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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. State pushes up interchange project at I-75 and SR 56 in Pasco County

    Roads

    DADE CITY — Relief for the traffic-choked Interstate 75 interchange at State Road 56 in central Pasco keeps creeping closer.

    More than a year ago, the state Department of Transportation said construction of a so-called divergent diamond interchange would begin in 2024. Later, the DOT moved up the work date to 2020. The state's new tentative five-year work plan lists construction in 2018....

    The state Department of Transportation is proposing to begin construction in 2018 of a divergent diamond interchange to ease traffic congestion at Interstate 75 and State Road 56. Initially planned for 2024, and then 2020, the accelerated work schedule is contained in the agency's tentative five-year work program. Times files.
  2. Bowen: Buyer's remorse replaces sticker shock in New Port Richey

    Local Government

    The sticker shock didn't stick.

    The city of New Port Richey is again considering a multimillion-dollar renovation of its now 9-year-old recreation and aquatic center. The original price to move and expand the fitness center, add child care space and meeting rooms, redesign the drop-off point and other changes came to $2.2 million.

    Council members gulped at that price back in 2015 and whittled it to $1.7 million....

  3. Pasco's proposed SunWest dredge faces more scrutiny

    Environment

    ARIPEKA — Federal environmental regulators are slowing down plans to dig a deep-water channel between Pasco County-owned SunWest Park and the Gulf of Mexico.

    The county's May 18 application for an Army Corps of Engineers permit to dredge a 60-foot wide channel through Fillman's Bayou too closely resembles a previously rejected proposal, the corps indicated in a Nov. 10 letter to County Administrator Michele Baker....

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended its review of a county application to dredge this channel to the Gulf of Mexico. The corps ordered a full environmentl impact statement , saying the application resembled a prior proposal rejected in 2014. Times files
  4. Pasco seeks to curb abusers from owning new pets

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Dexter's Law could become Dexter's Web link in Pasco County.

    On Tuesday, county commissioners introduced a proposal to keep pets away from convicted animal abusers. But the county will not require abusers to register locally, as mandated in a Hillsborough County ordinance that went into effect Nov. 1.

    Instead, Pasco plans to provide a web link to Pasco Circuit Court Clerk records, allowing people selling or putting animals up for adoption to verify whether the individual taking the animal has a record of abuse....

  5. Pasco commission debates how to spend Restore Act dollars

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County's share of federal Restore Act dollars is expected to trickle in over 15 years, but that didn't slow a debate this week over how to spend it.

    Pasco is projected to get $12.7 million as a member of the 23-county Gulf Coast Consortium that is devising a state spending plan for the federal Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies Act of 2012. The legislation created a federal trust fund to distribute the fines from BP stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico....

    An $800,000 renovation of the Pasco School District’s Energy Marine Center in Port Richey, part of a so-called Coastal Environmental Research Network, is one of the projects listed under Pasco’s proposed spending list for Restore Act money. Pasco Commissioners approved the list Tuesday. Here, students at the center collect marine life in nets. [Times files]
  6. Pasco to end lobbying pact in 2017

    Blog

    DADE CITY - The Pasco County Commission on Tuesday fired its contract lobbyist, effective next year.

    During a discussion of extending lobbyist Shawn Foster’s $60,000-a-year contract, commissioners authorized a one-year extension, but said the agreement, signed a year ago, would not be renewed when it expires Nov. 30. 2017.

    The final vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Jack Mariano dissenting. Mariano said he wanted to terminate the contract immediately in light of recent commentary by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes....

  7. Pasco picks Mike Moore as new chairman

    Blog

    The Pasco County Commission picked Mike Moore as its new chairman Tuesday morning. 

    Moore, a  Republican representing District 2 based in central Pasco, had served as vice chairman for the past year. He replaces District 3 Commissioner Kathryn Starkey in the annual rotation of the chairman’s position. The board picked Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. as its new vice chairman. ...

  8. To encourage recycling, Pasco County may cut trash service

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County wants to boost curbside recycling by halving residents' twice-weekly trash service.

    As a trade-off, private haulers would increase the pickup of paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastic and glass from twice a month to once a week. The idea is to encourage residents to recycle those items rather than disposing of them in their household trash.

    Additionally, property owners may be asked to pay a higher annual trash assessment from the county....

    A proposal to increase curbside recycling in Pasco County calls for halving twice-a-week trash pick-up service and expanding recycling pick-up from twice a month to once a week.
  9. Pasco United Way taps Alice Delgardo as new CEO

    News

    LAND O' LAKES — The United Way of Pasco County didn't have to look far for its new CEO.

    After a nationwide search brought 120 applicants, the agency turned in-house and named Alice Delgardo as its new leader. Delgardo had been vice president of community impact for United Way since 2012.

    "Our board of directors is confident that Ms. Delgardo has the experience, educational acumen and vision to continue the rich tradition of public service and strategic investment of resources that has been established by her predecessor," Board Chairman Angie Gardner said in a written statement. "We look forward to building upon that success and continuing to make a positive imprint within our community with her at the helm.''...

    Alice Delgardo has served as vice president of community development since 2012.
  10. New hotel planned for Bexley in Land O' Lakes

    Business

    LAND O' LAKES – Pasco's hospitality boom continues along the State Road 54/56 corridor.

    The newly opened Bexley by Newland Communities, a 1,200-acre development on the northside of SR 54, just east of the Suncoast Parkway, announced its first commercial tenant will be a 110-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

    The five-story, 67,500-square-foot hotel will be developed by BBL Hospitality of Albany, N.Y., which owns 14 hotels and a dozen restaurants. The Bexley motel will be BBL's first venture in the Tampa Bay region. Its other Florida property is a Homewood Suites in Port St. Lucie....

    A new SpringHill Suites by Marriott is coming to the Bexley by Newland Communities. [Times files]
  11. Bowen: Mariano goes from college classes to legislative meetings

    Elections

    Amanda Murphy is packing boxes.

    Amber Mariano is packing for Tallahassee.

    That is the aftermath of Election Day, when voters in west Pasco packed their own partisan political punch.

    Mariano, the 21-year-old daughter of Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano and a third-year political science student at the University of Central Florida, traveled to Tallahassee this week for her orientation as a new state legislator. It becomes official on Tuesday, when she takes the oath of office to represent Florida House District 36....

    Amber Mariano, 21, rode the 
Trump wave to victory.
  12. Connected city gets preliminary okay in Pasco

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — The planned connected-city corridor — a 7,800-acre smart gigabit community projected to house 96,000 people, produce 65,000 jobs and offer features ranging from a 7.5-acre man-made lagoon to miles of alternative transportation — has cleared preliminary approvals with Pasco County.

    The Development Review Committee — county administrators and representatives of Pasco's school district and Economic Development Council — last week authorized the financial, transportation, utility and governing plans for the massive district in Wesley Chapel and eastern Pasco....

  13. Pasco billboard debate reveals continuing signs of discontent

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey didn't need a billboard to deliver her message about the outdoor advertising industry.

    "I think you guys are being played," she told commissioners Mike Moore, Mike Wells Jr. and Jack Mariano. "You're being played by a very savvy industry."

    Starkey's pointed commentary came during a 100-minute debate last week as commissioners wrestled yet again with an industry-requested proposal to lift the county's 17-year ban on new billboards. Doing so would allow billboard owners to swap some of their static signs for new, illuminated digital boards with rotating messages....

    Kathryn Starkey, commission chairwoman
  14. Neighbors challenge Gulf Harbors golf course purchase

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Two residents of Gulf Harbors want a mulligan on a golf course purchase in their neighborhood.

    Diane Theriault Kobernick of Southshore Drive and Susan L. Levine of Floramar Terrace are seeking to block the sale of the privately owned course to Pasco County for conversion to a park. In a complaint filed last week in Pasco Circuit Court, the women contend that the county used a flawed process to notify the public, paid an inflated price for the land and lacked authority to impose a new tax district on property owners to cover part of the sale price....

  15. Bowen: With election over, here's a to-do list for commissioners

    Local Government

    Now that the campaign is in the rearview mirror, here's a to-do list for newly elected and re-elected Pasco commissioners:

    • Start thinking about the traits you'll want in Pasco's next county administrator. Michele Baker leaves July 1, and resumes from potential successors will be in hand shortly.

    • Spend an afternoon in a county park. You'll feel invigorated, but also educated....