Teachers caught up in Duke exodus

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Citrus public schools lose 8 educators

By Mike Wright

CITRUS SPRINGS — What brought Eileen Howard to Citrus County will take her away.

Howard, who has taught reading for six years at Citrus Springs Middle School, moved to the county 15 years ago when her husband Tim was hired at the Florida Power Corp. nuclear plant in Crystal River.

Now the family is headed to Charlotte, N.C., where Duke Energy has transferred her husband after its decision to permanently shut down the nuclear plant known as CR-3.

Mrs. Howard broke the news to her students as the school year wound down. Some could understand simply because they’re also moving because their moms or dads are being relocated.

Mrs. Howard said she would miss Citrus County and middle school.

“I like working with the students,” she said.

The closing affected about 600 workers. About half are staying on site, either to work with decommissioning the plant or with the coal plants.

About 70 employees were transferred to other positions within the company, either in St. Petersburg or the Carolinas, company spokeswoman Heather Danehower said.

A move of this magnitude involves not only the employees, but their spouses as well.

Citrus County public schools lost eight teachers, including Howard.

Howard said she and her husband were not surprised by Duke’s announcement that it was closing the nuclear plant.

“We knew something was going to change,” she said. “I don’t think it really hit home until it happened.”

Immediately Tim sent resumes to other Duke plants and was hired by the company’s corporate office. He performs maintenance on plants throughout the company’s locations.

“I kind of assumed that’s where we were going to go,” she said. “It’s very nice. It’s a beautiful area.”

Howard said the impact of the plant’s closing in Pine Ridge, where they live, is significant.

“It’s huge,” she said. “Many homes are up for sale. It’s impacted a lot of people.”

Howard doesn’t yet have a job lined up. She’s looking at working for a university.

“I will stay in education,” she said, “one way or another.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.