Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas County sues contractors over Lake Seminole clean-up

Pinellas County is suing the two companies it hired years ago to design and build several water treatment facilities for Lake Seminole as part of an attempt to reduce water pollution.

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 21, claims that Environmental Research and Design and Tampa Contracting Services failed to properly design the project that, once built, suffered structural problems and ultimately cost the county additional money to repair. The county is suing for damages and negligence.

The project was funded with money from Penny for Pinellas and also relied on grants from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, also known as Swiftmud, which is not involved in the suit.

Leaders of both companies said the lawsuit came as a surprise.

The Lake Seminole project ended in 2011, said Daniel Harte, founder and chief executive officer of Tampa Contracting Services, which is based in Palmetto.

"The project was done and substantially complete," he said. "This is news to me."

An attorney for the county declined to comment, citing the ongoing legal dispute.

In 2003, Pinellas officials brought in Environmental Research and Design as a consultant to study the feasibility of building a stormwater treatment system, which would use the chemical alum to reduce turbidity. The company still lists the project on its website, where it says it was paid about $2.4 million for engineering and construction work that was completed in September 2009.

In October of that year, according to the lawsuit, the county sent ERD a letter expressing "dissatisfaction regarding the adequacy of the design of the aluminum sheet pile retaining walls, which form the sides of the alum treatment trough."

The lawsuit states that the company designed the walls poorly and, when confronted with complaints, didn't adequately repair them.

ERD president Harvey Harper said he wasn't aware that his company was being sued and couldn't comment.

Tampa Contracting Services was hired in 2008 to build the treatment systems and initially paid about $3.3 million. But over the next several years, Pinellas officials extended the contract several times.

In 2010, responding to problems with the aluminum sheet pile walls and rain delays, officials decided to give the company until Jan. 31, 2011, to finish and upped the total payment to $4.6 million.

"These events were beyond the contractor's control," county officials wrote then, a position the lawsuit suggests they no longer hold.

Given more time, the company replaced the aluminum walls with concrete.

Southwest Florida Water Management District spokeswoman Terri Behling said two of the treatment systems are now complete and one is "nearing completion."

It's unclear if the county has hired a new firm to finish the construction — Pinellas officials wouldn't comment on the project's current state — which now has an expected end date of Dec. 31, 2013.

In total, Behling said, the district contributed $2.4 million to the project. It is not involved in the lawsuit, she said, because county officials never contacted the district about it.

Comments
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets.The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Monda...
Updated: 3 hours ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Updated: 4 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: 4 hours ago
Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

ST. PETERSBURG — Good pitching and hitting go hand in glove, but the Rays did not look like a team that could swing the bats very well until this completed homestand.In their series sweep over the Twins, Tampa Bay scored 8, 10 and 8 runs. ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

–Yonny Chirinos may be the Rays fourth starter, but it seems to be in name only. He was lifted after pitching 4 2/3 innings against the Twin on Sunday, the shortest start of his career and his second-shortest appearance.  "Going into the g...
Updated: 4 hours ago
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 — With every swing, there is a chance Carlos Gomez is going to do something extraordinary with the baseball bat.He may swing so violently that he spins himself into the ground as if he were an oil drill. Or, you could see him sna...
Updated: 6 hours ago

nationwideTravelers face delays as jet engines inspectedScores of Southwest Airlines travelers were facing delays or cancellations Sunday due to emergency inspections following the mid-air explosion of an engine on one of the airline’s 737s last week...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Waffle House hero says shooter would’ve had ‘to work to kill me’; another crude Theta Tau frat video surfaces at Syracuse; more in U.S. news

Waffle House hero says shooter would’ve had ‘to work to kill me’; another crude Theta Tau frat video surfaces at Syracuse; more in U.S. news

TennesseeShooter had ‘to work to kill me’The man who wrestled the gun away from the nearly naked Waffle House shooter in Nashville said Sunday if he were going to die, the gunman would "have to work to kill me." Police and Waffle House CEO Walter Ehm...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., April 22, midday:2-2 7-3-9 4-4-6-8e_SRit3-8-8-6-0Sun., April 22, evening:6-2 8-6-0 8-3-9-8e_SR...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

Associated PressKABUL, Afghanistan — An Islamic State suicide bomber carried out an attack at a voter registration center in the capital Kabul on Sunday, killing 57 people and wounding more than 100 others, said officials from the Afghan interior and...
Updated: 7 hours ago