LARGO — For 26 years, the Missing Links Driving Range has been a familiar sight on East Bay Drive, with its ice cream hut, miniature golf course, batting cages and the persistent "thwack" of golf clubs hitting golf balls.
But by the end of next summer, it is set to go away, another victim of market forces. The plan is to replace it with a large RaceTrac gas station and convenience store. The RaceTrac will be across the street from a large Rally gas station and convenience store....
12/08/13 Human Interest
Just two days before he was supposed to leave Iraq in 2006, Army Sgt. Taylor Urruela was riding in a Humvee that hit a roadside bomb, mangling his right leg.
After 35 surgeries, the Tampa 27-year-old agreed to have his leg amputated. Before long, he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and was drinking away his pain.
Last year, he and a fellow veteran founded VETSports, a nonprofit sports league with roughly 100 players in several cities — all of them wounded vets. The idea is to help them overcome their injuries through physical activity and teamwork....
11/25/13 Local Government
LARGO — The "boom boom boom" of a heavy bass beat is incredibly annoying to some people — especially when the sound is blasting out of a car on the road.
In recent months, Tampa and Brooksville have passed ordinances requiring drivers to turn down the volume on thundering car stereos or pay a fine.
Some Largo officials are interested in doing the same thing, but there's not enough political support for a loud stereo ban in Largo....
11/12/13 Real Estate
LARGO — The decaying remains of a golf driving range sit off 66th Street N just south of Ulmerton Road. There's a two-story structure that used to house air-conditioned tee boxes. The large site has long been abandoned and overgrown with vegetation, a 13-acre void in southeast Largo.
Now a developer has bought the property and is in talks with the city about building hundreds of market-rate apartments there. It's the same developer who's building 260 apartments at the former site of the Briarwood Travel Villa RV Park, 4 miles to the west near Largo Mall....
11/08/13 Public Safety
LARGO — With the recent departures of Largo's police and fire chiefs, a new generation of leaders is taking the reins of the city's public safety agencies.
In each case, the former second-in-command was promoted to the top post. And now the new chiefs have chosen their own seconds-in-command.
At a City Commission meeting last week, Shelby Willis was formally named Largo's fire chief. A 16-year veteran of the department, she is Largo's first female fire chief and the only female fire chief in Pinellas County....
LARGO — The business sign in front of 1200 Starkey Road rises at least 25 feet into the air. ALL ABOUT GRILLS, it reads, referring to a closed business. Red and yellow flames draw drivers' eyes to the roadside sign.
The tall sign could easily be reused by the building's next tenant — it's the most colorful thing on a stretch of road that's not exactly scenic. But the man who owns the sign will be forced to replace it before long, costing him thousands of dollars....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster strode into the SPIFFS International Folk Fair at Vinoy Park under drizzly skies Saturday, dodging fresh puddles in his dress shoes. "They're tearing up my park," he joked.
He watched the ethnic festival's parade of nations, clapping in time to the sounds of bagpipes and accordions. And when he was mistakenly introduced from the main stage as "Rick Foster," the mayor cracked a wide smile. It's been a long, long campaign....
10/29/13 Local Government
LARGO — Claudette Nowicki of Largo is 75 years old and is an avid user of the Pinellas Trail. Here's how she gets her bike onto the trail from her neighborhood:
"If you want to ride on the trail," she said, "you have to get off your bicycle and crawl on your hands and knees across a ditch and drag your bicycle with you."
The Pinellas Trail is 34 miles long, and 3 miles of it cut north-south through Largo. But some of the Largo portion of the trail looks a little unloved....
NEW PORT RICHEY — A 49-year-old female passenger on a Harley-Davidson was killed Saturday night when the motorcycle collided with a car while trying to pass it, state troopers said.
The name of the deceased Port Richey woman hasn't been released pending notification of her family.
Shortly after 10 p.m., the Harley-Davidson and a Saturn L200 sedan were both northbound on Rowan Road north of Massachusetts Avenue, just east of New Port Richey. The Florida Highway Patrol gave the following account of what happened:...
CLEARWATER — Police shot and killed a 69-year-old man Saturday in a bizarre standoff at the man's home after he expressed suicidal thoughts to a friend, authorities said.
David DiRoma, who had worked as a handyman and general contractor, was killed by a single gunshot at his house at 3018 Merrill Ave., located off McMullen-Booth Road just north of the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex....
10/22/13 Local Government
LARGO — The idea behind the city's parkland impact fee is this: Developers should pay Largo money to provide parks for the residents who will be living in their new apartment complexes, condos and subdivisions.
But for the past two years, Largo has had a moratorium on its parkland impact fee in the interest of spurring development.
Next month, the city's elected officials will be asked to extend the moratorium for another two years. Once again, this would be a move to foster development. The market for new multifamily housing appears to be heating up, and Largo hopes to woo apartment developers....
CLEARWATER — Largo Mayor Pat Gerard announced Monday that she's running for the Pinellas County Commission seat currently held by Norm Roche.
Gerard, 63, has been Largo's mayor for seven years, winning three mayoral elections. She was a Largo city commissioner for six years before becoming mayor.
"At this point in time, there's only one other person who's filed for that race. I think voters need a choice," she said. "I think I have a lot of common sense. I make my decisions based on what my community needs, not on what's going to get me re-elected."...
LARGO — Walmart gets plenty of criticism, but there's no shortage of job seekers eager to work there.
That's apparent as hundreds of applicants make their way to a hiring center for a Walmart Supercenter that will open in January at the southeast corner of U.S. 19 and Roosevelt Boulevard.
Roughly 300 jobs are being filled by the hiring center, which will stay open through November in an office building near the store site....
10/17/13 Human Interest
CLEARWATER — For a while, all the stressful things grabbing for people's attention got drowned out by the sounds of keyboards and guitars and horns.
Worried about our dysfunctional government, flood insurance rates, the jobless recovery or Tampa Bay's winless NFL team? Those kinds of problems faded into the distance Thursday as musicians took the stage for opening night of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday....
LARGO — At the far southwest corner of Largo, there's a place called the Indian Rocks Shopping Center. After the holidays, some changes are coming here.
The center at Indian Rocks and Walsingham roads is anchored by a Publix that's bookended by a Bealls Outlet and a Dollar Tree. There are about 10 other businesses there as well.
Early next year, the aging Publix will be torn down. A more modern, 46,000-square-foot supermarket will rise in its place....