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JAIL NEARLY FINISHED WITH TORNADO REPAIRS

Land o'Lakes

Forty-five days after a pre-dawn tornado tore apart a temporary housing structure at the Pasco County jail, work is nearly complete on its replacement.

The total cost of the twister's damage: between $1.2-million and $1.3-million, Sheriff Bob White said Thursday.

Early on Dec. 16, detention staff evacuated 185 inmates from two tent-like structures moments before the tornado struck, demolishing one of the tents and damaging the second. No one was injured. Both were erected as extra quarters to ease overcrowding.

Since then, contractors, county staff and jail inmates have been working to rebuild. The costs will be covered by a variety of county sources, including risk management funds and insurance.

The total price tag includes the cost of housing displaced inmates in surrounding counties' jails. Fifty-five women remain at the privately-run jail in Hernando County, which is charging Pasco $56 per day for each inmate, Maj. Brian Head said.

St. Petersburg

Driver veers off road, dies after SUV crashes

St. Petersburg police believe a man suffered a medical problem while driving in St. Petersburg, causing him to crash and later die.

Witnesses saw Andrew Milton, Jr., 49, driving a Chevy Blazer southbound on 20th Street N at about 4 p.m. when he made a wide turn onto First Avenue N. After traveling one block west, the SUV veered off the road and hit a sign, then came back onto the road and swerved off again.

Milton, who lived in the 1800 block of 18th Avenue N, was conscious at the scene, but paramedics had to help him out of the SUV. According to police, the crash was not serious enough to cause death. An autopsy will be performed.

Feral cat control: Tarpon Springs city commissioners voted Tuesday to begin addressing Pinellas County's feral cat problem by advocating for a "trap, neuter and release" option, a practice that is not supported by county ordinances. Commissioners are drafting a letter to the County Commission to recommend the change.

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