May 9: North Pinellas community news

Dunedin Developing better access to cast votes Marie Grubin, 70, of Dunedin, center, with her guide dog, Yancy, experiments with voting during a hands-on demonstration of the AutoMARK voting machine at the Dunedin Community Center on May 1. Assisting Grubin, who is blind, is Dominick Calderoni, left, of Clearwater, with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office. The event, hosted by the ADA Advisory Committee, was organized to give county voters with disabilities or special needs the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the machine, which is packed with technology, including an audio headset, Braille keyboard, sip-and-puff attachment, zoom-in/large-print option and a two-switch paddle device. AutoMARK will be available at each early voting location and Election Day polling place, said Greg Rice, the committee’s city staff liaison. “It’s going to allow people with disabilities to (vote) completely independently and in privacy,” said. “It’s a real nice move forward.”

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Dunedin Developing better access to cast votes Marie Grubin, 70, of Dunedin, center, with her guide dog, Yancy, experiments with voting during a hands-on demonstration of the AutoMARK voting machine at the Dunedin Community Center on May 1. Assisting Grubin, who is blind, is Dominick Calderoni, left, of Clearwater, with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office. The event, hosted by the ADA Advisory Committee, was organized to give county voters with disabilities or special needs the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the machine, which is packed with technology, including an audio headset, Braille keyboard, sip-and-puff attachment, zoom-in/large-print option and a two-switch paddle device. AutoMARK will be available at each early voting location and Election Day polling place, said Greg Rice, the committee’s city staff liaison. “It’s going to allow people with disabilities to (vote) completely independently and in privacy,” said. “It’s a real nice move forward.”

Dunedin

Preliminary approval for two projects

The Dunedin City Commission last week gave its unanimous preliminary approval for:

• New zoning on a 1.76-acre parcel at 603 to 655 Virginia St., between Orange Avenue and Milwaukee Street, where Mease Manor wants to build a $4 million, 32-bed memory care residence for Alzheimer's patients. Commissioners will hold a second public hearing and final vote on architectural plans June 5.

• A development agreement and design plans for Victoria Place, a $15 million condo-retail project proposed for 200 Main St. Several commissioners said they were hesitant to grant city staff's request that they offer a discount on park impact fees yet allow the builder to gate off a public courtyard for security reasons during certain hours. Staff was asked to tweak the proposal ahead of a second public hearing and final vote on June 5.

In other action, commissioners gave their staff permission to negotiate a development agreement with a firm that wants to revamp the former Fenway Hotel into a more modern condo-hotel project. The Local Planning Agency, a citizen advisory board that makes land-use recommendations to the City Commission, will discuss the agreement Wednesday.

Go to dunedingov.com for more information.

COUNTYWIDE

Sign up for the new emergency alerts

Pinellas County has launched a new emergency alert system. FirstCall is an automated message that will be sent to alert residents of potentially hazardous situations. The new system, which replaces an older one, will allow the county to target more specific geographic areas if a countywide alert isn't necessary.

The system will call all registered land lines and cell phones and send email and text messages. Residents must sign up to get the alerts by visiting alertregistration.com/pinellascoflems or calling toll-free 1-866-484-3264. All information will remain confidential. Residents who signed up for the old notification system must register with the new system.

CLEARWATER

New tourism director at the aquarium

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has hired a former marketing director for Frenchy's restaurant group to direct the aquarium's tourism strategy.

Jen Carlisle has been named the aquarium's new director of tourism marketing. Carlisle has 10 years of marketing experience and currently serves on Pinellas County Tourist Development Council.

She is a former board member of the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce where she chaired its marketing/tourism committee.

Carlisle is a graduate of Flagler College in St. Augustine and lives in Clearwater with her husband and two children.

Evening With the Chefs is May 15

Culinary students will become celebrity chefs during the ninth annual "Evening With the Chefs" event, to be held 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15 at the Sheraton Sand Key, 1160 Gulf Blvd.

Students from Dixie Hollins, Northeast, Osceola and Tarpon Springs high schools, as well as the Clearwater campus of Pinellas Technical Education Center, will create culinary masterpieces alongside the bay area's best chefs, including John Harris of the Sheraton Sand Key; Chris Ponte of Café Ponte; Steve Jordan of Sandpearl Resort; Doug Bebell of Mystic Fish; Scott Bebell of Guppys; Mark Heimann of Vinoy Renaissance Resort; Mark Hyrcko of Island Way Grill; Tyson Grant of Parkshore Grill; and chief chocolate officer Bill Brown of William Dean Chocolates.

Together, they will prepare appetizers, entrees and desserts. The evening will also feature wine, spirits and craft beers, music and an auction.

Proceeds will benefit the Ryan Wells Foundation's student scholarship program for post-secondary education in hospitality and the culinary arts, plus donations to the culinary programs of the participating schools.

Tickets are $100. For information, and to attend, email info@ryanwellsfoundation.com or call (727) 787-7863.

Bowling Green State chorale performance

The Bowling Green State University Collegiate Chorale will make a stop at First United Methodist Church, 411 Turner St. in Clearwater at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The 30-voice touring mixed choir will perform both sacred and secular music ranging from classical to folk to jazz. The performance is free and open to the public. Visit firstmethodistclear water.org.

Coast Guard offers boating safety class

There are still seats available for the About Boating Safely class Saturday and Sunday at the Clearwater Police Department headquarters, 645 Pierce St. Start time both days is 8 a.m. The class is being presented by the Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 11-1 Clearwater. Topics include boating emergencies, navigating and the legal requirements of operating a boat. There is a material fee of $35. Call Manny Sosa, (727) 469-8895 or email auxboating class@gmail.com.

May 9: North Pinellas community news 05/07/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 5:39pm]

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