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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. 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....

    Jeff Keierleber, owner of the Pier House 60 Marina Hotel, left, isn’t worried the Wyndham will block views from a fifth-floor bar. Next door, at Sea Captain Resort, he has plans for a nine-story hotel.
  2. 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....

    Executive director Karena Morrison, right and assistant executive director Lillie Henry will work to get the Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Center’s programs under way as soon as possible.
  3. 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....

    Plans for the Wyndham in Clearwater Beach include a grand ballroom and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort will seek to lure affluent travelers.
  4. 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....

  5. 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....

  6. 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....

    The boys who would later dive for the Epiphany cross pray inside St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral during the Orthos and Divine Liturgy service. 
  7. 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.
  8. 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....

    Sonny Atwell, from left, Cheryl Atwell and Jordan Atwell, all of Louisville, Ky., play a round of miniature golf recently amid the waterfalls, caves and a pirate ship at Captain Bligh’s Landing at Clearwater Beach.
  9. 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.
  10. 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]
  11. 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.
  12. 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....

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

    Crime

    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:...

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

    Accidents

    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:...

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

    Accidents

    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....