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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

Email: brassfield@tampabay.com

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  1. Suspect charged in Tarpon Springs police officer's slaying (w/video)

    Crime

    TARPON SPRINGS — It was a routine call, a car stereo blaring at 2 a.m. Sunday.

    Officer Charles Kondek, a veteran of the overnight shift, was the first to respond to the small apartment building in Tarpon Springs.

    Moments later, he lay dying in the parking lot, shot in the chest and run over as the suspect sped away.

    The shooter, Marco Antonio Parilla Jr., was caught after a short car chase, investigators said. The 23-year-old with an extensive criminal record including 30 felony charges was wanted for violating probation and told investigators he didn't want to go back to prison. He faces a first-degree murder charge....

    Investigators with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office collect evidence Sunday at Glen’s Eureka Apartments, where seven bullets were fired at Tarpon Springs police Officer Charles Kondek.
  2. Homeless man dies from punch in face at St. Petersburg's Williams Park

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A 33-year-old homeless man died Saturday, a couple of days after he was punched in downtown's Williams Park and fell down, slamming his head onto pavement, police said.

    Eric Clyde Balmonte, who was described as a transient, suffered a skull fracture and brain bleeding in the incident, which occurred about 7 a.m. Thursday, police said. He never regained consciousness and was taken off life-support shortly before noon Saturday....

  3. Pinellas authorities make 16 DUI busts, write 105 tickets overnight

    Crime

    Pinellas County sheriff's deputies, working with other local law enforcement agencies, arrested 16 drivers on DUI charges and wrote more than 100 tickets Friday night and early Saturday in a DUI "wolf pack" operation in which they heavily monitored traffic countywide.

    Clearwater, Pinellas Park and Tarpon Springs police also got involved in the operation, which ran from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday. Here are the results:...

  4. Pinellas deputies: Driver causes six-vehicle crash on McMullen Booth Road

    Accidents

    SAFETY HARBOR — Sheriff's deputies are investigating a six-vehicle crash that happened Friday night on McMullen Booth Road after a driver rear-ended another vehicle and then attempted to flee the scene.

    Investigators say impairment may have been a factor in the crash, which happened about 6 p.m. just south of Curlew Road.

    The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office gave the following account:...

  5. Bicyclist killed in crash on Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg

    Accidents

    ST. PETERSBURG — A bicyclist died early Saturday after a traffic accident on Gandy Boulevard near the on-ramp for Interstate 275.

    The accident happened about 10:15 p.m. Friday. The bicyclist, whose name hasn't been released yet, was pronounced dead shortly after midnight after being transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg in critical condition.

    St. Petersburg police said a 1996 Ford Taurus being driven by Lisa Tillman Walker, 61, of St. Petersburg was eastbound on Gandy in the far left lane. Meanwhile, a bicyclist was eastbound on Gandy on the north side of the far left lane....

  6. Philly soccer franchise to bring spring training to Clearwater

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — For generations of Philadelphia sports fans, a March trip to sunny Clearwater has been a rite of spring. It's a chance to flee the cold and see their beloved Phillies in spring training.

    Now Clearwater is trying to lure them to come down a little earlier — for Philly's pro soccer team's version of spring training.

    On Thursday night, Clearwater's City Council approved a three-year deal with the Major League Soccer franchise Philadelphia Union to move its preseason workouts from the Orlando area to Clearwater beginning this February....

    Philadelphia Union players had been practicing in the Orlando area, but starting in February will be coming to Clearwater. 
  7. Here's a look at Tampa Bay's most crash-prone intersections

    Roads

    You're more likely to get into a car crash during the day. But you're more likely to be killed in a car crash at night. • Drivers making left turns at intersections cause far more accidents than motorists who rear-end other vehicles or drift out of their lane. • And more local drivers are getting distracted by things outside their vehicles than by their own cellphones. • New studies of auto accident trends in the Tampa Bay area unearthed these nuggets of information, and a lot more: ...

    U.S. 19 has the most accident-prone intersections in Pinellas County, especially in the northern parts of the county. Among the most common factors in accidents are distractions, excessive speed and improper turns, said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins.
  8. Clearwater homeless shelter faces a new challenge — termites

    News

    CLEARWATER

    For three decades, the Homeless Emergency Project has overcome all kinds of challenges. There are the difficulties of fundraising, and the tough task of trying to help people who are mentally ill or alcoholic or just plain broke.

    Now comes an unexpected new challenge: termites.

    The discovery of subterranean termites eating away at the flooring of HEP's emergency family shelter has forced the well-regarded local charity to ask the city of Clearwater to double its annual $50,000 contribution....

    Half of the eight units at the Homeless Emergency Project’s Family Emergency Housing complex in Clearwater have been closed pending structural repairs due to a subterranean termite infestation at the property in Clearwater.
  9. On Pearl Harbor day, local survivors of the attack recall the Day of Infamy

    Human Interest

    At first they thought it was a drill. Maybe the local Navy aviators were doing some bombing practice. Strange that it was happening on a Sunday morning, though.

    In his bunk aboard the battleship USS Nevada in Pearl Harbor, an 18-year-old sailor named Tom Collins was working on a macrame belt when he heard machine gun fire. He poked his head out a porthole and saw a plane shoot by with a rising sun painted on its wing....

    The battleship USS Arizona belches smoke as it topples over into the sea during a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,  Dec. 7, 1941
  10. Proposed high-and-dry marina for Clearwater Harbor in limbo

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — You need to make better use of your downtown waterfront, the hired experts told Clearwater. Offer more services for boaters, they said. Make Clearwater a major boating center, they said.

    Of course, it won't be that simple.

    When a panel of experts with the Urban Land Institute analyzed downtown Clearwater earlier this year, they suggested that the city work with the developers of a proposed high-and-dry marina. It would be next to the Seminole Boat Ramp along the Intracoastal Waterway on the northern edge of downtown....

    An aerial photo shows the former Clearwater Bay Marina, a high-and-dry marina that operated at 900 N Osceola Ave. in Clearwater before it closed sometime around 2005.
  11. Where to start in reviving downtown Clearwater?

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER

    The job of reviving downtown Clearwater is so big that it's hard to know where to start.

    It has now been five months since a panel of outside experts with the Urban Land Institute presented the city with a slew of far-reaching recommendations for its downtown.

    That time lag has downtown boosters champing at the bit to get things going in the moribund district....

    In June, experts with the Urban Land Institute presented Clearwater with a large number of recommendations for its downtown.
  12. Clearwater revamping Blast Friday events downtown

    Blog

    CLEARWATER -- Blast Friday, the family-friendly street party held once a month in downtown Clearwater, is intended to give a boost to downtown’s entire Cleveland Street business district.

     

    But despite the large crowds that it can draw, some people question whether the city-sponsored monthly event has had much of a lasting effect.

     

    Keeping that in mind, the city is revamping the event, which is generally held every fourth Friday from December through May....

  13. Second lawsuit seeking to save Belleview Biltmore from demolition is dismissed

    Blog

    BELLEAIR -- A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a preservation advocacy group seeking to save the former Belleview Biltmore hotel from demolition.

    Friends of the Belleview Biltmore and its president, Rae Claire Johnson, had accused Belleair commissioners of nepotism and colluding in the hotel’s sale by failing to enforce both town and federal historic preservation laws. The suit said the town’s inaction gave the Biltmore’s owners carte blanche to illegally withhold routine maintenance in hopes of making a case for demolition....

  14. World War II veterans keep giving their time, volunteering at VA hospitals

    Veterans

    On average, an American World War II veteran dies every three minutes. Another one will be gone by the time you finish reading this story.

    The men and women who defeated Hitler and Tojo can't beat Father Time, and their ranks are thinning at the rate of 413 per day.

    But in the Tampa Bay area, some of these oldest soldiers are still contributing to the cause in their own way: They volunteer at local veterans hospitals.'...

    1975 photo of  WWII Navy Veteran Walter Skeldon of Largo with Admiral John S McCain, Jr., father of John McCain III. [Photo Courtesy of Walter Skeldon]
  15. Lawsuit seeking to save Belleview Biltmore is dismissed

    Civil

    BELLEAIR — A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a preservation advocate seeking to save the former Belleview Biltmore hotel from demolition.

    The lawsuit accused Belleair commissioners of nepotism and colluding in the hotel's sale by failing to enforce the town's historic preservation ordinance. It said the town's inaction gave the Biltmore's owners carte blanche to illegally withhold routine maintenance in hopes of making a case for demolition....