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North Pinellas news briefs for March 30




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City's new emergency manager takes over

Scott Ehlers, a former Tampa Fire Rescue assistant chief, began his new position as the city's division chief for emergency management last week.

Ehlers, 52, is a graduate of the University of South Florida. The New York native has also worked as a firefighter at MacDill Air Force Base and as a flight paramedic for Tampa General Hospital.

For the past three decades, Ehlers worked at Tampa Fire Rescue, but he retired in January.

In his new post in Clearwater, Ehlers is responsible for organizing the city's response to disaster situations, such as tropical storms and hurricanes.

Ehlers takes over the position that had remained vacant since Rick Carnley's death in July. Earl Gloster, the city's director of solid waste and general planning, had been filling the position temporarily.

"Chief Ehlers brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position of emergency manager," said Clearwater fire Chief Robert Weiss. "He will enhance the city's capabilities greatly."

Social media cautions for City Council members

City Council members need to be careful in their use of social media so they don't run afoul of the state's Sunshine Law, City Attorney Pam Akin said during a recent council work session.

The city also will work to begin archiving texts by elected officials on their city-issued phones, Akin said at the March 21 meeting.

Orange County commissioners recently got into trouble over texting, Akin said. She held the work session to educate the council on how rapidly changing technology is affecting public records law.

City Council members will also have an official Facebook page attached to the city's Facebook page so that an official archive can be established.

Newly elected council member Hoyt Hamilton pointed out that he could potentially find out the positions of other members on specific issues by checking their Facebook pages.

"That is problematic," Akin said. She advised the members not to text one another or communicate through social media.


Blue Jays and chamber host mixer before game

The Dunedin Chamber of Commerce and Dunedin Blue Jays are hosting a "Mega Mixer" for current and prospective members of the seven groups that make up the Upper Pinellas Chamber Coalition.

At 5:30 p.m. April 15, attendees will meet at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave. in Dunedin, for an hour of networking before watching the Jays' 6:30 p.m. game against the Daytona Cubs.

The event will feature a cash bar, door prizes and hors d'oeuvres provided by Clear Sky Draught Haus & Clear Sky Beachside Café. Attendees also will receive 20 percent off merchandise that evening in the Jays gift shop.

The cost is $5 for chamber members in advance or $10 at the door via cash or check. It's $10 in advance for nonmembers or $15 at the door.

RSVP online at Call (727) 733-3197 with questions or for nonmember registration.

'Garden' author to sign book, speak

Author Carol Siyahi Hicks is the latest subject of the Dunedin Fine Art Center's free monthly Coffee & Conversation series.

At noon Thursday, Hicks, a former literary magazine editor, will read from her new book Gifts from the Garden and walk attendees through visuals of her Ohio garden, where her book is set. Copies of the book will also be available for signing.

Visit, call (727) 298-3322 or email for information.


April brings spring watering restrictions

Seasonal lawn watering restrictions for Pinellas County water customers begin Tuesday and limit reclaimed water irrigation to no more than three days per week based on house number.

Addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) may water on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Addresses with mixed or no addresses, such as common areas associated with a residential subdivision, have Wednesday, Friday and Sunday as watering days.

Lawn irrigation is prohibited between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and on Mondays.

These restrictions are mandatory during Florida's traditional dry seasons from April through June and October through November. Violations may result in a $193 fine. Call (727) 464-4000 if you need more information.

Residents who are not Pinellas County water customers should check with their water supplier for lawn watering information.

TV and radio host to speak to club

The speaker at the April 10 meeting of the Greater Pinellas Democratic Club will be Rob Lorei, host of Florida This Week on WEDU-TV and co-founder and host of WMNF talk radio. Lorei will offer insights about people and events in both the local and national political arenas.

The meeting will be held at Banquet Masters, 8100 Park Blvd. in Pinellas Park. It will start at 6 p.m. with a cash bar and social time, followed by a buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m. ($15). Reservations should be made by calling Betty Morgenstein at (727) 360-3971.

North Pinellas news briefs for March 30 03/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 5:03pm]
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