Friday, February 23, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco will seek millions in grant funds for public housing in Lacoochee

DADE CITY — Pasco County commissioners on Tuesday gave approval to a plan to seek millions in federal dollars to replace 39 public housing units in the Lacoochee-Trilby area.

"There's no question that this community could use those funds," Commission Chairman Ted Schrader said. "With all the other development in the area, we certainly cannot forget about our older, established neighborhoods."

Staff will seek about $15.4 million in grants that would be matched with another $4 million locally to knock down and replace the apartments at Cypress Villas I and II and make other changes. If the grant is approved by federal officials, construction could start in about a year and take another 18 months to complete.

The massive project would amount to the largest single investment of public dollars in Lacoochee-Trilby since 2003 when the death of sheriff's Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison galvanized state and county officials to help the impoverished area.

Four years ago, commissioners established the Lacoochee-Trilby-Trilacoochee Steering Committee to identify solutions to long-standing economic and infrastructure problems.

Then late last year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded a $300,000 grant to map out long-term strategies to help the area.

Also that year, state and private donors contributed more than $1.5 million to construct a community center to be operated by the Boys and Girls Clubs. The center is expected to open next year.

But those investments, along with others over the years, pale in comparison to the funds now being sought by the county.

Cpl. David Hink, a member of the sheriff's Officer Friendly program and chairman of the LTT Steering Community, said the funding is long overdue.

"Our area has basically been neglected," he said. "Those buildings are old and dilapidated. The plumbing breaks down every day."

The bulk of the funds would go toward replacing Cypress Villas I and II, a public housing project built in the early 1970s that consists of several low-rise buildings with multi-family apartments.

The county wants to demolish the apartments and construct 56 units within 28 two-unit buildings designed in a cottage style to emulate a small Old Florida village.

Most of the units would be set aside for tenants receiving public assistance, though 17 would be available to folks earning below the poverty level.

Other grant funds would go toward building an early childhood education center at the Boys and Girls Club and $4 million in renovations to the Cypress Farms and Cypress Manor housing projects. Two social workers would be hired as well. United Way of Pasco County would donate $12,000 for laptops, software and other technology to assist the social workers.

Commissioners on Tuesday also approved a plan to designate the Lacoochee-Trilby area as a tax increment financing area.

County Administrator Michele Baker said the designation won't affect the community initially but eventually could provide millions for roads, sewers and other community projects in Lacoochee-Trilby.

Under the program, property taxes that exceed a base level are returned to the area for public projects, from infrastructure to facade improvements. Baker said this is the first such program targeted for a certain area by the county, though most cities in Pasco maintain such programs.

Comments
Florida Capitol Republicans promise ‘complete investigation’ of what went wrong

Florida Capitol Republicans promise ‘complete investigation’ of what went wrong

TALLAHASSEE — A bombshell that South Florida police ignored tips that a teenager was planning an assault on a school and then failed to stop him when he attacked seems destined to complicate the election-year discussion around mass shootings.Even in ...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushner’s security clearance

Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushner’s security clearance

WASHINGTON — A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, three people fami...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Indiana man killed, two hurt as boats collide on Little Manatee River

Indiana man killed, two hurt as boats collide on Little Manatee River

RUSKIN — Arthur D. Showley, 75, went fishing early Friday morning, something he did two or three times a week, friends said. When they saw his car and trailer still parked near a community boat ramp at 2 p.m., they thought that was strange."He never ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Here are the GOP’s responses to the Parkland massacre. Would any have worked?

Here are the GOP’s responses to the Parkland massacre. Would any have worked?

Gov. Rick Scott and Republican leadership in the Florida Legislature have rolled out their ideas for change in response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But would these measures have made a difference in the worst mass...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

TAMPA — A bipartisan pair of former congressmen spoke Friday about gun safety measures that are more drastic than those being considered following the Parkland school shootings, and about hopes for a national youth movement comparable to the 1960s an...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Restricting bullets rather than guns might cut toll of school shootings, some experts say

Restricting bullets rather than guns might cut toll of school shootings, some experts say

This is the sad new math in the age of school slaughter.If one student comes to school with a firearm and 10 ammunition magazines filled with 30 bullets each, and another comes with a firearm and 30 magazines filled with 10 bullets each, who can crea...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Epilogue: Lee Davis, businessman and adventurer, survived many a scrape

Epilogue: Lee Davis, businessman and adventurer, survived many a scrape

TAMPA — Friends and family have a saying about Lee Thornton Davis Jr. Once you met him, even for just a moment, you knew him forever."He was the most outgoing person I’d ever met," Dick Greco said, which is something coming from Tampa’s gregarious, 8...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

The head of the Pinellas and Hillsborough career centers under multiple investigations into the way they report job placement figures says he has no intention of stepping down.That’s unless he is paid five months severance.In a letter from his attorn...
Updated: 4 hours ago
She’s taught at the Parkland high school for 14 years. Can she go back?

She’s taught at the Parkland high school for 14 years. Can she go back?

PARKLAND — She was afraid of what it would feel like, but she needed to know, so Melissa Falkowski pulled into the faculty parking lot. She took a deep breath in through her nose and climbed out of her car. She was back, in front of Marjory Stoneman ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The real Jefferson Memorial has a statue, but this one has a jukebox

The real Jefferson Memorial has a statue, but this one has a jukebox

The building was in its infancy when a vintage Cadillac Eldorado rumbled up the construction path. Getting out, the driver demanded to know what the finished structure was intended for.Told that it would be a private home, the driver scoffed. The uni...
Updated: 5 hours ago