Sunday, May 27, 2018
Public safety

Police: Vandals did significant damage to Tarpon Springs golf course

TARPON SPRINGS — Players at the city-run golf course will have a few extra holes to contend with after police say two men drove a pickup truck onto the property, spun doughnuts in the grass, then stole a flag from green No. 4.

City officials say the Friday morning incident caused $15,000 to $30,000 worth of damage, including bald spots, ruts and broken sprinkler heads along three fairways and two greens on the golf course's southwest corner.

Tarpon Springs police arrested Lucas Daniel Cowden, 18, of Palm Harbor and Donald Everitt Ball Jr., 20, of Tarpon Springs about 45 minutes after a witness reported the 12:30 a.m. incident and followed the pair as they drove off, reports show.

Both men admitted they were on their way home to drink a six-pack of beer authorities found stashed under the front passenger seat, reports say. Police say Cowden told them he passed the course on the way and "thought it would be a good idea" to joyride there.

Cowden was charged with felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor counts of petit theft and possession of alcohol by a minor. He posted $5,400 bail about 10:30 a.m. Friday. Ball, charged with acting as an accessory after the fact and underage alcohol possession, posted $5,250 bail about three hours later.

City officials said the incident could affect revenue and business operations for months.

"The problem with it is the time of year. The grass has really slowed down its growing and it'll continue to be even slower in the cold months, so it's not a good time for turf to mend itself," said Tarpon Springs public services director Paul Smith. "We're going to be in a prolonged damage situation until the growing picks up again in the spring."

Meanwhile, course general manager Chuck Winship said staff and patrons are "working around" the damage, allowing golfers to pick up and move balls when needed to avoid ruts as deep as 8 inches in some places.

The pranksters struck hours before 80 golfers embarked on Day 2 of a three-day annual golf tournament, delaying officials' ability to fully assess the damage. That's in addition to the 200 patrons a day expected to stop by this weekend.

Winship said officials had already planned to close the course to the public Monday through Wednesday for turf maintenance, and will now use the time to determine a course of action.

Possible options might include changing the shape of the 112-acre course to exclude the damaged portion from the putting surface or upping golf prices to help cover repair costs, Smith said.

He said the city will also consider erecting temporary barriers along the adjacent vacant lot the suspects used to access the course. In a final stroke of bad timing, city officials who are attempting to sell the lot said they had only recently mowed the foliage that would otherwise have blocked the way.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

RIVERVIEW — A Riverview woman shot and killed her husband Saturday because he punched her father and wouldn’t say sorry, the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office said. Sabrina Michelle Hendley, 40, faces a first-degree murder charge in th...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Police investigating shooting outside nightclub

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred outside a south St. Petersburg nightclub early Saturday morning.Brennan-Aire D. Williams, 28, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving by cab at Bayfront Health. Police invest...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Woman dies in Plant City after SUV flips off road

PLANT CITY — A Seffner woman died Saturday from injuries sustained when her sports utility vehicle flipped off the road and crashed into a fence near the intersection of Tanner Road and State Road 574.Amanda K. Cepeda-Duque, 21, was traveling west on...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Quick action to slow traffic on Bayshore prompts call to do more citywide

Quick action to slow traffic on Bayshore prompts call to do more citywide

TAMPA — As city workers set up signs Friday establishing a lower speed limit on Bayshore Boulevard, neighborhood residents and transportation activists urged more steps to improve safety for pedestrians all across the city.The move is a good beginnin...
Published: 05/26/18
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Published: 05/25/18
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Published: 05/25/18

Raccoon bites bicyclist, now the Health Department is looking for the victim

TAMPA — A bicyclist in the Palm River area was bitten by a raccoon Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County said.Now the department is concerned the animal had rabies and is searching for the bicyclist."While it is impo...
Published: 05/25/18

Police: Baby not abandoned; mother surrendered infant

TAMPA — A newborn baby initially thought to be found on the ground near a trash can in north Tampa was not abandoned, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.The child’s mother gave birth to the boy Thursday, and she and someone else too...
Published: 05/25/18
Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A male student opened fire at a suburban Indianapolis middle school Friday morning, wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said. Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the science teache...
Published: 05/25/18