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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. 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....

  2. 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....

  3. 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.'...

    World War II veteran Charles Logsdon, 85, of St. Petersburg, holds a photo of one of the 1946 nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll.
  4. 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....

  5. Long-delayed completion of Pinellas Trail loop is back on track

    Transportation

    Way back in 2006, local dignitaries kicked off the construction of the Progress Energy Trail. When this 20-mile-long bicycle trail along a power line corridor was finished, it would link up with the popular Pinellas Trail to create a 70-mile loop all the way around Pinellas County.

    By 2008, the first of five phases of the trail was complete. In 2011, Duke Energy bought Progress Energy. And no work has been done on the trail since then, frustrating bicyclists on the eastern side of the county....

    Keith Evans of Dunedin rides his bike over U.S. 19 using the Progress Energy Trail overpass. Under a deal with Pinellas County, the trail will soon be called the Duke Energy Trail.
  6. Postmortem: Gerard vs. Hooper

    Blog

    One of the closest and hardest-fought local races Tuesday night was the contest for the countywide District 2 seat on the Pinellas County Commission. Largo Mayor Pat Gerard edged out state Rep. Ed Hooper by 51 to 49 percent, ensuring that the commission will have a Democratic majority for the first time in 50 years.

    "There was a time when you wouldn't have run as a Democrat in this county. Times have changed," said gerard, who has served on the Largo City Commission for 14 years, the past eight as the city's first female mayor....

  7. Brandes, Latvala and Lee headed to state Senate victories

    Elections

    State Senate

    Republican incumbent Jeff Brandes cruised to an easy victory Tuesday night over scrappy Democratic challenger Judithanne McLauchlan, winning a second term to represent District 22 in the state Senate.

    Brandes first won the swing district seat, which covers a large swath of south Pinellas and parts of South Tampa, in 2012.

    With all of the precincts reported Tuesday, Brandes was ahead by a more than a 3-2 ratio....

    Brandes
  8. Gerard, Eggers prevail in Pinellas County Commission races

    Elections

    After a hard-fought race went down to the wire Tuesday night, the Pinellas County Commission will have a Democratic majority for the first time in 50 years.

    "There was a time when you wouldn't have run as a Democrat in this county," said Largo Mayor Pat Gerard, who won the countywide District 2 seat on the commission. "Times have changed."

    In one of the closest local races of the night, Gerard edged out state Rep. Ed Hooper by 51 to 49 percent. She'll take the seat that was held by vanquished Commissioner Norm Roche, whom Hooper earlier defeated in the Republican primary....

    Eggers
  9. Roads not taken: Failed transportation plans left Tampa Bay where it is today

    Transportation

    Call it the road not taken.

    On the eve of Pinellas County's biggest transportation vote in decades, it's worth taking a spin through the Tampa Bay transportation plans of the past that are now collecting dust in file cabinets.

    The St. Petersburg-Clearwater Expressway. The Pinellas Parkway toll road. The Clearwater Monorail. Tampa's rail plan. Pinellas' first three rail plans. The Brandon Beltway. The Bi-County Thruway....

    U.S. 19: Drivers in Pinellas have been forced to make do with the jammed surface road for years, despite a need for a freeway. Piecemeal work to limit access has been costly.
  10. Clearwater seeks to cut noise from trains in its downtown

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Railroad tracks have been running through downtown Clearwater since 1910. Nearly a century later, the Station Square condominium tower opened in 2008, pretty much right next to the tracks.

    Now Station Square residents are complaining about the noise from train horns. In response, the city of Clearwater is preparing to spend public money to establish a railroad "quiet zone," an area where train engineers don't have to sound their horns....

  11. Church of Scientology resists Clearwater aquarium's plans to move downtown

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — It can be argued that the two biggest names in Clearwater are Winter the dolphin and L. Ron Hubbard. Now a behind-the-scenes dispute between their followers has broken out into the open.

    Officials from the Church of Scientology, the biggest property owner in downtown Clearwater, are quietly lobbying Pinellas County commissioners, voi­cing their opposition to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's plans to relocate downtown....

    Members of the Church of Scientology walk along Fort Harrison last year after the dedication of its massive new Flag Building. Officials from the church, the biggest property owner in downtown Clearwater, are lobbying Pinellas County commissioners, voicing opposition to a plan to relocate the Clearwater Marine Aquarium downtown.
  12. Clearwater considers switch to once-a-week trash collection

    Blog

    CLEARWATER — Last year, a flurry of angry phone calls prompted Clearwater to cancel a pilot program to reduce trash collection from twice a week to once a week in a couple of neighborhoods.

    Now the issue is back. Clearwater leaders are strongly considering switching to once-a-week garbage collection citywide. They know they would take some heat for it, too — especially because residents’ trash pickup bills wouldn’t go down....

  13. Clearwater considers switch to once-a-week trash collection

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Last year, a flurry of angry phone calls prompted Clearwater to cancel a pilot program to reduce trash collection from twice a week to once a week in a couple of neighborhoods.

    Now the issue is back. Clearwater leaders are strongly considering switching to once-a-week garbage collection citywide. They know they would take some heat for it, too — especially because residents' trash pickup bills wouldn't go down....

  14. Clearwater Jazz Holiday kicks off with Earth, Wind and Fire

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — By the time Earth, Wind and Fire took the stage on the opening night of this year's Clearwater Jazz Holiday, downtown Clearwater's Coachman Park was jam-packed with music lovers looking to get their groove on.

    The long-running Chicago-based group cranked out their familiar blend of funk, soul and R&B. They're a big draw to be sure, but they're no one's idea of a jazz act....

    Earth, Wind and Fire founding members (from left) Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson take the stage on Thursday as the headline act for the opening night of the 35th Anniversary Clearwater Jazz Holiday at Coachman Park in Clearwater. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  15. Clearwater Marine Aquarium launches campaign to save near-extinct porpoise species

    Wildlife

    CLEARWATER — Seeking to harness the fame of its dolphins, Winter and Hope, for a worthy cause, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is launching a campaign to save a near-extinct species of porpoise.

    The aquarium announced Friday that it's spearheading an effort to save the vaquita, a rare species of porpoise that lives in the northern part of the Gulf of California in Mexican territory.

    The estimated number of vaquita dropped below 100 this year, putting it in danger of extinction. It's the most endangered marine mammal species in the world, according to the National Academy of Sciences....

    Aquarium CEO David Yates announces the campaign Friday. Fans of dolphins Winter and Hope are urged to sign a petition at the aquarium website, seewinter.com, to send to Mexico’s president.