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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. County explores stronger ties to medical tourism

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County is seeking to lure more tourists beyond young athletes and nature lovers, and the courted audience could include people with bad hearts and poor eyesight.

    It is part of a Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council planned study of medical tourism in which Pasco County is being asked to pony up $25,000 to help inventory the region's medical services. It is the first step toward more broad-based marketing to entice patients to travel to the Tampa Bay area for health care and to attract doctors and other medical professionals for training....

    Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, already planning a $78 million expansion, could be one of the beneficiaries if medical tourism becomes more common in Pasco County and the Tampa Bay region.
  2. Bowen: 911 center discussion must breed action

    Local Government

    Pasco County is going to get a revamped emergency communications center.

    Sheriff Chris Nocco saw to that this week.

    Pasco County is not going to get a new county administrator.

    Commission Chairman Ted Schrader saw to that.

    Brilliant.

    That became the favored word in the commission chambers Tuesday after Nocco stood at the podium and laid out his complaints about the merged 911 communications center. Until October 2013, the county fire/rescue and the Sheriff's Office operated separate dispatching services, but consolidated 18 months ago in what was supposed to provide improved public service....

    County Administrator Michele Baker, left, listens as Sheriff’s Capt. Brett Landsberg lays out complaints about the communications center.
  3. Dade City man, under federal indictment, labeled major drug dealer

    Crime

    NEW PORT RICHEY – Authorities said Monday they have disrupted a major Mexico-to-Tampa Bay drug trafficking ring that put 500 pounds of methamphetamine on the street annually with the indictment of a Dade City man and two El Salvadorian nationals living in Lake County.

    On March 12, a federal grand jury indicted Shawn Paul Hendricks, 41, of Dade City and Vladimir Castenada, 26, and his uncle, Jose Edgar Gonzalez-Castenada, 45, both of Eustis, on drug conspiracy and distribution charges that carry prison sentences of 10 years to life....

  4. Bowen: Put a fair count on any billboard swap

    Local Government

    Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey's office contains a few reminders of her activism on aesthetics.

    They include a 1999 photograph taken by the chapter president of Scenic America Florida, depicting a just-installed billboard on U.S. 41, south of State Road 54 in Lutz. Billboards were popping up all over the place at the time as the county, at the urging of Starkey and other citizens, pondered ways to control the sign proliferation. Eventually, the commission banned all new billboards....

    Digital billboards, such as this one shown on Tyrone Boulevard in St. Petersburg, are currently prohibited in Pasco County.
  5. Referendum planned to pay for Pasco's future parks, though the question is uncertain

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County plans to ask voters how to pay for parks and recreation in a November 2016 referendum, but commissioners want their own answers before deciding exactly what question the electorate will consider.

    Among the unanswered inquiries:

    • Should the county form a new taxing district for parks and recreation?

    • Should that district be countywide or separated by region?...

  6. It's a brand new season as Pasco restarts study of sports tourism fields

    Local Government

    Pasco County commissioners again will seek professional help as they wrestle with a nearly 25-year-old question: What is the best tourist attraction to develop in Pasco?

    The county has pinpointed the location for the tourist destination: 80 acres on the Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel, donated by the Porter family.

    It has set the theme: sports. Under its contract with the Porters, the county is required to turn the land into a sports destination....

  7. Bowen: Charter debate puts legacies under scrutiny

    Local Government

    John Gallagher's been doing some remodeling.

    The retired Pasco County administrator and his wife, Judy, redid the floors and kitchen at their River Road house in New Port Richey. Actually, they hired professionals to do it.

    Not that it didn't include some complications, like the cabinets coming in wrong, which forced the Gallaghers to live for five months with an unfinished kitchen....

    Retired Pasco Administrator John Galla-gher was one of 15 people invited to sit on a charter committee.
  8. School Board member withdraws from Pasco charter committee; sheriff's major survives challenge

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — A charter government advisory committee already is minus one of its suggested members after School Board member Alison Crumbley withdrew to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

    Sheriff's Maj. Mel Eakley survived a bid to oust him from the committee Tuesday because of similar concerns.

    Eakley, nominated by Commissioner Mike Moore, should not serve because his boss, Sheriff Chris Nocco, already has stated his public preference, said commission Chairman Ted Schrader. Nocco has said he favors a charter that would include an elected county executive/mayor instead of an appointed administrator....

  9. Opposition mounts to Pasco charter movement

    Blog

    Pasco County’s charter government debate is drawing new public opposition. A Facebook page, “STOP The Empower Pasco Charter Government Committee’’ began Saturday night and had 25 likes by Monday morning. 

    The on-line community’s mission is to “STOP the Insider/Good Ole Boys appointed to guarantee the socialization of costs and privatization of profits to drive massive development of Pasco County.’’...

  10. Neighbors express concerns over plans for ranch land in central Pasco

    Local Government

    GOWERS CORNER — Despite the rural setting, neighbors in two affluent central Pasco communities say peace and quiet is unobtainable.

    Just a half-mile east of the intersection of State Road 52 and U.S. 41 is Pilot Country Estates, home to flying enthusiasts who park Cessnas right at their houses. Takeoffs and landings at the airstrip surrounded by 45 homes number just a handful a day, residents say, and nobody is bothered by the momentary noise of a single-engine plane climbing skyward....

    Pilot Country Estates residents, from left, Joel Giurtino, Mike Hatfield, and Sue Richards identify their neighbor’s property.
  11. Bowen: Raiding Ridge Road account would not be wise

    Roads

    Look west from Connerton in Land O'Lakes, and the visual is both frustrating and exhausting.

    Fifteen red diamond-shaped signs mark a stub-out — the connection for a planned road that never materialized. There are plenty of those around the county, but this one carries extra meaning. On the Suncoast Parkway, south of State Road 52, motorists drive over a similarly dubious landmark. It's an overpass, allowing the parkway to cross a highway underneath, except the road below has yet to be built....

  12. Ex-Pasco Commissioner Mulieri pans charter panel picks

    Blog

    Former Pasco Commissioner Pat Mulieri is criticizing the make-up of the just-released county advisory committee on charter government.

    Within hours of the appointments being made public Tuesday evening, Mulieri fired off e-mail to commissioners and journalists saying the picks lack gender and economic diversity. Of the 15 appointments, School Board member Alison Crumbley - named by Commissioner Kathryn Starkey – is the only female....

  13. Pasco commissioners pick charter study committee members

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Retired County Administrator John Gallagher heads the list of citizens who will consider the merits of a charter government for Pasco County.

    Commission Chairman Ted Schrader included Gallagher as one of his two appointments to the 15-member advisory committee that will make recommendations to the commission next year. Gallagher, who turned 68 later this week, retired last year after 32 years as county administrator....

  14. Pasco commissioners voice little support for increasing tourism tax

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — For the fourth time in the past half-dozen years, Pasco County commissioners heard a pitch for a penny-on-the-dollar increase in the county's tourism tax. And, as with past commissions, the current board turned inhospitable to the idea.

    The proposal came this week during a workshop among commissioners and the advisory Tourist Development Council to discuss a five-year strategic plan for tourism. The tax increase, which would have generated about $400,000 annually, was intended to boost the county's marketing efforts to attract sports and nature-based tourists....

  15. Bowen: Economic arguments for charter government don't add up

    Local Government

    Talk with state Rep. Richard Corcoran about a charter government for Pasco County and lots of names come into the conversation.

    T. Rowe Price.

    Raymond James.

    Bob Buckhorn.

    So, two financial institutions and Tampa's mayor are a key part of this debate? It harkens back to James Carville's internal campaign message to Bill Clinton in 1992: It's the economy, stupid.

    This is the charter logic being offered. T. Rowe Price paid $13.5 million for a prime piece of real estate in Lutz, but then never followed through on its plans to add up to 1,200 new jobs on its 72-acre campus. The six-year romance with Pasco finally fell apart publicly 10 months ago. The county is helping to market the land....