Hibbard, Doran say goodbye at city meeting
Former Mayor Frank Hibbard and former council member John Doran said teary goodbyes to the City Council on Thursday night, their last ceremonial meeting before leaving public office. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and a crowd of well-wishers filled the City Hall chambers for an hour of remembrance and praise. "Sorry, folks," Hibbard said, choking up. He thanked family members for their support and then addressed the packed room: "Love all of you, too." Hibbard, elected to the council in 2002, and Doran, elected in 2005, hit their term limits. Mayor George Cretekos and new council members Doreen Hock-DiPolito and Jay Polglaze were sworn in Monday.
Firefighters union ratifies contracts
The Clearwater firefighters union this week ratified new contracts, agreeing to pension reform and continued yearly raises. The firefighters' new contract, like one approved by the police officers union in December, will increase their personal pension contributions from 8 to 10 percent, limit overtime and end retirement cost-of-living adjustments. The contract also allows for firefighters to earn 5 percent "step" raises for each of their first five years and 2.5 percent raises for seven years afterward. The firefighters union agreed to begin pension negotiations with the city last year after three years of tense bargaining. Their new contract will begin in October and last through 2015. This was the last of Clearwater's four unions to agree to pension reform, which officials say could save the city up to $400 million over 30 years. The City Council will vote on the reforms March 1. If approved, they'll be up for a citywide vote in a November referendum.
Bring your dog to Mutt March today
Dogs will have fun at today's Mutt March, an annual Mardi Gras-themed event with a "Fido Idol" dog singing competition, a "Doggie Project Runway" costume contest, a children's activities area, adoptable dogs, pet-themed vendors and a food court. The free event is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Highlander Park, 1920 Pinehurst Road. Parking is $3. For additional information, go to muttmarch.info or call (727) 786-1330.
Find handmade crafts at festival
The annual Downtown Dunedin Craft Festival returns today with handmade crafts in a variety of media, including folk art, pottery, jewelry, paintings, personalized gifts, clothing, scented soaps and more. There also will be a green market offering a wide variety of plants. The free event is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 271 Main St. For more information about the festival, go to artfestival.com or call (561) 746-6615.
Acting group will hold open house
The Players of Safety Harbor (POSH) invite the public to an open house tonight featuring a one-act presentation of the group's March production, Harvey, as well as a raffle for Harvey tickets and a chance meet the producers and learn about volunteer opportunities. The open house is free. Wine, cheese and refreshments will be served. It's from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Safety Harbor Public Library, 101 Second St. N. For more information, call (727) 724-1525.