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Let "Law and Order' handle the wisecracks

BETTER THAN THE STUFF ON TV: TV shows apparently aren't always an exaggerated version of real life.

During a trial last week, an attorney asked Martin "Dave" Cannaday, Citrus County Sheriff's crime scene technician, to explain his field. Cannaday likened the work to what is featured on the show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

"Are you as good as they are on CSI?" asked Assistant State Attorney Milan "Bo" Samargya.

"I like to think I'm better," Cannaday said.

Not to be left out of the fun, defense attorney Jim Cummins later promised not to take up too much of the technician's time on the stand.

"I'll try to be quick before CSI snatches him up for their next season," Cummins joked.

CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG: Last week's Crystal River City Council meeting got off to a heated start. A resident asked city leaders if they felt "small" for having refused to amend their flag ordinance for a proposed veterans memorial design, and Mayor Ron Kitchen responded that people could start a recall if they didn't like his leadership.

Thus, the timing of the next presentation couldn't have been more appropriate. Two young women from Crystal River Middle School were on hand for a proclamation made in honor of Mediation Week. With impressive poise, they outlined their work as peer mediators at their school.

"I believe that mediation should be used in everyday life," one girl said.

The goal, she continued, is to reach "at least some degree of respect for each other."

Noting the irony of their remarks, Wendell Reed, director of the county's court mediation program, teased city officials a few minutes later: "I guess we would be available if you need us at a later date."

CAN'T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG, TWO: Students also addressed the County Commission last week, bringing commissioners up to date on the mediation program now operating in the school system. One young woman jokingly offered the mediators' services to the commission.

"Actually, we don't have any conflicts up here," commission Chairman Jim Fowler deadpanned. Problems only arise, Fowler continued, when other commissioners are unreasonable.

Everyone in the room _ including Fowler _ got a chuckle out of that one.

HEY, THAT PIN WOULD LOOK GOOD ON ME: Fowler's joking mood continued throughout the meeting, as was clear when the county's veterans services officer, J.J. Kenney, addressed the commission.

Fowler said aloud that he admired the Marine Corps lapel pin that Kenney was wearing. So Kenney gave it to Fowler.

"That was the biggest shakedown I've ever seen," Commissioner Josh Wooten joked.

"J.J.," Fowler said with mock seriousness. "This is going to go a long way toward job security for you."

MORE COMMISSION LAUGHS: Fowler wasn't the only commissioner exercising a sense of humor last week. Vicki Phillips got in on the act when Brad Thorpe, the county's director of community services, addressed the commission.

Fowler noted that Thorpe was a former commissioner _ with the emphasis on former.

"You have to remind him of that every now and then," Phillips said with a smile.

_ Times staff writers Jim Ross and Colleen Jenkins contributed to this report.