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Inmates also pitch in for Sept. 11 fund

Soon after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, schoolchildren collected money, fire departments passed the boot and Hollywood celebrities lined up to raise funds for the victims and their families.

Meanwhile, inside slate gray holding cells, Hernando County inmates also were moved by the images on television and told jail officials they wanted to help.

One inmate suggested donating blood, but the American Red Cross declined the offer because of safety concerns, Warden Kevin Watson said. So jail officials decided to have the inmates help in a more palatable way.

For five weeks, the Hernando County Jail south of Brooksville brought in about 50 pizzas every Friday and sold them to inmates for $10 a pie. (Inmates get money to spend on cigarettes and other items from the jail canteen, and they can use that money to buy pizza.)

Inmates ate more than $1,200 worth of pizzas for the American Red Cross. Those who participated signed a form saying they understood that their money would be donated, Watson said.

Said the warden: "It's nice for people to see that even individuals who are incarcerated want to give back to the community."

Largo leaders support

relaxing curfew rules

LARGO _ Good news for teens on the go: They may soon be able to head out at night under a new, more lenient _ and more legally defensible _ version of Largo's curfew.

City commissioners gave initial approval to allow youths with permission slips from their parents to stay out past the curfew, reducing the fine for violating the curfew from the current maximum of $500 to $50 and ending the curfew at 5 instead of 6 a.m.

The city's police chief said officers still enforce the curfew, driving violators home or calling their parents. But they stopped arresting people caught breaking the curfew after a youth challenged the law as unconstitutional.

Several commissioners initially opposed the curfew but were swayed by overwhelming public support for it.

"I just think everyone cannot be wrong," said Commissioner Pat Burke. "I'm going to vote in favor of this. It's going to protect the children as much as those who they might victimize."

Tarpon Springs cemetery

looking for more space

TARPON SPRINGS _ It seems some of the hottest real estate in Tarpon Springs is inside Cycadia Cemetery.

The trouble is, the cemetery is quickly running out of room. Only about 300 burial plots are available for sale, and they probably will be sold within the next three or four years. That number doesn't include plots that already have been purchased but remain unused.

"We've only got a little over three years left," said Frank Ceccofiglio, supervisor of the cemetery. "We'll be sold out."

Cycadia Cemetery was started in 1887, when an early settler named Viola Keeney Beekman donated a small plot of land for a cemetery. The city took it over in 1946, and in the 1980s, a mausoleum and chapel were added. The graveyard is distinguished by its rolling landscape, pair of lakes, numerous trees and black wrought-iron arch.

City officials are exploring buying more land. But that will cause a steep increase in price for burial plots, from the current $450 for a plot to as much as $1,600.

Pasco cities, developers

balk at backing new parks fee

NEW PORT RICHEY _ A coalition of cities in Pasco County won't support the county's proposed $892-per-new-home park impact fee _ unless of course the county gives them a piece of the action, an estimated $2-million collected each year.

Meanwhile, the developer dominated Impact Fee Advisory Committee complained the fee was an unfair burden on its industry, particularly during the economic downturn.

In the absence of a new tax to help cover the park deficit _ in June commissioners narrowly rejected creating a special property tax to do just that _ builders refused to support the fee.

The county needs an estimated $40-million in parks, particularly in rural but fast-growing Wesley Chapel and Odessa, to keep up with the county's growth.

Assistant County Administrator Dan Johnson noted that Pasco hasn't built a new park since 1994, when it exhausted money raised from a 1986 bond issue.

"We are not trying to build a Cadillac park system," Johnson said. "We're not even trying to build a Chevrolet park system."

The impact fee ordinance comes up for a vote in late November or December before the County Commission.

Paintings containing nudity

will stay on display

ZEPHYRHILLS _ City Manager Steve Spina said Wednesday he won't remove a controversial art display in a city building, despite getting about 30 complaints that the images are pornographic.

The paintings in question, done by a Land O'Lakes artist who goes by the name MeloD, depict the cycle of domestic violence and recovery. The woman in the paintings is nude to portray vulnerability, and, in the paintings about recovery, trust, the artist has said.

The series is on display at the city's renovated World War II barracks near the municipal airport.

The paintings were removed in October from the east Pasco government center amid complaints that they were offensive. Similar complaints followed them to Zephyrhills.

Spina said the complaints from local churchgoers, most of which came from Victory Baptist Church, won't sway his decision to display the series, especially because most of the complainers haven't visited the exhibit.

"I think these are largely good people that have been told something without the benefit of seeing both sides," Spina said. "It won't affect my decision. I stand behind it."

In short . . .

OLDSMAR _ if all goes as planned, BMX racing enthusiasts will see a national-caliber racetrack built at Canal Park in Oldsmar next spring. The City Council approved an agreement with the American Bicycle Association to build a $50,600 BMX track, which will be home to at least 40 ABA-sanctioned race events a year.

TAMPA _ Hillsborough County commissioners learned last week that the Tampa Sports Authority expects to lose more than $1-million on stadium operations this year, largely because the state Supreme Court has ruled the stadium has to pay property taxes.

INVERNESS _ A teenager who once faced a felony charge for typing "Anthrax is here and in this school, bye now" will only be charged with a misdemeanor charge of disrupting school. Prosecutors said the boy's actions didn't really match the guidelines for the felony charge, which carried a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Coming up this week

The St. Petersburg City Council will hold its long-awaited workshop on a human rights ordinance on Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to noon at City Hall, 175 Fifth St. N. The public may attend but not speak. A movement to include gays and lesbians in the city's anti-discrimination ordinance have been stalled by a reluctant City Council.

On Tuesday, the Pinellas County School Board will talk about the price of loyalty. Superintendent Howard Hinesley's contract is up for renewal and leaders of smaller school districts already make more money than he does.

Next weekend, we should be able to see what is predicted to be the best meteor shower in 35 years. Stargazers will see the most meteors near dawn on Sunday, revealing a two-hour burst of shooting stars between 5 and 8 a.m.

_ Compiled by Times staff writer Sharon Kennedy Wynne

KEEPING WATCH: Dana J. Land, a field operations supervisor for Pinellas County Mosquito Control, removes a mosquito trap along a horse trail near the Eldridge-Wilde well field, where a sentinel chicken tested positive for the West Nile virus recently. Because the West Nile virus can kill a horse, many horse owners in north Pinellas began vaccinating their animals when the virus was discovered in North Florida earlier this year. Throughout Florida, West Nile virus has infected at least eight people and 237 horses since July. In extreme cases it can cause encephalitis. The disease has killed horses in Citrus, Alachua and Jefferson counties.

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