ST. PETERSBURG — Days before his 100th birthday, Willie N. Rogers spoke with reverence about Eleanor Roosevelt and her sense of racial justice. He mentioned what he said was a prevailing sentiment of the time, that black people were incapable of understanding complex machines, much less fly a plane.
Sitting in his wheelchair, he reminisced against a backdrop of family photographs, a People magazine cover of America's first black president and a younger version of himself in military uniform bearing a Tuskegee Airmen insignia....
ST. PETERSBURG — The Rev. Philip Lilly expects there will be a certain amount of disruption for his congregation as the yearslong, $83 million Gandy Boulevard project proceeds.
"But I think, in the end, it will facilitate better traffic flow," he said.
Lilly is executive pastor of First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, a sprawling landmark on the hurricane evacuation route traveled by an average of 43,000 vehicles a day....
02/23/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A day after hundreds of residents had voted on seven proposals for a new St. Petersburg pier, erroneous information remained on one of the options on the survey. The misinformation also took the form of an outdated picture when the survey was shared on social media.
At issue is a "spectacular waterfall" that designers of the Destination St. Pete Pier initially included in their submission for the pier competition. The waterfall, however, can't be built within the $33 million city construction budget and, as with other budget-busting elements in the six other concepts, was supposed to be removed from the survey's description. ...
02/21/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Residents will soon get their chance to weigh in on the city's next pier. But there's no guarantee their preference will be the winning design.
The "help pick your new pier" poll will be available online and at select locations, including all the city's public libraries, starting Monday and continuing through March 6. Respondents will be asked to rank up to three choices from the seven competing concepts. ...
02/20/15 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Eli Rosenbaum, renowned prosecutor and investigator of Nazi war criminals, is coming to the area to be honored for his work.
The region is familiar to him.
In 1981, during his second year as a federal prosecutor, Rosenbaum pursued a case involving Lithuanian-American Jurgis Juodis, a former officer in a German-led unit that killed 50,000 men, women and children, most of them Jews. Juodis, an artist, was living in St. Pete Beach....
02/12/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — At the South Branch library, a flier trumpets, "Help Pick Your NEW Pier!"
There and at other St. Petersburg public libraries, residents soon will be able to choose their favorites from among seven Pier designs that are finalists in the city's latest effort to rejuvenate the shuttered landmark.
Thursday wrapped up two days of presentations by designers vying for the opportunity to undertake the $46 million project, with the final three teams giving presentations. The event, held at the Coliseum, attracted a steady flow of observers....
02/12/15 Human Interest
He's seen the movie about the civil rights struggles centered on Selma.
"They got a lot of things right," said Brady Johnson, who grew up in nearby Alberta, Ala., where his parents and 10 siblings picked cotton, raised cows and pigs and grew corn on their own land.
He was 14 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the historic march from Selma to Montgomery on March 21, 1965....
02/11/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — They invoked the San Antonio River Walk and the Eiffel Tower, gave tours by way of animated movies and one even spoke of a water lounge that would allow visitors to relax in Tampa Bay waters off the downtown pier head.
Wednesday was the first of two days of presentations by design teams hoping to get the nod to create St. Petersburg's latest pier. Dozens of residents showed up to the program that offered them and members of the Pier Selection Committee a clearer vision of four of the seven concepts under consideration for the status of the city's next waterfront icon. The other three will be presented today....
02/10/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — This week marks an important step in the city's protracted journey toward its next pier.
Seven competing design teams present their plans to a pier selection committee today and Thursday at the Coliseum.
After the presentations and an online survey by St. Petersburg residents that starts Feb. 23, the six-member committee appointed by Mayor Rick Kriseman will rank no fewer than three of the design teams. That's in keeping with state law....
02/09/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Seven design teams are gearing up to make their pitches for a chance to fashion the city's next Pier, the seventh since 1889.
Each group of architects and assorted professionals — two with strong hometown connections — will make their presentations this week to a mayoral committee that will select the top three for the $46 million project.
In addition to determining what the city's latest incarnation of the Pier will look like, each group is being judged on how its vision will sustain the interest of residents and tourists alike, complement the city's waterfront plan, navigate a formidable permitting process and free taxpayers from subsidies....
GULFPORT — The Venerable Lama Losang Samten, a former personal attendant to the Dalai Lama, is coming to Pinellas County to share the Tibetan spiritual leader's teachings of tolerance and love.
"Tibetan Buddhism is not necessarily a religion," he says. "Tibetan Buddhism is more a way of life."
Samten who was born in Tibet, but grew up in Dharamsala, the Indian town that is the headquarters of Tibet's exile government, will offer healing and purification ceremonies and Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices in Gulfport and St. Petersburg this week....
01/23/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A pier committee was set to decide Friday which of eight concepts submitted by design teams from St. Petersburg and beyond Tampa Bay would continue to the next phase in the quest to restore the city's more than century-old downtown tradition.
The six-member committee, including an architect, a Tampa Bay Rays executive and a preservationist, was created to take into account various criteria, including the cost, feasibility and schedule of each proposed concept....
01/21/15 Human Interest
Homemade signs touting tax-preparation services have begun popping up on street corners.
Choose wisely, the Internal Revenue Services warns.
The small band of volunteers who help taxpayers at a downtown St. Petersburg social service agency have seen it all, including those victimized by unscrupulous preparers, some peddling their services door-to-door or establishing temporary storefront offices that vanish after April 15....
01/21/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — When the creators of the Pier design eventually spurned by voters suggested a pristine underwater garden as the project's centerpiece, environmentalists howled.
They ridiculed the nearly $900,000 feature, saying it wasn't feasible in Tampa Bay. Not surprisingly, the design known as the Lens faced permitting hurdles.
Now the city is considering a new batch of ideas for the $46 million Pier project and scrutinizing them for environmental and permitting issues....
01/16/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The city has released a report analyzing the feasibility of the eight concepts proposed for a new or renovated pier.
A critical finding concerns the budget.
However, Raul Quintana, the city's architect, said he is neither surprised nor worried that most of the concepts appear to exceed the $33 million construction budget.
"The bottom line is, these are initial concepts," he said. "The duty of the selection committee is to select the most qualified team with the best initial concept, the best direction for the city to proceed, so that when we make a selection, we can then begin to look at the design and bring it back within budget." ...