Police increase mall patrols for holidays
Police are again ratchetting up their presence at local shopping centers this year in the hopes of deterring car accidents and thefts as the Christmas shopping season officially begins. As part of "Operation Safe Holiday," shoppers will notice more Clearwater police officers at locations to include Westfield Countryside and Clearwater malls on Friday and Saturday. The department offers these tips for safe shopping:
• Shop during daylight hours when possible, be aware of your surroundings and remain alert.
• Contact authorities if you notice suspicious behavior.
• Close car windows and lock the doors.
• Don't leave valuables or shopping bags in plain view.
• Keep your purse tucked close to your body and keep wallets in an inside jacket pocket.
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Firefighters kick off boot drive
East Lake firefighters will be out at local intersections in the East Lake Fire District collecting money for Muscular Dystrophy Association the next three Fridays. Firefighters will be out from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. for their annual MDA Boot Drive. The goal is to raise more than the $7,400 brought in last year. Donations also will be accepted at East Lake Fire Station No. 57 at 3375 Tarpon Lake Blvd. in Palm Harbor.
Book fair, art show features authors
A book fair and art show will take place Saturday at the Ozona Village Hall, 341 Bay St. The event includes 11 Pinellas County authors who will be on hand to sign copies of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. Admission is free, but visitors are asked to bring nonperishable food items for FEAST, the Palm Harbor Food Pantry. Food from Ozona Pizza, soft drinks, beer and wine will be served, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit FEAST. For more information, contact Mary Ellis at (727) 688-9961 or Terry Fortner at (727) 786-2837.
An attack on air potato plants
The Friends of the Hammock and the Dunedin Parks Department will hold its annual Potato Pick-Up Day on Dec. 4. The volunteer program aims to rid Hammock Park of air potato plants, an invasive species. The program will run from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers should meet at the shelter near the main entrance, 1900 San Mateo Drive, Dunedin. All volunteers will be treated to grilled hot dogs and refreshments. For more information, call Theresa at (727) 698-1133.
Volunteers needed for bird count
The Audubon Society is getting ready for its annual Christmas Bird Count which will begin at 8 a.m. Dec. 26. Volunteers are needed throughout the area. No experience is necessary, just know how to count. Call Marianne Korosy of the Clearwater Chapter of the Audubon Society, (727) 772-7584 or visit audubon.org/Bird/cbc/.