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Will the county keep its cool?

Accepting honorariums can be a hot issue for public officials. But County Administrator Fred Karl is hoping everyone stays cool about a recent $1,500 check he received. Karl accepted the money for moderating a panel for the Alliance of American Insurers, a trade association. Although he first thought he'd keep the money and include it as required on his financial disclosure form, Karl later decided to deposit the cash in the county's coffers. If the county attorney says the gift is a bad idea, Karl said he would return the money to the alliance. His proposed use for the windfall: "Use it to provide air conditioning in the courthouse building for those of us who frequently work on Saturdays," Karl wrote in a letter to Richard Ake, clerk of the Circuit Court. The courthouse is closed weekends, so the air conditioning is shut off. "It can get hot in here on the weekends," Karl said.County hires chief planner

TAMPA _ Hillsborough County has hired a private planner with government experience as director of planning and zoning. Gene Boles, who runs a consulting company in Springfield, Mo., is scheduled to start July 15. He succeeds Jeff Miller, who left April 30 to seek a new job. Boles, 48, has worked as a planner for 20 years, the last six as a private consultant. He has been director of community development for the city of Springfield, Mo., and has held other positions in West Palm Beach, South Carolina and Oklahoma. Boles, whose salary will be $62,566, will oversee planning in Hillsborough for water and wastewater utilities, stormwater management and transportation. The department, with 91 employees and $5.9-million budget, also reviews large development and zoning applications.

WEDU head of volunteers dies

Helen C. Cromer, coordinator of volunteers at public television station WEDU-Ch.3, died of pneumonia Tuesday at Tampa General Hospital. She was 70.

FIRST OF MANY: Stephen Lynn, born three months premature, had help from his family in celebrating his first birthday Wednesday at St. Joseph's Hospital. With him are mom Debbie, brothers Christopher and Jonathan (at crib), and dad Dave.