Welch pushes county to pitch in for cameras along trail
Commissioner Ken Welch is pushing for the county to help invest in security cameras for the Pinellas Trail, but it's unclear whether he has the political support.
Earlier this month, St. Petersburg moved forward with a plan to install about 25 cameras along a crime-prone stretch of trail between 43rd and 49th streets S. The city asked the county to pitch in $75,000 of the estimated $100,000 cost, but interim County Administrator Mark Woodard declined. Money is tight, Woodard said, and the county doesn't want to set a precedent of coughing up money for law enforcement when that has been the role of the cities.
Welch, whose commission district includes that stretch of the 42-mile trail, pitched an idea to his fellow commissioners at a budget workshop this week: Contribute $50,000 to St. Petersburg's project and up to that amount to any of the other six cities that might want to install cameras. Those cities are Belleair, Clearwater, Dunedin, Largo, Seminole and Tarpon Springs.
"We're getting some feedback, 'Well, it's your trail, and you're not partnering,' " Welch said.
Commissioners Charlie Justice and Janet Long were open to the idea. Commissioner Susan Latvala was as well, but she wondered how much the cameras are needed beyond the problem area in St. Petersburg, and whether cameras would move crime to places without them. Chairwoman Karen Seel said federal grants are a more appropriate funding source.
Members said they want to hear from Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, whose agency is responsible for about 15 miles of the trail.
Three locations accepting school supply donations
The "Stuff the Bus Campaign," a school supply drive for low-income students, continues over the next two weeks with collections at three locations.
Organizers are asking the public to donate gender-neutral backpacks, pens and pencils, crayons, binders, folders, rulers, erasers and more. Donations will be accepted through Thursday at the Learning Experience in Palm Harbor, 34330 U.S. 19 N. Other collections will take place from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 1 at Largo Mall, 10500 Ulmerton Road, and from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 7 at Carillon Park, 300 Main St. in St. Petersburg.
The campaign is sponsored by the Pinellas Education Foundation, the Pinellas County Council PTA, Pinellas County Schools and local businesses.
SPC, county schools team up for teaching program
A new college degree program designed to steer graduates to teaching jobs in Pinellas County schools is holding an open house next week for potential students.
High school graduates can learn more about the Elite Educator Program from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Petersburg College's Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St. The event will be in the Ethics and Social Science Building (ES), Room 104.
The four-year program leads to an elementary education degree from SPC and is a collaboration between the college and the school system. Graduates are assured a job in the school system along with financial incentives.
Annual forum to help seniors avoid crime
The Clearwater Aging Well Center, 1501 N Belcher Road in the Long Center, will host its annual Crime Prevention Forum on Thursday from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
The forum, sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging, will provide information especially for older citizens on how they can avoid becoming crime victims, and what to do if they are ever faced with criminal activity.
Supporting agencies included in the discussion are the Senior Legal Helpline, Senior Medicare Patrol and Senior Victim Advocacy Program.
The event is free and open to the public, although pre-registration is recommended. Call (727) 724-3070 for information, or visit myclearwater.com/agingwell.
Sobriety checks to begin tonight in Clearwater
In an effort to reduce DUI-related injuries, Pinellas County deputies will conduct sobriety checks beginning at 10 p.m. today until 3 a.m. Saturday at 540 S Hercules Ave., Clearwater. Along with impaired drivers, deputies will be looking for driver license, registration, insurance and equipment violations.
Times staff writers Tony Marrero and Piper Castillo contributed to this report.