Four North Pinellas County cities had elections Tuesday in a campaign season dominated by clashes over development and the entry of party politics into nonpartisan races.
Former Mayor Andy Steingold, 53, recaptured his office Tuesday in a particularly competitive race, besting incumbent Mayor Joe Ayoub by fewer than 100 votes. Steingold received 44.80 percent of the 5,973 votes cast to Ayoub's 43.35 percent....
02/28/14 Local Government
TARPON SPRINGS — In 1995, Tarpon voters approved the sale of the city-owned nursing home on Walton Avenue.
The sale never happened, but in a few days, voters will be asked to approve it again.
The Burnard Group, a New Port Richey property management and development company, wants to purchase and renovate the long-vacant and dilapidated former nursing home and open a 100-bed assisted living facility with the capability of housing Alzheimer's patients....
02/03/14 Human Interest
CLEARWATER — He's known as Pinellas County's toughest and most successful land-use lawyer, but when he wasn't arguing for the rights of land owners, he was helping ensure that local hospital patients were well-served and advising some of the county's best-prepared candidates for public office.
On Monday night, Ed Armstrong was named Mr. Clearwater at the 92nd annual meeting of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce....
01/28/14 Local Government
TARPON SPRINGS — A proposed reorganization of the city's Development Services Department has drawn so much criticism from city commissioners and the public that City Manager Mark Lecouris has withdrawn it for modifications.
The proposal called for three current staff members to be fired, including a 29-year employee nearing retirement, and replaced with three new employees.
The reorganization was intended to improve efficiency and help the department cope with an increasing workload as construction picks up, Development Services director Joseph DiPasqua told city commissioners at a recent meeting....
12/10/13 Local Government
SAFETY HARBOR — City Commissioner Nancy Besore resigned her commission seat Tuesday and plans to run for mayor in the March election.
Besore, 56, said she didn't want Mayor Joe Ayoub to run unopposed and was concerned that no one else had stepped forward.
She said she made a quick decision over the weekend and resigned right away so others would have time to file for the commission seat she is vacating, thereby preventing the City Commission from filling the seat by appointment. Her resignation will be effective March 17, even if she loses the race....
If part of the pleasure of the holidays for your family is attending holiday-themed public events, load up the car and the babies because event planners have laid out a buffet of treats this weekend in North Pinellas.
From boat parades to festivals with fake snow to breakfast with Santa, the weekend is packed, and most events are free or low-cost.
Let it snow
Want the kids to see "snow," even though it will be 80 degrees this weekend? You have at least two options:...
11/15/13 Human Interest
When O'Neal Larkin Jr. was a 15-year-old fleeing an abusive home up North, the people of Clearwater's North Greenwood neighborhood gave him the comfort and loving guidance he craved.
And after he served in the Army and returned to Clearwater, the city government gave him a job that turned into a 22-year career doing work he felt mattered.
So after he retired in 1998 and spent some time fishing and reflecting on his life, he concluded he needed to do something to thank the neighborhood and the city that had nurtured him....
09/13/13 Local Government
DUNEDIN — Six years after it appeared a bad economy might doom the project, city commissioners have approved the Gateway, a $15 million retail and housing development that will anchor the east end of Dunedin's popular Main Street.
The three-story complex will have 124 apartments and 24,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the ground floor. It will sit at the junction of Main Street and Milwaukee Avenue on just over four acres owned by the city....
08/02/13 Human Interest
In the early 1900s, Dunedin resident and naturalist Dr. Willis Blatchley would sit on a viewing platform he built in a live oak tree on his waterfront property and record his observations of nature. His interest in science and his love of nature came through in his notes, which were later turned into books.
So when the city decided recently to build a playground on the land Blatchley once watched over, it was easy to pick the theme: nature. The result is one of the most unusual-looking playgrounds in the region....
Here in the North Pinellas newsroom of the Tampa Bay Times, we work hard every day to bring you informative stories and entertaining features that tell the story of life in the northern half of Pinellas County. Starting this week, you will find some of that coverage in a different place.
Much of our daily North Pinellas news coverage will now appear in the section of the Times labeled Local, also known as the B section. You already go there for North Pinellas obituaries, plus business stories, entertainment news and coverage of the bay area and state. Now the B section also will include more stories about North Pinellas local governments, public safety, politics and news events....
CLEARWATER — Even if they can't recall the names of any of the musicians, people who venture downtown tonight for the monthly Blast Friday street festival may recognize some of the soft, country-rock melodies of the band onstage, Pure Prairie League.
Perhaps the band's best-known single, Amie, still gets play time on radio stations, as does Let Me Love You Tonight.
And listeners may be forgiven for not remembering the names of band members. PPL, which got its start in Ohio in the late 1960s, endured years of personnel changes because of the Vietnam War, health issues, members' changing career aspirations and fickle record companies. One easily recognizable name that did a stint with PPL: Vince Gill....
03/12/13 Local Government
LARGO — Only two Largo commissioners resisted when Walmart sought a brownfield designation for land it plans to develop on the old Crossroads Mall property, even though there is no known contamination on the land and the designation would qualify the giant retailer for a host of tax credits and special incentives.
Brownfield designations originally were intended to encourage cleanup and development of contaminated properties by offering incentives and some regulatory relief to developers....
CLEARWATER — One of Pinellas County's most successful and high-profile lawyers is leaving the firm where he has worked for 30 years to open a small Pinellas outpost of Tampa-based Hill Ward Henderson.
Ed Armstrong, 55, went to work at Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns right out of law school and is now a shareholder in the firm, which is considered the biggest law firm based in Pinellas with 38 attorneys in Clearwater and Tampa....
CLEARWATER — The hoax call to 911 about shots fired at Belleair Elementary School on Tuesday, which spawned a massive police response and panic among parents, was made, police said today, by a first-grader at the school.
And it wasn't the first hoax call the 7-year-old boy had made: He confessed to nine calls, according to Clearwater police.
On Wednesday, the boy called 911 again to report a dead person in a roadway. Police also responded to that call before determining that it was a hoax, but most of the other calls the child made were "non-descript" and didn't generate a police response, according to Clearwater public safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts....
CLEARWATER — Brian Craig isn't worried that forecasters say there will be a chill in the air this weekend for the seventh annual Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival.
"It's a hearty crowd. And though it may be cold, it's going to be one of the warmer places to be" in the country, said Craig, the city's events coordinator.
They will have lots of blues-y music and seafood to help keep them warm. And since Sea-Blues is the last remaining major blues festival in the area that has free admission, Craig believes plenty of people will be willing to tolerate a little chilliness for the opportunity to hear outstanding music without opening their wallets....