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Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero covers Pinellas County government and politics. A Baltimore native, he joined the Times in 2009.

Phone: (352) 848-1431


Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

  1. After 25 years, Pinellas Trail continues to grow in size and relevance


    ON THE PINELLAS TRAIL — Cars and trucks rush along Park Street while a long line of traffic idles on Tyrone Boulevard. Fumes from a tractor-trailer mingle with the aroma of grilled meat and Bloomin' Onions from the nearby Outback Steakhouse.

    This intersection in St. Petersburg — one of Pinellas County's busiest — would ordinarily be a danger zone for pedestrians and cyclists. Instead, 20 feet above, cyclists zip along an overpass that's part of the Fred E. Marquis Pinellas Trail. Pedestrians and joggers, some pushing baby strollers, move up the overpass' ramps, safely out of reach of the county's traffic....

    A marker near U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs along a nor?thern portion of the 47-mile-long Pin?ellas Trail. “It’s probably the single most important project the county ever built,” said former county administrator Fred E. Marquis, for whom the trail is named.
  2. Two pedestrians killed in separate Pinellas County crashes


    The Thanksgiving weekend got off to a deadly start for pedestrians in Pinellas County.

    Two people were killed in unrelated crashes, one on Thanksgiving Day, the other early Friday. The second crash resulted in the arrest of a woman who authorities say left the scene.

    In the first incident, Paul Richard Miller, 58, of Madeira Beach was walking home about 7 p.m. Thursday after spending Thanksgiving with family when he was struck by a Jeep Liberty in the 134th block of Gulf Boulevard. ...

    Christina M. Bayes is charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death.
  3. Unanimous Pinellas Commission to Legislature: Shoot down open carry bill


    Add Pinellas County's seven county commissioners to the list of opponents of a bill that would allow Florida's concealed weapons permit holders to openly carry their handguns. 

    A unanimous commission -- four Democrats and three Republicans -- voted this week to draft a resolution noting their opposition to send to the state Legislature.  

    Ken Welch, a St. Petersburg Democrat, proposed the resolution against the "dangerous" bill, HB 163. He noted that there about 50,000 carry concealed carry permit holders in Pinellas. (The actual number as of Oct. 31 was 56,281, according to the Florida Department of Revenue). If even a fraction of those opt to openly carry, that's still lot of guns in the open, Welch said....

  4. U.S. Army vet denied second chance at USF after confrontation with gas station clerk


    TAMPA — Clay Allred says he doesn't recall much about what led to his arrest and expulsion from the University of South Florida last year.

    The former U.S. Army Green Beret said he knows he was reckless and ugly the night he told the Muslim clerk at a Mobil station, "I don't like you people," and then fired his handgun as he drove away.

    "I'm just a guy that became a terrible alcoholic and made a terrible mistake," said Allred, 30....

    Clay Allred, 30, of New Port Richey, is a former U.S. Army Green Beret trying to get his life back together after his arrest last year. He entered Hillsborough's Veterans Treatment Court, a diversionary program for veterans, and has been undergoing treatment for PTSD and alcoholism. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  5. Trooper shoots person who fled traffic stop in Pinellas Park

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — A Florida Highway Patrol trooper shot an armed suspect who had fled from a traffic stop just after noon Monday, the agency said.

    The trooper, whose name was not released, tried to pull the vehicle over on southbound Interstate 275 at Gandy Boulevard. The vehicle got off the interstate, crashed into two other vehicles on Grand Avenue and turned into an unidentified apartment complex, where the driver and a passenger took off running, FHP said....

    Several law enforcement agencies responded Monday when two suspects fled after a trooper attempted to pull over their car.
  6. After break in case, Clearwater woman convicted of husband's 2008 murder


    LARGO — Police always suspected Rebecca Ayn Fenton killed her husband Larry in 2008, but they weren't able to arrest her until last year. Now she's headed to prison for the rest of her life.

    A Pinellas County jury convicted Fenton of first-degree murder. Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone immediately sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Prosecutors told a Pinellas County jury that Fenton, now 48, was financially motivated to kill her husband. A prenuptial agreement signed when the couple married in 2004 would have limited her spousal support if the marriage had been dissolved, but she was the beneficiary of life insurance and other benefits in the event of his death. ...

    Rebecca Ayn Fenton
  7. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri files for reelection


    Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has made his reelection bid official, filing papers Thursday to run for a second four-year term. 

    Gualtieri, 54, told Bay Buzz months ago that he planned to run for reelection. At the time, we were checking in with Republicans who might be interested in running for the Pinellas Congressional seat that Republican David Jolly is leaving to run for U.S. Senate. Gualtieri had been mentioned in 2013 as a possible contender for the seat, then held by U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, but opted not to run in the special election that Jolly eventually won....

  8. Pinellas Trail cameras are working, St. Pete police officer says


    ST. PETERSBURG -- It's been four months since the city of St. Petersburg installed surveillance cameras along a six-block stretch of the Pinellas Trail in Childs Park. 

    The verdict, according to a St. Petersburg police officer who knows the project well: The cameras are working and the city should install more of them along the paved recreational trail.

    "I wish we could have cameras all along the trail,"  said Officer Mitch Detty, who has sat on the Pinellas Trail Security Task Force for two years and has been involved with the camera project since its inception. "Everybody says they feel safer with them and at the same time it seems those who would do bad things are tending to avoid the area."...

    The city of St. Petersburg installed 16 video cameras like these at 43rd Street S along the Pinellas Trail between 43rd and 49th streets.
  9. Pinellas prosecutor Dora Komninos files to run for open county judge seat


    Assistant State Attorney Dora Komninos has twice been on Gov. Rick Scott's short list of potential appointees for open Pinellas judge seats. Now the prosecutor is running for one.

    Komninos, 39, has filed papers to run for the Group 8 county judge seat currently held by Thomas Freeman. Freeman must retire in 2016 because the state constituent requires judges to step down when they turn 70 unless they've already served half their term by their 70th birthday. Freeman is 71 and his term ends Dec. 31 2016....

  10. Notorious Hernando killer dies while on death row


    Manessa Donovan wasn't sure if watching her uncle's execution would bring closure. Now she'll never know.

    John William Kalisz, one of Hernando County's most notorious killers, died Tuesday while on death row at Florida State Prison. He was 61.

    Kalisz fatally shot three people in 2010, including Donovan's mother and a Dixie County sheriff's captain. He wounded Donovan, causing her to lose the fetus she was carrying. ...

    In 2010, John Kalisz shot to death his sister, a sheriff’s captain and another woman.
  11. Pinellas Trail usage up for commuters, tourists

    Local Government

    A new report on the results of a survey conducted last year by the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization offers some insight on who uses the Pinellas Trail, how and why.

    The county surveyed 2,513 users at eight spots along the 47-mile paved trail on Fridays and Saturdays. The northernmost spot was in Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor, the southernmost in downtown St. Petersburg.

    The survey found the average user is male, 50 to 64 and rides his bike for exercise. He uses the trail three to seven times a week and rides between two and 10 miles each time....

  12. New day for Rays? Wheeler-Brown bests Newton for St. Pete City Council


    ST. PETERSBURG — Voter turnout in Tuesday's election was anemic, but it was enough for Mayor Rick Kriseman to clinch City Council support to break a five-year stalemate with the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Kriseman picked up the critical council vote in the District 7 race, where Lisa Wheeler-Brown beat Will Newton, 58 percent to 42 percent. With 30,286 ballots cast, or 17.3 percent of the city's registered voters, about 4,000 voters were the difference in electing Wheeler-Brown....

    Lisa Wheeler-Brown, 47, was elected to the City Council.
  13. Pinellas County is exploring bike share options and wants your feedback


    The city of Tampa's has rolled past the 100,000-mile mark. St. Petersburg's will be up and running soon. Now Pinellas County officials want to get in on the bike share action.

    The county's Metropolitan Planning Organization is studying the idea of bringing bike share to Pinellas and is seeking input from residents and officials in the county's cities. (To fill out a survey yourself, go here Deadline is Nov. 13.) The goal is to have a report to the MPO board by early next year that would outline some options to make it happen, said Rodney Chatman, the MPO's planning manager....

  14. Turnout sparse in St. Petersburg, Seminole elections


    Voters were in short supply across St. Petersburg on Tuesday morning as the polls opened for three City Council races that could determine the future of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    In St. Petersburg and Seminole, which also has city elections, turnout was sparse. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections estimated turnout to be 1.86% at 10 a.m.

     Added to mailed ballots, the overall estimated voter turnout was about 13 percent. That is similar to the turnout in 2011, the last time the city elected council members without a mayor's race on the ballot....

    Celia Martin, 69, arrives to vote at Lake Vista Recreation Center in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. "I'm voting for the people who are not voting. My vote matters, and it is going to help them too," she said. "if you are an American enjoying all the thing our grandfather's fought for, you should vote."
  15. Pinellas denied federal grant funding (again) to complete Pinellas Trail loop


    Bad news for the long-awaited project to transform the 47-mile Pinellas Trail into a 75-mile loop.

    Pinellas County learned late last week that it will not receive a $19.1 million federal grant to connect the trail from its current terminus at John Chesnut Park in East Lake to the San Martin Bridge near Weedon Island in St. Petersburg. 

    The news doused the relatively high hopes of county officials and trail boosters who thought the county had a good chance this time around. It was the fourth time the county has applied for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant....