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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. Fourth candidate joins District 5 Pasco Commission race

    Blog

    The line of challengers to incumbent Pasco Commissioner Jack Marino is growing with Hudson business owner Thomas Celotto joining the Republican field.

    Celotto, 48, filed his candidacy papers Thursday to seek the District 5 commission seat held by Mariano since 2004. Besides the incumbent, the candidates include New Port Richey Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips and business owner Chris Cooley.

    Celotto founded Micro Solutions of Pasco Inc., an information technology company, more than 20 years ago. He also owns a seasonal retail fireworks store....

  2. Man behind public safety campus plan trailed by civil fraud, theft allegations

    News

    LAND O'LAKES — Skip Drish, the man who proposed putting a security academy's public safety campus in central Pasco County, faces a barrage of civil litigation.

    The accusations range from fraud and exploitation of the elderly to theft and cheating employees out of earned wages.

    "Nothing surprises me with this guy," said Shawn Roark, president of the Pasco Trails Association, which has its own legal fight against Drish and one of his companies, Serve & Educate, over allegations that Drish illegally operated a commercial gun range on agriculture land....

    Skip Drish became known in Land O’Lakes in 2012 after applying for a permit to run a firing range.
  3. Bowen: VA site selection clouds west Pasco redevelopment vision

    Local Government

    Nobody said the long-term redevelopment of Pasco's west side would be easy.

    Designated as the Harbors market area by county government, the region from Pinellas to Hernando counties between the coast and Little Road is facing a decades-long makeover. The intent is to save the aging U.S. 19 corridor from slipping into a commercial slum while simultaneously bolstering the housing stock, health care offerings, tourism opportunities and business climate....

  4. New Wiregrass complex plans include movie theater

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — There are 40,000 movie screens in the United States, including 51 in Pasco County. Get ready for a few more.

    The developers of the Shops at Wiregrass mall are planning a 1,035-seat cinema as the cornerstone of a residential and commercial development immediately east of the mall, on the north side of State Road 56. The still-unnamed project also would include 250 upscale apartments, as many as four restaurants and nearly 60,000 square feet of stores, including a 30,000-square-foot specialty grocery, according to the preliminary site plans filed with Pasco County....

  5. Residents again seek county buyout of Summertree utility

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's $2 million bid for the private utility system serving the Summertree neighborhood went nowhere, but customers aren't conceding permanent ownership to the much-maligned Utilities Inc. of Florida.

    Tuesday morning, more than 100 residents clad in red and raising hand-held signs — reading "We want clear, drinkable county water'' and other slogans — turned the County Commission chambers into a plea and a pep rally....

  6. Former Morsani property to become 320-home neighborhood

    Real Estate

    LUTZ — Philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani have sold their last holdings in Pasco County, 174 acres off Henley Road that are targeted to become a 320-home neighborhood.

    "It's very simple," Frank Morsani, 84, said. "Change is the only constant we have in life. At our age, we had the opportunity to sell the property, and we thought it was prudent to do that."

    The buyer is Homes by WestBay, which is building new homes around Pasco County in Connerton, Watergrass, Starkey Ranch, Union Park and Lake Shore Ranch. The transaction has not yet closed, but WestBay representatives filed a rezoning application with Pasco County in November....

  7. Schrader draws challenger for Pasco property appraiser

    Blog

    Ted Schrader won’t be unopposed for the Pasco Property Appraiser’s Office.

    Republican Randy Evans who ran unsuccessfully for Pasco County Commission four years ago, is challenging Schrader in a GOP primary for the appraiser’s job. He filed his candidacy papers Tuesday afternoon.

    The job is become open because five-term incumbent Property Appraiser Mike Wells Sr. is retiring this year. While announcing his planned departure in October 2015, Wells told journalists, “It’s time for new blood.’’...

  8. Fifth hotel planned for Pasco's SR 56 corridor

    Tourism

    WESLEY CHAPEL — The hospitality industry boom along the State Road 56 corridor is continuing with a fifth hotel planning to enter the market.

    Impact Properties, which developed the Westin Tampa Bay on the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa, is poised to build the six-story, 130-room Hyatt Place-Wesley Chapel at the Cypress Creek Town Center in Lutz.

    The 78,000-square-foot building will be at the eastern corner of the town center site, just west of Interstate 75 and north of SR 56, on land owned by Sierra Properties of Tampa. ...

    Occupancy rates suggest a need, says Ed Caum, Pasco’s tourism manager.
  9. Starkey seeks second term on Pasco commission

    Blog

    Incumbent Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey formalized her re-election candidacy Thursday, filing pre-qualifying papers to seek a second four-year term.

    “Through the years, my focus has always been to improve the quality of life for the citizens of our county,’’ Starkey said in a  released statement. “I plan to continue the work I have begun.’’

    Specifically, Starkey, 58, said she wanted to focus on local business development, improving aging neighborhoods, bolstering public safety and creating a diversified and skilled workforce....

  10. Planned economic engine in central Pasco stalls with neighbors

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Kartik Goyani of Metro Development has the task of selling the planned connected city corridor to future employers.

    He has pitched the still mostly rural area of Wesley Chapel to more than 100 companies, including a hospital, touting the benefits of locating in the 7,800 acres that will be the nation's first smart gigabit community built from the ground up.

    The potential for jobs to materialize before rooftops is very real, said Pat Gassaway of Heidt Design and Associates, the consultant helping to plan the massive connected city corridor....

  11. Residents say mining boom supplants their peace and quiet

    News

    SPRING HILL — Arlen Black and her late husband, James, moved from Tampa to their 142-acre homestead in northern Pasco County 13 years ago for a simple reason — peace and quiet.

    It hasn't worked out. Her husband died several years ago, and the hoped-for peace and quiet disappeared after nearby land morphed from agriculture to lime rock mining, which has neighbors complaining about the blasting....

    A dump truck emerges at the Lago Verde sand mine in Spring Hill. At a recent meeting, about 50 neighbors objected to a proposed expansion of mining, fearing their quality of life will decline.
  12. Bowen: Gowers Corner on its way to becoming a corner of commerce

    News

    William A. Gower once had a decades-long monopoly on commerce at the central Pasco intersection bearing his name.

    But Gowers Corner, where U.S. 41 and State Road 52 intersect in the northern Land O'Lakes area, is poised to lose its identity as the middle of the county's traffic-choked, but still half-empty crossroads.

    The Florida Department of Transportation plans to build new highway lanes, and a private property owner is anticipating developers will follow....

  13. Pasco says building official's departure unrelated to criminal inquiry in department

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's chief building official, Tim Moore, has resigned. But the resignation is unrelated to an ongoing criminal investigation of improper use of a professional engineer's seal on construction documents, the county says.

    "We don't believe the two are related,'' said Doug Tobin, Pasco County public information officer. "Some employees have put the two things together. But that's not the case. I don't want to put any negative light on Mr. Moore.''...

  14. First Democrat files in Pasco County

    Blog

    West Pasco businessman Barry C. Horvath is seeking the Pasco County Commission seat held by Kathryn Starkey and he has the distinction of being the first Democrat to file for local office in the 2016 elections.

    A dozen other candidates already have filed for county commission or constitutional offices – 11 Republicans and one with no-party affiliation. Starkey a first-term Republican has said she will seek re-election to the District 3 seat, but has not yet filed her candidacy papers or begun fund-raising....

  15. Pasco Tax Collector's Office raises $100,000 for charity

    Blog

    Customers at the Pasco Tax Collector’s Office showed their generosity by contributing more than $100,000 to 16 charities in 2015.

    The biggest beneficiary was the Pasco Sheriff’s K-9 Association which received more than $53,000. The charities benefitted from the sale of specialty tags, cash contributions and other fund-raisers.

    “It is my belief that a public servant has a responsibility to do whatever he or she can to assist those less fortunate,” Tax Collector Mike Fasano said in a released statement.  “It is a blessing that we have so many generous people in our community and on our staff that have given of their time and treasure to support so many fine non-profit organizations. The variety of services is great as are the number of people who benefit from the funds that have been raised.” ...