12/17/14 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — Saying her goal was to help people, Patricia Louise Bailey-Snook volunteered to serve on a Pinellas Park advisory board.
When she retired from political life more than 30 years later, Mrs. Bailey-Snook left behind a series of firsts — first woman to serve on the Pinellas Park City Council, first woman to serve as vice mayor and the first woman to serve as mayor. She also served a term in the state House of Representatives before returning to serve on the council....
12/13/14 Human Interest
Tucked away as it is on the edge of this city's major shopping district and a small industrial area, Creative Arts has remained largely unknown to the public for the past 23 years.
But that's ending. A new reality series, Museum Men, is focusing on Creative Arts Unlimited and what it does in an industry also largely hidden, even though millions have seen the company's handiwork....
12/11/14 Local Government
LARGO — City commissioners envision building a family aquatics center to replace the pool at the Southwest Recreation Complex.
The projected cost: $7.7 million. Largo staff members say the new center would bring in enough money to pay for most, if not all, of the operating costs.
But don't expect to see bulldozers at Southwest, 13120 Vonn Road, anytime soon. Though commissioners agreed Tuesday to put the project on their official wish list, they didn't earmark any money for it. Instead, they'll likely wait to fund it out of the next Penny for Pinellas. The current penny ends in 2020. Continuing it past that date will require voter approval....
12/04/14 Local Government
LARGO — Commissioners here unanimously agreed Tuesday to give a developer $75,000 to build an affordable apartment complex for seniors.
The offer is designed to improve the developer's chances of getting tax credits from the state for building the project. Largo would have to pay the money only if JPM Development is awarded the credits, which will go to only one project in each of Florida's 67 counties. ...
12/04/14 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — A public works employee is undergoing treatment for rabies after being bitten by a rabid bat while helping clear trash from the site of a former sewage disposal plant, Pinellas Park officials say.
Although the worker, whose name was not released, was bitten Monday, city officials did not have confirmation until Wednesday that the bat was rabid.
The employee, who has been with Pinellas Park a little less than a year, began treatment Wednesday. He was back at work Thursday and is expected to recover. City officials say the Pinellas County Health Department has been notified....
11/28/14 Local Government
The war between the cities and fire districts that provide emergency medical services and Pinellas County, which parcels out the money to pay for those services, stretches back to the beginning of the system in the 1980s.
Now, two providers say it's time to permanently stop the war.
And the way to do that, they say, is to change the system by taking control out of the County Commission's hands. ...
SEMINOLE — Developers want millions in tax rebates from Pinellas property owners for redeveloping Seminole Mall and they want the city's help in convincing county commissioners to agree to the deal.
"It's a huge project, which impacts more than just the city," said Richard Trzcinski, president of Primerica Group One. "That's why we feel it's necessary to have the county work with us."...
11/13/14 Local Government
SEMINOLE — Mayor Leslie Waters recently drove up and down the city's main streets taking down names of businesses and looking for neighborhoods that display the American flag.
"I … have observed that there are not enough flags, in my opinion, displayed at businesses and in neighborhoods on holidays or throughout the year," Waters told City Council members in a recent memo....
Voters in four mid and south Pinellas municipalities had a chance Tuesday to weigh in on proposed changes to their city or town charter. The charter acts like a constitution, setting forth the framework for the way the town is run.
City Council members will no longer have to worry about losing their positions if they speak up about high-level mayoral appointments.
Voters approved a change to the city's charter, which had forbid council members from voicing their opinion about the hiring of a police chief, fire chief or department head. ...
Winners of races in two South Pinellas fire districts romped home in Tuesday's election with massive victories.
In one race, the incumbent was victorious. In the other, a first-time challenger defeated the incumbent.
Becky Harriman won another term on the Lealman Fire Comission, a position she has held since being appointed in 2001. She campaigned on her experience. Harriman defeated first-time candidate Jorge Mercado, who said he wanted to bring a fresh, reasoned viewpoint to the board....
LARGO — Longtime incumbent Harriet Crozier lost her seat on the City Commission to first-time candidate Donna Holck.
According to unofficial results, Holck narrowly defeated Crozier by 235 votes: 10,400 or about 50.5 percent of the vote to Crozier's 10,165 votes, or about 49.5 percent.
The outcome of the other two races for the Largo commission was never in doubt.
Seat 1 incumbent Michael Smith was winning a landslide victory with 65 percent of the vote (13,472 votes) to Bronson "O" Oudshoff's 35 percent (7,256 votes). It was Oudshoff's first run for public office....
SEMINOLE — Voters here went with two familiar faces, according to unofficial election results.
Incumbent Bob Matthews — who has served on the council since 1990, with the exception of eight months in 2006-07 — was re-elected. First-time candidate Roger Edelman, well-known as president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, claimed the other open seat.
Matthews, who received 26.8 percent (2,906 votes) of the vote, and Edelman, with 23.8 percent (2,582), easily defeated the other four candidates in the race. Thomas J. Christy, who was making his fifth run at the council, claimed 15.4 percent (1,672)....
10/29/14 Human Interest
INDIAN SHORES — Last spring, a Virginia man sued the founder of the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, accusing him of taking money for a car he later refused to sell.
Now, two others have filed a second suit also accusing Ralph Heath of taking money for the same car but failing to turn the vehicle over to them.
The plaintiffs in both lawsuits want Heath to turn over the Chevrolet, described in court documents as a "unique, one of a kind Corvette collector's automobile. It is the only triple red un-restored and all original 1963 Corvette of its kind and is the first fuel-injected Corvette ever known to be delivered in the state of Florida, and it is irreplaceable since it is one of a kind."...
LEALMAN — A political newcomer wants to bring a fresh, reasoned viewpoint to the Lealman fire board.
Jorge Mercado, 38, is facing longtime incumbent Rebecca Harriman, 57, in the Nov. 4 non-partisan race for Seat 4. Harriman is running on her experience.
"The commission has done an okay job," Mercado said. But some decisions, he said, seem based more on emotion rather than what's best for taxpayers....
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — A St. Petersburg division chief is squaring off against an incumbent for a seat on the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue Commission.
Joseph Bruni, 55, is facing James G. Mortellite, 38, first elected to the board in 2002. Mortellite is seeking a fourth term.
Bruni is a Pittsburgh native who moved into the Suncoast district area 27 years ago. A firefighter in the Pittsburgh area, he started with the St. Pete Beach department and moved to the St. Petersburg department about nine months later. He is now division chief of safety and training. Bruni also taught at the St. Petersburg College fire academy for 13 years....