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RETIRED EDITOR SELLS 300 ACRES TO SWIFTMUD

DADE CITY

The Southwest Florida Water Management District on Tuesday approved a $1.125-million conservation purchase of 300 acres in northwestern Dade City.

The Puckett Road property on the fringes of the Green Swamp is part of a 304-acre ranch that's home to Andrew Barnes, the retired chairman, editor and chief executive officer of the St. Petersburg Times.

The conservation easement ends development prospects on the land, which was what Barnes wanted.

But it was something he could not have done before retiring in 2004, he said.

"I wouldn't do it if I were still the editor," Barnes said. "You shouldn't do business with something you cover."

Barnes pointed out it would have been uncomfortable if he had to editorialize against Swiftmud on other matters.

He began looking into conservation about the time he retired, he said.

At $3,750 an acre, the Puckett Road purchase is dwarfed by other state conservation buys. In May 2006, Swiftmud and other agencies paid $10,588 an acre for the 5,100-acre Colt Creek, 8 miles east of Zephyrhills and 10 miles southeast of Dade City.

CLEARWATER

Assistant city manager resigns for job in Texas

Assistant City Manager Garry Brumback resigned Tuesday to take over the top job for a midsize Texas city that's facing issues similar to Clearwater's.

Brumback, 50, an eight-year Clearwater veteran, will become city manager of Baytown shortly after Labor Day. He plans to leave his Clearwater post in early September.

Baytown is a waterfront town of 70,000 about 30 miles east of Houston.

Brumback, who makes $130,000 in Clearwater, is still negotiating his contract with Baytown.

The city, on the northern shore of Galveston Bay, has a $99.7-million budget. Clearwater's budget is about $390-million, and it has almost 1,900 employees.

TAMPA

Picnic Island Beach is safe for swimmers

Officials have reopened the beach at Picnic Island Park for swimming. Analysis of a water sample taken Monday showed safe levels of bacteria.

The Hillsborough County Health Department had closed the beach after finding a potentially dangerous concentration of bacteria in a July 23 sample.

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