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Annual circus benefits children's groups

Gibsonton is home to a number of circus performers. On Saturday, it'll be home to an actual circus.

The Showmen's Association Charities Corp. will host its annual charity circus benefiting children's groups at the International Independent Showmen's Association, 6915 Riverview Drive. Shows are at 1, 4 and 7 p.m.

The circus, which raises money for such charities as the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and the Mary & Martha House in Ruskin, is staged by circus volunteers from around the country. Highlights will include trapeze artists, elephants, a petting zoo and a circus band.

"We've really ended up with a little too much show," said ringmaster Ward Hall. "Even though it's a one-ring format, we'll probably have more than one act at a time in the show, if possible."

Tickets are available for $8 in advance or $10 at the gate. Each adult ticket purchase includes admission for one child. Call 677-3590.

Volunteers to help plant pine seedlings

RUSKIN _ On Saturday, 3,000 pine seedlings will be planted at Cockroach Bay's nursery, where they can grow large enough to transplant to parks across Hillsborough County.

The county is purchasing the seedlings _ 2,000 Longleaf pines and 1,000 South Florida slash pines _ from the state's Division of Forestry for several cents each. They plan to allow the plants to mature for six months to one year at Cockroach Bay. More than 50 people have volunteered to help with Saturday's planting, and no additional helpers are needed. To volunteer for future events, contact Dean May at the county's Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department at 903-3469.

Closed nursery plans auction

BRANDON _ Shelton's Nursery, Spas and Gazebos, which closed Dec. 31 after 32 years in business, is having a going-out-of-business auction at 1 p.m. Sunday at 1350 W Brandon Blvd.

Shelton's owner, Arthur Yambor, died suddenly in February. His family struggled to keep the business open, but decided in December to close up shop.

The owners will auction off pots, plants, spas, garden supplies and even the building's security system. One thing that won't go, though, are the business' two most recognizable features: statues of a pink elephant and George Washington on a camel.

"If the person who leases the land wants to keep them on the land, they'll be allowed to do so," said Paula Yambor, Arthur's widow. "In fact, I would prefer that."

The auction is being handled by Tampa Liquidation Center. For information, call 689-6249.

Politician aspires to assume father's seat

BRANDON _ East Hillsborough voters may not have recognized the politician from north Pinellas County making the rounds at the Brandon Chamber of Commerce dinner last week.

For the next two years, they are going to see a lot of Republican state Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who aspires to replace his father, Michael Bilirakis, in the U.S. Congress.

Since 1982, Mike Bilirakis has held the congressional seat, which was redistricted to include communities in east Hillsborough, including Republican strongholds in Plant City and FishHawk Ranch.

So far, Gus Bilirakis is the only man in the race. Already, political insiders are buzzing about who else might jump in. The new district is home to one of Tampa Bay's best known politicians, former Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who upon leaving office lost a hotly contested Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

Still, the pundits have plenty of time to catch their breath. The election isn't until fall 2006.

Bring ID for pools, exercise room use

SUN CITY CENTER _ Bring ID to the pool.

The Sun City Center Community Association has started to check identification at the swimming pools and exercise room, in response to complaints that nonresidents were using Sun City Center facilities. The spot checks will be conducted sporadically.

"We're asking to please not be offended," association president Walt Cawein told residents at a meeting last week and asked for the community's help in spotting strangers.

But Cawein warned residents to be polite. Prospective home buyers often receive temporary passes to the recreation center when they visit.

"When you approach people, be friendly. They may be the next people buying your home," he said.

Durant High FFA schedules car show

DURANT _ Some may not be old enough to drive, but age isn't stopping students at Durant High from checking out vintage cars.

The school's FFA has organized an automobile show for community members to show off their antique, vintage and custom vehicles. The event will be staged in the Durant High parking lot from 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 22.

"A lot of people out here have and restore antique cars," said agriscience teacher and FFA student adviser Kelley Ware. "We're trying to make an annual event."

Trucks, tractors and motorcycles are welcomed in the show. Students are charging a $5 entry fee for exhibitors. Viewers can get in free by the carload, but must pay a $3 parking fee.

Concessions will be available throughout the day. Proceeds will benefit the Durant FFA. For more information, call Ware at 757-9075, ext. 379.

SouthShore plans clear hurdle

The path has been cleared for three community-based long-term plans in Riverview, Ruskin and Apollo Beach to become part of Hillsborough County's comprehensive plan.

After a year and a half of community workshops and volunteer meetings, the boards of the Planning Commission and County Commission generally approved the three plans during meetings on Monday and Wednesday. The County Commission will vote on a final version of each plan Feb. 17, and the plans could be adopted by May.

Residents from each of the communities met monthly to discuss how they want to see the county plan for growth in the SouthShore area. Suggestions for all areas included preserving waterways and greenspace, encouraging business development and improving roadways, including adding bicycle and pedestrian paths.

"All parties in the planning effort came together and put together a plan that was mutually acceptable," said John Healey, a planner who led the Ruskin community plan effort.

Complete copies of each community plan are available at www.plancom.org. For more information, call the Planning Commission at 272-5940.

_ LETITIA STEIN and JAY CRIDLIN

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