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Dade City named Florida's No. 1 rural community

The city has been named "Florida's Outstanding Rural Community of the Year 1994" by a state agency that helps rural communities solve their economic problems.

A city delegation received the award and a $2,000 check Wednesday at the state Rural Development Conference in Gainesville.

The city earned the award for its successful efforts to restore passenger railroad service to the city and to have its railroad depot named to the National Register of Historic Places, said Michael Roman, spokesman for the state Department of Commerce.

"We're very excited about winning the award," said Dade City Mayor Charles McIntosh. "The community deserves a big hand for what they've done. This was a community project, and I'm pleased we were recognized as such."

The depot is the first Pasco County structure or site named to that list. That occurred in July. However, passenger railroad service to Dade City actually resumed more than four years ago, in April 1990.

"What it really was for was the opening of the depot," Roman said. "What really impressed everybody was the way they went about getting the money, with complete cooperation from numerous agencies."

The omission of any mention of the depot in a news release was an error, Roman said. The program for Wednesday's luncheon specifically states that Dade City was honored for the railroad depot project, which "required the coordination and cooperation of several state and federal agencies and community representatives."

Dade City was one of seven cities to apply for the award. Daytona Beach Shores placed second. The other participating cities were Alachua, Cross Creek, Crystal River, Madison and Quincy.

The application for the award was submitted by Phyllis Smith, executive director of the Dade City Chamber of Commerce. Smith attended Wednesday's awards program with City Commissioner Scott Black, city planner Doug Sanders and former mayor Agnes Lamb.

The depot remains dilapidated while the city awaits federal funds to renovate and reopen it.

Black said that since the depot project prompted the award, he is "sure that's where (the money) would go _ toward the project. . . . It's nice to be recognized for all we did in working on the depot."