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Pasco offices won't close for Jewish holy days

Most Pasco County government offices won't close their doors on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana after all. Less than a month after county leaders agreed to add the Jewish holy days to the county's holiday schedule, those leaders have changed their minds. Outcry from taxpayers shouting about government perks and wasted public money helped them rethink the issue. County commissioners and other elected leaders in Pasco added the two holidays after learning Chief Judge Ray E. Ulmer decreed Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana as days off for the Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Court. Pasco leaders reluctantly went along with Ulmer, saying they wanted their government employees to follow the same schedule. The decision brought to 12 the number of official holidays for more than 2,500 county employees. And it meant roughly $150,000 in added expense to cover holiday pay for those workers who would have to work on those days. Turns out the Pasco leaders may have moved too quickly. County commissioners said they thought Pinellas had done the same thing and so had many other communities. Not so. Even governments for communities with large Jewish populations are not granting those holidays.

UPDATE

TRIAL IN ASSAULT-PARALYSIS CASE TO GO TO JURY TODAY. It was a single, well-delivered fist to the face that changed Timothy Kimball's life forever. A Hillsborough prosecutor described to a jury Tuesday the promising young student who got punched that October night in 1991 at an alternative music dance club in downtown Tampa. Kimball, 23, remains paralyzed from the neck down and is expected to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. The former photographer fell backward after he was punched at Club 911 that night and smacked his neck on a wooden ledge. James Gee, a former high school athlete who was at the club that night, stands trial this week charged with aggravated battery. Gee's attorney said Tuesday there would be no real evidence to prove Gee was the man who threw the punch or that he intended to cause this serious, permanent injury. Kimball, who testified in his wheelchair Tuesday, said he never saw the punch coming or who delivered it. "The next thing I know, I was laying on the ground," he said. "Somebody was kneeling by me, asking if I was okay." A witness recalled Gee leaving the club that night and saying something like "I think I just killed someone." The case is expected to go to the jury today. Since his injury, Kimball has returned to the University of South Florida, where he is studying architecture. He said he hopes to someday design buildings and emphasize accessibility for the handicapped.

RELEASE BLOCKED FOR TWO ACCUSED IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE. A federal prosecutor blocked the release of a Merrill Lynch International & Co. executive in a money laundering case Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston appealed the $750,000 bond set for Frank L. Greene, 69, a vice president in the Merrill Lynch Panama City, Panama, office. Preston also appealed $1.5-million bond set for Charles R. McFadden Jr., 65, an accountant living in Panama. Greene, McFadden and 26 others are accused of conspiracy in a 2{-year U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration money laundering sting. Indictments were unsealed in the case last week. A magistrate set bond for Greene and McFadden late Friday following an eight-hour hearing but agreed to a stay until Tuesday when Preston objected to their release. Preston wants a U.S. district judge to review the detention hearing and revoke bond.

MAN KILLED WHEN CAR COLLIDES WITH TRAIN. A 47-year-old man was killed Tuesday when the car he was driving collided with a train, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office said. Robert Radak of Apollo Beach was eastbound on 19th Avenue NE in Ruskin when he failed to stop at a railroad crossing about 3:35 a.m., sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. The train dragged Radak's 1985 Pontiac 400 yards. When it came to a stop, the vehicle was under a box car, Carter said. Radak, who was alone in the car, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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