Wednesday, January 24, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas County Commission faces time crunch as it considers ways to help the homeless

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County's plan to build a health clinic to serve the homeless near the county jail and the area's largest homeless shelter may be in jeopardy.

The County Commission, facing a tight timetable and a host of obstacles, will decide in coming months whether to move forward with the two-story clinic.

Among the obstacles: The $5 million federal grant that will pay for the building requires the clinic to be fully functional by April 30, 2015. The projected completion date is now December 2015, so the county must ask for an extension.

Lynda Leedy, the county's deputy director of health and community services, told the board at a workshop Tuesday that the government typically won't take back grant money if construction is under way.

"I'm not sure what they're going to say when we say we haven't started, we know we're late but we're going to ask the question anyway because it's prudent to do so," Leedy said.

The county also must confirm that local health care providers are still on board to offer in-kind services, equipment and other materials. If not, the county would be on the hook for more operating costs.

The facility is geared toward homeless families, who represent a growing percentage of the county's homeless population. It is projected to serve about 3,700 clients per year. Among the partner providers are All Children's Hospital, BayCare Health System and the Juvenile Welfare Board.

"Once we've built it, it's going to be hard to take it away, so we had better be awfully sure things are locked up for the long term on this, unless we're willing to foot that bill going forward," Commissioner Norm Roche said.

One point of contention with partner providers is the county's plan to seek a special designation from the federal government so the clinic can serve Medicaid clients who aren't homeless. Providers say that will have the county competing with them for patients. County officials disagree, saying there is plenty of unmet demand.

A consultant is working on a feasibility study, expected by May 15, that will answer that question and offer financial projections. The board is set to meet with the partner providers on May 12.

"I think it's difficult for any of our partners to make a firm commitment until they see that feasibility study," acting County Administrator Mark Woodard told the board.

There is also a space problem.

The grant would pay for roughly 16,500 square feet, but county staffers recently went room-by-room with the architect and contractor and learned that the building would have to be closer to 25,000 square feet based on the current wish list, Leedy said.

In addition to primary care, the plan calls for mental health services, dental checkups, gynecological exams and pediatric services. The project also includes a "respite center" for people who have just left the hospital but are too unstable to return to life on the street.

The board granted Leedy's request to spend $14,500 to have the architect and contractor "right-size" the clinic based on input from the partners about what should remain a priority.

Dr. Claude Dharamraj, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, urged the board to move forward with the clinic. She said other grants could help cover operating expenses.

"If you turn money away, it doesn't look too good," she said. "Why would the federal government give you money for something else?"

Commissioner Susan Latvala agreed.

"This got a little crossways and we need to put that behind us," Latvala said. "It's a new day. Let's move forward."

Comments
Lightning beats Predators in overtime

Lightning beats Predators in overtime

NASHVILLE — Steven Stamkos’ celebration said it all.The Lightning captain delivered an emphatic fist pump after his rocket one-timer clanked in off the crossbar, tying the score with just over two minutes left at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night. T...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 23

Tuesday’s scoreboardBoys basketballBoca Ciega 55, Canterbury 53Girls basketballBoca Ciega 65, Largo 19
Updated: 2 hours ago

Hernando sheriff: Shooter injures three; in standoff with SWAT

BROOKSVILLE — A shooter was on the loose Tuesday night after injuring three victims, according to Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis.The sheriff would not say if there were any fatalities.The Sheriff’s Office received a report about the at about 9 p.m. Dep...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Sheriff: Pasco man planned, then carried out neighbor’s execution

Sheriff: Pasco man planned, then carried out neighbor’s execution

HOLIDAY — A neighborhood dispute ended in gunfire when one neighbor executed another on Tuesday, deputies said, as the victim kneeled in his own front yard begging for his life.The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the execution, which took place ju...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Career Q&A: Sharpen interview skills to overcome impression of shyness

Career Q&A: Sharpen interview skills to overcome impression of shyness

Q: At the end of a recent interview, the manager told me that I would not be getting the job. He said I wasn’t a good fit for the position because I was shy. As a naturally introverted person, I found this very discouraging. How can I avoid similar p...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lawmakers call for additional investigations into Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource boards

Lawmakers call for additional investigations into Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource boards

Federal and state lawmakers are calling on Congress and the Florida House of Representatives to investigate whether two regional workforce centers inflated the number of people they helped find jobs. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D–St. Petersburg, and sta...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Undersea quake causes fear of tsunami in Alaska; Kentucky teen kills 2 classmates in shooting; ex-gymnast tells Nassar: ‘You didn’t heal me. You only hurt me’; more in U.S. news

Undersea quake causes fear of tsunami in Alaska; Kentucky teen kills 2 classmates in shooting; ex-gymnast tells Nassar: ‘You didn’t heal me. You only hurt me’; more in U.S. news

AlaskaUndersea quake causes panicA powerful undersea earthquake sent Alaskans fumbling for suitcases and racing to evacuation centers in the middle of the night after a cellphone alert warned a tsunami could hit communities along the state’s southern...
Updated: 5 hours ago
MacDill crews shift from Islamic State battle to join winter fight against Taliban

MacDill crews shift from Islamic State battle to join winter fight against Taliban

Now that the fight against the largely defeated Islamic State is winding down, the U.S. Air Force is turning its efforts toward the Taliban and moving aircraft and crews to Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.Crews and a KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refue...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Deputies identify 11-month-old who drowned, no other details released

Deputies identify 11-month-old who drowned, no other details released

BRANDON — The 11-month-old girl who drowned in an apartment complex pond on Monday was identified as Deleah Morgan by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday.Deputies released no other details about the incident or the ongoing investigation....
Updated: 5 hours ago