Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco commissioners dig into reserves to keep elderly nutrition, Officer Friendly programs afloat for another year

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's elderly nutrition program is safe. Two of the county's poorest communities also will get to keep Officer Friendly sheriff's deputies, as county commissioners dug into reserves to keep the popular programs afloat in a tight budget year.

But the fixes are good only for this year. Commissioners will have to look for other revenues if they want to continue the programs after that point.

"It isn't just food," Commissioner Pat Mulieri said of the nutrition program, which provides 800 meals a day through dining centers and home deliveries. "It's feeding their minds, feeding their emotions."

Until Tuesday's unanimous commission vote, the meal program's fate was in limbo. Federal budget cuts had resulted in an anticipated shortfall of about $83,000. Clients came out in droves to encourage commissioners to find the money. Commissioners voted to use $39,000 in private donations to maintain the program and take the remaining $44,000 from reserves.

"For some people, it's their only meal they get in a day," volunteer Dot Cote said.

Community services director Liz Harris said Pasco's program relies on 14 staffers and "a significant army" of 475 volunteers. Dining sites are county owned or rent free. Hillsborough, by comparison, has 14 volunteers for its program.

Commissioners agreed the program was worthy, but differed on how to pay for it in the future. One option presented was privatization.

"I think you would lose so much," Mulieri said, a position supported by Commissioner Jack Mariano.

But commissioners Kathryn Starkey and Henry Wilson said other options should be explored.

"I'm very much in support of making sure our elderly are fed," Starkey said, noting that there's a 125-person wait list. "But I'm not sure that's best served by us." She suggested partnering with a seniors' group such as CARES, which provides adult day care.

As for Officer Friendly, county officials had already allocated $84,000 in federal money for that program but were limited by law from spending more, unless it was cut from another program. Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco funded part of the costs in the past, which totaled about $120,000, to pay the salaries, benefits and equipment of the two deputies who work in Tommytown and Lacoochee.

But Nocco, citing a tight budget, did not fund the program. The county's share was enough to pay for one deputy.

On Tuesday, commissioners agreed to use reserves for the remaining $36,000.

Comments
Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

ST. PETERSBURG – Carlos Gomez was in such a horrific slump, after one of his three strikeouts Sunday, he broke his bat over his knee. Then he broke the Twins' hearts.Gomez ripped a long two-run home run to leftfield with no one out in the botto...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Scientists say global warming damage to Great Barrier Reef is irreversible; suicide bomber kills at least 57 in Kabul; more in world news

Scientists say global warming damage to Great Barrier Reef is irreversible; suicide bomber kills at least 57 in Kabul; more in world news

AustraliaReef’s damage is irreversibleAn underwater heat wave that damaged huge sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef two years ago spurred a die-off of coral so severe that scientists say the natural wonder will never look the same again. Scien...
Updated: 1 hour ago
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A nearly naked gunman wearing only a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville early Sunday, shooting four people to death before a customer rushed him and wrestled the weapo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

ST. PETERSBURG — A man punched a 13-year-old girl inside a RaceTrac convenience store Saturday, knocking her unconscious as her parent pumped gas outside, Pinellas deputies reported.Kolbe Wayne Smith, 27, of St. Petersburg now faces charges of aggrav...
Updated: 1 hour ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Police investigating fatal hit-and-run on Selmon Expressway

Tampa Police investigating fatal hit-and-run on Selmon Expressway

TAMPA — Police say a person is dead after a hit-and-run crash Sunday on the Selmon Expressway.Someone called authorities about 10 a.m., reporting a person on the entrance ramp to the highway near the intersection of W Cleveland Street and S Willow Av...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz at the top of this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the all-time record of six in the first round, set in 1983 with a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

Happy Earth Day, Florida!In the spirit of the holiday that recognizes our planet’s clean air, water and land, here are 11 stories the Tampa Bay Times has published about how climate change affects the Sunshine State.1. The Florida keys have to elevat...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Updated: 4 hours ago