Support weak for change to 'strong mayor'
The phrase of the night at Tuesday's charter review committee public hearing: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Most speakers said the idea of a "strong mayor" government, the kind used in bigger cities like Tampa and St. Petersburg, isn't a good fit for Clearwater. "The more people you have in this limited form of government … the better," said Elvira Morgan, a resident since 1984. "A single individual, no matter how good … can never do what several heads put together can do." The committee of 13 volunteers had asked locals whether they felt the strong-mayor system, which shifts power from the city manager to the mayor, would be a good alternative to the city's current "council-manager" government. The committee will discuss the city charter for months. If members recommend a switch, the City Council and local voters would need to approve before any change occurred. Not everyone was so resistant to the idea. Said Clearwater Beach resident Bette Failor: "I want one person held accountable."
Kitchen tour aids visually impaired
Lighthouse of Pinellas, a nonprofit that serves the blind or visually impaired, will hold its annual Tour of Kitchens fundraiser from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday. It's a self-guided tour through six private home kitchens in Belleair and Belleair Bluffs. The tour will feature cooking demonstrations and culinary samplings of local renowned chefs, including Chris Ponte of Cafe Ponte; Tom Pritchard of Island Way Grill, Salt Rock Grill and Marlin Darlin; Brian St. Arnold of the Thirsty Marlin; Daniel Montgomery of L'Moes; Rich Norris of Publix's Apron Cooking School; and John Lewis, resident chef of NBC's Daytime Show. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased online at www.lighthouseofpinellas.org or by calling (727) 544-4433.
Centennial party seeks deep roots
In 1912, Pinellas County split from Hillsborough County and formed a separate government. As part of Pinellas County's centennial celebration of that event, the Pinellas Pioneers Association will hold its 48th annual picnic at 11 a.m. Saturday at Shelter No. 3, Eagle Lake Park, 1800 S Keene Road, Clearwater. Jay B. Starkey founded the Pinellas Pioneers Association in 1963 and all residents of Pinellas in 1912 or before were designated as gold star members. Robert McMullen, who died last year, was the last known gold star member. Bob DeLack, association president, would like to hear from anyone who could qualify as a gold star member. Anyone interested in learning and preserving Pinellas County history is encouraged to bring a picnic and folding chairs and join the annual event. For additional information, call DeLack at (727) 441-1338.