LARGO — The 104th Street Bloods. The 119 Boys. The Young Souljas. Latin Kings. Crips. Y-Side. Sur 13. Nation of Thugs. Asian Pride.
These are all street gangs in Largo, where police say gang activity is increasing.
Just five years ago, the Largo Police Department documented only 30 active gang members and associates in the city. These days, police say they track about 500 of them in more than 30 gangs....
CLEARWATER — Health food grocery chain Whole Foods Market has finally confirmed that it is coming to Clearwater.
Whole Foods has signed a lease to take over the lower level of Sears in Westfield Countryside Mall — the same arrangement it has made with Sears at a few other malls around the United States.
Construction is to begin in summer, and the grocery store should open sometime next year....
04/30/13 Local Government
CLEARWATER — Reacting to what residents of Clearwater's northeastern suburbs have been telling them, City Council members will likely vote tonight to build a new Countryside Library instead of renovating the existing one.
The push for a new library is on because the Countryside branch, on State Road 580, is regarded as too small and dated. It was built in 1988, before computers and the Internet were part of daily life....
CLEARWATER -- This city’s Community Development Board is a panel of seven volunteers who review the plans of real estate developers. It has long been a training ground for future City Council members. The board’s longtime chairman, Nick Fritsch, recently stepped down when his most recent term ended.
Time to pick a new chairperson. The job is important, but it’s also a huge pain. The chairperson constantly has to explain the board’s highly technical and legalistic rules to normal citizens who are furious that somebody is trying to build something big right next to their property....
CLEARWATER — U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young appears to be pretty peeved at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a troublesome creek dredging project in north Clearwater that has been stalled by one problem after another.
For more than a decade, the congressman and the city of Clearwater have been pushing the corps to dredge the polluted, muck-filled Stevenson Creek estuary. Young, R-Indian Shores, says he has secured federal funding for the job twice....
04/23/13 Local Government
When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spilled roughly 200 million gallons of crude oil in 2010, none of it ever washed up on the shores of Pinellas County.
However, leery tourists stayed away in droves.
That has led the cities of Clearwater and Dunedin to sue the oil giant BP over tens of millions of dollars in lost tax revenues. They join other local governments such as Tampa and Hillsborough County that are also suing BP....
04/19/13 Local Government
CLEARWATER — After hearing from Clearwater Beach residents and hoteliers, Clearwater's elected leaders are holding off on ordering a nearly $440,000 new play structure for Pier 60 Park.
The elaborate concrete play structure in the shape of a giant sand castle would take the place of a row of palm trees in a grassy area just west of the Clearwater Beach Roundabout. It would be near Pier 60's existing playground, which would remain in place....
CLEARWATER -- After hearing from Clearwater Beach residents and hoteliers, Clearwater’s elected leaders are holding off on ordering a nearly $440,000 new playground for Pier 60 Park.
The playground is to feature an elaborate, $330,000 concrete play structure in the shape of a giant sand castle. A site plan shows that the sand castle would take the place of a row of palm trees in a grassy area just west of the Clearwater Beach Roundabout. It would be near Pier 60’s existing playground, which would remain in place....
04/16/13 Local Government
CLEARWATER — This city that has been dismantling playgrounds in neighborhood parks will soon install a nearly $440,000 new playground at Pier 60 Park in the heart of the Clearwater Beach tourist district.
The City Council is set to approve the project at its meeting Thursday night.
Council members also will likely vote to install a $100,000 flag plaza between Pier 60 and the Clearwater Beach Roundabout, displaying the flags of branches of the U.S. military....
04/16/13 Local Government
LARGO — This city hasn't really made a practice of cracking down on cafes that let dogs hang out with their masters in outdoor dining areas, even though the city doesn't have a doggy dining ordinance.
"We haven't had the Largo Police Department knocking on people's doors, as long as they follow health department rules," said Vice Mayor Woody Brown.
At Brown's suggestion, Largo will soon consider making doggy dining legal. He brought up the idea at the request of the owner of the Village Inn at Walsingham and Vonn roads in southwestern Largo. The restaurant wants to allow dogs on its new patio....
LEALMAN — A 60-year-old ex-convict is accused of fatally stabbing his 75-year-old neighbor, a registered sex offender, in a Lealman mobile home park.
Sylvester Johnson was arrested Saturday night on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the death of William David Casey.
Casey's body was found in his home Thursday morning by a neighbor who had come to bring him food....
04/12/13 Local Government
CLEARWATER — More and more places around Pinellas County are allowing restaurants to serve Fido and Rover along with their two-legged human companions. But some of the cities that allow doggy dining are having some minor issues with it.
This past week, Pinellas County decided to let diners bring their dogs to outdoor patios at restaurants in unincorporated areas. Interested restaurants can get a $215 permit, subjecting them to a series of rules in exchange for potentially bringing in more business....
CLEARWATER — A 35-year-old Clearwater woman was charged Friday in the hit-and-run death of her neighbor, a 78-year-old man who was struck by a car while walking his dog.
Police say Yvelise Bradley hit Edward Ortwein last month while Bradley was driving her 12-year-old daughter to school. Investigators say the collision occurred March 20 on the block where both neighbors lived — East Drive, a short residential road near Sunset Point Road and Highland Avenue in north Clearwater....
More and more places around Pinellas County are allowing restaurants to serve Fido and Rover along with their two-legged human companions. But some of the cities that allow doggy dining are having some minor issues with it.
This past week, Pinellas County decided to let diners bring their dogs to outdoor patios at restaurants. Interested restaurants can get a $215 permit, subjecting them to a series of rules in exchange for potentially bringing in more business.
This change mostly affects unincorporated Palm Harbor and unincorporated Seminole....
CLEARWATER — The Great Aquarium War of 2013 has been called off.
Aquarium leaders on both sides of Tampa Bay have declared a truce. They're singing Kumbaya and talking about working together.
This is a marked change from last month, when Clearwater Marine Aquarium leaders first announced their ambitious plans to build a world-class facility in downtown Clearwater.
Across the bay, leaders of the Florida Aquarium in Tampa raised their eyebrows at the plan. "We just don't see this venture being economically feasible," Florida Aquarium CEO Thom Stork said at the time....