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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


  1. Homeless man dies from punch in face at St. Petersburg's Williams Park


    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....

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


    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:...

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


    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:...

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


    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....

  5. 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. 
  6. Here's a look at Tampa Bay's most crash-prone intersections


    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: ...

    The intersection of Dale Mabry Highway and Bearss Avenue that turns into Ehrlich Road. A study found this to be Hillsborough County’s worst spot for crashes involving injuries.
  7. Clearwater homeless shelter faces a new challenge — termites



    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....

    HEP resident Richard Nieradka rakes at the housing complex. With a capacity of 365 residents, HEP is almost always full.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. Where to start in reviving downtown Clearwater?

    Local Government


    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.
  11. Clearwater revamping Blast Friday events downtown


    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....

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


    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....

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


    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.
  14. Lawsuit seeking to save Belleview Biltmore is dismissed


    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....

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


    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.