Wednesday, April 25, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa solid waste director Tonja Brickhouse resigns

TAMPA — City solid waste director Tonja Brickhouse left her city job Friday, saying she plans to pursue doctoral studies in economics and psychology.

Brickhouse, 52, said in a resignation letter dated Friday that she prayed about the decision for several months.

"It is clear that the demands of my academic pursuits in preparation for the next phase in my life preclude me from dedicating the time and attention to full-time employment," she added.

Brickhouse has a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, where she studied economics and psychology, and a master's degree in public administration from Troy State University.

Tampa's solid waste department serves more than 83,000 customers, has an annual budget of nearly $91.6 million and about 200 authorized positions. As director of solid waste and environmental program management, Brickhouse was paid $128,336 annually.

"I was stunned when I heard about it today," City Council member Mike Suarez said. "She's been doing a great job as far as I can see."

Suarez, the chairman of the council's public works committee, said Brickhouse brought good communication skills and responsiveness to her work with the council. "She never dodged a question," he said. "She never skirted an issue, ever."

Tampa public works and utility services administrator Mike Herr will assume the solid waste director's responsibilities until a replacement is found, city spokeswoman Ali Glisson said.

Then-Mayor Pam Iorio hired Brickhouse, a retired Air Force colonel, in 2008. During her military career, she served at MacDill Air Force Base as the deputy commander of the 6th Mission Support Group of the 6th Air Mobility Wing.

As solid waste director, Brickhouse led the department at a time when City Hall came to grips with a fiscal crisis that last year led officials to approve a plan raising garbage pickup rates five times over a four-year period.

By late 2015, businesses will pay 76 percent more than they did in early 2012. Residential customers will pay 38 percent more.

Officials said they had no choice but to raise rates. Revenue had dropped because of the recession and foreclosures while costs rose for fuel, truck maintenance, health insurance and pensions.

Meanwhile, the city last year bought five garbage trucks that run on compressed natural gas. The new trucks emit about 40 percent less greenhouse gases, last longer and cost less to maintain, officials say. Compared to diesel powered trucks, they're expected to save $1.85 to $2 per gallon in fuel costs, or about $152,000 annually.

The department also is putting a GPS tracking system and radio frequency ID tags in place to better track vehicles and drivers and improve efficiency. Officials project savings of $2 million over five years.

Comments
Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

UPDATE, 5:34: Venters, understandably, was humbled and happy to make it back. "It's hard to put into words how I'm feeling," he said. "It's been an emotional day."Venters was in uniform in the Durham clubhouse during rain delay when he got called in ...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian restaurants serve cat and dog

Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian restaurants serve cat and dog

A strange thing happened when typing "dog menu" into the restaurant ratings website and app Yelp. It automatically generated suggested searches. There were dog massage, hot dogs, pet groomers. Also: "dog meat." But it got more disturbing. Take Yelp...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Report: Former ‘Bama starting QB to visit USF

Report: Former ‘Bama starting QB to visit USF

USF's quarterback derby could have a prominent 11th-hour entrant.Former Alabama QB Blake Barnett, the Crimson Tide's opening day starter in 2016 who transferred to Arizona State shortly thereafter, is leaving Tempe as a grad transfer, several media o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

As more emotional support animals fly on U.S. airlines, Congress eyes new ways to tighten the leash

WASHINGTON — With hundreds of thousands of emotional support animals taking to the skies on U.S. airlines, Congress may start pulling a tighter leash.Two new legislative options emerged this week to address a hairy issue for American Airlines, Southw...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

Duke Energy announces new Florida leadership

ST. PETERSBURG — The head of Duke Energy Florida is leaving his post to take a new role with the utility’s parent company June 1, the company announced on Wednesday.Harry Sideris, 47, was appointed this week to serve as vice president and chief distr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sheriff: Sunlake SRO who took down student ‘did what he had to do’

Sheriff: Sunlake SRO who took down student ‘did what he had to do’

At a news conference on Wednesday, Nocco identified the officer as Richard Stackon, who joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1994. Stackon has spent "several years" as an SRO, Nocco said, and he had nothing in his file "that stands out." Around 1 p.m., Noc...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Comcast challenges Murdoch with rival bid for U.K.-based Sky

LONDON — U.S. media giant Comcast on Wednesday offered $30.7 billion for Sky PLC, topping a bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and setting up a bidding war for Britain’s biggest satellite TV company.Comcast said it would pay approximately $17...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Man on Clearwater Beach pulled from water, hospitalized

CLEARWATER — A 33-year-old man pulled from the water north of Pier 60 was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon.Clearwater Fire & Rescue spokesman Rob Shaw said a bystander noticed the Dunedin man, who has not been identified, was in trouble and brought h...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A religious group has settled in a big pink house in Clearwater. Neighbors aren’t happy.

A religious group has settled in a big pink house in Clearwater. Neighbors aren’t happy.

CLEARWATER — The first thing John Trevena noticed about his new neighbors was the color of their house: Pepto-Bismol pink.It didn’t worry Trevena, a criminal defense lawyer who moved into the three-bedroom rental home next door in 2015."I knew it was...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Pasco County

TRINITY — Pasco County will be getting its first Sprouts Farmers Market, the organic grocery chain announced Wednesday. The new store will open at the Village at Mitchell Ranch on State Road 54 and Little Road. Officials with the speciality st...
Updated: 2 hours ago