NEW PORT RICHEY — Shirley Findel lives in a two-bedroom house in Gulf Harbors that her husband, Harry, inherited from his father. With 1 1/2 baths and pink shutters, it was built in 1972.
She drives a 2004 Mercury.
"I only drive it to Publix and church," said Mrs. Findel, whose accent is a mix of Southern belle and New York beat cop.
She and Harry, a hazel-eyed Marine she married in 1954 after they met at a dance in her native North Carolina, lived frugally as he worked 23 years as an engineer for the Long Island Railroad and she raised their two kids. He opted for a pension plan that had a lower payout but would allow his bride to be supported after his death....
DADE CITY — Police said the man at the apartment complex made Stephanie Ross nervous. As a Medicaid caseworker, the 25-year-old recent USF graduate had visited him three times. Ross' job was to make sure Lucious Smith and about 35 other mentally ill clients took their medications and got treatment to keep them out of hospitals.
She wrote in her case notes that some of Smith's statements made her uncomfortable and two workers should be sent to his home. But Ross' supervisor approved the notes, according to police reports, and continued to send Ross to Smith's home alone....
TRINITY — A 333-acre development that will include an outdoor mall, movie theater, bike and walking trails, along with nearly 1,000 homes, has been proposed at one of Pasco County's main growth hubs.
The project would be built at the southwest corner of State Road 54 and Little Road, on land owned by the pioneer Mitchell family, who raised cattle there for generations. Kitson & Partners has a contract on the property but has not closed, company vice president Debra Dremann said....
ODESSA — Four years ago, Dais Analytic Corp. executives promised they could turn wastewater into drinkable water if Pasco County officials let the company use part of an old sewage treatment plant as a testing ground for its water purification technology.
On Monday, company CEO Tim Tangredi held up two containers, one with rust-colored water used for watering lawns, and the other with clear, clean water....
DADE CITY — Inside a bland conference room, three consultants in coats and ties showed Dade City leaders the things they'll need to do differently to become a go-to place for young, creative geniuses in the next 20 years.
Don't fear change.
Don't glare when bearded, long-haired guys in flip-flops walk into your restaurant.
Get a nightlife.
Make liberal use of social media....
02/28/14 Human Interest
Jonathan Leon grinned big as someone pinned a red second-place ribbon on his yellow T-shirt.
"My friend won, too," he said, referring to competitor Landon Bevell, 6, who scored a blue ribbon in the 25-meter dash on Friday at Wesley Chapel High School.
The pair exchanged hugs and high fives immediately after the race, which Landon won by a couple of steps.
Welcome to Special Olympics, where athletes are just as thrilled for the person who beat them as they are for themselves. Where trying and succeeding are equally celebrated. Where each competitor goes home with a ribbon and everyone is made to feel, well, special. ...
DADE CITY — Stalled two years ago because of a chatty prospective juror, the trial for one of two men accused in the 2006 roadside execution-style killings of two Wesley Chapel teens is set to begin Monday.
Tyree Jenkins, now 28, is one of two co-defendants in the shootings of 17-year-old Derek Pieper and 18-year-old Raymond Veluz, whose bodies were found lying face down on Harris Hill Road. Witnesses said Pieper and Veluz were trying to buy marijuana. Pieper, who had met Jenkins' co-defendant, Luc Pierre-Charles, at school, had dabbled in drugs, but had changed his lifestyle, authorities said. His mother disputes that claim, saying Pieper was never into drugs but merely gave Pierre-Charles rides after befriending him at school....
WESLEY CHAPEL — The power of German engineering is coming to Wesley Chapel.
A 22,804-square-foot Volkswagen dealership on State Road 56 just east of Interstate 75 is in the works, according to plans submitted to Pasco County.
The dealership will sit almost directly across SR 56 from its fellow European dealer Mini, whose cars have been called the British counterpart to VW's Beetle....
WESLEY CHAPEL — Ten people, including eight children, suffered minor injuries and when a day care bus collided with a car Friday afternoon.
The bus was coming from Double Branch Elementary to Kids R Kids when the accident happened about 4:10 p.m. at State Road 56 and Mansfield Boulevard.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the day care bus was headed west on SR 56 when driver Crystal Ann Sithong, 39, tried to turn left onto Mansfield. When she did, the bus collided with a 2006 Chrysler that was headed east. The impact crushed the front of the Chrysler and pushed the bus over onto its left side, the FHP report said....
02/21/14 Real Estate
ODESSA — The county's movers and shakers dined on jambalaya and posed for pictures with the loblolly bay tree they had ceremonially planted at Starkey Ranch, the newest planned community that expects to be selling homes by next year.
They oohed and ahhed over bedsheet-sized maps hanging between the openings in the pavilion that diagramed future homes, retailers and a never-before-tried venture: a park, library, and K-8 school site shared between the county and Pasco school district....
02/20/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County officials, frustrated at their 15-year fight to get an environmental permit to extend Ridge Road, are considering turning to a Washington heavyweight for help.
County officials said they're thinking of hiring Van Scoyoc Associates Inc. to help get a wetlands permit approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It's not the first time they've turned to lobbyists for help. Pasco spent tens of thousands of dollars over more than a decade in attempts to get the road project approved....
TRINITY — For about seven years it has sat mostly empty, with some of its cream-colored buildings only partly finished. The upscale boutiques and restaurants promised in news releases never happened. It was supposed to have the county's first parking garage, but the Shops at Wiregrass snagged that honor.
But now Trinity Town Center is actively seeking tenants.
The retail complex, at Little Road and Trinity Boulevard, is owned by Bill Planes, a Tarpon Springs man who once served three years in federal prison for embezzling $140,000 from a South Florida mortgage company. ...
02/14/14 Human Interest
Most engaged couples go ring shopping together. Kaylyn Conrad and John Eaton also went shoe shopping.
The 23-year-olds from Shady Hills bought matching red Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars for their wedding on Friday. The canvas sneakers, along with Conrad's sunflower bouquet, made the pair stand out among the 19 couples who showed up for the Valentine's Day wedding ceremony open to all comers....
The bullet fired into the chest of the man who died inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater last month also grazed his right hand, indicating the victim might have raised it at the moment he was shot, according to the autopsy report released Wednesday.
Chad Oulson was shot inside the Grove Cobb 16 theater Jan. 13 in what authorities described as an argument over texting. Curtis Reeves Jr., a 71-year-old retired Tampa police captain, became agitated about the texting, authorities say, and shot Oulson as the argument escalated. Reeves is charged with second-degree murder....
02/09/14 Human Interest
Many of the folks in leather jackets, jeans and helmets had never met Chad Oulson, the 43-year-old Land O'Lakes man who was killed last month in a movie theater shooting during an argument with a retired police captain over texting.
They didn't know he had no life insurance and had been researching college funds for his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Alexis, in the weeks before he died....