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Manatee count up

Cooler temperatures have drawn more manatees into area waters, federal wildlife officials found Wednesday when taking their weekly aerial survey. The manatee count was 232, way up from the 124 spotted during the Nov. 8 count. Wednesday's total included 20 calves. The largest number, 188, were seen in Kings Bay. Another five were spotted at the Florida Power Crystal River plant, 36 in the Homosassa Blue Waters and three in the lower Homosassa.

Bridge chosen

INVERNESS _ The City Council on Tuesday unanimously recommended that the state Department of Transportation build a temporary, single-lane bridge while repairing the Gospel Island bridge. This would increase the cost of the project by more than $2-million and would double the time needed to complete the work. The DOT also gave the city the option to close the bridge and direct traffic to State Road 44. But council members said that, in an emergency, the detour could delay rescue crews and cost lives. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2005-06.

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