10/06/09 Human Interest
CLEARWATER — The city's dog lovers will soon have a second option for taking their pooches to a park.
The new Enterprise Dog Park, under construction south of Enterprise Road and just east of U.S. 19, will be finished before the end of the year, said Leroy Chin, the Clearwater park, planning and project manager in charge of the project.
If the weather cooperates, it could open sometime in November, he said....
EAST LAKE — More than six years have passed since Pinellas County leased about 38 acres of the Brooker Creek Preserve to the East Lake Youth Sports Association for ballfields and parking.
The land was supposed to alleviate crowding on the 26-acre sports complex the nonprofit owns next door. But opposition from environmentalists and the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve eventually sank that project. And since then, a string of proposals at other sites also have fallen by the wayside. ...
07/08/09 Local Government
CLEARWATER — At a public hearing every few months, a man from Clearwater with a wicked talent for cryptic cuts rises to the lectern.
Whether Joe Paige, 52, is taking on the Clearwater Council, the Pinellas County Commission or most recently, Tampa Bay Water, he leaves no doubt about where he stands.
He's a conservative.
"Joe is remarkably consistent," said Clearwater Vice Mayor Paul F. Gibson....
06/05/09 Local Government
DUNEDIN — Representatives of the local gay community are hailing a new city anti-discrimination measure as a positive first step.
"Can't build a pyramid without a solid base," said Debra Allen of Dunedin, who watched the commission vote Thursday from the audience with her partner of 25 years.
City commissioners okayed an addition to their anti-discrimination ordinance on the second reading, which gives the measure final approval....
06/05/09 Local Government
DUNEDIN — City commissioners approved an addition to their anti-discrimination ordinance Thursday that prohibits discrimination in access to city hotels, motels, restaurants, entertainment venues and other establishments open to the public based on "sexual orientation and gender identification or expression."
The city of Gulfport is the only other Pinellas County government that includes "gender identification or expression" as part of its anti-discrimination ordinance. Transgender people include those who cross dress or who are transsexuals, have changed or would like to change their physical sex. ...
EAST LAKE — Pinellas County is getting ready to celebrate the acquisition of 871 acres north of Keystone Road and the addition of most of it to the Brooker Creek Preserve, now more than 8,700 acres.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, county officials invite you to celebrate the Wilde tract purchase and National Trails Day at the Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road. ...
05/30/09 Local Government
DUNEDIN — When a team of African-American police officers came down from Chicago 20 or 25 years ago to compete in the Highland Games tug-of-war, a local restaurant refused to serve them, City Attorney John Hubbard said.
So Dunedin adopted an ordinance that requires businesses open to the public like restaurants, hotels and amusement venues to give equal access to their facilities regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, sex or national origin....
05/25/09 Local Government
DUNEDIN — The city is giving fewer than 200 golfing members of the Dunedin Country Club a sweetheart deal, a former mayor says, at the expense of about 37,500 residents.
"This has been going on outside the public's knowledge and they need to be engaged in the process," said former Mayor Bob Hackworth.
A new lease agreement the city is negotiating with the country club favors the country club, he says, not the residents who own the 126-acre, 18-hole course designed by famed golf course architect Donald Ross....
05/19/09 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — As county government looks for ways to slash its budget, count Commissioner Karen Seel among those worried about the effect it will have on dealing with animals on the loose.
"I am worried about some of our critical services," Seel said at a budget meeting Wednesday, "and one in particular that I'll point toward is animal services."
Commissioners were discussing the county administrator's proposal for cutting $70 million from next year's budget....
05/13/09 Human Interest
Marc and Terry Banning of Palm Harbor have learned a lot in three years of volunteering at RCS Grace House, but this might be the biggest lesson: Much more can be done if you ask others to work with you. "We believe that if you show someone how to help others, they will," Marc Banning said Wednesday.
He was speaking at the dedication of a newly renovated children's activity and donation room at RCS Grace House in Clearwater. Grace House, part of the nonprofit Religious Community Services, has 13 apartments at 1552 S Myrtle Ave. for families with children who would otherwise be homeless....
DUNEDIN — Even in a difficult economy, two projects on opposite ends of Dunedin's Main Street are moving forward with confidence.
And city officials couldn't be happier.
"Here are companies putting money at risk for redevelopment because they see all the positives downtown," said Bob Ironsmith, the city's director of economic development and housing. "Other towns would love to have this type of redevelopment taking place."...
They promised vulnerable young women a better life, officials said, then delivered hell on earth.
Three people were arrested this weekend in connection with what the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office called a human trafficking operation. Authorities say this is the first case in the area, perhaps in the state, where the victims are local residents, recruited and held hostage.
The victim in the arrest reports, whose name was withheld because of the nature of the crime, was held against her will between Feb. 16 and Feb. 26. She was raped, assaulted, threatened with bodily harm or death if she fled, the reports say, and forced to work as a prostitute. She was also forced to dance at the Vegas Showgirls nightclub in St. Petersburg. Officials say there are more victims....
05/07/09 Human Interest
DUNEDIN — Sandy Keith is back as the director of the City of Dunedin Pipe Band.
The city reinstated Keith on Thursday, a little less than a month after it had terminated its contract with the native of Scotland after witnesses said he cursed and made derogatory comments about children scheduled to dance at the March 28 Dunedin Military Tattoo.
After lengthy discussion with Keith about the future of Scottish heritage, music in Dunedin and the March 28 incident, city officials agreed to renew Keith's contract....
04/24/09 Human Interest
DUNEDIN — Sandy Keith, a native of Scotland who had taught bagpipes as a city employee for nearly three decades, is out as director of the City of Dunedin Pipe Band.
The city terminated its contract with Keith on April 15 after an incident March 28 during the Dunedin Military Tattoo at Dunedin High School, city officials confirmed Friday.
"He was terminated for inappropriate behavior in the eye of the public at this military tattoo," said Vince Gizzi, the city's director of parks and recreation. "We have letters from the person who was kind of getting yelled at and cursed at and we have letters from witnesses."...
EAST LAKE — Pinellas County staff members have a favorite selling point for land use changes that would allow five-story industrial buildings or a reservoir on nearly 900 acres of the Brooker Creek Preserve.
They say both the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve and the Environmental Science Forum, a county environmental advisory group, support the county's proposal.
But that support from environmentalists apparently is far from enthusiastic....