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VELCRO to detail recreation tax plan to commissioners

(ran EO edition)

VELCRO, asked by Pinellas County commissioners to present a firm plan for its proposed recreation tax for East Lake, will do so July 30.

Members of VELCRO (Vote East Lake Community Recreational Opportunity) are scheduled to speak at the 6:30 p.m. commission meeting that day.

Items VELCRO will address include "what facilities will be available, how much it will cost to operate them, what do we anticipate will be the long-term program and the benefits to the community?" says Don Flynn, vice chairman of East Lake 2000, which supports the tax.

At East Lake 2000's monthly breakfast meeting last week, Flynn urged East Lake residents to attend the commission meeting for a show of support.

VELCRO has proposed taxing residents in the East Lake Fire Control District up to 25 cents for each $1,000 of taxable property value for recreation services. The County Commission is considering whether to put the question on a ballot.

The commission meeting will be in the Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater.

Former ELHS student

in Olympic band

A former member of the East Lake High School marching band will be playing in the Olympic marching band at the Aug. 4 closing ceremonies of the Summer Games in Atlanta.

Gina Sillitti, at 5-foot-3, is almost dwarfed by the bass drum she will play.

"I'm so excited," Gina, 18, said. "It's overwhelming to walk into the Olympic Stadium and be with all these talented people in the band."

The East Lake High School jazz band also is scheduled to perform at the Olympics.

Barbara Miller, a former supervisor of Gina's mother, Rosalie Sillitti, tipped us off about Gina, who lived in East Lake Woodlands until moving to Marietta, Ga., last summer just before her senior year. She graduated this spring from Pope High School in Marietta.

During her three years at East Lake High School, Gina played bass drum in the school's marching band and the flute and drums in the wind ensemble.

She was also a member of the National Honor Society, the French honor society and the honorary math society, and she played on the school's tennis team.

Ms. Miller, manager of Lakeside Travel in the East Lake Woodlands Shopping Center, says the young musician is "one of those all-American fun kids who is too good to be true."

Gina plans to attend the University of Georgia this fall and major in political science, with hopes of working for the federal government.

She's shooting high in that career field.

"It'd be nice to be president," she says.

Contract likely for

yet-to-be-named school

The school doesn't have a name yet, but the Pinellas County School Board is expected to approve a contract Wednesday for construction of a new elementary school on Forelock Road just off East Lake Road.

The new school, temporarily designated as Elementary School B, is scheduled to be completed by next fall and would relieve overcrowding at Cypress Woods Elementary School, which lies two miles south.

The board is expected to approve a low bid of $7,579,000 by the Norwood Co. of Clearwater, says Tony Rivas, director of facilities for the Pinellas County school system. Construction is to begin within two weeks of the contract being signed.

The 90,000-square-foot school will have 32 classrooms, a media center, music and art rooms, a cafeteria and offices. The school, located on a 27-acre tract, is designed to serve 760 pupils.

It is the same design as Forest Lake and Oldsmar elementary schools in Oldsmar and Frontier Elementary in Largo, except that the new school will not have a pre-kindergarten facility, Rivas says. Pre-K rooms could be added later, if needed.

Rivas said he expects a school naming committee to be set up shortly.

How should Pinellas

spend its penny?

You may be able to help decide what an extended Penny for Pinellas sales tax is spent on.

East Lake 2000 is forming a task force to create a list of spending priorities for the Pinellas County Commission to consider.

Next year, voters will decide whether to extend the 1 percent sales tax for another 10 years after it expires in 2000. Anticipated revenue is $1.3-billion.

Peyton Johnson, task force chairman and pastor of East Lake Presbyterian Church, says he wants to get suggestions from a broad array of people, organizations and neighborhoods in the East Lake area.

"We even plan to invite Agnes (Tillerson, president of the Citizens Action League)," Johnson says, "but I doubt they would accept because the league is probably against the tax." The usually anti-tax league is often at odds with East Lake 2000, which serves as the unofficial chamber of commerce for East Lake.

Tillerson was out of town last week and unavailable for comment.

Johnson says the task force has several purposes:

to learn about the Penny for Pinellas tax, how it works and what benefits come from it;

to brainstorm ideas to offer to the County Commission;

to draw East Lake and its residents closer together. The Penny for Pinellas tax vote "is a great opportunity to do this."

Johnson says he expects to have the task force formed and ready to meet by the end of August so East Lake 2000 can present its wish list to the County Commission this fall.

Anyone wanting to participate should call Johnson at 942-0229.

Church needs kids

for Christian musical

Calling all musical youngster ages 4 to 14. George Young Memorial United Methodist Church in East Lake needs you for a musical.

Tryouts and rehearsals will begin at the church Monday at 1 p.m. for Hans Bronson's Gold Medal Mission, the story of an Olympic athlete who becomes a Christian. You don't have to be a church member to try out, and if you don't get an acting part you can still be in the chorus.

There won't be much time for rehearsals: The play will be performed at 8:30 and 11 a.m. next Sunday at the church at 2801 East Lake Road, says Pam Thompson, the church's musical director and director for Hans Bronson. Rehearsals will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The play is part of the church's summer music camp. For information, call the church at 784-9250 or Thompson at 791-0459.

Lumber agent opens

office in East Lake

A wholesaler who sells lumber across the eastern United States has opened his headquarters in Tarpon Woods Professional Center in East Lake.

Jerry Thibault, president of Thibault International Forest Products, Inc., has sub-leased a small office from CPA John Dougherty.

Thibault says he supplies large retail lumber yards and wholesale lumber distribution centers with construction-grade lumber. While he gets lumber from all over the United States and Canada, most of it comes from Quebec.

He has 23 years of experience and moved into the Tarpon Woods Professional Center on Tarpon Woods Boulevard June 1 from his previous office in Palm Harbor. He formerly worked for Seaboard International in Nashua, N.H.

There are two other employees in the office: his daughter, Megan Thibault, and Jack Austin. The Thibaults live in Lansbrook and Austin in Ozona.

Sen. Jack Latvala

gets some laughs

State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Palm Harbor, got a chuckle last week when he told an East Lake breakfast crowd about state legislators wading into the region's water wars. They do so, he said, against some people's better judgment.

Latvala says, for example, that County Commissioner Charles Rainey has told him that it would be political suicide to enter the water wars.

"The only thing he didn't tell me was that he was going to play Dr. Kevorkian," Latvala told the meeting of East Lake 2000 at the Tarpon Woods Golf and Country Club.

Rainey, who retires in November after 32 years in office, is renowned for aggressively promoting the county's water interests.

_ We're on the lookout for news for this East Lake column. If you've got news or news tips about clubs, schools, churches, businesses, your neighbors or your family, let us know. Call Donald Finley at 445-4229 or write him at the Times, 34342 U.S. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34684. Or you may fax material to him at 445-4206.

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