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Day set to honor Ed Blackburn

He has spent a lifetime improving law enforcement in Florida.

Now the state will honor Ed Blackburn, a former Hillsborough County sheriff and state lawmaker, for his accomplishments.

Gov. Lawton Chiles and the Cabinet approved a resolution Tuesday declaring Nov. 1 Ed Blackburn Day in recognition of Blackburn's career in county and state government.

Blackburn was surprised and humble. "I pray that I'm worthy of it," he said.

At 81, Blackburn walks slowly with a cane and wears thick, black glasses. But he speaks speaks strongly and eloquently about things important to him.

The issue he raised Tuesday: casino gambling.

"I think that is one of the greatest evils of our time," Blackburn told the governor and Cabinet members, who earlier voted on a resolution opposing casino gambling. Blackburn thanked them for their action and said he is working to defeat an amendment on the ballot next month that would allow casinos in Florida.

"I'm 81 now. Perhaps that will be my last hurrah," he said of his efforts. He has written every sheriff in Florida about his concerns about crime and casinos.

The crowd at the Cabinet meeting gave Blackburn a standing ovation when he accepted his resolution.

Blackburn was elected Hillsborough's sheriff in 1952 and was re-elected for another two terms. During his tenure, he required deputies to wear uniforms, and the department adopted an official badge.

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1968 and served 10 years. He helped create the Florida Sheriffs Bureau, a predecessor to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and was the first executive director and organizer of the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch.

"My cup runneth over," Blackburn told the governor and Cabinet after his accomplishments were listed.

"You've filled a lot of people's cups, sheriff," Chiles replied.

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