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Sen. Mack schedules trip to Citrus County

Published Oct. 4, 2005

It's not every day that a shrimp boat captain from Crystal River or a school teacher from Lecanto get to talk one-on-one with a U.S. senator.

Citrus County residents will have that chance when Sen. Connie Mack stops here July 5 for a public meeting at the Citrus County Builders Association in Lecanto.

The visit is part of the senator's attempt to hit the road-less-traveled and hear from more of his constituents, said John McReynolds, Central Florida regional director for Mack.

Mack also plans to stop in Hernando County and several small counties in the Panhandle.

"Logistically, it's not always easy to make it through these areas," McReynolds said. "This is a chance for the senator to get close to some folks and hear what they have to say."

Along with his wife, Priscilla, Mack will visit first with members of the Citrus chapter of the American Cancer Society. The race to find a cure for cancer has been an important issue to Mack for years.

He and his wife have battled the disease, and Mack's brother died from melanoma at the age of 35.

At the builders association, the senator will give a brief legislative update, answer questions and circulating among the audience, McReynolds said.

County Commissioner Gary Bartell helped organize the forum and said it is not a political event, although local GOP officials have been invited.

"I was specifically told they did not want this to be partisan," Bartell said. "I think Sen. Mack just wants to know what rural Citrus County thinks of what's going on in Washington."

It has been a tumultuous year for Congress, which is controlled by Republicans for the first time in 40 years.

"It's a time of extraordinary change, and it's my opinion that people throughout the state and the country believe the bureaucracy of Washington, D.C., is finally breaking apart."

Bartell said he will use his time with Mack to discuss recent Supreme Court rulings that limit the ways local governments can control the amount of solid waste that leaves their area.

The commission is struggling to pay off a debt of about $2-million on the county landfill at a time when many haulers are taking their waste elsewhere.

In addition, Bartell said he has questions about how changes in Medicare and Medicaid funding may lock states such as Florida in at current budget levels despite heavy population growth.

Mack's in town

Sen. Connie Mack is scheduled to speak at the Citrus County Builders Association on County Road 491 in Lecanto at 4 p.m. July 5. The public is invited.