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North Pinellas news briefs for Dec. 18


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Capitol Theatre's cushion shipment keeps staff on edge of their seats

Ruth Eckerd Hall's version of Cannonball Run appeared to be turning in the venerable arts organization's favor as a big truck bearing much-needed seat cushions for the remodeled Capitol Theatre was closing in on Clearwater Tuesday afternoon.

The truck was due to arrive within the hour, said Katie Pedretty, a Ruth Eckerd spokeswoman, around 2 p.m. Tuesday.

A crew of 14 was on hand to begin installing the cushions in the 737-seat downtown theater, due to reopen today after an extensive renovation and expansion.

A port strike in Mumbai, India, delayed the cushions, which didn't arrive in Newark, N.J., until late Friday, just in time for that port to close for the weekend.

A frantic round of calls to congressional friends of REH president and CEO Zev Buffman may have helped speed the cargo's way through customs Monday morning.

A $1,000 bonus was offered to the trucking company to get its essential freight to Clearwater in time for ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald's concert at the opening.

The Capitol, an anchor in downtown Clearwater since 1921, has been closed since March. Hopes are high that its new look will help pump dollars and nightlife into the moribund downtown.

The cushion caper will be resolved "like the D-day invasion," said Pedretty, passing along a Buffman quip.

Clothes To Kids seeks donations for needy

Clothes To Kids needs new or gently used young girls and boys pants and shorts sizes 6 to 16; long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirts sizes small to extra-large, young men's shorts sizes 18-38, and shoes for young girls and boys in sizes 12 to 5. CTK provides clothing to low-income or in-crisis children in Pinellas County free of charge and attempts to provide a complete wardrobe for each child, kindergarten through grade 12, who visits its stores. The wardrobe includes five pairs of new underwear, five new pairs of socks, four pairs of shorts or pants, a dress, one jacket in season and shoes. The wardrobe includes school uniforms. Donations may be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Clearwater store at 1059 N Hercules Ave, or at the St. Petersburg store at 3251 Third Ave. N, Suite 145. Cash donations are also needed to purchase clothing in short supply and new underwear.

For more information, call (727) 441-5050, ext. 22 or visit

Clearwater Marine Aquarium wants your vote

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is in the running to be named Best Florida Attraction in this year's 10 Best Readers Choice award contest promoted by USA Today. With just days left in the contest, the aquarium is asking supporters to vote for CMA. You can vote once each day until the end of the contest at noon Monday. To vote, go to: The aquarium's closest competitor in the contest, according to aquarium officials, is the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, but among other locations in the running are the St. Augustine Historic District, Key West, the Salvador Dalí Museum, the Magic Kingdom and the Kennedy Space Center.

Lecture on Reconstruction

On Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m., Dr. Angela Zombek will discuss post-Civil War Reconstruction and the tensions between Republicans and then-president Andrew Johnson at Clearwater's Aging Well Center, 1501 N Belcher Road in the Long Center. Call (727) 724-3070 for more information.


Group certifies city as tip-top 'green'

The Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) has recognized Dunedin's environmental stewardship by designating it as a Certified Green Local Government at the platinum level.

Dunedin is the first local government in Florida to receive the prestigious designation as a green city.

Dunedin received points or "credit" for activities, ordinances and programs that improve the city's environmental performance in the areas of energy, water, air, land and waste.

Among the city's activities: incorporating environmental protection into the city's comprehensive plan; joining the Florida Green Building Coalition and U.S. Green Building Coalition; adopting green cleaning practices; developing a city environmental purchasing policy; and implementing new employee orientation to include the city's commitment to the environment.

The group will present the certification to the city at the City Commission meeting Thursday in Dunedin City Hall.

Commission looks at razing, dredging

The Dunedin City Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in regular session.

Commissioners are scheduled to consider an ordinance that would allow historic structures such as the Fenway to be razed and rebuilt because of their condition, because they aren't in compliance with current building and fire codes, or due to their location in the floodplain.

Commissioners also will hear a status report on the dredging of Cedar Creek and Lake Sperry.

North Pinellas news briefs for Dec. 18 12/17/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 6:08pm]
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  1. Accused cardinal denies Australia sex abuse allegations, takes leave of absence


    ROME — One of the most senior Vatican officials to be charged with sexual offenses denied on Thursday the allegations levied against him by Australian police, saying he would take a leave of absence as one of Pope Francis' chief advisers to defend himself.

    Cardinal George Pell meets the media at the Vatican on Thursday. The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney says Pell will return to Australia to fight sexual assault charges as soon as possible. [Associated Press]
  2. Tie vote blocks grant money for husband of Dade City mayor

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Taking another shot at obtaining a Community Redevelopment Agency grant to improve his downtown building, the husband of Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez was denied this week by a deadlocked board.

    Mayor Camille Hernandez recused herself but was asked to stay in the room.
  3. Lightning planning $6 million upgrade to practice facility


    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will invest $6 million in upgrading the team's practice facility, the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

    The plan will create a brand new locker room and training facilities for the team, an 18,000 square foot addition.
  4. Deputies responding to car crash in Riverview find shooting victim inside


    RIVERVIEW — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating after deputies responding to a single-car crash late Wednesday discovered someone in the car had been shot, authorities said.

  5. Commentary: Ten years later, the iPhone owns us


    Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January, 2007, before an adoring congregation, in his signature "Sermon on the Mount" style. On June 29, it became available to the public. Ten years later, the phone has spread like Christianity. The device represents "the pinnacle product of all capitalism," as Brian Merchant …

    Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release on June 29, 2007. [Associated Press]