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Wiregrass Ranch wins planning board's okay

The giant Wiregrass Ranch development won staff approval from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

The recommendation helps pave the way for the "development of regional impact" designation for the 5,000-acre, 13,500-home project. Plans include at least 2.7-million square feet of stores, 1.2-million square feet of offices, a hospital and three schools.

Officials in Hillsborough County and Tampa continued to signal their reservations on unresolved traffic issues on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

The planning council will vote Dec. 11. If the council agrees with its staff, Wiregrass will head for a public hearing before the Pasco County Commission before it formally gets the DRI approval.

NEW PORT RICHEY

Pasco sheriff to help with Crist's transition

Pasco Sheriff Bob White has been named co-chairman of a panel that will review the performance of the state Department of Juvenile Justice for Gov.-elect Charlie Crist's transition team.

The panel is charged with gathering facts and reporting them to Crist, with an eye toward making the agency more effective. "He was selected because of his law enforcement and public sector experience," transition team spokeswoman Vivian Myrtetus said in an e-mail.

White denied rumors that he might join the administration.

"I made a commitment to the people of Pasco County when they elected me their sheriff," he said.

INVERNESS

Money earmarked for parkway extension

Florida's Turnpike Enterprise has earmarked $182.9-million from 2008 to 2012 for possible development of a Suncoast Parkway extension through Citrus County.

The County Commission will review the numbers next week.

The money would go toward engineering and buying land for the highway, which would stretch from its current terminus at U.S. 98 near Brooksville to U.S. 19 in Red Level.

No money has been earmarked for construction, and the state hasn't decided whether to build the 27-mile, $879-million road.

LARGO

Former fire inspector won't get disability

Former Largo fire inspector Steven C. Strong, 41,who now works as Clearwater's fire marshal, has lost his bid to collect a disability pension from Largo for knee injuries 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.

Elsewhere

SHADY HILLS: Waste Management, which said this week that it will cut service outside southwest Pasco County, won't leave customers without service. Though pickups will end north of State Road 52 and east of the Suncoast Parkway on Jan. 1, customers without a new hauler at that time can call the company and keep the service until they find one, Waste Management officials said Friday. Pasco has 11 other haulers. The issue has generated enough sparks that county commissioners will discuss it at their meeting Tuesday, said Commissioner Jack Mariano, whose northwest Pasco district includes some of the affected customers.

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