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Florida growth booms - but without Pinellas

Florida's 21st century land boom is expected to continue unabated. According to a new University of Florida study, the state's population will grow from 18-million in April 2005 to about 20-million in 2010 and nearly 25-million in 2025. The counties projected to grow the fastest: Flagler, Sumter, Osceola, Walton, Collier and St. Johns. The slowest: Monroe and Pinellas. "These two counties have grown very slowly in recent years because of the factor of land," said Stefan Rayer, a demographer with UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "There just isn't a lot of space left to build."

These Katrina victims

just want a doghouse

Twelve homeless pooches rescued from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina go up for adoption today at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. They are mixed breeds, some part Labrador, others part chow. Several seem to be hounds, said Pam Backer, operations director. The dogs, all spayed or neutered, found their way to Tampa on Nov. 21 from a temporary shelter in Tylertown, Miss., but were held from adoption to give legal owners a chance to reclaim them. Five were reunited. The Humane Society is at 3607 N Armenia Ave. in Tampa. The adoption fee is $75. Call (813) 876-7138 for details.

Starting RV trip

was its finish

Jeffrey Evans was supposed to be on his way to Key West by now, but he's not going anywhere after his fully packed RV caught fire Sunday night. Evans, 21, had finished packing the 34-foot recreational vehicle but couldn't get it started. He put gasoline in the carburetor, and the gasoline sparked a fire that totaled the 1989 Chevrolet Southwind and its contents, a loss worth about $30,000. It took Tampa firefighters half an hour to get the blaze under control, and Evans was treated at Tampa General Hospital for smoke inhalation. "He chose a dangerous way to get it to start," said fire rescue Capt. Bill Wade, "and he paid the price."

Flow of big bucks

from desal plant

Tampa Bay Water's troubled desalination plant in Apollo Beach has created as many lawsuits as it has freshwater. On Monday, the regional utility tried to settle three of them, offering $18-million to three contractors who worked on the plant: Hydronautics, King Engineering and Delaware Engineering. The companies have 30 days to accept or reject the settlement.