NEW PORT RICHEY
Man with machete robs bank on SR 54
A man wearing a plastic mask and wielding a machete robbed a Bank of America branch about 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Sheriff's Office said.
No one was injured in the robbery at 5923 State Road 54.
The robber, who got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, had not been found by Tuesday night. He is described as a white male, about 35-45 years old, 5 feet 8 and weighing 200 pounds.
He was wearing dark pants, a green military-type jacket with a backpack underneath, a black wool cap, gloves and a mask covering his face.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office toll-free at 1-800-854-2862.
Zephyrhills man held in camper's beating
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrested a 24-year-old Zephyrhills laborer Monday who they think severely beat a Crystal Springs camper in early December before torching the victim's tent.
Orlando Vega-Rivera was charged with attempted murder and armed robbery. He is being held at the Land O'Lakes jail on $300,000 bail.
Deputies think he and at least one other man attacked a 38-year-old male camper with a tire iron and a shotgun the morning of Dec. 4 at a camping site near Deems Road.
According to an arrest report, Vega-Rivera hit the victim with the shotgun until the stock shattered. The victim suffered several broken fingers protecting himself and had to be treated for a fracture in his cheek bone, among other injuries. Deputies did not report any other arrests in the incident.
NEW PORT RICHEY
County to handle city's animal control services
The City Council on Tuesday agreed to pay Pasco County $83,712 a year to handle the city's animal control services.
The interlocal agreement is similar to ones in Zephyhills, St. Leo and Dade City.
The county has been providing animal control services on an interim basis after SPCA Suncoast last April canceled its $35,000 animal control contract with the city. SPCA said then that its contract did not cover the true costs of taking in stray and abused animals, saying $168,000 was a more realistic price tag.
That increase led city officials to contract instead with Pasco County Animal Services, which charges cities on a $5 per capita basis.
NEW PORT RICHEY
Downtown welcomes some, shuns others
The City Council gave final approval Tuesday evening to changes to the land-use code that establishes what kinds of businesses may — or may not — locate downtown.
The changes include adding consignment clothes shops, vegetable and fruit markets, hypnotherapy and licensed massage therapy to the list of permitted uses.
The proposal also includes adding thrift stores and shops that sell drug paraphernalia to the list of prohibited uses.
Businesses that are neither explicitly permitted nor prohibited must make their case in two hearings before the City Council before they can open downtown.
The city added the restrictions in 2005, with the hopes of keeping certain businesses, including adult entertainment clubs and pawn shops, out of the downtown district. But since then, some businesses, such as a kayak shop, that are not on the "permitted" list have complained about the long process to win City Council approval. Those complaints prompted the changes approved Tuesday.
Discussion will focus on global warming
A discussion on global warming will take place noon to 1 p.m. Friday at CARES Rao Musunuru Enrichment Center, 12417 Clock Tower Parkway.
Bill Griffiths will give a 30-minute presentation on his views, followed by exchanges with those in attendance.
For information, call the center at (727) 863-6868.