Woman faces DUI charge in fatal accident
A 28-year-old Clearwater woman is accused of driving drunk when she turned in front of a motorcyclist, causing an accident that killed the man in July, authorities said. Lacy Smithson of 2275 Beverly Lane was arrested Thursday on a charge of DUI manslaughter. Clearwater police said toxicology tests revealed Smithson had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15, nearly twice the threshold at which Florida law presumes that someone is unable to safely drive a motor vehicle. Bobby Joseph Paonessa of Pinellas Park was pronounced dead at the scene of the July 10 accident on Missouri Avenue. According to police, Paonessa, 26, was headed south on Missouri when Smithson, who was northbound, turned in front of him. Smithson turned herself in Thursday at the Pinellas County Jail. She was released Thursday night after posting bail. In addition to the manslaughter charge, she was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic when making a left turn.
New boutique opens downtown
A new business in downtown Clearwater held its grand opening Friday night. The Blue Dahlia, a boutique at 409 Cleveland St. next door to the Capitol Theatre, specializes in vintage and new apparel and interiors. "We have clothing, furniture, gift items, candles, bags and pillows," owner Paula Cadman said. "Think of it as a mini-Anthropologie." Its hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call (727) 239-7858 for more information.
Yet more bad luck for tree trimmer
Tree trimmer Ralph St. Peter can't catch a break. Africanized honeybees stung him as many as 150 times Aug. 7 as he tried to cut dead oaks at a Safety Harbor home. St. Peter returned to the scene Monday to finish the job, but took out a power pole and live electrical wires. He learned Tuesday that Progress Energy may bill his employer for the repairs. Now, Pinellas County is conducting an investigation to determine if it will assess a financial penalty of its own. "A permit would have been required and a permit was not pulled, so staff is reviewing the situation," county spokesman Tim Closterman said. The county learned of the discrepancy when "someone from Safety Harbor" alerted them. "Ultimately, the property owner is responsible for pulling the permit," Closterman said. He said he didn't know when the county would wrap up its review and render a verdict.
Library looking for assorted donations
The Palm Harbor Library at 2330 Nebraska Ave. welcomes donations of gently used adult and children's books, DVDs, CDs, vinyl albums, video games, puzzles and magazines. All donations benefit the library, either as additions to its collection or as income for its Friends of the Library bookstore. For information, call (727) 784-3332, ext. 3006.