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Change may calm traffic, residents

Robert Schwerin was tired of dodging speeding cars along his formerly quiet country street. Backing out of his driveway was dangerous. So he became an activist and decided that making Anchorage Lane in East Lake safer would become his mission.

When he took on the project, he knew there would be red tape to unravel. He knew it would not happen overnight, or over the course of a year.

He also knew he might never see the fruits of his labor. Disgusted with an increase in population in East Lake and the traffic, the longtime resident up and moved to Annapolis, Md., to a house on the end of a quiet cul-de-sac.

Now his hard work has borne fruit: On May 16, Pinellas County Administrator Fred Marquis recommended that county commissioners approve the installation of a traffic diverter on Anchorage Lane at Tarpon Lake Boulevard.

It is hoped this will shift traffic off the road and allow pedestrians to cross the street at a slow-paced walk rather than at a sprint.

Richard Whitehead, who took over activist duties from Schwerin, said he has been told the diverter will be installed within two to four months.

He can't wait.

"We'll eliminate a good deal of traffic, I hope," he said.

Whitehead said the motorists have no consideration for neighbors, intent only on "beating the traffic by going through our area."

"Instead of going directly up East Lake Road, they are making a right or a left on Anchorage Lane," he said. "And they go fast. The speed limit is 25 mph, and they are doing 50 mph-plus. We've had cases of pets killed. Cars are driving up on our lawns. There is vandalism. Boom boxes are blaring, and one guy wiped out a mailbox."

According to county information, Anchorage Lane is a 1,200-foot-long residential street with 26 single-family homes bordering both sides. A study conducted by the county traffic engineering department indicated 1,626 vehicles are driven down the road each day _ a number considered excessive given the small number of residents who live on the street.

A homeowners association neighborhood subcommittee that was formed in April 1999 offered two solutions to the problem: speed humps and a diverter. In January, at a homeowners association annual meeting, members voted to approve the diverter.

In February, a residential traffic calming petition was distributed to homeowners. One hundred percent of residents requested the diverter. That sealed the deal.

Relieved, Whitehead placed a phone call he's long wanted to make.

"I called Robert and told him," Whitehead said. "He was happy we finally got it through. Now it's just a matter of designing it and putting it in."

Instead of thank-you card, low-cost concert planned

As a "thank you" to the members of the East Lake community who Robert Knabel, East Lake High School choral director, said supported his program through the years, the chorus will give a low-cost concert this week.

It is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the East Lake High auditorium, 1300 Silver Eagle Drive. The cost is $3 per person.

This choral group has had a busy year. Members were invited to sing at a candlelight processional at Walt Disney World. They also had tremendous success at district and state competitions, winning superior and excellent ratings from the judges.

But the highlight of their year was clearly their invitation to perform at the Mormon Tabernacle. Forty-nine students made the trip.

At the public concert Tuesday evening, 100 choral students will entertain the audience. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

All-night graduation party needs donors, volunteers

A fortuneteller will be working this year's East Lake High School Eagle Flight Night party themed "Blast Out to the Future" on June 8.

The question: Can the fortuneteller predict in advance whether enough volunteers and cash donors can be lined up in time for the all-night graduation party?

Organizer Anne Lubner hopes so. She is aggressively soliciting donations from local businesses and families, and volunteers to help out on the night of the event.

Eagle Flight Night is a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. drug and alcohol-free blowout for graduating seniors, an attempt to keep the kids from driving the streets impaired. It promotes safe activities such as a Tower of Power rock-climbing wall, dome ice hockey, dancing and virtual auto racing.

But the students seem to love the giveaways most of all, the microwave ovens, cash, televisions, a mountain bicycle and everything else an incoming college freshmen requires to make a dorm room comfortable.

If you would like to help, attend a volunteer orientation at 7 p.m. June 1 in the school cafeteria, 1300 Silver Eagle Drive. Or you can e-mail Lubner at aelubneraol.com.

Hands-on training

From left, Ann Reishus, a fire prevention specialist, teaches Patti Murphy, 12, Gary Galbraith, 11, and Kyle Doege, 11, where to place defibrillation pads on a mannequin Wednesday during the Oldsmar Fire Department's Open House at the downtown Oldsmar station. Visitors to the open house learned simple CPR techniques and received a tour of the station.

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