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FORMER FIRE INSPECTOR WON'T GET DISABILITY

Former Largo fire inspector Steven C. Strong, who now works as Clearwater's fire marshal, has lost his bid to collect a disability pension from Largo for knee injuries that he suffered on the job. This fall, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge David A. Demers dismissed Strong's appeal challenging the Largo police and fire retirement board's order to stop his disability payments of $1,481.81 a month. The board also recommended that Strong, who makes $76,500 annually as Clearwater's fire marshal, return to Largo as a fire inspector. Strong, 41, first injured his right knee in 1996 when he slipped in water and fell as he got out of a fire truck. Since then, Strong said, he has undergone more than a dozen knee surgeries. He resigned in Largo in July 2000 after 13 years of service and received disability payments from then until Aug. 14 of this year. Since leaving Largo, Strong has worked as a fire codes inspector for St. Petersburg, a fire inspector and deputy fire marshal for Dunedin; and an assistant and interim fire marshal for Clearwater. He also applied for a fire marshal position in Largo.

Part of Bay Drive closed for parade

The city's holiday parade begins at 11 a.m. today at the Pinellas County School Board parking lot, traveling east on West Bay Drive and ending at Largo Central Park. Bay Drive will be closed to eastbound traffic between Sixth Street SW and Central Park Drive from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Westbound lanes will be open. North and south traffic will not be able to cross Bay Drive during the closure. Use Clearwater-Largo Road and Keene/Starkey Road as alternate routes.

Holiday lights wait for flip of switch

The ceremonial lighting of "Seasonal Sensations - An Illuminated Garden" is from 5 to 10 p.m. today at the 150-acre Florida Botanical Gardens, 12520 Ulmerton Road. The event includes lighting more than 425,000 holiday lights, a train display and a children's parade at 5:45 p.m. The holiday lights will be on display 6 to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 3. Free. Call (727) 582-2100 or go to www.flbg.org.

See cultural dance at Heritage Village

Heritage Village, the county's history museum, will feature multicultural dance performances by member groups of the St. Petersburg International Folkfair Society from 1 to 4 p.m. today. Visitors also can view holiday trees decorated in global themes and tour holiday-decorated buildings throughout the village. Admission is free. Heritage Village is at 11909 125th St. N. Call (727) 582-2123 or visit www.pinellascounty.org/Heritage.

CLEARWATER

Christian College to perform Handel

The Clearwater Christian College concert choir and chamber orchestra will perform Handel's Messiah at 7 p.m. today at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2001 Rainbow Drive. Pattye Casarow will direct, and soloists Teresa Irwin, a soprano, Richard Joseph, a tenor, and Steve Armstrong, a bass, will be featured. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Call (727) 726-1153, ext. 0.

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