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Banquet's "great' turnout about 2 percent

A group of county officials and local leaders gathered at a luncheon Thursday for a farewell roasting of former County Administrator Gary Kuhl, who left the county to become Hillsborough County's water resource team administrator.

"This really is a great turnout," county commissioner Jim Fowler said, surveying the banquet room at Andre's of Citrus Hills. "Some 4,300 invitations were sent out, and 77 people showed up."

BETTER BUY YOUR BOTTLED WATER: Fowler reminded the crowd that, as Hillsborough's top water resource official, Kuhl would oversee that county's development of a desalination plant to provide fresh water to the area.

"I've got news for the people in Tampa," Fowler said. "If (Kuhl) fast-tracks that like he did our county courthouse, they're going to be pretty dead thirsty."

YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR HAT ON: Peter Monteleone, outgoing president of the Citrus Springs Advisory Council, researched Kuhl's family name and told the audience he made a startling discovery: It appears that the word "Kuhl" was used by ancient people to describe "the land of men with shiny heads."

Reflected light bounced around the room as Gary Kuhl shook his waxy, balding head.

"I knew this was going to come up," Kuhl mumbled.

AN EASY TARGET: There were more baldness jokes thrown Kuhl's way, including this one from development services director Gary Maidhof's "Top 10 Reasons why Gary Kuhl is Leaving."

"No. 6. Citrus County is too small and he's too well known to wear his Shatner Turbo 2000 toupee, but he can air it out in Clearwater without notice."

AT LEAST TOSS ME A LIFE JACKET: Most of the roasting was for Kuhl, but Fowler saved one barb for fellow commissioner Brad Thorpe, who is leaving the commission at the end of his term this fall.

"Remember in that movie Titanic, where the designer of the ship snuck onto the lifeboat with the women and children and leaves a bunch of brave souls behind on the sinking ship?" Fowler asked Thorpe. "I think that's how I'll always think of you."

BLACK AND BLUE WILL NEVER DO: When Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier stood to address the crowd gathered at the old historic Hernando School for the kickoff of a restoration project by Inverness Primary School fifth-graders, he began by observing that he hadn't quite pulled off the look he was trying to achieve for that event.

"I thought I was very cool until I looked down at my socks," he said. "I've got on blue socks and black pants. How could I do that? The coolness left."

MONEY WELL SPENT: Outside political groups spent tens of thousands of dollars producing direct-mail pieces in the state Senate District 11 Republican primary, which incumbent Anna Cowin eventually won.

Those groups probably wouldn't appreciate what one voter, Phyllis Lewis, had to say.

"I threw it in the trash," Lewis said of the mail material.

Lewis, 52, said she already had determined who would win her vote in the primary. The advertising dollars were wasted on her.

"I read a lot about the people. I go to the forums and I listen," she said.

BUMPER STICKERS WE LIKE: I love my country, it's our elected officials I fear.

_ Times staff writers Jim Ross, Bridget Hall Grumet, Paulette Lash Ritche and Greg Hamilton compiled this report.

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