10/03/09 Human Interest
CLEARWATER — Tanned, relaxed and looking like a NASCAR driver in his neon racing suit, Marc Granet powered up a 38-foot, 1,050-horsepower cigarette boat called Caveman and eased away from the dock behind the Island Way Grill.
He cranked up the stereo, blasted AC/DC's Hells Bells and asked a bunch of pumped-up reporters itching for a thrill, "You all right?'' ...
08/28/09 Economic Development
CLEARWATER — The Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy is planning a new 30-acre multisport complex complete with paintball and possibly a batting cage at the former Countryside Golf and Learning Center across from the public course and school.
Earlier this year, the academy's board got the driving range property back from a company that had leased it for the past 14 years.
"It's taken a very good piece of property that's just been sitting there and we are turning it into one of the best learning centers in the Southeast,'' said PGA Tour instructor Richard Hall, who teaches at the academy....
08/28/09 Human Interest
All appeared to be normal on Laughing Gull Lane on the morning of April 17. Mom Tracy Newman, 43, had gone off to her job as a certified nursing assistant and stepdad Joseph Newman, 50, was at his job in a warehouse at Frito-Lay.
The couple's son, 12-year-old Jacob Larson, was supposed to be getting ready to go to classes at Palm Harbor Middle School.
But he wasn't getting dressed. Or brushing his teeth for his usual 8:30 a.m. departure from the house in the Patty Ann Acres subdivision....
CLEARWATER — A Largo woman who fought a traffic ticket and accused the Clearwater Police Department of a cover-up won her case Thursday by default.
The traffic ticket was dismissed after officers failed to show up for a hearing.
"For some reason, I'm not satisfied,'' said Carolyn Annand, 47.
Annand had enlisted the help of her sister, Leslie Annand, assistant city attorney for Westminster, Colo., and crash investigator James Church to fight a careless driving ticket she received in June when her car collided with a police cruiser....
OLDSMAR — At 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, the staff at Forest Lakes Elementary School huddled in the front office.
It was the first day of school and principal Karen Aspen wanted to be ready for 730 students about to descend on the facility.
She didn't need to worry.
With all the preparation and safety patrols acting as valets for the kids in the car circle, there didn't seem to be one screaming kindergartner or upset parent on campus....
08/20/09 Public Safety
PALM HARBOR – Priscilla Muniz, 23, escaped a fire that engulfed her 2000 Dodge Intrepid on Thursday afternoon at 37912 U.S. 19 N in Palm Harbor.
She said she saw smoke, and then flames, coming from under the hood.
Muniz was unable to get out of the driver’s side door, so she crawled out of the passenger’s door, said Liz Monforti, public information officer with...
TARPON SPRINGS — At a little after 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Rosie Baxter was in the office of her barber shop when she heard a familiar sound: kaboom!
Knowing this was probably yet another car crash, she called 911, grabbed a roll of paper towels and raced out the door with stylist Tammy Winters to help.
What Baxter and Winters saw was a panicked woman in a wrecked 1999 Mercury station wagon and two badly injured teenage girls....
08/18/09 Local Government
OLDSMAR — Figuratively speaking, Armando Gort fell off his horse this week.
But in true equestrian tradition, he's vowing to get right back on.
The Oldsmar City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night not to enter into a revocable license agreement with Gort's Hire A Pony Riding Academy, which would have allowed the company to use a trail in the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve.
Gort and his sister, Estela Orosz, manager of Hire A Pony, said the decision isn't the end of the trail for the Hillsborough-based stable and rent-a-steed business that provides horse riding opportunities mostly for children....
08/13/09 Human Interest
CLEARWATER — Nicole Passonno Stott's classmates at Clearwater High School always knew she would go far.
She certainly didn't disappoint them.
On Aug. 25, Stott is scheduled to blast off on space shuttle Discovery and fly approximately 200 miles to the International Space Station as a member of the Expedition 20 and 21 crews.
As STS128 lifts off, a group of about 30 or 40 her friends from the class of 1980 will cheer her on from a VIP viewing area not far from the launch site, each wearing a T-shirt that says Nicole's Ground Support Team. ...
08/12/09 Public Safety
The 93,000 residents served by Palm Harbor Fire Rescue and East Lake Fire Rescue will see no reduction in emergency services in the upcoming fiscal year.
An agreement negotiated by Pinellas County and the fire districts calls for both departments to retain all their vehicles and personnel — and get a few dollars extra to cover rising costs.
"Each city and fire district is paid for the allowable costs of the ALS (advanced life support) first responder services including paramedic salaries and benefits,'' said Craig Hare, Pinellas EMS division chief. "In some cases, the funding went up if their allowable costs went up. This could be for any increase in the fire districts costs such as health insurance or pensions.''...
08/11/09 Human Interest
SAFETY HARBOR — A striking find by an 8-year-old boy proves this city was an active hunting ground after the last ice age.
When a public works crew was replacing a storm sewer line on Joyce Street and First Avenue N last month, Jordan Emmett, a budding archaeologist, went to have a look.
"I saw a red thing sticking up and I brought it home,'' he said.
At first, his grandfather, Mike Emmett, said he thought it was a piece of plastic. ...
08/10/09 Public Safety
OLDSMAR — About 13,000 Tampa Electric customers in Oldsmar and western Hillsborough County lost power early Monday, disrupting morning routines and costing businesses thousands of dollars.
The lights went out at 6:07 a.m., causing traffic signals to malfunction and alarms to go off at local stores. Power was restored at 8:41 a.m., said Rick Morera, spokesman for TECO Energy, Tampa Electric's parent company....
08/07/09 Public Safety
TARPON SPRINGS — A 30-by-40-foot sinkhole opened up Friday afternoon at Oakwood Street near U.S. Highway 19, causing the Tarpon Springs Fire Department to evacuate businesses around the area.
The 12-foot deep breach appeared a little after 2 p.m. in between a large retention pond and a strip center.
Employees of a Mexican restaurant, a salon, a dry cleaner, a marble/granite company and a martial arts studio in the strip center were told to leave. Utilities were shut off as a precaution....
CLEARWATER — Ballet, hip-hop and computers wouldn't normally find themselves in the same sentence, let alone an educational program.
But those are just some of the elements that will be in the mix at an arts and technology charter school scheduled to open later this month at a Clearwater church.
Serving children in kindergarten through third grade, the Life Force Arts & Technology Academy will infuse ballet, hip-hop, modern dance, singing, theater and computers into a traditional educational curriculum. ...
08/05/09 Human Interest
Several months back, Frank Williams was teaching a highly technical jazz improvisation and theory class when he heard a noise he didn't like.
It wasn't an off note.
Worse, it was his cell phone ringing over and over.
Annoyed, he turned it off.
Then a colleague's phone started ringing nonstop.
Something big was going on. The colleague handed the phone to Williams, and the voice on the other end said, "Congratulations, you've been elected to the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame."...