Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero, a native of Baltimore, joined the Times in 2009. He covers breaking news, crime and courts in Hernando County.

Phone: (352) 848-1431

Email: tmarrero@tampabay.com

Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

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  1. Pinellas County hit with a lawsuit over waste-to-energy plant

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The company that operates Pinellas County's waste-to-energy plant has filed a lawsuit claiming county staff cheated the firm out of the chance to bid on a new contract.

    GCS Energy Recovery of Pinellas Inc. alleges that the county "exhibited substantial bias against GCS, engaged in misrepresentations relating to GCS … and failed to follow the requirements of its own procurement procedure," according to the complaint the county was served with on Tuesday....

  2. Safety fixes coming to Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road intersection

    Transportation

    CLEARWATER — Changes are on the way for one of Pinellas County's most crash-prone intersections.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Thursday released a preliminary list of ideas to make the intersection of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road safer for motorists and pedestrians.

    Most of the 10 suggestions can be done relatively quickly, department spokeswoman Kris Carson said....

    Clearwater police Chief Anthony Holloway, right, listens to another officer explain the accident in which a crossing guard was killed at Belcher Road and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. The intersection has been prone to accidents partly because drivers get impatient and cross against the light.
  3. Pinellas settles lawsuit with flooded Hillsborough residents

    Local

    ODESSA — Karen Murphy and her sister, Dianne Campbell, will no longer have to wade through floodwaters to their front porch, pushing groceries in the recycling cart. They'll be able to take showers and do laundry the same day. And when they turn on the dishwasher, chances are the water won't back up.

    That's because they no longer will be living on soggy land adjacent to a flooding lake in northwest Hillsborough County. The Pinellas County government, owner of the lake, agreed to buy Murphy's property and that of two of her neighbors on Tyler Run Avenue in a series of court settlements that the Pinellas County Commission approved over the past few months....

    Karen Murphy shows off the water line as a result of flooding around her water pump outside her Odessa home in October. 
  4. Pinellas downsizes plan for medical clinic for the poor

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — It was a grand vision to help the most needy of Pinellas County's residents.

    Over the past few months, however, the Pinellas County Commission started to have doubts about building a $5 million medical clinic for the poor near the Pinellas County Jail and Safe Harbor homeless shelter in Largo. On Wednesday, commissioners decided to change course.

    The board did not take a formal vote at the work session but generally agreed that an about 2,200-square-foot medical clinic for the homeless — primarily residents already at Safe Harbor — is probably a more realistic approach than the 15,000-square-foot facility that had been planned. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had already awarded the county $5 million to build the larger clinic. Now, county officials will ask permission to use about $1 million of the grant money for the smaller clinic....

  5. Budget proposal gives Pinellas commissioners some breathing room

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — After years of brutal budgets cuts, Pinellas County commissioners are in the almost pleasant position this year of deciding which additional needs to fund.

    Property values came in higher than expected and turned a projected $4 million shortfall into a cushion of about $4 million. Comforted by that and other improving economic indicators, the board also decided to spend about $11 million in a rainy day fund to cover what they decided were critical needs in the 2014-2105 budget....

  6. Mr. T of Southside, Tarpon Middle gets a well-orchestrated surprise

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER

    Chris Touchton's wife led him by the arm into the worship hall where his 40th birthday gift awaited.

    Blindfolded with a black mask, Touchton couldn't see the band arranged in a semicircle on the stage, waiting for their cue. Most of the players were his former students at Southside Fundamental Middle School, where he'd directed the band for six years before the school closed in 2009....

    Mr. T conducts the band of former and current students in a Superman cape at a church in Clearwater on his 40th birthday.
  7. Regions Bank gives $10,000 to Friends of Greenlight

    Blog

    The political committee supporting the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum got a boost recently from a couple of major corporate donors.

    Regions Bank and BCC Engineering, Inc. each contributed $10,000 to Friends of Greenlight in the two-week fundraising period that ended July 4, a campaign finance report filed Friday shows.

    BCC, which has offices in Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, specializes in planning, design and construction management for major transportation and government clients throughout Florida, according to its web site. Those clients include all of the Federal Department of Transportation districts and expressway authorities in the state....

  8. Greenlight Pinellas endorsement rejected by Seminole council

    Transportation

    SEMINOLE — The Seminole City Council has rejected a resolution endorsing the Greenlight Pinellas transit plan.

    Five of the council's seven members voted Tuesday night against the resolution. If approved by voters Nov. 4, the referendum would increase the county's sales tax by a penny, to 8 cents on the dollar, to expand bus service and build a 24-mile light rail system between St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The tax would replace the property tax that funds the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority....

  9. Death of crossing guard brings focus to intersection safety

    Transportation

    CLEARWATER — The recent death of a school crossing guard has pushed the bureaucracy into high gear to improve one of Pinellas County's most crash-prone intersections.

    Florida Department of Transportation officials plan to release a draft report next week on how to make the intersection of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road safer.

    The report will be based on recommendations from a department consultant and officials with the county, the city of Clearwater and the Police Department who visited the intersection Tuesday, said DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson....

  10. Stretch of Pinellas Trail to get cameras to help fight crime

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Five months ago, a couple bicycling on the Pinellas Trail near 46th Street S suddenly found themselves on the ground, shoved off their bikes by two teenage robbers. One of the teens pistol-whipped the woman, knocking out several teeth, before the boys rode away on the stolen bikes.

    The robbery was one of a string of incidents that prompted St. Petersburg police to step up patrols on a stretch of trail prone to crime. ...

    Two cyclists were attacked in 2011 on this stretch of the Pinellas Trail near Gibbs High School, between Seventh Avenue S and 31st Street S in St. Petersburg. Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration is moving forward with a roughly $100,000 pilot project to install about two dozen surveillance cameras between 43rd and 49th streets south.
  11. Tampa teen beaten and detained in Israel, relatives say

    News

    TAMPA — Suha and Salah Abu Khdeir's family vacation was supposed to be a time to reconnect with family in their native village in East Jerusalem.

    But on Saturday, the Tampa couple's 15-year-old son, Tariq, was being held in an Israeli jail, suddenly a central figure in an international firestorm that has erupted over his cousin's abduction and killing last week.

    Tariq, a sophomore at Tampa's Universal Academy of Florida, is accused of attacking police during a protest ahead of Mohammed Abu Khdeir's funeral in the village of Shuafat in East Jerusalem, his parents and Israeli officials said. Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, was found burned to death Wednesday in what Palestinians call a revenge killing....

    Salah Abu Khdeir, center, says that his son, Tariq, who goes to school in Tampa, is in “very, very bad shape” after being beaten by Israeli police. Salah Abu Khdeir, along with his wife, Suha, holding a picture of Tariq, above left, took their 15-year-old son to their native village in East Jerusalem to reconnect with family.
  12. Gerard fundraising going gangbusters

    Politics

    There is no official record book for such things, but the rumbling in local political circles is that Largo Mayor Pat Gerard already has raised more money than any other Democratic candidate for Pinellas County Commission.

    Gerard,who is running for the District 2 seat currently held by Republican Norm Roche, had raked in $109,409 by June 27, the second-highest total of any local candidate to date, according to an updated fundraising report submitted last week to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Office....

  13. Greenlight supporters say poll shows support for transit tax, light rail

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Backers of the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum say they are moving closer to the level of support needed for the plan to pass by voters on Nov. 4.

    The latest source of their confidence: an internal poll they say shows 59 percent of likely voters would agree to raise Pinellas County's sales tax by a penny to pay for expanded bus service and a light-rail system between St. Petersburg and Clearwater....

  14. Engineering firm gives $25,000 to Greenlight committee

    Blog

    The Friends of Greenlight political committee has landed another big corporate donation.

    Parsons Brinckerhoff, a multinational engineering and design consulting firm based in New York, gave $25,000 to the group pushing to increase Pinellas County’s sales tax by 1 cent to expand mass transit.

    Parsons has an office in Tampa that employs about 100 workers, many of whom live in Pinellas, said George Walton, a senior vice president and Southeast regional manager. Walton, who is among those Pinellas residents, lived in Baltimore for years and used that city’s light rail system daily....

  15. Criminal history trails fugitive in St. Petersburg hit-and-run case

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Driving along 22nd Avenue S, Al Spearman got to the corner of 47th Street and looked for his nephew.

    Marquice L. Anderson and his friends often stood on the corner in the shade of an oak tree in front of Ferins Food Mart. Spearman spotted him there a few months ago, but he didn't find Anderson on the corner when he passed by on Friday.

    By then, police say, Anderson had gone into hiding....

    Marquice L. Anderson was deemed a habitual traffic offender. His license had been revoked.