In January 1951, a year after being deployed to Korea with the first wave of infantrymen, Chinese forces captured William Allen. He and other POWs marched for two months to the Manchurian border, freezing without winter clothing. They released Allen from their camp in a trade after 31 months.
He's still managing his post-traumatic stress (he won't use the word "disorder") and advocating on behalf of other POWs and MIA soldiers. For the veteran, 82, accepting a medal from Governor Rick Scott wasn't about himself or his experiences. It was about remembering his fellow POWs who couldn't be there....
04/06/14 State Roundup
The White House celebrated last week when 7.1 million Americans signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act marketplaces since they opened in October 2013.
Predictably, the law's critics were not as thrilled. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., spoke on Hannity Tuesday night about what he sees as the reform's shortcomings.
"I mean, the purpose of Obamacare was not to get 7 million people or 6 million people, or whatever the number now is, to sign up on a website," Rubio said. "The purpose of Obamacare, according to them, was to get more people insurance. And by all accounts, it's going to fall woefully short. You're still going to have 30-some-odd million people in this country uninsured."...
03/04/14 State Roundup
In Gov. Rick Scott's State of the State address Tuesday, he said he had fulfilled his key 2010 campaign promises to curb spending and help employment rebound. He also touted the state's education system....
Clearwater resident Lucas Overby likes to say he's a U.S. congressional candidate because he never made it as a rock star.
At 27, the husband and father has ditched the mohawk from his band days, but still shows off more than a handful of tattoos. Overby, a Libertarian, will likely add one to his collection after he faces off against Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly in the March 11 special election to fill the late C.W. Bill Young's seat....
01/14/14 Mass Transit
As the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority ushered in the new year, it passed the one-year anniversary for the North County Connector system. That's the service started in December 2012, using small, wheelchair-accessible shuttles to run three designated routes through North Pinellas and the surrounding area.
The buses deviate from their routes to pick up and drop off passengers from nearby locations such as homes, businesses, malls and movie theaters....
David Jolly won Pinellas County's nationally watched Republican congressional primary by a wide margin on Tuesday, setting the stage for a costly and intense general election battle with Democrat Alex Sink.
Jolly, 41, a former congressional aide and Washington lobbyist, won 45 percent of the vote, followed by state Rep. Kathleen Peters with 31 percent and Mark Bircher with 24 percent, according to unofficial results....
01/10/14 State Roundup
"Our economy still has three people looking for every job (opening)."
Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, Jan. 5 on CNN's State of the Union
To check the 3-to-1 ratio claim from Sperling, who's also a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, we needed to know two things: the number of available jobs and the number of unemployed Americans. A White House spokesman referred us to a couple of Bureau of Labor Statistics reports....
01/07/14 Human Interest
TARPON SPRINGS — When Hercules Ypsilanti sold his prized possession, he turned down a $5,000 offer in favor of $10 and three avocados.
The Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society collected his father's 1926 Chevrolet "jitney" bus from his shed the day after Christmas, nearly a century after Kevitos Ypsilanti started shuttling residents around town in it for about a dime per ride.
It's fitting that Cyndi Tarapani, president of the historical society and original owner of those avocados, commissioned a father-son team, Wayne and Marc Hancock, to restore the bus. It hasn't known life outside a dusty shed since 1951....
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Tarpon Springs closed temporarily in November because of two hidden sinkholes on the property, but the community's spirit is still going strong.
"The church is still intact, it's just the building that's a little sick right now," church president Ann Rainey said.
No one is permitted in the historic church building until engineers finish running tests and issue their report, expected in mid January....
01/02/14 Human Interest
LARGO — The Christmas season brings many gifts, but for two Largo families confronted by the possible death of a loved one, the sweetest gift of all was life. The givers: Strangers who heard a scream and ran toward the sound, not knowing what was wrong, but still ready to help.
Thanks to them, two families remain whole and the stricken individuals they helped survived to see the new year arrive Wednesday....
12/31/13 Human Interest
PALM HARBOR — The Wolfe family, 60 members strong, gets a good exercise in conversational Darwinism each December in Palm Harbor.
"You've got to talk fast and loud in this family," said Chris Wolfe, one of 10 grown children in the family. He said of the introverts of the bunch, laughing, "I'm sure they get to talk at home."
Every year since 1973, Kathy Wolfe and her children have left Davenport, Iowa, to spend Christmas at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club here....
Largo resident Erik Norrie's trip to the Bahamas in October wasn't exactly a vacation. It was a mission.
Norrie, 41, looked out at the waters of Abaco Islands, where a shark had taken a bite out of his left calf in August. Now he planned to catch that same shark and release it as a symbol of his forgiveness.
Norrie, who has been fishing his entire life, wasn't afraid — he had gone back on the water as soon as doctors would let him....
This weekend, residents young and old can tour Largo Central Park via train.
That is, via a one-eighth scale model of a real train that carries passengers on a mile-long journey around the leafy 70-acre park, through a 160-foot-long tunnel, and up and over a man-made lake and waterfall.
Volunteers from a club called the Largo Central Railroad operate the four to six miniature trains that represent different eras of U.S. railroading. Everything about the design of the trains is authentic, from the engines to the whistles, right down to the paint schemes....
12/24/13 Human Interest
LARGO — Karen Altieri's Christmas cheer has four legs and a penchant for carrying her shoes around her Largo back yard. That's Christmas, a 1-year-old female pit bull mix with a short, dark brown coat. She doesn't know it yet, but there's a beef marrow bone from Santa that has her name on it.
Altieri and her husband, Jan Majewski, both volunteers at Pinellas County Animal Services, took in the dog for two days as part of the shelter's Operation: Home for the Holidays....
"Half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months."
President Barack Obama, Oct. 17 in a public address
The White House pointed us to a recent Business Roundtable survey.
"Fifty percent of responding CEOs indicated that the ongoing disagreement in Washington over the 2014 budget and the debt ceiling is having a negative impact on their plans for hiring additional employees over the next six months," the report reads....