Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas Trail's volunteer rangers help riders, walkers

There's work going on along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail — all 38.2 miles of it built on an old railroad line running from St. Petersburg through Tarpon Springs.

Volunteer trail rangers, about 64 at last count, bike the trail wearing neon yellow shirts and work on whatever needs come up on their ride — from greeting fellow riders to calling 911 for a downed biker. Volunteers recently returned a wandering turtle to the water, helped a young boy untangle his shoelaces from his bicycle spokes, and replaced a slipped chain.

Rudy Kriebel, 70, of Tampa signed on as a volunteer ranger not long ago. "I was riding the trail regularly and thought if I can help, why not?" he said.

On patrol on a recent morning, Kriebel picked up one of many large, dead palm fronds lying beside the trail — a handy, makeshift broom to sweep a smattering of broken glass off the trail.

"Mostly I've been picking up debris and saying hello to people," he said. "Seeing someone in uniform on the trail gives people a sense of security."

Volunteer rangers Bill Romanski, 71, and his wife Phyllis, 64, Largo winter residents, pick up trash on the trail twice a week and repair bollards, the shiny white posts that block cars from entering the trail.

On occasion the Michigan natives have dealt with more serious issues.

"We had to call 911 for a bike accident we witnessed," Bill Romanski said, "and also for a four-bike accident where one woman suffered broken ribs."

Fortunately, incidents such as these are infrequent.

Nancy Brown, volunteer program coordinator for Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources, came on board in 2011 with a grant that stemmed from the Affordable Care Act.

County budget cuts in the last six years eliminated the dozen paid rangers that used to be assigned specifically to the Pinellas Trail, she said. The four who remain patrol in territories — two south of Ulmerton Road and two north of Ulmerton.

Nevertheless, more volunteer rangers are needed, said Brown, as some on the roster of 64 are seasonal or ride only occasionally.

Just the presence of rangers on the trail, she said, has a positive influence on the bikers, walkers, joggers and skaters who frequent not only the length of the official trail, but also the spurs, including the Dunedin Causeway leading to Honeymoon Island. With those spurs, the trail covers 47 miles.

Joe Mirman, 82, of Palm Harbor has been a volunteer ranger since 2001, riding the north trail.

"I enjoy the ride itself," he said, "but I also like the fact that I'm contributing something to the county."

Mirman carries a bike pump and is knowledgeable about repairs. He has pumped up tires and replaced chains for other riders, and offers trail maps and gives directions.

"I've also met a lot of nice people riding and I enjoy talking with them," he said. "Some of those also went on to become auxiliary rangers."

Brown provides training classes for potential volunteers. A four-hour introductory course focuses on biking safety, including helmet use. Several times a year, a full-day session is held on first aid and CPR.

"Being present and visible can deter a lot of vandalism and crime," Brown said of the rangers. "They are our eyes and ears on the trail."

Correspondent Elaine Markowitz can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
With arm-twisting, Pompeo clears Senate committee

With arm-twisting, Pompeo clears Senate committee

WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a late pivot Monday evening, approved the confirmation of Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state, after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., bowed to pressure from President Donald Trump and dropped hi...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
New NASA boss gets ‘hearty congratulations’ from space

New NASA boss gets ‘hearty congratulations’ from space

Associated PressCAPE CANAVERAL — NASA’s new boss is already getting cheers from space. Immediately after being sworn into office Monday by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took a call from the three U.S. astronauts at the...
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Updated: 21 minutes ago
‘Tase me, and you’ll see what happens,’ an American Airlines flier said. Police did - 10 times.

‘Tase me, and you’ll see what happens,’ an American Airlines flier said. Police did - 10 times.

Washington PostWhat began as a simple boarding dispute at Miami International Airport escalated into a tour de force of plane drama on Sunday as a belligerent passenger was repeatedly stunned by police, forcibly carried out of his seat, then driven t...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
In search for stolen car, the baby inside was the calmest one

In search for stolen car, the baby inside was the calmest one

ST. PETERSBURG — Photojournalist Michael Egger pulled into the apartment complex off 71st Avenue N on Monday afternoon, waiting for reporter Mark Douglas. The two WFLA-Ch. 8 journalists were looking for someone — they wouldn’t say who — when they fou...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Parents may have fled with newborn ordered taken by court

Deputies: Parents may have fled with newborn ordered taken by court

TAMPA — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a missing child alert on Monday for the 1-month-old son of an Illinois couple who fled to Tampa after losing custody of two other children. Newborn Sage Cooper was last seen Friday at a home on...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Port Richey man admits molesting, attempting to rape 8-year-old girl

Deputies: Port Richey man admits molesting, attempting to rape 8-year-old girl

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 26-year-old man was arrested Friday on charges that he molested and attempted to rape an 8-year-old girl, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Kaleb Harrah, 26, of Port Richey, faces charges of attempted sexual battery o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Brooke Blankenship and Luca Tresh

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Brooke Blankenship and Luca Tresh

Brooke Blankenship, Academy at the LakesAcademy at the Lakes knew it would be difficult to manufacture runs during last week's anticipated matchup with Land O'Lakes and Gators ace Callie Turner.So the Wildcats decided to steal a run.This wasn't any h...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Waffle House slaying suspect arrested after massive manhunt

Waffle House slaying suspect arrested after massive manhunt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The mentally unstable gunman suspected of killing four people in a late-night shooting at a Waffle House restaurant was arrested near his apartment Monday after hiding from police for more than a day, authorities said. Police and f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Work starting on JW Marriott, but Water Street Tampa expects to have 10 buildings under way within a year

Work starting on JW Marriott, but Water Street Tampa expects to have 10 buildings under way within a year

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa marks the start of construction Tuesday on its first building, the posh JW Marriott hotel, but there’s a lot more to come.And soon.Within a year, developers said Monday, construction should be underway on 10 — 10! — of Wate...
Updated: 2 hours ago