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County approves fire training center

The County Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday night to support a plan for a fire training center in Lecanto. Voting against the design were Chairman Jim Fowler and Commissioner Roger Batchelor, who said they did not think the project was worth the $400,000 it would cost. The plan would involve using three existing buildings and constructing a three-story training tower and a "burn building" in the old government complex off County Road 491, which was largely vacated this year when many county offices were moved to the new Lecanto Government Building. Commissioners have yet to approve funding for the fire training center, but money would come from impact fees. But Fowler said he thinks allocating the money would be inappropriate, especially when there is already another fire training center just miles away in Ocala. "It's government at its worst," Fowler said Wednesday. "There are human needs to be met in this county, and we have landfill issues, we have space issues." Building a fire training center, he said, "is way down on my list of priorities."

State official tours Key center

CRYSTAL RIVER _ Department of Children and Families Secretary Ed Feaver spent part of Wednesday morning touring Key Training Center facilities and learning more about the agency. Feaver visited two of Key's group homes, the Inverness thrift store, a Key nursery, an apartment group and the center's Crystal River headquarters, Key spokesman Mark Jacobs said. Key provides daily living and social services, job training and residential services to 240 Citrus clients who are mentally retarded or otherwise developmentally disabled. The Key center is a service provider for DCF, which administers funds and provides state oversight of many programs.

Softball player making impact

Carl Whitehouse gets a hit during an Inverness men's softball league for American Title/Mainstream recently. Whitehouse, who was born with 20 percent function in his left arm, also plays for the Miami-based One Armed Bandits. The Bandits travel to other parts of the world to demonstrate the worth of people with disabilities. "In general, many of these countries don't take care of their handicapped people," Whitehouse says. Sports, PAGE 4

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