07/29/14 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — Last time Clearwater chose a new police chief, City Manager Bill Horne launched a national search, sifted through more than 100 applications and conducted about a dozen interviews in a span of roughly five months.
This time around, Horne found the new chief among the Police Department's command staff within a week.
Horne's announcement Tuesday that patrol operations Maj. Dan Slaughter would lead the department beginning next month was widely praised by city and police officials....
07/27/14 Public Safety
BROOKSVILLE — Katherine Lynn Bryan grew up in New Port Richey, the youngest in a tight-knit group of four siblings. She recently got married and became Katherine Hoover. At the age of 25, she was five months pregnant. The new baby was going to be her second son.
Instead, a tragic gun accident at a friend's house left the young mother and her unborn child dead Sunday.
"What has happened is truly a tragic shock," said a distraught Gary Bryan, one of her brothers. "My sister was a wonderful and special woman. She was a wonderful wife and mother. She had just gotten married and was getting herself established."...
CLEARWATER — When the renovated Capitol Theatre reopened for business last December, concertgoers were wowed by its acoustics, its lineup of shows, its state-of-the-art sound system, its wraparound exterior balcony and the cool bars in its lobby and mezzanine.
But one promised piece was missing on opening night — Frenchy's Rooftop Terrace, a bar on the theater's roof.
"We just wanted to get the building ready so the performances could begin. The construction was completed so quickly, we had no time to plan beyond that," said Zev Buffman, president and CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall, which manages the city-owned Capitol Theatre....
07/21/14 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — The last time Clearwater looked for a new police chief, it had to replace Sid Klein, a legendary figure who retired after nearly three decades as chief. So the city launched a national search and chose Tony Holloway from 100 candidates.
Now, four years later, Holloway is the one who's leaving. This time, the city manager is looking to fill the job from within the Clearwater Police Department....
07/17/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — A seven-story parking garage at the north end of Clearwater Beach's tourist district keeps moving closer to reality despite persistent opposition by an assortment of nearby residents.
The 642-space garage is to be built at the Pelican Walk Plaza on Mandalay Avenue at Baymont Street. It cleared a significant legal obstacle this week when its design, size and location were unanimously approved by Clearwater's Community Development Board....
CLEARWATER — It's hard to miss the big construction crane that's building a new hotel right alongside the sand on Clearwater Beach.
If the activity at City Hall is any indication, more construction cranes will be heading to the beach to join that one.
The Clearwater City Council has approved plans for two more beach hotels. Those two join a flurry of other big-ticket hotel projects that were already planned for the beach's tourist district....
CLEARWATER — A weak and malnourished baby dolphin that was rescued on a local beach on the Fourth of July is being nursed back to health at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Beachgoers noticed a small, young dolphin struggling ashore Friday on Redington Beach. Aquarium workers helped the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in rescuing the animal, identified as a female Atlantic spotted dolphin....
07/05/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — Is there any hope for sleepy downtown Clearwater? Is it worth saving? And in the year 2014, in these decentralized, disconnected times, does a city even need a downtown anymore?
These are questions that leaders and residents of Tampa Bay's third-largest city will have to grapple with in the near future.
When experts from the nonprofit Urban Land Institute recently made a slew of recommendations for reviving downtown Clearwater, their suggestion that the city and the Church of Scientology work together got all the attention....
TARPON SPRINGS — For 52 days behind bars in a dilapidated Central American jail, the six-man crew of the Aqua Quest suffered through heat, mosquitoes, bad food, isolation, volatile inmates and guards and occasional gunshots.
No one could say when they would be released, or even if they would. They faced up to 12 years in prison after Honduran authorities found guns aboard their boat and jailed them on weapons charges. The crew said they kept the guns for protection....
06/25/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — Change is coming to some of Clearwater's libraries, and not everyone is happy about it.
More than a year after city leaders decided to move the Countryside Library, some residents of Clearwater's northeastern suburbs are mounting an 11th-hour petition drive to oppose the move.
Meanwhile, a few miles to the south, plans to combine the city's East Branch Library with a new St. Petersburg College library are mired in some gray areas. The city will soon be forced to decide, once and for all, whether to do this....
CLEARWATER — A judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed by two residents that sought to derail the results of a Nov. 5 voter referendum that approved a new downtown aquarium.
The plaintiffs, Thomas Petersen and Inge Spatuzzi, argued that the city violated the Florida Constitution by entering into a tentative agreement with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. They argued that the referendum's results should be voided because the ballot's language was defective....
After seven weeks in captivity, the crew of the Aqua Quest may be coming home.
Since May 5, the six-member crew of a Tarpon Springs marine salvage boat has been jailed in Honduras, accused of smuggling arms into that Central American country. They have insisted they had a handful of guns on board only for protection against piracy in international waters.
A number of American lawmakers have been working to free the men, including Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor....
06/20/14 Special Topics
CLEARWATER — For downtown Clearwater to thrive, city leaders and the Church of Scientology should work together and communicate better, a group of outside experts recommended Friday.
Of course, that might be easier said than done.
A panel of seven experts with the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit education and research group based in Washington, D.C., spent this week immersing themselves in Clearwater's downtown and meeting with all of its major players....
Timothy Deegan, the son of a former Clearwater city commissioner who worked with the Catholic church, spent his teen years in a waterfront home on Island Estates. He went to the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he spent the ensuing decades establishing his life as a well-known tax accountant who lived in a well-to-do home complete with a sculpture of St. Francis.
Now Deegan is in the Alachua County Jail, accused of living a sordid secret life of sexual assault, drugs and terror. The 53-year-old is accused of enslaving three women in his home, prostituting them, videotaping sex acts that he posted online, and feeding them drugs in exchange for sex and housekeeping....