PALM HARBOR — A retired school teacher from Indiana was injured early Saturday when she went to help a sheriff's deputy who was trying to subdue a suspect.
Sharon L. Scroggins, 59, suffered a concussion and bruising to her face after the suspect hit her in the jaw and knocked her to the ground.
The incident began shortly before 4:30 a.m. when Scroggins was driving her father, Maurice Scherf, 83, of Palm Harbor, to the doctor. She was heading down Alderman Road near Westlake Boulevard when a shirtless man ran in front of her 2000 Chevrolet Suburban....
01/29/15 Local Government
LARGO — Sewer rates are expected to jump at least 15 percent next year and could go even higher to pay for a $37 million plan to revamp the city's system.
City officials don't have much choice: The state is making them upgrade the system so untreated sewage will not end up in Largo streets and waterways.
Largo officials plan to give the go-ahead Monday for construction to begin. The project, which is expected to take up to 1 ½ years to complete, will involve 14 miles of sewer pipes and the reconstruction of seven pumping stations. When finished, the upgrades will not only bring Largo into compliance with state environmental rules and prevent the overflow of sewage into city streets, it will also expand the system to handle expected population growth through 2030....
01/24/15 Local Government
Ambulances are spending twice as long at the scene of some serious injuries than the county says they should.
Using an international standard, Dr. Angus Jameson, the Pinellas emergency medical service system's medical director, set a goal that no more than 10 minutes should elapse between the time an ambulance arrives on the scene of a trauma alert and the time it leaves for the hospital with the patient inside 90 percent of the time. Instead, that number in 2014 ranged on a monthly average from just under 19 minutes to nearly 26 minutes....
01/22/15 Local Government
The mayors from St. Petersburg and Clearwater want other Pinellas cities to kick in more money to support Safe Harbor, the sheriff's homeless shelter.
Mayor Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg and George Cretekos of Clearwater sent a letter to the county's other 22 cities last week making their case. Homelessness, they said, is a countywide issue that can best be solved by working together. And, Kriseman said Wednesday in an interview, some cities could be doing more....
01/21/15 Local Government
LARGO — A lukewarm commission has given the go-ahead for the city attorney to draw up a policy allowing the board to censure members.
The idea of creating such a policy was broached last year by then-commissioner Harriet Crozier in the wake of a bid to censure Curtis Holmes for downloading inappropriate content to his city-owned iPad. The move to censure was dropped after Holmes apologized, but Crozier urged a policy be established because of the many questions surrounding the commission's ability to reprimand one of its own....
01/15/15 Local Government
LARGO — The last piece of industrial land on Ulmerton Road in the city is about to be turned into a commercial property.
City commissioners have tentatively approved a change that would clear the way for a fast-food restaurant and a gas station to be built on Ulmerton Road at 66th Street.
To pave the way for the project, commissioners on Jan. 6 unanimously agreed to change the land use designation on 11 parcels on the northwest corner of Ulmerton and 66th from industrial to commercial. The property, totaling about 3.6 acres, is the last industrial land on Ulmerton in the city. ...
01/08/15 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — Dorene Thomas began her policing career about 40 years ago as a tricycle-riding parking meter reader on Pass-a-Grille for the St. Petersburg Beach Police Department, as it was called then.
"I wasn't very good at it," Thomas said. Despite that, she had career goals: "I was hoping that one day I'd be sergeant."
She made sergeant and a whole lot more. When she retires from the Pinellas Park Police Department on April 24, she'll leave behind a string of firsts. First female police chief in Pinellas Park. First woman to head the Tampa Bay Area and Florida Police Chiefs associations. First chief, male or female, in the state to go through the Crisis Intervention Training program, a 40-hour intensive course designed to teach police the safest ways to interact with mentally ill residents they encounter on the job....
01/07/15 Local Government
LARGO — Commissioner Curtis Holmes demanded last year that two employees be disciplined after they spoke against him for downloading inappropriate material on his city-owned iPad.
Largo City Manager Mac Craig refused to do so.
Now Holmes wants Craig fired. Craig's refusal to fire or otherwise discipline the two, Holmes says, is a violation of the manager's contract. The remedy, Holmes said, is to fire Craig and strip him of his severance pay. ...
12/31/14 Human Interest
Four years ago, two vandals released JR, a great horned owl, from his cage at McGough Nature Park.
The subsequent search for JR and the relationship between the owl and his caretaker, Joel Quattlebaum, created headlines.
Now, their story is being turned into a movie, Turtle Tale, told from the viewpoint of the many turtles at McGough.
"It's the first movie contract in the city," Largo parks superintendent Greg Brown said. "I thought it was a cool idea. Obviously, the bird got a lot of attention."...
12/24/14 Local Government
LARGO — When city library patrons recently complained about people using electronic cigarettes inside the building, officials couldn't do much. There were no city rules against it.
That could be changing. Largo commissioners have told their city attorney to draft an ordinance that would prohibit the smoking of e-cigarettes in city-owned buildings. If they approve it, Largo could be one of the first local governments in the Tampa Bay area — and one of only a handful nationwide — to impose such a ban....
12/23/14 Local Government
KENNETH CITY — Voters here in November soundly defeated a proposal to eliminate term limits, thus preventing Teresa Zemaitis from seeking a third term as mayor.
Now, Zemaitis' husband, Leonard, has qualified to run for mayor in the March 10 election. He'll be facing Wanda Dudley, a current Kenneth City council member. It is the first time Leonard Zemaitis has sought public office....
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. ...