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Mike Brassfield, Times Staff Writer

Mike Brassfield

Mike Brassfield has been with the Tampa Bay Times as a reporter and editor since 1998. He currently covers Clearwater and a variety of other subjects. Previously, he covered crime in St. Petersburg as well as Tampa Bay transportation issues. He also has worked as a Times editor in the Tampa and Clearwater newsrooms.

Phone: (727) 445-4151(727) 445-4151

Email: brassfield@tampabay.com

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  1. Murray Studio Theatre reopens at Ruth Eckerd Hall

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER

    Ruth Eckerd Hall's smallest theater used to have big problems. Its door was next to the stage, letting light in and breaking the mood anytime someone had to leave. Its box office was hard to find. Its chairs squeaked.

    But the newly reopened Murray Studio Theatre has fixed those issues. The doors open in the rear, nowhere near the stage. The box office is in a more obvious spot. The new seats — which are quiet — can be arranged in several different ways, including stadium seating or cabaret style....

    Ella Jet plays at the Murray Studio Theatre, which will also be used for shows produced by the students of the Hoffman School.
  2. Construction work on U.S. 19 reaches milestone

    Roads

    CLEARWATER — After six long years of orange barrels, concrete barriers, periodic road closings and lane shifts, frustrated commuters on U.S. 19 are getting a bit of relief.

    Traffic on U.S. 19 through Clearwater and northern Largo has finally been shifted off the frontage roads and onto a new free-flowing highway that has been constructed down the middle of the roadway corridor....

    Traffic crosses the recently opened northbound lanes of U.S. 19 over Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard in Clearwater.
  3. Lawsuit against Clearwater Marine Aquarium is thrown out

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — An appellate court on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit that sought to derail the results of a 2012 voter referendum that cleared the way for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's potential move to downtown Clearwater. In that referendum, Clearwater got voter approval to negotiate with the aquarium for a 60-year lease on the waterfront property currently occupied by Clearwater's aging City Hall. Those negotiations are still ongoing. The Clearwater residents who filed the lawsuit, Thomas Petersen and Inge Spatuzzi, argued that the referendum's results should be voided because the ballot's language was defective. But the city of Clearwater countered that the ballot language was clear. A circuit judge ruled in the city's favor last June, and an appellate court just upheld his ruling....

  4. Clearwater CEO opens North Pinellas business incubator

    Business

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater is a long way from Silicon Valley. It's not widely known for its high-tech startup companies.

    Locally, Tampa and St. Petersburg have launched business incubators and startup accelerators to give emerging tech entrepreneurs a leg up — Clearwater, not so much.

    However, one local CEO is taking steps to change that.

    Steve Allen, founder and chief executive officer of the growing iDatix Corp., has opened a business incubator on the third floor of his company's headquarters at 1499 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd....

    Steve Allen, founder and CEO of iDatix Corp., opened a tech incubator at his company’s Clearwater headquarters.
  5. Morton Plant Hospital breaks ground on new addition

    Health

    CLEARWATER — Morton Plant Hospital's main building was constructed in 1966, and its age is showing.

    The hospital's maternity ward is outdated. Its operating rooms are too small, and they're stuck in the basement. Most patients have to share their room with a roommate.

    That's why Morton Plant is embarking on the most significant part of a $200 million expansion project that will transform its campus near downtown Clearwater. It's breaking ground on the Doyle Tower, a four-story patient and surgical tower that will be built onto the eastern side of the 687-bed hospital....

    Doyle Tower will also add 52 private rooms, a need at the hospital.
  6. Clearwater to brighten its welcome

    Blog

    CLEARWATER — At the western end of the Howard Frankland Bridge, St. Petersburg has a huge welcome sign, a 75-foot-tall copper-capped tower.

    Meanwhile, at the western end of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Pinellas County’s second-largest city has … nothing, really.

    That’s likely about to change, as Clearwater is strongly considering spending a half-million dollars for a tall entryway monument sign at that location, with a big yellow sun on top....

  7. Clearwater Beach ferry service kicks off

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER

    Here in the Tampa Bay area, we're surrounded by water. Good luck catching a ferry, though. They're nearly non-existent, though the idea has been floated for decades.

    That changed Monday as a ferry began running between Clearwater Beach and the mainland.

    The question is, will people ride it? Will they really leave their cars behind for the chance to skip heavy beach traffic? Ridership appeared low on opening day, but the founders of the privately owned and operated ferry have high hopes....

    Tiffany King, center, Olivia Gibson and Emily Mangano, background, leave Maddie’s Crossing, a 42-person ferry boat, moments after arriving at the Clearwater Municipal Marina from the Clearwater Harbor Marina on one of the ferry’s maiden voyages on Monday.
  8. Clearwater to consider a big welcome sign like St. Petersburg's

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — At the western end of the Howard Frankland Bridge, St. Petersburg has a huge welcome sign, a 75-foot-tall copper-capped tower.

    Meanwhile, at the western end of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Pinellas County's second-largest city has … nothing, really.

    That's likely about to change, as Clearwater is strongly considering spending a half-million dollars for a tall entryway monument sign at that location, with a big yellow sun on top....

    Clearwater’s welcome pillar debuts May 27.
  9. Vote for us, Clearwater Beach says

    Blog

    CLEARWATER -- Anything but first place just isn't an option for Clearwater tourism officials.

     

    They’re using everything in their social media arsenals to get people to vote for Clearwater Beach to be named Florida’s best beach town in a survey being conducted by USA Today.

     

    Clearwater Beach won the same honor in 2013, beating out Siesta Key, Key West and South Beach. The city has posted signs trumpeting this fact....

  10. Vote for us, Clearwater Beach says

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER — Anything but first place just isn't an option for Clearwater tourism officials.

    They're using everything in their social media arsenals to get people to vote for Clearwater Beach to be named Florida's best beach town in a survey being conducted by USA Today.

    Clearwater Beach won the same honor in 2013, beating out Siesta Key, Key West and South Beach. The city has posted signs trumpeting this fact....

  11. Morton Plant Hospital breaks ground on medical tower

    Health

    CLEARWATER — The two years inscribed on the cornerstone were 1916 and 2016.

    The first year is when Morton Plant Hospital was founded by the son of railroad tycoon Henry Plant. The second year is when the hospital's $200 million expansion project will be finished.

    The hospital held a groundbreaking on Thursday for the biggest part of that expansion, drawing a well-to-do crowd to a construction site....

    The four-story tower will feature dedicated women’s services and many other offerings.
  12. Ferry service to run from downtown Clearwater to Clearwater Beach

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER — The last time someone tried running a ferry service between Clearwater Beach and the mainland, it didn't work out. Not enough passengers rode the ferry back in 2000, so the city-sponsored service got discontinued.

    It will be different this time, say the owners of a company that's launching a privately funded Clearwater Beach ferry service. At least initially, the new ferry will be geared toward employees of beach businesses, although other beach visitors won't be turned away if there's enough room on the boat....

    Pontoon boats will first focus on taking workers from downtown Clearwater to their jobs at Clearwater Beach.
  13. Ferry service to run from Clearwater Beach to downtown Clearwater

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER — A private company announced Friday that it will begin a ferry service between Clearwater Beach and downtown Clearwater.

    Beginning next Thursday, employees of Clearwater Beach businesses will be able to board Tropics Boat Tours ferries for $3 per trip. They must provide proof of employment.

    Ferries will run between downtown's Coachman Park, the Clearwater Beach Marina and the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center on a schedule that is yet to be determined. Parking is more readily available at Coachman Park than on the beach....

  14. USF St. Petersburg official resigns for mysterious reasons

    College

    ST. PETERSBURG — Just last summer, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg brought in Dr. Han Reichgelt to be part of its leadership team.

    Now he's suddenly out, for unexplained reasons.

    Reichgelt was hired in June as the school's new regional vice chancellor of academic affairs, essentially making him USFSP's chief academic officer. He moved here from a university in Georgia....

    Han Reichgelt has resigned as USF St. Petersburg’s regional vice chancellor of academic affairs.
  15. Spring training kicks off in Clearwater and Dunedin

    Tourism

    Baseball is a game of tradition — hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, the crack of the bat, the seventh-inning stretch, and rooting for the home team. • Around here, there's a local baseball tradition that's about to return: an annual migration of Northerners arriving to escape the brutal winter weather in Philadelphia and Toronto.

    Spring training opens this weekend in Clearwater and Dunedin. As below-freezing temperatures linger up North, the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays expect to draw plenty of local and vacationing fans who will be slathering on the sunscreen....

    Philadelphia Phillies players report on the first day of spring training at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater on Monday. The first home game is against the University of Tampa Spartans at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Bright House Field.