03/07/14 Local Government
OLDSMAR — Last month, former Mayor Jim Ronecker said he didn't want to be considered to fill the vacant seat on the City Council created by the death of Janice Miller on Feb. 8.
But the City Council wouldn't take no for an answer.
So on March 18, Ronecker, 49, will be sworn in to serve until a special city election next March.
The council had considered two potential appointees: Ronecker and Eric Seidel, who was a council member from 2007 to 2009. In addition to being longtime city residents, both met two other requirements for the job: council experience and no aspirations to seek the seat in the special election. Both men volunteered their services....
Latvala has been a political fixture in the bay area, serving as a Pinellas County commissioner since 2000. Latvala was also a member of the Pinellas County School Board from 1992 to 2000. However, the moderate Republican from Palm Harbor recently announced she will not run for re-election and plans to retire from politics.
What's on your nightstand?...
02/28/14 Local Government
EAST LAKE — At least the neighbors can agree on this: The East Lake Tarpon Community Overlay did its job.
The overlay, which was created in 2012, defines the unincorporated community as being ". . . known for its quiet, scenic neighborhoods of unique residential communities and limited small businesses providing a safe and fun place to grow up.'' Pinellas County commissioners are required to follow its guidelines when making planning and land use decisions....
02/21/14 Local Government
OLDSMAR — The City Council has begun the process of choosing someone to fill the council seat vacated by the death of Janice Miller on Feb. 8.
Miller had two years left in her three-year term. The council will have to appoint someone to serve until a special election in March 2015, and the person who wins that election will serve one year until the regular election in March 2016.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Mayor Doug Bevis stressed that the council's appointee now should not have aspirations to run for the seat next March. "They would have an unfair advantage,'' Bevis said....
Since it was published in 1990, O'Brien's The Things They Carried has sold more than 3 million copies. The intertwined short-story collection, based on the author's own wartime experiences in Vietnam, has made its way into high school and college classes, helping students better understand the effects of war on the soldiers who fight it. O'Brien, 67, is the recipient of the National Book Award for his 1978 novel Going After Cacciato, and in 2012 he received the Holbrooke Award from the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. In 2013 he became the first writer of fiction to receive the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. We caught up with O'Brien by phone from his home in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and two sons, ages 8 and 10....
02/14/14 Local Government
PALM HARBOR — Residents along the western end of Bee Pond Road received some unwelcome news last week: Pinellas County has approved a site plan for a developer to build about 120 single-family homes near them.
It will happen on Parcel F, the last large piece of undeveloped land in Innisbrook. It includes 39 acres near Innisbrook's Island golf course.
Once all permits are approved and construction begins, all the trucks and heavy equipment required to build that new subdivision will come down narrow, pastoral Bee Pond Road for as long as five years....
02/11/14 Local Government
OLDSMAR — It's been five months since Vice Mayor Janice Miller announced during a City Council meeting that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. "I am going through treatments … But I'm going to keep working for the city of Oldsmar,'' she said.
Ms. Miller's work for the city ended Saturday, when she died at home with her son, Grant Miller, and husband, Ruben Hernandez, by her side. She was 71....
M. Evelina Galang
Galang is director of the creative writing program at the University of Miami. Her work includes the novel One Tribe and the short story collection Her Wild American Self. In her new novel, Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery, Galang introduces the reader to Angel, a typical teenage girl living in Manila. However, we quickly learn that, although she constantly texts and rebels against her mother, her life is not typical at all. Her father is missing and her mother is reaching the brink of insanity. Galang recently learned that Angel de la Luna has been selected for the 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project, a r ecommended reading list of feminist literature for young people through age 18....
02/07/14 Local Government
OLDSMAR — The organization that oversees BMX racing in the United States has agreed to sign a letter of intent with Oldsmar to designate a proposed Olympic-style track here as an official training facility and also to hold more races here.
"Although it is not in writing yet, what the letter will show is (USA BMX) is making a commitment to hold more multi-year events as well as having the track designated as an official USA BMX training facility,'' City Manager Bruce Haddock said....
Standiford's books include the John Deal mystery series, Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America and several historical narratives, such as The Man Who Invented Christmas and Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad That Crossed an Ocean. He is the founding director of the creative writing program at Florida International University where, since 1985, he has helped launch novelists such as Dennis Lehane, Barbara Parker and Patricia Engel. Standiford is also a screenwriting fellow and graduate of the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and a recipient of the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and the National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in fiction. We caught up with him after his recent visit to Eckerd College, where he was a featured author at the 10th annual Writers in Paradise writing conference....
Falley, a spoken-word artist, became interested in writing and performing through listening to her mother's music in the car as a child. "I was always into song lyrics, and my mom would play Annie Lennox over and over. The distinct lyrics would really hit me — all she could do with words,'' she said. We caught up with Falley, 25, after her recent visit to Admiral Farragut Academy, where she performed and shared poetry tips with students. She is a graduate of State University of New York New Paltz and in 2009 helped start what has grown into one of the largest collegiate spoken-word tournaments in the country, the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational. In 2012, she released a poetry collection, After the Witch Hunt....
01/24/14 Human Interest
On Monday, the chimney came off. The shingles did too.
On Tuesday, the stoop was removed. And by Wednesday morning, Mark Roesch and his employees at Above All Structural in Largo had jacked up the 99-year-old wood-frame bungalow, inserted steel beams underneath and attached wheels to the beams.
Wednesday night was when workers began the delicate job of moving the 1915 Turner house from Clearwater to Heritage Village in Largo, where it will become the 29th historical structure in Pinellas County's living history park....
DiCamillo, well-known for her book turned motion picture Because of Winn-Dixie, has been named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Library of Congress. We caught up with her Jan. 16 by phone from her home in Minneapolis, just a few days after the induction ceremony in Washington, D.C. "I was very nervous and intimidated by the whole thing," said DiCamillo, 49. "But the building, the Library of Congress, is gorgeous, and there were 40 kids who attended the ceremony. I just kept looking at them to stay grounded.'' As ambassador, DiCamillo, a University of Florida graduate, has a simple message: "There's a huge amount of joy to be had in reading. I was a kid who was a big reader. It's how I made sense out of the world.''...
01/20/14 Human Interest
From banjos and fiddles to conch shell horns and Tibetan bowls, the Pinellas Folk Festival at Heritage Village on Saturday promises to be a multicultural affair.
"I think sometimes folk festivals can be too narrow, maybe too Southern, when it comes to performers,'' said Rosemarie Kafer, president of the Pinellas County Historical Society, the fundraising arm for Heritage Village. "With this one, we really tried to bring in folk from around the world.''...
01/14/14 Local Government
OLDSMAR — He has his golf cart outfitted with all the bells and whistles — lights, an $800 battery and even indoor-outdoor carpeting. If everything goes according to plan, by the end of February, Tom Price will be driving his beloved golf cart along streets in his Oldsmar neighborhood.
"I plan on using it nonstop,'' said Price, 49, who has lived in Oldsmar for five years.
The City Council has authorized the city attorney to prepare an ordinance allowing golf carts on the interior streets south of State Road 580 and east of Forest Lakes Boulevard. Once the ordinance is written, the council will discuss approving it, most likely at a meeting in February....