12/27/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The teams proposed splash parks and lagoons and touted sustainability, but the reality of delivering a pier that satisfies both the must-haves and appearance demanded by the public could be a financial challenge.
The group that wins the contract to design St. Petersburg's new pier, or to renovate the closed inverted pyramid, will have to work with a $33 million construction budget, the major share of what Mayor Rick Kriseman has said is a firm $46 million project allocation. About $4 million has already been spent from the original $50 million budget for a design that was eventually rejected in a referendum....
12/25/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Nestled on perches in and around the downtown waterfront, eight whimsical yellow-throated warblers wait to be found.
There's Brian, wielding a paint brush in his beak near the Museum of Fine Arts' columned entrance.
Beatrice peeks inquisitively down on shoppers crossing the threshold to Bruce Watters Jewelers.
And spot the rest of the bronze flock outside the Dalí Museum, at Straub Park, the Vinoy, the St. Petersburg Museum of History and the Birchwood. ...
12/19/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Some Snell Isle residents are upset about the new traffic calming in their neighborhood and say it is hazardous, inconvenient and overly restrictive.
Snell Isle is the first neighborhood in the city to implement the strategy that combines medians with curbs extending at an angle into the street from homeowners' properties.
"It's like threading a needle to go through those things with the median there," said John Rogers, who lives on a cross street....
12/19/14 Human Interest
To practice for his principal role back home in Florida, Marquis Floyd watched and followed a video of dance routines in a studio at his college in Massachusetts.
A few days ago, the Boston Conservatory dance major returned to Clearwater prepared to jump into his part as Michael in The Family Blessing, a new production debuting at the Mahaffey Theater today.
The 21/2 hour show follows Michael through a dance-filled dream sequence that takes him from the streets of Harlem to Cuba, Mexico, South Africa, West Africa and India. In the end, he realizes that the happiness he sought — "the blessing" — was right at home, in the love of family and community. ...
12/15/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — After six years of discussions and the selection and contentious rejection of a much-reviled design for a new pier, St. Petersburg is back for a second try.
On Monday, eight design teams offered fresh ways to look at the closed inverted pyramid, with some pitching an entirely new shape for the iconic landmark.
The teams competing for the $46 million product, with $33 million targeted for construction, are proposing concepts that include new features such as a waterfall, lagoons and terraces....
Simon Chapiro reverently touched the edge of his prayer shawl to the Torah scroll and brought its fringe to his lips.
He then said a blessing and read the Torah portion of Jacob's encounter with an angel.
At 85, Chapiro was celebrating his bar mitzvah, the coming-of-age ritual customary for 13-year-old Jewish boys. It didn't matter that he was now a great-grandfather....
12/13/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The eight design teams competing to give the city a new or refurbished Pier will deliver their concepts Monday, offering insight into their vision, theme and approach for the landmark.
A six-member selection team appointed by Mayor Rick Kriseman will rank the finalists in March, but before then, St. Petersburg residents will get to weigh in with their top three preferences....
It was a decade of three major hijackings, but for most Americans, terrorism still seemed a world away. One is particularly remembered for the daring rescue that followed at Uganda's Entebbe Airport.
Sassy Reuven, then a member of the Israel Defense Forces, participated in that July 4, 1976, rescue in Uganda, ruled by dictator Idi Amin. Reuven will be in Pinellas County on Monday to talk about "Operation Thunderbolt," which saved the lives of more than 100 hostages. ...
11/30/14 Human Interest
After more than a year of trying, Bill DeYoung has won permission to erect a memorial for the 35 people who perished in the Sunshine Skyway bridge disaster more than three decades ago.
That hurdle overcome, DeYoung, a St. Petersburg native and author of a book about the accident that sent a Greyhound bus, six cars and a pickup plummeting into Tampa Bay one stormy May morning in 1980, now must raise money to build and maintain the proposed monument. It's a task he embraces....
11/25/14 Human Interest
As a little boy, Gay Inskeep's younger son thought everyone across America gathered for Thanksgiving in community settings with family, friends and strangers. For Andrew, it wasn't unusual that his parents, aunt, uncle and neighbors devoted days to shopping, chopping, peeling and baking for the guests they welcomed all Thanksgiving afternoon at Pilgrim Church. He'll turn 17 today, looking ahead to the 14th Thanksgiving since his parents began their tradition of feeding the needy and others yearning for a touch of holiday togetherness....
Peaceful protests unfolded Tuesday in the Tampa Bay region's two largest cities, a reaction to the grand jury decision in St. Louis that also brought response from top officials.
In St. Petersburg, police Chief Tony Holloway said he welcomed a public conversation about how his department patrols black communities. And Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said officials have been working for years to improve relations with minority communities in his city....
11/10/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Long-delayed improvements to two dangerous thoroughfares in the city's northern neighborhoods are under way.
The work, totaling almost a million dollars, will give relief to a stretch on Snell Isle known for speeders and an area abutting the Northeast Park Shopping Center where fatal accidents have occurred.
Scott Willis, president of the Northeast Park Neighborhood Association, said it is "fantastic" that after a six-year effort the streets adjacent to the shopping center will be safer....
11/03/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A new study about how the Pier should be used, and what would make the most financial and practical sense, appears to validate many of the recent findings of a citizens group.
The $17,000 analysis by Lambert Advisory of Miami examined economic, demographic and real estate trends in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to come up with its recommendations, but offers little that is different from those presented to the Pier Advisory Task Force in 2010. ...
ST. PETERSBURG — For more than a year, Susan Portal and her husband, Paul, attended Sunday Mass, but were not allowed to receive communion, the central sacrament of the Catholic Church.
The couple had been waiting for his marriage to be annulled by a church tribunal and they married in a civil ceremony so they could bring his son, Luke, then 9, into their home. But marrying outside the church after a divorce barred them from the sacrament....
ST. PETERSBURG — A group of African journalists whose visit to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg was canceled because of Ebola fears has found another host.
The Poynter Institute announced Tuesday that it will welcome the 12 journalists, none of whom come from countries affected by the virus.
"Poynter has a long history and tradition of inclusion, it has a long history of training journalists, both here and abroad, and I think in that spirit, it's something we can and should do at Poynter," said Tim Franklin, president of the Poynter Institute, in a press release....