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Lutz set to secede, help firms succeed

This is the week that Lutz belatedly secedes from Florida and swears in a new chief of state. Then it will have a small business expo.

If those priorities seem disjointed, blame it on a kidney-stone attack.

Lutz traditionally declares itself every Independence Day to be "independent, cranky, contrary and forever its own sovereign self." The independence expires at midnight.

At the same celebration, Lutz also names its guv'na, a lighthearted post earned through a fundraising competition.

But this year, the winning guv'na candidate attended the Independence Day festivities in the midst of a severe kidney-stone attack. Danny Neeley's public agony so unnerved the civic leaders that they forgot to secede. And the traditional swearing-in, wherein the guv'na puts his right hand on the Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham, could not take place.

The omissions will be corrected at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Lutz Community Center, 100 First St. NW during the monthly meeting of the Lutz Civic Association.

Then comes the business expo.

Organizer Auralee Buckingham, a Civic Association board member, said the idea grew from the business turmoil that resulted from the six-laning of U.S. 41, which was completed a year ago.

"I said, "We really ought to do something to feature the businesses that have been struggling for two years with that road, trying to make it.' "

She said at least two of the 10 businesses that signed up lost their buildings to the road construction.

One, Country Place Antique and Gift Shoppes, lost an 85-year-old two-story house along U.S. 41 and moved into a building behind it.

"It's amazing," owner Mary Ann Fernandez said. "People say, "Oh, I really didn't realize you were here.' "

So Fernandez plans a display Thursday night with a few antiques, collectible dolls, Seraphim Angels and Boyd Bears.

Another display will feature the wares of the Eyeglass Factory, a three-employee company at the apex of U.S. 41 and N Dale Mabry Highway.

"I want to let my business be known to people who've never heard of it," owner Charley Chaney said.

Family Car Repair, a new business on U.S. 41, will be at the expo promoting specials and handing out flyers and business cards, said Billie Holbrooks, who owns the business with her husband, John.

"Auralee Buckingham told us about it," she said. "Then she came in the next day and had her AC fixed."