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YouthBuild graduates 16 in school-work program

(ran East, South editions)

A program targeting high-school dropouts graduated 16 young people Wednesday at the Enoch D. Davis Center. YouthBuild of St. Petersburg combines construction skills with academic learning for youths ages 16 to 24.

Of this year's class, five students have gone on to get their high school equivalency certificates. Two students at St. Petersburg Junior College are YouthBuild graduates.

Backed by a $400,000 federal grant, YouthBuild guidelines call for at least 75 percent of its admissions to be high-school dropouts. In fact, the number is closer to 90 percent, said program director Hazel Hudson.

A commencement address by Judge Charles E. Williams of the 12th Judicial Circuit mixed praise for graduates with a caution to "stay on the straight and narrow."

"Prison is one of the few things in society that lives up to the hype," said Williams, a St. Petersburg native. "It is every bit as bad as it is portrayed _ even worse."

YouthBuild looks for applicants who live between 13th Avenue N and 30th Avenue S and 49th Street and Fourth Street. They are usually unemployed or working for close to the minimum wage. Though no single factor causes students to drop out, YouthBuild's participants often have had poor communication between family and public schools.

"They get suspensions piled on top of suspensions," said Hudson, 52. "Before you know it, that translates into performance problems, and people lose interest in school."

Much of this year's class time has been spent building a house in the Palmetto Park neighborhood.

YouthBuild workers did most of the labor, learning what they could from tradesmen, trainers and program construction manager Israel Rollins.

Central Oak Park steps up parking enforcement

Starting Monday, police and codes investigators will be on the lookout for illegally parked cars in Central Oak Park. At the request of the neighborhood association, authorities will be ticketing cars parked on the right-of-way between the sidewalk and the curb and cars parked in yards.

"These things kind of go in cycles," said Central Oak Park president Brian Longstreth. "When people start (parking illegally) on one street, it seems to spread, so we want to step up enforcement."

Central Oak Park stretches from 13th Avenue N to Fifth Avenue S, between 34th and 49th streets. Residents can park legally in the same direction as traffic and within 12 inches of the curb on streets (unless otherwise posted), or in driveways or other approved parking areas.

Installing a driveway? Chat with codes manager first

Codes compliance manager David Oliver suggested that residents who want to install a driveway clear their plans with Development Review Services at One Fourth Street N. Driveway aprons in the right-of-way must be concrete, asphalt or brick, and installation requires a permit. A driveway apron runs from the sidewalk to the curb. Driveways themselves do not require permits, but Oliver said it is a good idea to meet with Development Review Services anyway.

Pier Aquarium offers

free water workshops

The Pier Aquarium is poised to give free "waterhood workshops" to neighborhoods requesting them. A $3,855 grant for the two-part workshops from the Southwest Florida Water Management District underwrites the workshops, which will focus on such topics as watershed education, alternative water sources, water quality and indoor and outdoor conservation.

Each topic will be coupled with a hands-on activity scheduled for the following weekend. The activities include drought-resistant landscaping, cutting down non-indigenous and toxic Brazilian pepper trees, and marking storm drains with signs cautioning citizens against dumping waste.

The aquarium also has scheduled a series of free workshops on April 14, May 26 and June 9, all from 10 a.m. to noon at the Pier Aquarium Education Station, located about halfway down the pier approach on the north side of Second Avenue N.

For information on how to schedule a workshop in your neighborhood, call education coordinator Paul Anderson at 822-9520.

Riviera Bay plans garage sale with 40-50 homes

Riviera Bay's spring garage sale kicks off Friday and ends Saturday, starting at 8 a.m. both days. Between 40 and 50 houses are expected to participate. Riviera Bay's boundaries run from 78th to 99th avenues N, between Fourth Street N and Riviera Bay.