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East Lake High's first graduating class to reunite

George Bush was president. The top song at the beginning of June _ graduation time _ was, appropriately, Wind Beneath My Wings.

Now, a decade later, Bush's son is Florida's governor and the Bette Midler song can be heard playing during the oldies hour on the radio.

After the last day of classes at East Lake High School that June, many members of the Class of '89 left the area and scattered to the four corners of the earth.

Fifty to 75 former students did not leave a forwarding address and cannot be found. There's Sarah Mellor, Lester Rodriguez, Teddy Gora, Christopher Hanson, Greg Aumann and Jody Foster, to name a few.

But three of their classmates who have stayed in the area, friends Mark Bruseski, Shawn Abernathy and Stacey Acker-Mirkhelker, have made it their mission to do whatever it takes to find them and bring them home for the class of 1989 reunion, even if it means going down to the courthouse and checking public records to trace their whereabouts.

But that's their last resort.

The trio has had help from a real estate agent who went through her files to see if any of the lost students bought a home in the area.

The reason it's so important to get as many of the 329 students as possible is this is no ordinary reunion. This is a celebration of the first class to graduate from East Lake High.

"We were the first," Abernathy said. "A lot of us came from three surrounding high schools: Countryside, Tarpon High and Dunedin. We were only there two years together."

Yet they bonded.

"I'm still in contact with a lot of people," Abernathy said.

He now works as loss prevention manager for Sam's Club. His territory is large: from New Port Richey to Naples. He lives in Sarasota.

Despite his demanding job, Abernathy decided to direct the 10-year reunion after a former classmate abandoned the job.

Bruseski and Acker-Mirkhelker have been there every step of the way.

"We got the ball rolling a year ago," Abernathy said. "We had our first meeting at the Olive Garden, and here we are, four weeks away (from the reunion)."

Acker-Mirkhelker, of Dunedin, has known Abernathy since the first grade and has known Bruseski, who works in medical supply sales, for a number of years. Acker-Mirkhelker is married and works as a legal secretary at the law firm of Tew, Zinober, Barnes, Zimmet & Unice. She can't believe it has been a decade since she and her friends attended their East Lake High graduation.

The reunion will take place Sept. 10 and 11 at the Sheraton Sand Key just south of Clearwater Beach. It costs $80 per person, excluding rooms. Students can pay an additional $125 a night to stay at the resort.

"So far, 113 people have signed on," Acker-Mirkhelker said.

They'll be treated to a variety of activities, including a get-reacquainted cocktail hour complete with a live band and dancing on the first night and a family beach bash (children are welcome) the second day followed by a buffet dinner.

During dinner, guests will be entertained with a slide show of old school photos. Afterward, a disc jockey will take over, and again the diners will dance.

The deadline for registration has been extended until Sept. 1 for latecomers.

"We're all getting nervous and excited," Abernathy said. "We can't wait."

Church expects to open sanctuary by Easter

A new sanctuary at George Young Memorial United Methodist Church will be ready for worshipers by Easter, the Rev. James Rosenburg said.

The project began in mid-June.

The $1.6-million facility is being built by Creative Contractors of Clearwater. The architect is Aude Shand & Williams.

The building will be a traditional church structure that will seat 450 people. But some fun activities will go on inside the building as well.

"It will have drama lighting for plays, a video projector with controlled computer graphics, and DVD movies (will be shown)," Rosenburg said. "It will also have a nice Bose sound system."

Inside, pews and chairs can be moved to allow for additional space.

Outside, the crowning touch may be the most impressive: a cupola supporting a 12-foot-tall cross. From the bottom of the cupola to the top of the cross will be 54 feet.

The project also includes an additional parking lot in back of the church and a retention pond.

Rosenburg had hoped the sanctuary would be completed by Christmas, but the church had difficulties getting permits from the county.

Ex-Oldsmar mayor's name linked to sewage plant

Former Oldsmar Mayor Jerry Beverland will henceforth direct traffic into a driveway leading to the local sewage treatment plant. Day and night, rain or shine, 365 days a year.

Well, a sign bearing his name will, anyway.

And he says he didn't even know it.

Beverland and his wife, Wanda, were driving down Lafayette Boulevard recently after a visit with their daughter, who lives along the thoroughfare.

Suddenly, something blue and white with a long word beginning with a "B" caught his eye. Suspicious that it looked a lot like his name at first glance, he stopped immediately and backed up the car.

A sign bearing Jerry and Wanda's last name was up on a pole at the entrance to the Charles "Bud" Lister Jr. Reclaimed Water Facility, a fine name for the sewage treatment plant. The sign read "Beverland Drive."

"I got out to make sure I was reading it right," Beverland said. "I nearly passed out."

No one told Beverland that the sign had been put up at the entrance to the plant on Lafayette Boulevard.

On his last day as mayor, Beverland was presented with several humorous gifts, such as plaques, along with a street sign reading "Beverland Boulevard," which Beverland keeps in his den at home.

But as for the sign on Lafayette Boulevard, Beverland says the city apparently put it up after he left the mayor's post the week of March 10. "I just hadn't noticed it," he said.

Mayor Jeff Sandler said that when the sign idea was brought up at City Council meetings, it was "tongue in cheek."

"We chuckled about it," he said.

Still, they decided to go ahead with the project because "we had sat there while he was mayor and heard him brag about the sewage treatment plant, how great it was," Sandler said.

Beverland said he and then-mayor Bud Lister fought for the construction of the sewage treatment facility in the early 1970s. In 1974, Beverland said, it was completed.

Former City Council member Loretta Wyandt said she doesn't mind the sign _ especially the placement of it.

"My husband and I both say that if the city has to have a Beverland Drive, that's the most appropriate place for it," she said.

But she does voice concerns about the way the City Council went about making the decision to have the sign made and placed. A vote was not taken, and Wyandt believes that was a violation of the rules.

"It wasn't on the agenda," she said. "If it was brought up by City Council and not voted on, that's not proper. That is an official city sign on official city property."

The sign was bought by the city for $65.

Wyandt said she and other residents were shocked when they saw the sign.

"People were asking me what it was doing there," Wyandt said.

Beverland doesn't mind that his name adorns the entrance to a sewer plant.

"They (City Council members) know how important that sewage treatment plant is to me," Beverland said. "I got a street named after me, even though it does go into a sewer plant. Some people think it's pretty appropriate. I think it's great."

Cultural Center to show

"On the Waterfront'

The 1954 film On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan's hard-hitting story of crime and corruption, is the free movie at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, 101 S Pinellas Ave.

The movie, filmed on New York City's docks, stars Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and Lee J. Cobb.

It won eight Oscars and is eighth on the American Film Institute's Top 100 American Movies.

American adaptation

of "Hamlet' slated

The Avenue Players Theatre will present a first-time reading of Prince of Jersey, an American adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, 101 S Pinellas Ave.

Alex Newell, critic from the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, adapted Hamlet to a modern-day family living in the drug culture of New Jersey.

A short talk-back will follow the free reading.

Library closing chapter on preparations

Shane Mello cuts border strips Friday for the carpet at East Lake Community Library, where the grand opening will be held in the next few months, director Chris Marszalek said. Meanwhile, shelves have been delivered and landscaping has begun. A community book sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 28 at George Young United Methodist Church to raise money for furnishings.

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