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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. Clearwater launches plan to revive downtown

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Downtown Clearwater doesn't have a Jeff Vinik like Tampa has, or a Bill Edwards like St. Petersburg has. There's no multimillionaire white knight who's looking to invest tens of millions downtown.

    Bearing that in mind, city leaders still hope to get the private sector involved as they embark on a laundry list of projects intended to revive Clearwater's historic downtown core....

    One suggestion from the Urban Land Institute is to make Clearwater a major boating center by capitalizing on the Clearwater Harbor Marina, above, and other facilities.
  2. Restaurateur Frank Chivas named 'Mr. Clearwater'

    Business

    CLEARWATER — He had a tough childhood. His father, a commercial fisherman, was lost at sea when he was just 11. He was placed in foster care.

    At age 16, he moved to Pinellas County, where he eventually started a wholesale fish business. Then he opened a restaurant. Then another. Then another. Then another.

    Along the way, he got seriously involved in his community. So, on Wednesday night, restaurateur Frank Chivas was named "Mr. Clearwater" at the 93rd annual meeting of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce....

    Frank Chivas, who owns such restaurants as Island Way Grill, Salt Rock Grill, Marlin’ Darlin, Rumba and the Salt Rock Tavern, was instrumental in bringing powerboat and windsurfing events to Clearwater. [Julie Busch Branaman photo] 
  3. Clearwater opens new fire headquarters

    Blog

    CLEARWATER -- The huge vehicle bay of Clearwater's new main fire station is big enough to hold four fire engines side-by-side. Monday afternoon, it was filled by a crowd of people for a grand opening ceremony.

     

    The three-story, 33,000-square-foot fire station at 1140 Court St. will double as the Clearwater Fire Department's headquarters. Its top floor is administrative offices, its second floor is living quarters, and its bottom floor is for operations....

  4. Huge Wyndham Grand to have ripple effect on Clearwater Beach surroundings

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER

    The gateway to south Clearwater Beach is going through some changes.

    The upcoming construction of a huge, high-end Wyndham Grand resort just south of Pier 60 and the Clearwater Beach Marina will have a ripple effect on the entire beach, of course. It's another sign of the trend of modern, upscale resorts replacing the beach's older mom-and-pop motels.

    But Dr. Kiran Patel's 700,000-square-foot resort will have an especially profound impact on its immediate surroundings. The well-known philanthropist and health care entrepreneur's resort will be built over the next two years on the nearly 3-acre site of a former parking lot at the split between S Gulfview Boulevard and Coronado Drive....

    Dr. Kiran Patel is in a legal battle with the owners of the property at the Riviera Motel. The building has been declared a nuisance by the city and $250-a-day fines have reached $59,250.
  5. Clearwater's Martin Luther King Jr. center reopening

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATERI have a dream, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said.

    A group of determined neighbors in Clearwater's impoverished North Greenwood area had a dream too — to reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which closed in 2010.

    After years of effort, they're making it come true. On Saturday, just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they're holding a grand reopening ceremony and open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m....

    The renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Center in Clearwater’s North Greenwood area will reopen on Saturday.
  6. Long-delayed Clearwater Beach megaresort to finally break ground

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER — It has long been called the most expensive parking lot in Florida.

    More than a decade ago, high-profile Tampa philanthropist Kiran Patel paid $40 million for 3 acres of prime beachfront property in the heart of Clearwater Beach's tourist district. It was one of the priciest land purchases in Pinellas County history.

    Patel dynamited three aging hotels and hatched plans to replace them with a ritzy "mega-resort." That fell apart when the economy crashed....

    future: A rendering shows the 15-story towers of the 700,000-square-foot Wyndham Grand that is set to open in January 2017, just south of Pier 60.
  7. Clearwater city manager has prostate cancer

    Blog

    CLEARWATER -- Bill Horne, Clearwater’s longtime city manager, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

     

    Horne, 65, said Wednesday that it’s an early diagnosis involving a small amount of cancer, and he’s quite optimistic that it can be successfully treated. He’ll soon begin eight weeks of radiation therapy and intends to keep the same schedule, without missing any work time....

  8. Clearwater city manager has prostate cancer

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Bill Horne, Clearwater's longtime city manager, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

    Horne, 65, said Wednesday that it's an early diagnosis involving a small amount of cancer, and he's quite optimistic that it can be successfully treated. He'll soon begin eight weeks of radiation therapy and intends to keep the same schedule, without missing any work time.

    The disease was detected by a routine prostate cancer screening during Horne's annual physical. As he's been informing friends and colleagues of his condition, Horne says he's been surprised to hear how many of the men aren't getting the same tests done....

  9. Third time's the charm for Tarpon Springs youth who retrieves Epiphany cross

    Religion

    TARPON SPRINGS — The night before Epiphany, 18-year-old Kosta Pseftelis and his friends paid a visit to Spring Bayou to scout out the scene of the annual cross dive. In the moonlit darkness, they peered at the dinghies that were anchored in a semicircle, waiting for the divers to perch on the next day.

    This would be Pseftelis' third and final chance to dive for the cross. Next year he'd be too old. He was looking for an edge, and something told him the second boat on the left might give him a prime position....

    Kosta Pseftelis celebrates finding the Epiphany cross Tuesday in Spring Bayou during the annual celebration in Tarpon Springs.
  10. Church of Scientology works behind scenes against Clearwater Marine Aquarium

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER

    Does the Church of Scientology just want downtown Clearwater all to itself?

    That's the question people are asking now that Scientology, the biggest property owner downtown, is working behind the scenes to fight the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's plans to move there.

    The campaign has become increasingly aggressive. The church has brought in an accountant, an economist and an investigative reporter to dig into the nonprofit aquarium's financial projections and its animal-care history, according to aquarium supporters....

    This rendering shows the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s final downtown project plans based on designs from a new architect.
  11. Clearwater Beach mini golf course to make way for high-rise hotel

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER

    It's a winding maze of wooden walkways, shady grottoes, cascading waterfalls and green-carpeted fairways. Heck, there's even a pirate ship.

    For a quarter-century, families visiting Clearwater Beach and seeking a break from the sand and sun have been stopping by to play 18 holes at a miniature golf course called Captain Bligh's Landing.

    Now Captain Bligh and his pet parrot will have to walk the plank. The course's owners have plans to replace it with a nine-story, 159-room hotel, possibly a Marriott....

    Captain Bligh’s Landing opened in 1989 at Clearwater Beach. Now its owners plan to replace it with a nine-story hotel.
  12. No end in sight for Island Estates eyesore

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Situated among the well-kept waterfront homes of Island Estates, there's an unfinished house that looks like it got hit by a hurricane. All that's left are crumbling tile floors, rotting carpet, strands of rebar, chunks of concrete-block wall, "No Trespassing" signs, overgrown weeds and a swimming pool filled with scum.

    The property, at the south end of one of the fingers of land that make up Island Estates, has a lovely view of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Memorial Causeway bridge. Yet this apocalyptic landscape has sat untouched for three years now....

    David and Aileen Bair’s partially demolished house on Island Estates has sat untouched since 2011 when the city of Clearwater shut down the renovation and the couple sued.
  13. Police union sets up memorial fund, sells T-shirts to honor slain Tarpon Springs officer

    Crime

    TARPON SPRINGS — Before his death early Sunday, Tarpon Springs Police Officer Charles Kondek had just been elected by his fellow officers to be their union representative. His position with the Police Benevolent Association made him the voice of his co-workers in their contract negotiations.

    Now the PBA has established a memorial fund and is selling T-shirts in Kondek's honor. Donations may be made for Kondek's family at any Wells Fargo Bank or mailed to Sun Coast PBA, 14141 46th St. N., Suite 1205, Clearwater, FL 33762. Checks should be made out to Sun Coast Law Enforcement Charities/Officer Charles Kondek Memorial Fund....

    Flowers are placed on a police car near the scene of the shooting of Officer Charles Kondek in Tarpon Springs, Fla. on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Kondek, a 17-year veteran of the local police department and originally from New York, was shot and killed in Tarpon Springs early Sunday responding to a call shortly after 2 a.m. [Monica Herndon   |   Times]
  14. 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....

    Keith Baldwin embraces Kimberly Baldwin, 11, of Tarpon Springs Sunday outside the Tarpon Springs police station. Residents left bouquets at a memorial for Tarpon Springs police Officer Charles Kondek, 45, who was shot to death in the line of duty around 2 a.m. Sunday. He was the first Tarpon officer slain since 1926.
  15. 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....