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C.T. Bowen, Pasco Times Columnist

C.T. Bowen

C.T. Bowen has been reporting and writing about the people and politics of Pasco County since moving to Florida in 1987. A native of upstate New York, he lives in Land O' Lakes with his wife, Mary Beth, a public school teacher. They have two sons.

Phone: (727) 869-6239

Email: bowen@tampabay.com

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  1. Medical Center of Trinity plans $38 million expansion

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY – HCA-owned Medical Center of Trinity is planning a $38 million expansion to add an unspecified number of patient beds and to grow its outpatient capabilities.

    The addition totals 57,000 square feet, according to preliminary plans filed with Pasco County. The hospital's engineering firm is scheduled to meet with members of the county's planning staff earlier this week to discuss the proposal....

  2. Metro delays 'connected city' plan in Pasco

    Economic Development

    WESLEY CHAPEL – Pasco's proposed connected city corridor has been unplugged temporarily.

    Originally scheduled to be heard earlier this week at a special meeting of the county's Development Review Committee and again Aug. 9 by the Pasco County Commission, Metro Development is now seeking to delay commission consideration of the project until late this year or early 2017.

    The postponement, attributed to scheduling, also means the final decision will reside with a new commission since Commissioner Ted Schrader, whose district includes the entire 7,800-acre planning area, is not seeking re-election in November. ...

  3. Extramarital affair tarnishes Gary Joiner, Pasco property appraiser candidate

    Elections

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Gary Joiner started working at the Pasco Tax Collector's Office in 1983, just a year out of high school, as a front-line clerk at an hourly pay rate of $3.50. Today, he is director of operations earning nearly $100,000 annually and is a Republican candidate for another constitutional office, Pasco property appraiser.

    But Joiner's 33-year career at the Tax Collector's Office is tarnished by an admitted extramarital affair with a subordinate in 2008 and a two-week suspension last year after his bosses learned he attempted to rekindle the relationship in 2013 and 2014 and lied about it to his supervisor....

    Gary Joiner admitted an affair with a subordinate in the Tax Collector’s Office in 2008.
  4. Wiregrass gets federal ok for planned Raymond James site in Pasco County

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL – It's not often a note from a federal regulatory agency brings celebratory glee. But an email in J.D. Porter's in-box last week signified a jump start to Raymond James Financial's plans for an office complex in Pasco County.

    Porter, owner and developer of the Wiregrass Ranch, received the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proffer for an environmental permit for the 65-acre site at State Road 56 and Mansfield Boulevard, east of the Shops at Wiregrass mall....

     J.D. Porter, owner and developer of his family's  Wiregrass Ranch property says "We couldn't be happier'' about a pending U.S. Army Corps of Engineers enviornmental permit for land targeted for a Raymond James Financial office complex. TIMES files
  5. Bowen: Doesn't anybody want my vote?

    Elections

    County Commissioner Jack Mariano doesn't want my vote.

    Neither does Rachel O'Connor.

    Odd, isn't it?

    Both are Republicans running for Pasco County Commission. Mariano, who represents District 5 in west Pasco, is seeking his fourth term. O'Connor of Wesley Chapel is running for the east Pasco District 1 seat held by Commissioner Ted Schrader, who is not seeking re-election.

    Commissioners are elected countywide, but not by a majority of Pasco voters. On Aug. 30, nearly 200,000 registered voters from across Pasco will be unable to consider the candidacies of Mariano and O'Connor....

  6. Columnist Tom Jackson hired by Pasco Clerk Paula O'Neil

    Blog

    Former Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson is now working for Pasco Circuit Court Clerk and Comptroller Paula S. O’Neil, responding to public records requests.

    Jackson is being paid $50,000 with no benefits under a 12-month contract requiring him to work 20 hours weekly, O’Neil said.

    In a July 6 memo to her staff announcing the hiring, O’Neil said, the number of public records requests has grown from 56 requests in 2012 to 272 (involving more than 600 email messages) in the first nine months of the current fiscal year.
    She noted a 2015 Tampa Bay Times story about cities and counties being forced to make payouts for non-compliance to records requests....

  7. SunWest gets okay for higher parking fees

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — It's going to cost more to visit the publicly owned, but privately operated SunWest Park in northwest Pasco County in the future.

    On Tuesday, commissioners amended the county's contract with park operator Patrick Panakos of Orlando and his company, SunWest Park Inc., to allow for higher future parking fees. Additionally, the county's $60 annual pass no longer will be accepted at SunWest Park after June 2017, and Panakos can charge admission fees to pedestrians who enter the park without a vehicle....

    SunWest Park operator Patrick Panakos can charge higher parking fees and will no longer have to accept the county’s annual park pass under an amended contract approved by the Pasco County Commission. The current parking cost is $5 per vehicle. BRENDAN FITTERER  |  Times
  8. Windfall fuels more spending, steady tax rates in Pasco budget plan

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County's growing property values grew a little more last month, triggering an unexpected windfall in county tax coffers and deflating potential budget discord between commissioners and Sheriff Chris Nocco.

    The higher values, unveiled publicly this week in the county's proposed 2016-17 budget, will help finance more spending on public safety, code enforcement, road repairs, sidewalks, maintenance to county parks and employee salaries....

    A refurbished pool at Veterans Memorial Park in Hudson is one of the park renovations in the proposed 2016-17 Pasco County budget unveiled Tuesday. 
  9. Sewer fix could end polluted water problems at Hudson Beach

    Water

    HUDSON

    Melissa Roberts stretched out on a blanket, as she does two or three times a week. At the moment, she was the lone figure at Robert J. Strickland Park at Hudson Beach.

    The 41-year-old Spring Hill real estate agent enjoys the sun, the breeze and the food available at the neighboring restaurants. Access is easy from U.S. 19, compared to the winding route to Pine Island in Hernando County to the north....

    Samantha Yeargin, left, and her mother, Betty Jones, of Spring Hill, relax in the water at Hudson Beach on Wednesday.
  10. It's now okay to toss paper, cardboard in with recyclables in Pasco

    Environment

    Faced with dwindling recycling numbers, Pasco County is expanding its curbside program to include the pickup of newspapers, cardboard and other paper.

    The change, which began last week, comes nine months after the county discontinued the use of blue bags in its recycling program, which triggered a drop in public participation. Recyclable materials collected by haulers fell by nearly one-fifth in the first month after the Oct. 1, 2015, change, which required the public to use their own containers for curbside pickup of plastic, aluminum, metal and glass containers....

    In an effort to bring recycling numbers up, Pasco County residents can now recycle paper and cardboard.
  11. Ann Hildebrand backs Debbie Wells in Pasco Commission race

    Blog

    Republican Debbie Wells just snagged the endorsement from Pasco’s longest-serving county commissioner – Ann Hildebrand. Hildebrand, who now lives in Alabama, retired in 2012 after 28 years on the commission. She said she has known Wells since the mid-1970s. “She is a can-do woman with a strong and strategic business acumen. Debbie’s phenomenal social and business skills will dramatically m...

  12. Sheriff, nine others win with no opposition

    Local

    Sheriff Chris Nocco has done what even Pasco County's longest-serving sheriff had been unable to do — win re-election without opposition.

    Nocco, appointed to the position in 2011, secured another four-year term last week when nobody filed to run against him. That hasn't happened in Pasco County since at least before World War II, when Leslie Bessenger was the county's top law enforcement officer....

    Chris Nocco is the first incumbent Pasco sheriff to run unopposed since before World War II.
  13. Democrats will find limited choices in Aug. 30 primary election

    Elections

    The only Aug. 30 primary election just for Democrats in Pasco County is in the race for U.S. Senate.

    And in that race, voters will have four choices: Alan Grayson, Pam Keith, Reginald Luster and Patrick Murphy.

    The ballot also will feature a vote on a state constitutional amendment and a nonpartisan judicial race, both of which will be open to all voters.

    Otherwise, Barry Horvath, who is running for the Pasco County Commission District 3 seat, and Jon Sidney Larkin, who is running for property appraiser, are the only two Democrats running for countywide office....

  14. Bowen: Activist wonders: Native Florida or cookie-cutter communities?

    Wildlife

    The townhome community within the Lexington Oaks subdivision in Wesley Chapel looks like a typical Florida development. Well-manicured lawns, rear views of the drainage pond and golf course and lots so snug that a vehicle in the driveway blocks the sidewalk leading to the door.

    On this morning, a visitor has to circumvent the landscaping and cross the lawn to get to the entryway. The symbolism is unintentional, but it becomes the topic of day....

  15. Pasco's budget: Lots of wants, few dollars to spare

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — County libraries administrator Sean McGarvey brought a prop — a hand-built wooden skateboard that was stained a dark color and equipped with bright blue wheels.

    It is the kind of stuff that can be produced at the popular makerspace at the Pasco library branch in Land O'Lakes, McGarvey said, and the county should consider expanding the model to the Regency Park Branch Library in west Pasco....