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SWIFTMUD OKAYS DEAL FOR WEEKI WACHEE STATE PARK

Brooksville

On Nov. 1, Weeki Wachee Springs will become Weeki Wachee State Park.

Southwest Florida Water Management board members unanimously approved agreements that will end its four-year fight with the Hernando County attraction while transferring the mermaids into the hands of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The decision came Tuesday afternoon during the board's monthly meeting at its headquarters in Brooksville.

"This has been a long time coming," said Judy Whitehead, Swiftmud chairwoman. "But as a local Hernando County resident, no one could be more thrilled than I am."

The two agreements - one between Weeki Wachee and its landlord, Swiftmud, the other between Weeki Wachee and DEP - are the result of a recent round of court-ordered mediation among all three parties.

Late last week, DEP and attraction officials met in Tallahassee to finalize a tentative contract to make the mermaids and other park employees state workers.

Details released Tuesday show DEP will buy the attraction for $10.

Elsewhere

EMERGENCY LANDING: Airport officials said Monday that a Sarasota-bound flight made an emergency landing at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport because of a mechanical problem, the Associated Press reported. Michele Routh, a spokeswoman for the airport, said the USA 3000 Airlines flight from Chicago landed here about 9:30 p.m. Monday. A subsequent inspection of the plane showed no problems, Routh said.

FINALLY, IT'S OFFICIAL: The cloud that has hung over County Commissioner Rose Rocco since Election Day 2006 was lifted Tuesday by the 5th District Court of Appeal. The court affirmed a lower court ruling that Rocco, a Democrat, could keep the District 2 commission seat she won from Republican Hannah "Nancy'' Robinson by 1,444 votes. Robinson and political supporter Janey Baldwin had challenged the outcome of the election arguing that Rocco needed to live in District 2 at the time of the election

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