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South Pinellas community news

Dr. Brent Weisman and Phyllis Kolianos of the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education clean sections of a 1,000-year dugout canoe at Weedon Island Preserve.

Pinellas County

Dr. Brent Weisman and Phyllis Kolianos of the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education clean sections of a 1,000-year dugout canoe at Weedon Island Preserve.


Ferg's owner to open salvage outlet store

The owner of Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill is opening a store that will sell architectural salvage and reclaimed items. Mark Ferguson has always enjoyed picking up rare finds for decor in his restaurant at 1320 Central Ave.

"We had to go buy a warehouse and start selling the stuff," Ferguson quipped. He paid $375,000 for a 4,500-square-foot warehouse at 2001 First Ave. S. The store, called Ferg's Phase Two, will open in about 60 days and employ about eight people.

As for other projects on Ferguson's plate: Construction on Ferg's Depot, the expansion of his Ferg's concept to Orlando, is expected to start within 10 days. Ferg's Live, planned for Tampa's Channelside district, is expected to open in September.

Katherine Snow Smith, Times staff


DAR to clean up cemetery

Another cleanup effort is being organized for Lincoln Cemetery, the resting place of generations of African-Americans.

The 9-acre cemetery, dating to 1926, has few burials now and has been neglected.

On Saturday, the Princess Hirrhigua Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is organizing a cleanup at the cemetery at 600 58th St. S. They plan to place flags on the graves of veterans and are seeking volunteers.

"This cemetery has had so much neglect," said DAR chapter member Rebecca Stewart.

St. Petersburg City Council member Wengay Newton, whose mother is buried at Lincoln, has coordinated cleanups in the past.

In 2009, Sarlie McKinnon III, whose family is buried at the cemetery, agreed to take over its maintenance from the late Susan Alford and her son, Richard. The Alfords transferred the burial ground that had been in their family for decades, its maps, records and $109,000 from a "perpetual-care fund" to McKinnon. After initial work, he soon ran out of money.

The cleanup will be from 9 a.m. to noon. To volunteer, call Stewart at (727) 365-1007.

Waveney Ann Moore, Times staff


See prehistoric canoe in 2015

A 1,000-year-old canoe found buried in the mud at Weedon Island in 2011 has been removed from its preservation tank after a three-year soak.

Carved from a single pine tree, it is the only saltwater marine canoe found in Florida. At over 40 feet long, it had to be cut into sections to be safely removed and placed in the tank.

The canoe sections were removed this month and will air dry for about six months. It will be reassembled for display at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, tentatively by next spring.


Leader for education agency

Seven months after ousting its executive director, the Early Learning Coalition has selected a familiar face to lead the agency.

The coalition's board voted last week to hire Lindsay Carson, deputy director under Janet Chapman, who was fired last October.

Carson joined the coalition about five years ago, and the board was impressed by her knowledge and performance, chairwoman Julie Daniels said.

In six months, according to Daniels, Carson has erased a $1.7 million deficit from a budget of about $49 million by cutting costs, not services, and finding other funding sources. The coalition has begun to enroll from its waiting list of roughly 2,000 children, Daniels said.

Chapman was fired after the board learned that the agency returned $2.4 million in unspent state and federal funds intended to lower the cost of day care for poor families.

Chapman is suing the coalition and Daniels, claiming the board violated the state's whistleblower law by firing her. The suit says Daniels ramped up a campaign to fire Chapman after she filed an ethics complaint alleging that Daniels used her position to secure child care for a friend. Daniels declined to comment.

Tony Marrero, Times staff


Funds for community center

Council members unanimously agreed to pay up to $2.5 million to turn the former City Hall into a community center. About $1 million will come from the Penny for Pinellas sales tax. The remainder will come from the sale of bonds. Half of the Community Center in City Park, 7464 Ridge Road, will be a multipurpose room; half will be the Historical Society's new museum. Construction is expected to be finished in early 2015.


Zoning change requested

The owners of the former Orange Blossom Groves want to build single-family homes on the site. They have asked Seminole to change the zoning on 2.34 acres at 5800 Seminole Blvd. Homes would be built on that property and land on the site's western border already zoned residential.

The site is well known to residents and tourists alike. Al Repetto and a brother-in-law in 1946 opened a business selling oranges, juice and orange ice cream. It grew into a multimillion-dollar venture that employed 350 people and had a second store in Clearwater. It became a major draw for tourists and locals for almost 60 years until it closed. Florida Citrus Country is currently located on the property.

Anne Lindberg, Times staff


City operations on the move

A pending feasibility study could result in a game of musical chairs among city facilities.

If the reviews are positive, the library could move to City Hall's current location, which would move to the former police station.

At issue is whether City Hall floors are will bear the weight of the library's books.

The library is trying to raise money to match a $200,000 grant to renovate its building, which is does not meet FEMA flooding requirements and is not as ADA compliant as City Hall.

City officials hope shifting operations among city-owned buildings would be more cost-effective.

Rick Falkenstein suggested the existing library, at 73rd Avenue and Blind Pass Road, could be torn down.

"It is the perfect place to put a parking garage. It would serve Corey Avenue and the city park, and the city would generate revenue," said Falkenstein, who will become a commissioner next week, filling the seat vacated by Jim Parent.

South Pinellas community news 05/22/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2014 1:57pm]
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