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In Britain, a round of laughs

The Clearwater roundabout is getting more international notoriety.

In its T2 magazine for teenagers, London's Daily Telegraph shows a photo of the roundabout with the caption "Driving them round the bend." Roundabouts, of course, are common in Europe, and the Brits can't understand why Americans have such a hard time negotiating the one-way traffic pattern.

"Since this roundabout opened in Clearwater, Florida seven months ago, it's been the scene of 309 crashes," the magazine says in its "Bizarre but True" column. "Roundabouts are virtually unknown in America and locals have struggled with the basics _ such as driving in one direction."

The editor of the Mirror, another British paper, recently poked fun at the roundabout and U.S. motorists, saying, "If you learned to drive on the right side of the road, you wouldn't have so many problems with it."

THANK GOD IT'S FRED-DAY: Fred Marquis' retirement has made him more popular than ever. The County Commission is naming the Pinellas Trail for the longtime county administrator. And the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce plans to name a day for him.

Henceforth, Oct. 12 will be Fred Marquis Day in Palm Harbor.

The chamber wanted to recognize Marquis' role as a liaison between county commissioners and residents of unincorporated Palm Harbor, chamber president Walt Blenner said. Marquis also is a Palm Harbor resident.

The chamber will officially be stow the honor during its annual banquet that day at the Countryside Country Club, 3001 Countryside Blvd. Cocktail hour is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and the dinner begins at 6:30. If you are interested in attending, call the chamber at (727) 784-4287.

CLOWNING AROUND: Clearwater City Commissioner Bob Clark dismissed several sports economists' views a few weeks ago by calling them "bozos."

Clark disagrees with their studies, which say sports stadiums don't help their communities' economies and just suck money out of them into the pockets of sports players and team owners.

But his use of the b-word rankled some people. Thursday, Clark apologized for the remark, saying that he didn't want to set a bad example by name calling.

Opponents of a proposed spring training stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies joked that Clark's apology certainly made it difficult to proceed with their planned publicity stunts. Since the apology, they won't be showing up with clown noses and Bozo costumes in protest of the planned stadium.

ELECTION DAY ODDS AND ENDS: Mother Nature cast her vote in Tuesday's primaries at the Church on the Hill in East Lake. The church, serving as the polling place for precinct 711, was zapped by lightning.

The afternoon strike knocked out the electricity and phone at the church. Quick-thinking poll workers moved voting booths from a dark room to the church's foyer so voters could read the ballots by light from the windows. Poll workers used a borrowed mobile phone to call for help in getting power restored.

Another polling place experienced what County Judge Patrick Caddell called "drive-by voting." A woman drove up to the building and, still seated in her car, handed her sealed absentee ballot out of her window to a passing voter. The driver instructed the bewildered voter to drop off her ballot for her and then drove away.

After examining the ballot to make sure it had not been tampered with, the county's canvassing board, of which Caddell is a member, agreed it should be counted.

County Commissioner Calvin Harris served on the canvassing board this year in place of Clark, who was also a candidate. The last time he spent an evening at the Election Service Center two years ago, he was involved in a heated race with Tom McKeon for his County Commission seat. Harris took 51 percent of the vote in what was the closest commission election since 1980.

But on Tuesday, Harris was cool as a cucumber.

"I just get to sit here and watch the numbers come in," he said. "I don't have to sweat it. I don't need to raise my blood pressure."

_ Times staff writers Susan Taylor Martin, Edie Gross and Christina Headrick contributed to this report.