$93,000 police bus goes kaput in 9,500 miles
How's this for a lemon: a $93,000 bus that dies after 9,500 miles. Clearwater officials are sour that a traffic homicide investigations bus, bought for the police in 2001, has already gone kaput. The Bluebird bus has trouble starting and braking, and investigators often have to put back fallen ceiling tiles. But what really made the City Council mad: a replacement will cost taxpayers $145,000. The council will likely approve the new bus Thursday. Emergency manager Rick Carnley urged the council not to judge the bad bus by miles alone, as it often runs for hours providing lights and air conditioning for investigators who use it as an on-scene interview room. The bus, which responds to about 30 accidents a year, holds a generator and marking paint, tape and barricades. Carnley said the new bus, a Freightliner funded by Penny for Pinellas sales taxes, should last decades. But that didn't do much to soothe the council. "I don't think anyone would argue that this was a bad purchase," Mayor Frank Hibbard said.
Spring break camp registration opens
Registration began Tuesday for spring break camps at Clearwater recreation facilities. Most camps are March 28 to April 1. For the following five camps, the fee is $75 with a play pass, $100 with a recreation card, and $125 without a card.
• Countryside Recreation Center, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. for grades K through 5. Games, arts and crafts. Call (727) 669-1914.
• Long Center, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. for grades K through 5. Swimming, sports, arts and crafts. Call (727) 793-2320, ext. 246.
• Moccasin Lake Nature Park & Energy Center, for ages 6 through 12. Children explore nature and science through games, crafts and animal encounters. Call (727) 793-2976.
• North Greenwood Recreation Center, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fee is for ages 5 to 8. Camp is free for ages 9 to 14. Clearwater residents pay $25 with free or reduced-price school lunch. Call (727) 462-6276.
• Ross Norton Recreation Center, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Same fee structure as North Greenwood. Call (727) 462-6025.
• Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex, 9 a.m.-noon or 1-4 p.m. (half day) or 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (full day) for ages 7 to 17. Learn tennis techniques. Daily cost for a half day is $30 with a play pass or recreation card, $40 without a card. Weekly cost for a half day is $120 with a pass or card, $150 without one. Daily cost for a full day is $45, or $55 without a card. Weekly cost for a full day is $175, or $200 without a card. Call (727) 669-1919.
• Clearwater Beach Aquatic Complex has no camp, but its seasonal pool is open during spring break. Call (727) 462-6020.
The U.S. Coast Guard motto "Semper Paratus" translates to "Always Ready." Information supplied to the St. Petersburg Times provided a different translation for Sunday's Military News column.
Pinellas runners shine in Gasparilla Classic. Page 4