Camille C. Spencer, Times Staff Writer

Camille C. Spencer

Camille C. Spencer is a general assignment reporter. Before coming to work at the Times in 2005, she was a cops reporter at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. She is also a graduate of Michigan State University.

Phone: 727-869-6229

E-mail: cspencer@tampabay.com

  1. Stop signs erected after fatal hit-and-run in west Pasco

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Late one summer night, Andrea Seifert was smoking a cigarette outside her house on Delaware Avenue when she saw a woman sitting in the roadway.

    Seifert, 37, figured the woman had sprained their ankle, so Seifert asked her husband to come and help her pick the woman up.

    As soon as the couple stepped onto the porch, the woman lifted her right arm to alert an oncoming SUV to stop....

    Patricia Skibinski loved her many cats. A resident who saw her hit and killed petitioned to get stop signs.
  2. Pasco granny shoplifted shampoo, hit woman in getaway, cops say

    Crime

    PORT RICHEY — A grandmother is accused of slipping a bottle of hair care product into her purse while her 8-year-old grandson was getting his hair cut Tuesday at Great Clips.

    An employee followed Robin Straker, 54, of 7307 Windsor Mill Road in Hudson to the parking lot and confronted her, according to a report from the Port Richey Police Department. Straker (pictured) argued with the employee, then jumped into her car, put it in reverse and ran over the employee's foot, knocking her to the ground, the report said. The woman's condition was not immediately available on Wednesday. Straker's grandson witnessed the incident, the report said. ...

  3. Mentally ill Holiday man's threats reveal violent plans

    Briefs

    HOLIDAY — Gordon Gary Barse was a 20-year-old jail inmate when he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

    Barse, now 56, struggled with the disease for years, and recently told his sister via phone that he would kill her, her fiance and her children, said April Kingsbury, Barse's sister.

    He also threatened to burn down the home of Kingsbury's friend, authorities said.

    After a standoff last month involving a SWAT team at Barse's deceased mother's home in Holiday, Kingsbury and her fiance found evidence of Barse's intended rampage underneath a tarp in his van. ...

  4. Black Friday in Pasco is one Walmart's first and one Target's last

    Human Interest

    PORT RICHEY

    Some crawled out of bed before sunrise and waited outside Target before employees unlocked the store's red and white doors at 5 a.m. Other shoppers stopped by a few hours later to fill their carts, gripping cups of coffee and fliers promising "doorbuster" deals on everything from 32-inch televisions to remote-control cars.

    While stores across the country enjoyed the rush of early morning bargain-hunters, one thing was different about this year's Black Friday at this Target: It would be the store's last....

    Tisha Newton, center, reaches for a toy as employees restock the shelves at the Target in Port Richey just before 8 a.m. Friday. It was the store’s last Black Friday. The store is one of four Targets nationwide slated to close Jan. 30.
  5. Port Richey council won't pay legal bill from ethics complaint

    Local Government

    PORT RICHEY — City Council member Phil Abts is stuck with a $36,319 legal bill.

    Abts asked his fellow council members on Tuesday night to pick up the tab, arguing he spent the money defending himself on an ethics complaint that grew out of his duties as a city official.

    But the council remained unconvinced.

    After an hourlong presentation and discussion, council member Bill Colombo made a motion to find that Abts was "acting in his official duties and serving a public purpose," a necessary step toward reimbursing Abts for the fees....

  6. Activities at New Port Richey rec center keep it humming

    Human Interest

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Two and a half years have passed since the city opened its $14.1 million recreation center and aquatic complex, and already Elaine Smith wishes she had a larger fitness center and more activity rooms.

    Some nights, Smith said, activities spill over to the center's gym, or off-site at Peace Hall, just north of Sims Park, she said.

    "Virtually, some days, we're bursting at the seams," said Smith, the city's parks and recreation director. "But that's a great problem to have."...

  7. Trinity Rotarians roll up their sleeves to feed RAP House kids and show someone cares

    Human Interest

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Steam from a freshly made chicken casserole rose toward the ceiling inside the kitchen of the RAP House. Nearby in a glass dish sat a green bean casserole, dinner rolls and a salad with baby tomatoes and black olives.

    On Thursday night, nine kids from the Runaway Alternatives Project sank their teeth into home-cooked fare prepared by the Rotary Club of Trinity.

    It was a far cry from the state-sanctioned meals of fish sticks and fries that the kids at Pasco's shelter for youth runaways and truant students would usually receive....

    Youth care worker Lenny Stacey serves up dinner prepared by the Rotary Club of Trinity.
  8. 6-year-old boy killed in Port Richey house fire

    Fire

    PORT RICHEY — In his short life, Bryce Atkeson's family endured a flurry of hardships.

    His brother died as an infant in 2002, a year before Bryce was born.

    His father was sentenced to 15 months in an Orlando prison this year. He is scheduled for release next month.

    Late Sunday, the first-grader at Gulf Highlands Elementary died of injuries suffered in a fire at his home, 10925 Bridleton Road in Holiday Hills Estates, just east of U.S. 19....

    A fire that started after 11 p.m. Sunday at 10925 Bridleton Road in Port Richey killed 6-year-old Bryce Atkeson. Four other people, including two children, escaped. The blaze’s cause is under investigation.
  9. Port Richey council member wants the city to pay his $36,319 legal bill

    Local Government

    PORT RICHEY — His campaign platform was to keep taxes low. So when a proposal emerged to charge a passenger boarding fee for casino and sightseeing boats, City Council member Phil Abts cast the deciding vote to kill the measure.

    That's where the trouble began.

    A fellow council member filed an ethics complaint alleging Abts should have recused himself. Abts sells health insurance to SunCruz casino boat employees....

  10. Ex-employee turns himself in after Port Richey jewelry store theft

    Crime

    PORT RICHEY — After dark on Nov. 2, someone broke into Custom Jewelry Creations and helped himself to $70,000 worth of glitzy goods.

    Demetre Sakelson was arrested Tuesday in the jewelry heist for two reasons:

    Security cameras caught the break-in on tape. And the store owner recognized the burglar because Sakelson worked at Custom Jewelry Creations for "several years," until his recent dismissal, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report....

  11. Pasco sheriff, New Port Richey police seek flasher seen near schools

    Public Safety

    Authorities are searching for a "serial exposer" who may have flashed up to seven people — six of them students near schools or bus stops — within the past month and a half.

    The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is looking into four cases, and New Port Richey police are investigating two other incidents after six children and one adult called authorities to report seeing someone exposing himself, said Kevin Doll, sheriff's spokesman....

  12. Team Willow helps Pasco family of sick toddler

    Human Interest

    NEW PORT RICHEY — She sits in her high chair, dressed in pink plaid, squealing and babbling. She grabs small morsels of cereal from the tray and stuffs them in her mouth. She giggles easy and often, and loves to smile.

    At first sight, Willow seems like any other 14-month-old baby.

    But the blue-eyed girl with the dark brown faux-hawk shows signs of an incurable disease called tuberous sclerosis complex, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on various organs. ...

    Kala Hamilton comforts her 14-month-old daughter, Willow, through a brief set of tears. Willow is on a feeding tube 16 hours per day.
  13. Is New Port Richey a truly ghostly town? Or is it myth?

    Human Interest

    NEW PORT RICHEY

    Call it urban legend, or spooky folklore. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, Pasco is chock-full of places that haunted history buffs say harbor ghostly apparitions. Many are located in New Port Richey, said Susan Ostrom, who runs Haunted History tours of New Port Richey. Their proof? Visions of the dead and voices from beyond. In honor of the scariest day of the year, here's a rundown of rumored hot spots: ...

    Willard Clark, ex-Richey Suncoast Theatre president, died in 1981, but his ghost is said to linger at his favorite seat, BB1.
  14. SPCA Suncoast has a room for every cat personality, thanks to donor

    Human Interest

    NEW PORT RICHEY — In the building next door to the dog kennel at the SPCA Suncoast, the cliques are as pronounced as the ones you'd find within the walls of the nearest high school.

    But inside the five newly constructed colony rooms — think airy, toy-filled indoor sunrooms for cats — your temperament determines your placement in feline paradise.

    Two kitten rooms keep the small cats away from the adult ones. They roam around, jumping to reach scratch posts and rolling colorful balls with the tips of their noses. ...

    Above, volunteer Jeannie Kiernicki plays with Lisa, top, George, middle, and Henry on Wednesday afternoon at the SPCA Suncoast’s new cat rooms.
  15. Pilot, passenger in critical condition after Pasco County plane crash

    Accidents

    SHADY HILLS — Two men injured in a plane crash at a small private airport in central Pasco County on Sunday remained in critical condition Monday at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.

    Pilot Arthur J. Michaud, 49, of 10524 Merlin Drive in New Port Richey, and passenger Anthony Parisi, 46, of 3055 Sugar Bear Trail in Palm Harbor, crashed in their single-engine Piper at 2:10 p.m. in a field at the end of the runway near Pilot Country Airport on State Road 52....

    Flight instructor Mike Donahue, 63, center, his friend Max Combs, 56, left, and a man they identified as an FAA official, look over the wreckage Monday of the single-engine Piper that crashed Sunday near Pilot Country Airport in central Pasco County.