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Published Oct. 14, 2013

New Port Richey

Pasco EcoFest, set for Nov. 8-10, will span three days at two locations - Sims Park and Starkey Park. Those who attend will have the opportunity to explore west Pasco by kayaking, wading through swamps and learning about native plants and medicinal herbs on nature walks through Starkey Park. There will be free workshops, geocaching, live music and entertainment, a drum circle, yoga, belly dancing and hoop dancing workshops, children's art and public art projects, stargazing, a vintage Volkswagen showcase and parts swap, and food trucks.

Organizers are seeking vendors. Vendor opportunities include fresh produce, garden art, nonprofit organizations, handcrafted jewelry and homemade items. Organizers of this event are especially interested in organic, sustainable and creative products and goods. For more information, visit, find PascoEcoFest on Facebook or follow @Pasco_Eco on Twitter.

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Officials debate allowing alcohol at rec center

The City Council is considering allowing alcohol at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center during after-hours special events.

In an effort to generate revenue, the council has flirted with the idea of allowing special events at the recreation center on Van Buren Street to include use of the gymnasium and pool deck. But debate is taking shape over whether event planners will be allowed to serve alcohol.

At a work session last week, Mayor Bob Consalvo made it clear he doesn't want to see alcohol in the center, citing liability issues.

"I just don't think it's the proper place," he said.

The council is likely to take up the issue during a future meeting to approve allowing special events in general at the center.

"We can debate (the alcohol issue)," council member Chopper Davis said.

In recent years, the council has relaxed other rules governing alcohol in the city. In 2008, members voted to allow alcohol in Sims Park during special events, and in early 2012, they voted to let patrons take beer and wine out of downtown bars and onto the street in designated areas during special events.

Last week, Consalvo recalled serving as a council member during the Sims Park debate five years ago and said some in opposition predicted that allowing alcohol in the recreation center would be next.

"Now here we are," he said.

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Dade City

Vigil will honor victims of violence

Sunrise Domestic and Sexual Violence Center will hold its 17th annual candlelight vigil in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness month.

This event, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, brings Sunrise supporters, survivors, family members and friends together for an emotional ceremony. Victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault will be honored and remembered. The vigil is free and open to the public at Agnes Lamb Park, at Meridian Avenue and Ninth Street.

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City may split job into two positions

City commissioners came close to voting last week on a proposal to split the city clerk/finance director position into two jobs, but they chose instead to study the issue in a workshop.

Commissioner Jimmy Shive proposed restructuring the position based on his view that it would improve customer service and create a more balanced workload for Jim Class, who has held the position for more than 20 years. Commissioner Eunice Penix seconded his motion, saying most other Florida cities have separate city clerk and finance director positions. Mayor Camille Hernandez has previously championed a split and voiced support for it again Tuesday.

But Commissioner Scott Black balked at a vote, saying there are plenty of questions to answer before they make a decision - how to pay for it being the first.

"This is not something we budgeted for," said Black, adding that the issue should be addressed as an agenda item. Shive introduced his motion at the end of the meeting during commission comments. Black said there needs to be a discussion on the breakdown of responsibilities and whether or not to have a public hearing.

The position falls under the authority of the City Commission. The city charter gives the commission authority to split it, but a charter amendment would be needed to put the finance director under the city manager's authority, said city attorney Karla Owens.

Commissioner Bill Dennis said he didn't see a need to separate the position.

"Everything seems to be going along pretty well," said Dennis. "What will we gain by it?"

A date for the workshop is to be determined.

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Medicaid, Medicare event

The Florida Medicaid program is in the process of implementing a new system through which Medicaid recipients receive long-term care services. Learn about the new Medicaid roll-out at a meeting hosted by CARES and jointly presented by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and state Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby. Representatives from the Agency for Health Care Administration will also be on hand.

Medicare recipients can learn about the annual Medicare enrollment period, Oct. 15-Dec. 7, from SHINE, which offers educational materials and free unbiased insurance counseling to elders, caregivers and family members.

The public is invited to attend on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at CARES Elfers Center, 4136 Barker Dr. For more information call (727) 847-1290.