CLEARWATER -- The Clearwater City Council took care of some important business Thursday night, approving a $392 million budget without a tax increase. Council members also had a lengthy discussion about whether a new Clearwater Beach resort should be required to have 7-foot-wide or 10-foot-wide sidewalks.
But before all that, they had to apologize for the temperature. The council chamber on the top floor of City Hall was pretty steamy....
09/18/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — One of the ugliest, most run-down buildings in Clearwater is in a prominent spot on the well-traveled main route to Clearwater Beach.
The former Parthenon restaurant at the southwest corner of Court Street and Myrtle Avenue has been vacant for years and has racked up nearly $125,000 in code enforcement fines.
Now Walgreens wants to put a store there, but the city has been stubbornly fighting that idea. City staffers have repeatedly denied a developer's efforts to build a 16,500-square-foot Walgreens on 1.6 acres between Court and Chestnut streets and between Myrtle and East avenues....
CLEARWATER — The most famous dolphin in the world spends her days snacking on fish, playing as tourists watch, and getting repeated rounds of physical therapy. Because she swims with a prosthetic tail, her trainers make her do stretches to prevent her spine from curving.
And it's a good thing that Winter's spine is strong, since she's supporting a multimillion-dollar empire built on her back....
CLEARWATER — Dolphin Tale 2, the latest entry in Tampa Bay's very own homegrown film franchise, made a splashy debut Wednesday night in the city where it was filmed.
The movie opens in theaters nationwide Friday. But a sneak-preview screening on Wednesday had Ruth Eckerd Hall's auditorium filled with hundreds of passionate fans.
The first Dolphin Tale movie was a sleeper hit, earning $95 million since its release in 2011. Hopes are high for the sequel. Both films were inspired by the true story of Winter, the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium that learned to swim with a prosthetic tail....
09/10/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — Even as red-light cameras are in retreat elsewhere in Florida, some elected officials in Clearwater are thinking about spreading the cameras to more intersections.
And they're looking at U.S. 19.
They said so after hearing a report from Clearwater's new police chief, Dan Slaughter, about how the cameras are working. The chief says the number of red-light runners and accidents has been dropping at the intersections that are watched by the cameras....
CLEARWATER -- It turns out that Sen. Jack Latvala isn't the only well-known political figure in Clearwater who's had hip surgery recently.
When we saw former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard the other day, he was jauntily using a golf club as a cane. He had just had hip surgery.
Hibbard was also 30 pounds lighter. He lost the weight to make his recovery from surgery go more smoothly. He totally changed his diet. "I'm not on the chicken dinner circuit," said Hibbard, who's not running for office....
Thanks to the turmoil on the Gaza Strip, more than 100 world-class windsurfers from all over the planet will soon head to Clearwater Beach to compete for an international championship.
The RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships were scheduled to be held in Herzliya, Israel. But organizers have decided to move the event due to the continuing unstable situation in that country....
09/03/14 Human Interest
SalonCentric will move HQ to Gateway
An 87,000-square-foot office building in Gateway that has sat empty for more than three years will soon have a major tenant. SalonCentric, a distributor of hair and nail salon products to professionals, is readying the former Paychex building for its new headquarters.
The company, which currently has headquarters in Largo, is a subsidiary of cosmetic giant L'Oreal. It will lease 52,500 square feet for its 180 employees. SalonCentric plans to expand over the next several months, but the number of hires isn't set, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Bray. ...
09/03/14 Human Interest
n May 1, as he prepared to leave for a long boat trip, Robert Mayne took a last look around the living room of his house in Tarpon Springs. It's where he keeps mementos from his recent shipwreck diving expeditions. ...
CLEARWATER -- Sen. Jack Latvala gets a pass for leaving his primary election night party early on Tuesday night. He was recovering from hip replacement surgery that he underwent the previous Friday.
Latvala, R-Clearwater, shared a victory party with fellow legislator Ed Hooper, who won the Republican primary for Pinellas County Commission District 2.
Hooper was marveling that Latvala had even shown up, given that he'd a hip replaced a few days prior. "He's a tough guy," Hooper said....
Republican Chris Latvala and Democrat Steve Sarnoff will face off on Nov. 4 for a Clearwater-Largo state House seat, after scoring victories Tuesday in the only Pinellas County legislative race that had contested primaries for both major parties.
In most other Pinellas legislative races, candidates easily glided to primary victories, with wins by Republicans Chris Sprowls, Bill Young and Jack Latvala. The exception was House District 64, where votes were not even counted because of an ongoing lawsuit. The district covers Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and parts of Hillsborough County. ...
In a dramatic shift in tone, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's updated plans for a new aquarium downtown feature less showmanship and more rehab and rescue.
Gone from the plans is a proposed stadium with 2,000 seats for tourists to take in dolphin shows. Instead, the updated plans, unveiled Friday, feature dolphin habitats and behind-the-scenes tours of animal operating rooms....
08/20/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — A plan that has been floating around for 15 years will finally come to fruition. A large new public parking garage is coming to north Clearwater Beach after elected officials approved a hard-fought agreement with the garage's developer Wednesday night.
The seven-story garage could be built as early as next year at Pelican Walk Plaza, a shopping center in the beach's Mandalay Avenue business district....
08/18/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — Clearwater's elected leaders are poised to approve a seven-story parking garage at the north end of Clearwater Beach's tourist district — with some last-minute changes to the deal.
The 642-space garage is to be built at Pelican Walk Plaza, a shopping center on the busy beach thoroughfare of Mandalay Avenue.
On Wednesday night, the City Council is to vote on a legally binding development agreement with developer Michael Connor to build the garage. A crowd of opponents is expected....
State Senate | District 20
The District 20 Republican primary race pits veteran lawmaker Jack Latvala against Zahid Roy, a Clearwater small-business owner who lost a lopsided race to Latvala two years ago. The winner of the primary will face Libertarian Tony Caso in the Nov. 4 general election. Mike Brassfield, Times staff writer
Jack Latvala, 62