, the district has annexed commercial and residential developments contiguous to the original district.

The three candidates say further growth is probable.

Colletti says the department "is being besieged with requests for services."

"My opinion is, which I voice very strongly, that any expansion should be accompanied by a willingness to pay for that expansion," he said. "You don't want to water down the protection that people have paid for."

Spina and Panozzo see inclusion of the Hernando County Airport into the district as the most challenging task ahead.

"My big thing is expansion," Spina said. "The big thing is (expanding to include) the airport industrial park. We do get some resistance on this. But it will cost (the airport) to incorporate into the district. We can do it either by charging them a flat rate annually (for fire protection) or by annexing them."

Panozzo wants the airport brought into the fire district. "But that has to be worked out where it wouldn't cost the taxpayers of Spring Hill anything," he said.

All three candidates say the district is financially sound, well-equipped and professionally staffed.

All three say they would bring expertise to the office. Each has worked as a volunteer or paid firefighter in the past.

_ COLLINS CONNER

THE JOB

The Spring Hill Fire and Rescue District board oversees the budget, operations and labor negotiations in a special taxing district that encompasses the West Hernando community of Spring Hill. The five board members serve staggered four-year terms. They receive no pay.

CANDIDATE

FRANCIS A. COLLETTI, 61, was an officer for the Nassau County Sheriff's Department in New York who moved to Spring Hill in 1986 after retiring. He also was a volunteer firefighter in New York for more than 30 years. Colletti, a native of Long Island, N.Y., has a master's degree in criminal justice and public information. He was appointed to the fire board in 1987 after two board members resigned. He is married and has six children. ASSETS: Home, property in New York, cash. LIABILITIES: None. INCOME: Rent, retirement pension from the Nassau County Sheriff's Department.

CANDIDATE

GENE PANOZZO, 51, is a native of Chicago and worked for that city's Fire Department 16 years before retiring after a work-related injury. He attended Chicago Southwest Community College, taking courses toward a fire science degree. He moved to Spring Hill in 1980. This is his first try for public office. He is married and has four children. ASSETS: Home, savings account. LIABILITIES: Loan, mortgage. INCOME: Disability pension from the Chicago Fire Department.

CANDIDATE

GEORGE SPINA, 65, has served on the fire board since October 1989, when he was appointed to complete the term of a resigning board member. Spina was a New York City firefighter for 18 years. The Derby, Conn., native moved to Florida in 1979. He has studied at the New York University College of Education. He is married and has three children. ASSETS: Home, certificate of deposit. LIABILITIES: None. INCOME: Social Security, firefighter's pension.

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