Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

High-level meeting focuses on Tampa Bay area's readiness for GOP convention

TAMPA — Tampa Bay area officials got some high-level advice Wednesday on being ready for the truly major event, whether it's a hurricane or the Republican National Convention.

The four-hour "executive awareness" session at the Tampa Convention Center brought together the mayors of Tampa and St. Petersburg, the FBI, top law enforcement brass, public communications officials, fire rescue chiefs and other officials from both sides of Tampa Bay.

For the meeting, preparedness educators from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, Calif., brought in officials who had worked major events such as national political conventions and the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.

"There's an awful lot of things you don't know," said Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill, who has already said that County Center will close for two weeks coinciding with the convention this August. "Their big message was, 'Just make sure you communicate with each other.' "

Having compatible technology was part of that takeaway, and it's something local officials have worked on in preparation for the Aug. 27-30 GOP convention.

In March, Tampa officials moved ahead with a $6 million purchase of radios for both local and out-of-town officers working the convention.

The idea is to put everyone on the same communications system, which didn't happen at the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Another case study discussed Wednesday was the WTO meeting in Seattle, which was badly disrupted by thousands of protesters rioting in the streets.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the group heard how Seattle officials had predicted business as usual for their downtown during the event, while also inviting protesters in to exercise their First Amendment rights and encouraging residents to head downtown to do holiday shopping.

What Buckhorn took away was the need to make expectations clear — that while Tampa will be open for business during the convention, no one should claim it will be business as usual.

At the same time, federal officials also sought to assess the region's preparedness for handling a large, multiday convention.

"Bottom line, this was a leadership-level meeting to review how the region responds to large-scale events and emergencies and to advise the federal agencies who will be with us in August," Hillsborough County communications director Lori Hudson said. "It was pretty much a review of how we do things."

Comments

Updated: 1 hour ago
Mazzaro’s market set to reopen Tuesday after blaze damaged one of its warehouses

Mazzaro’s market set to reopen Tuesday after blaze damaged one of its warehouses

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market is scheduled to reopen Tuesday after an electrical fire broke out its dry goods warehouse Friday night.Dominic Horwath, a grocery manager at Mazzaro’s on 22nd Avenue N said staff spent Monday and the weekend...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

After winning Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep by the hot Yankees in New York, the Rays face arguably a tougher challenge tonight when they face a sizzling Astros team that just completed a 10-0 roadtrip and has won 11 straight overall.The Rays are ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Land O’ Lakes dance studio serves students and community

Land O’ Lakes dance studio serves students and community

LAND O’ LAKES — Lilly Jayska once cried and cowered at the notion of dancing on stage. Now, after four years of classes at Nicole’s Dance Center in Land O’ Lakes, the 10-year-old wants to dance solos. When asked to name her favorite type of dance, he...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — The federal government’s search for a home for its new Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic is focusing on the Little Road corridor in west Pasco.Three locations in the running for the VA clinic are identified in the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Will Gholston is painfully honest about a 2017 season that wasn't anything close to what he wanted it to be. Ask him about last year, and there are no parentheses in his world to soften what he remembers here."I just played (crappy), completely. That...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

A Tampa man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries on Sunday after he was rescued from a near drowning off the shores of Whiskey Joe’s Tampa Bar & Grill, a popular hangout on the beach of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.When police officers a...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

ST. PETERSBURG — Edward White Hospital, closed four years ago because of declining revenues, has been sold to developer Grady Pridgen for $2.7 million.Pridgen could not be reached Monday for comment. City officials said he has submitted plans for rem...
Updated: 3 hours ago