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Golf worker charged with pesticide misuse

Prosecutors charged a Sugarmill Woods golf course worker Monday with improperly using a dangerous chemical on the development's lush fairways and greens, court records show.

The move marks the first legal action since October, when local and state investigators started examining the way Nemacur was used at Sugarmill.

The investigation was prompted, in part, by course workers' complaints of headaches, nausea and vomiting after they worked with or near the chemical.

Bruce Holly, assistant superintendent at Sugarmill and the licensed applicator of the Nemacur chemical, faces two misdemeanor counts, said Assistant State Attorney Lisa Porter.

Holly will receive a summons to appear in Citrus County Court, Porter said. She already has discussed a plea deal with Holly's attorney.

No court date had been set late Monday.

Course superintendents routinely use Nemacur to fight microscopic organisms that feed on turf roots, experts have said. The organisms, known as nematodes, can damage grass' ability to gather water and nutrients.

Because of Nemacur's strength, though, federal and state regulators keep a close eye on who administers the chemical and how.

Applicators must obtain a state license and closely oversee workers entrusted with Nemacur, officials said.

Holly is accused of neglecting to follow the label's instructions when he used Nemacur on June 26, and with failing to provide adequate training to worker Tony Ballard when Ballard used the chemical in July, the record show.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services joined the state attorney's office, Citrus County Hazardous Materials team and the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission in the investigation.