04/16/15 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County is moving toward an overhaul of its curbside recycling effort that could end the 22-year-old blue bag program and replace it with a system that will accept paper and cardboard, but discontinue glass.
It is a significant alteration. Private haulers in Pasco currently offer twice-a-month curbside recycling of plastics, glass containers and metal cans, while the county has set up more than 100 drop-off bins at schools, fire stations and libraries for recycled paper and cardboard....
04/16/15 Local Government
Pasco County commissioners need to decide if premier is synonymous with stylish. Or if gaudy, cluttered and tacky are acceptable alternatives.
It is a familiar debate, occurring routinely in the dozen years since a prior commission adopted controls on the size and types of outdoor advertising permissible in the county. Low-to-the-ground monument signs are in; giant pole signs are out.
The rules also limit the use of banners and balloon signs to four times a year, 35 days at a time. In other words, businesses' ''temporary'' signs — think giant air puppets and tethered replicas of hot-air balloons — can be in place nearly 40 percent of the year....
DADE CITY — Turning a nearly 7-mile stretch of turf into a four-lane highway connecting Wesley Chapel to Zephyrhills could occur quicker than expected under a state program that could loan up to $25 million to Pasco County and private developers.
The proposal, announced last week by Rep. Danny Burgess, R-San Antonio, and Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity, would tap the Florida Department of Transportation's revolving loan program known as the State Infrastructure Bank for the eastward extension of State Road 56. ...
04/15/15 Economic Development
WESLEY CHAPEL — The Pasco Economic Development Council will be looking for a new leader after its chief executive officer and president, John Hagen, said he will leave the organization after five years.
Hagen, who turned 65 last month, told the EDC's executive board in a conference call Monday that he would not seek renewal of his contract, which expired April 1. He cited personal reasons for his departure....
04/14/15 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Fifteen years after filing for an Army Corps of Engineers permit for a new east-west highway between Moon Lake and Land O'Lakes, Pasco County is again trying to get federal permission to build the 8-mile Ridge Road Extension.
The preferred route is a nearly $102 million highway, elevated through parts of the Serenova Preserve, that would affect fewer wetlands than the county's original proposal. Still, the highway would impact nearly 23 acres of wetlands and 86 acres of upland wildlife habitat....
04/13/15 Local Government
WESLEY CHAPEL — Pasco County's charter government advisory committee has yet to hold its first meeting, and already its membership is changing after a Wesley Chapel man discovered that commissioners appointed an out-of-county homeowner to the panel.
Timothy Holladay, 64, the owner of an insurance agency in Port Richey, lists a Pasco address on his voter registration. Property records show Holladay and his wife sold their Ross Lane house in June 2014 and closed on a Redington Shores condominium three months later. The Holladays claimed a homestead exemption for the Pinellas County property for the 2015 and 2016 tax years....
04/09/15 Local Government
SPRING HILL — The legal battle over mine blasting in north-central Pasco is headed back to a local courtroom after an appeals court overturned a previous ruling that favored the developer over neighbors.
The March 27 opinion from the 2nd District Court of Appeal said the disputed facts in the case — over whether the county-issued development order for Outlaw Ridge Inc. violated Pasco's comprehensive land plan — needed to be decided at a trial. It overturned Circuit Judge Linda Babb's earlier ruling granting a summary judgment for the company....
Let's get this confession out of the way. I am not a cat person. Never have been. Last year, the teenage offspring brought home a tiny kitten rescued by a friend, and I made him return it. Don't worry; it found a safe home.
This disclaimer is necessary because of the topic at hand. You guessed it. Cats. Lots of them — some sick, some healthy.
And, sometimes, according to animal advocates, mixed together in the adoption room at Pasco County Animal Services in Land O'Lakes. The result, if the scenario is accurate, is that an unknowing public has adopted unhealthy animals. But let's wait to see if the proof materializes for that allegation....
Memories fade. People change. Nine years will do that.
It emerged as a recurring theme in a criminal courtroom in Dade City last week. At the defense table, clad in a brown business suit covering a white dress shirt and necktie, sat Luc Pierre-Charles, accused of the execution-style killings of two Wesley Chapel High School students in the summer of 2006 along on a dirt road in Trilby.
This was Pierre-Charles' second trial. The 2nd District Court of Appeal tossed his 2009 conviction, ruling that hearsay evidence about Pierre-Charles' younger brother, Andre, implicating his older sibling, should not have been part of the prosecution's case....
TRINITY — The club with clout is suddenly the club without.
The West Pasco Republican Club, a fixture in local political circles for four decades, faces a likely demise after party leaders declined to renew the group's charter this week.
The club president called it a political vendetta against one of the group's former longtime leaders, Tax Collector Mike Fasano, who supported Democrat Charlie Crist in the 2014 gubernatorial race....
Pasco County Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. is tepid on the ongoing plan to study charter government and potentially overhaul how local government operates.
"I've said it before, if it's not broke, why are we making changes?'' Wells told 80 members of the West Pasco Republican Club Tuesday evening at the Heritage Springs Country Club.
During a question-and-answer session, Wells said he expected the cost of government probably would increase under a charter because "it's more layers of government, in my opinion.'' He also indicated he is no fan of term limits....
03/26/15 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....
03/24/15 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.
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....
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....
03/19/15 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....