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Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

Anne Lindberg

Anne Lindberg covers Pinellas County's emergency medical services system and a swath of mid-Pinellas that includes the municipalities of Largo, Pinellas Park, Seminole and Kenneth City, as well as the unincorporated Lealman and Seminole areas.

Phone: (727) 893-8450(727) 893-8450

Email: alindberg@tampabay.com

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  1. Largo owed millions in unpaid code enforcement fines

    News

    LARGO — Officials here are struggling to find ways to pay for the hiring of more cops and firefighters and to pay for other city needs.

    They've suggested creating new fees and raising existing ones to help fund their wish list. But what they find particularly frustrating is their inability to collect some fines that property owners owe — to the tune of $10 million.

    That total comes from fines assessed to 259 property owners for failing to keep up their property. Some fines extend back for years. And they range from a few hundred dollars to more than $200,000....

  2. Jean Cromwell, keeper of Pinellas Park history, dies at 90

    Human Interest

    PINELLAS PARK — When this city turned 100 a few weeks ago, officials had a rich trove of documents and artifacts to draw from when looking back.

    That was in large part thanks to Jean Cromwell, who, until last month, reigned over Pinellas Park's Historical Society.

    "She was it" where Pinellas Park's history was concerned, City Council member Ed Taylor said. "We wouldn't have anything archive-wise if it hadn't been for Jean." ...

  3. Largo residents, business owners could face stormwater fee hikes

    Local Government

    LARGO — Property owners here could see stormwater fees almost double over the next three years under a budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.

    Commissioners gave the go-ahead to staff members Tuesday to bring back the proposal for a formal vote. The proposal, which would see the fees for stormwater increase by 25 percent a year for the next three years, is part of the $111.9-million capital budget proposed for the 2015-16 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The capital budget deals with the costs of projects proposed for the coming five years....

    Jamie Robinson says the increase is needed.
  4. 35 years later, a monument honors lives lost in Sunshine Skyway collapse (w/video)

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Charles McGarrah vividly remembers the day he met the woman who would become his wife — and her first words:

    "My name is Wanda Smith, and I will not live to see my 25th birthday."

    McGarrah was inclined to argue with her. But just six short years later, she died three months shy of her 25th birthday.

    She and the couple's 7-month-old daughter, Ma­Nisha, died with 33 other people in a horrific accident that sent them plunging from the Sunshine Skyway when a freighter struck the bridge. On Saturday, 35 years to the day of the accident, a monument was dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives that day....

    Charles McGarrah, whose wife and infant daughter died on the Greyhound bus in the Sunshine Skyway accident on May 9, 1980, speaks at the Sunshine Skyway Memorial dedication Saturday.
  5. Pinellas County may create first CRA in Lealman

    Human Interest

    LEALMAN — About three years ago, a county study identified the five poorest areas in Pinellas.

    Now Pinellas officials are considering trying something new — for them — to help lift the people in one of those areas out of poverty. If creating a community redevelopment area works in unincorporated Lealman, it could be expanded. Lealman is generally located between St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park on either side of Kenneth City. It generally extends from Interstate 275 on the east to Park Street on the west....

  6. New Pinellas Park police chief leading into the future by building on the past

    Local Government

    PINELLAS PARK — One piece of advice many career counselors offer is to never follow a star when you take a new job.

    Yet that's exactly what Pinellas Park's new police chief has done.

    Mike Haworth took over command of the department last week from Dorene Thomas, a much-loved chief in the city and much respected in the law enforcement community, who straightened out a department that was mired in chaos when she took over....

    Pinellas Park police Chief Mike Haworth hugs former Chief Dorene Thomas after she announced her retirement in January. Thomas was the first female police chief in Pinellas County.
  7. Veterans housing to open in Lealman

    Human Interest

    LEALMAN — Seven years ago, community activists celebrated the opening of a project that they hoped would herald a new day of improved housing in this largely poor unincorporated area.

    But the project, Duval Park, the first foray into residential construction by the Sembler Co., never got off the ground and the first four houses stood vacant for years. Now things are changing. Construction is in the home stretch on an 88-unit affordable housing complex designed to hold mostly veterans, disabled veterans and their families....

  8. Plato charter school to open in Pinellas Park

    Education

    PINELLAS PARK — Acreage that once held a church and was destined to become a housing complex will be the site of a new charter school.

    Pinellas Park council members approved a zoning change this month that will pave the way for the Plato Academy to open its seventh charter school in Pinellas. The School Board approved the school in June. It was to be located in St. Petersburg, in the area near Gandy Boulevard and Interstate 275, but that location fell through, so Plato moved to the Pinellas Park location. The School Board is scheduled to approve the new site at its April 28 meeting....

  9. Largo takes step to charging fire fee

    Local Government

    LARGO — Commissioners here appear to be moving toward instituting a fire fee so they can free up budget money for police and other items.

    They decided Tuesday to discuss the fee at a workshop after hearing a presentation by Ken Small of the Florida League of Cities on alternative funding sources.

    Small pointed out that Largo has the second lowest per capita taxable value in Pinellas County. Only Kenneth City has a smaller per capita taxable value. That means that while Largo may be the third largest city by population, property values in the city are low. And that makes it hard to generate property taxes because it takes a higher tax rate to bring in the same money as a municipality with more valuable properties....

  10. Largo looking for ways to pay for more police, firefighters

    Local Government

    LARGO — City leaders here have a problem that most people face in their daily lives — lots of wants and needs but not enough money to pay for them.

    Unlike most city residents who find it hard to generate more money without a raise or a second job, the government has the option to simply raise taxes. Of course, then there's the prospect of pushback from angry property owners.

    That's what city officials are facing right now. They want to hire almost 30 police officers, firefighters, code enforcement and support personnel for a one-time total of about $3.01 million added to the budget. City staff has proposed spreading the hiring over five years. Doing so would increase taxes 8 percent the first year, another 8 percent the second year, 6 percent in year three, 6 percent in year four and 7 percent in year five. That doesn't include the cumulative effect of the hiring the could, in the long run, make those figures go higher....

  11. Higher taxes, fire fees could pay for more Largo cops, firefighters

    Local Government

    LARGO — Commissioners generally agree the city needs more police and firefighters but they're struggling with ways to pay for them.

    Those ways could include a property tax increase, a new fee for fire coverage, or a fee for businesses that frequently call for police help.

    "There's a million scenarios here," said Henry Schubert, Largo assistant city manager.

    For the past several months, Largo commissioners have said they want to look at public safety staffing. While all commissioners have been willing to study the issue, the major push has come from commission veteran Curtis Holmes and newcomers John Carroll and Donna Holck. Carroll is a former Largo police chief. Holck said during the campaign that firefighters had encouraged her to run....

  12. Pinellas Animal Services director resigns

    Human Interest

    LARGO — Maureen Freaney, the head of Pinellas County Animal Services, says she's leaving the job and county government because she's decided to move in a new direction.

    "I made a two-year commitment to county administration to direct Animal Services, help stabilize the department, and ensure implementation of best practices," Freaney wrote Thursday in her resignation letter. "As that personal and professional commitment comes to a close, I am proud of what the Animal Services team has accomplished within this time frame....

    Maureen Freaney, 58, called her tenure at Animal Services “challen­ging.”
  13. Equestrian fans, dog lovers in Pinellas Park dispute

    Human Interest

    PINELLAS PARK — Dogs and horses just seem to go together.

    The pairing is so iconic that Budweiser has made the relationship between its famous Clydesdales and a lovable puppy the centerpiece of its Super Bowl ads for the past couple of years.

    Yet it's the relationship between dogs and horses that's at the center of a controversy between dog lovers and some horse lovers in this city. It's a controversy that has one Pinellas Park council member saying he regrets ever supporting the horse community and the formation about 15 years ago of a city advisory board dedicated to horses....

    Pinellas Park 03/19/2007 From left, Karen Rizzo, of St. Pete on her horse, Reata,  and Kim Rose of Pinellas Park  on her horse, Tess, ride on the horse trail on the perimeter of Helen Howarth Park  at 6301 94th Ave. N  Rizzo keeps Reata in Rose's horse barn and the two women ride daily around Pinellas Park. All names cq'ed. CHERIE DIEZ | Times
  14. Recount ordered for close Kenneth City Town Council election

    Elections

    LARGO — Pinellas County Elections Supervisor Deborah Clark will recount the results of Tuesday's race for the Kenneth City Town Council.

    The recount, scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, was triggered by the narrow margin between the third- and fourth-placed candidates in the race in which the top three vote getters were to take office.

    Third-place candidate and apparent winner Carl Troup ended up with 336 votes, or 16.97 percent of the total. Fourth-place finisher Ryan Boberg drew 332 votes, or 16.77 percent of the vote. Florida law mandates a machine recount if the margin between candidates in unofficial results is 0.5 percent or less. ...

  15. Incumbents ruled in Pinellas cities' elections

    Elections

    In what appeared to be a mostly uneventful day at the ballot box, incumbents fared well in most of the eight cities and towns that held elections Tuesday.

    In Treasure Island, for example, Bob Minning won a third term as mayor.

    The election day drama, such as it was, seemed centered in Kenneth City, where a candidate cried foul over a flock of pink plastic flamingos that appeared with hand-lettered signs around their necks supporting opponents....

    Wanda Dudley won the race for Kenneth City mayor, defeating Leonard Zemaitis.