Middle school vice principal, sixth-grade teacher victims in Brandon double murder/suicide shoot-out02/25/17Crime
BRANDON — Lisa Fuillerat and Samara Routenberg thought they had prepared for the violence that came their way early Friday morning.
The couple equipped Routenberg's home on Hickory Creek Drive with security cameras. They each had a handgun, and they were prepared to defend themselves. But it wasn't enough to stop Fuillerat's violent, estranged husband.
He was prepared, too.
While Fuillerat and Routenberg were likely getting ready for a Friday with their students at Lake Gibson Middle School in Lakeland, Vincente Fuillerat pulled up to their picturesque house in east Hillsborough County armed with a shotgun and wearing a bullet-resistant vest....
02/24/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — As the quest to commission the work of acclaimed artist Janet Echelman for the Pier pushes ahead, discontent simmers in art circles.
The city's Public Arts Commission recently voted to put $37,500 toward an exploratory contract with Echelman, a step that could lead to one of her multimillion-dollar aerial sculptures soaring above the downtown waterfront.
Impressive as her billowing, net-like sculptures may be, some in the city's art community question the wooing of Echelman, a talent far beyond the public art budget of $488,000 allocated for the $66 million Pier District. And critics accuse Mayor Rick Kriseman — who presented Echelman with a key to the city in October — of interfering with the job of the committee charged with selecting artistic works for the 26-acre waterfront attraction....
02/20/17 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — Amid a hub of construction and closed sidewalks, the opening of the new Tom and Mary James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art is months away, but leasing for its prime downtown retail and office space has begun.
The museum at 100 Central Ave. is where 400 to 500 pieces of Tom and Mary James' extensive art collection will be on display.
The Sembler Co. has begun marketing the ground-floor retail units, while Echelon Real Estate Services is leasing office space on the second floor....
02/16/17 Local Government
GULFPORT — A community meeting to discuss plans for the historic African-American Lincoln Cemetery, 600 58th St. S, is set for 6 p.m., Feb. 27, at Greater Mount Zion AME Church, 1045 16th St S, St. Petersburg.
Lincoln Cemetery, where African-Americans have been buried since 1926, has been neglected over the years. It is now being taken over by Cross and Anvil Human Services, the nonprofit arm of Greater Mount Zion AME Church. The Rev. Clarence Williams said the nonprofit will ensure that the 9-acre cemetery is properly maintained. There are also plans to use ground-penetrating radar to locate unmarked or sunken graves....
02/16/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg Housing Authority is inching towards ownership of Jordan Park, the 24-acre public housing complex near 22nd Street and Ninth Avenue S.
Tuesday, after months of negotiations, the agency signed a purchase and sale agreement with Jordan Park Development Partners — a partnership of the Richman Group of Florida and Landex of Jacksonville — to buy back the property it once owned....
ST. PETERSBURG — The Rev. Manuel Sykes, well-known pastor of Bethel Community Baptist Church, will not be retiring soon, after all.
Sykes announced his plan to retire about four months ago, saying he would be devoting his time to his health and completing a dissertation for a doctorate in counseling psychology.
Last week he said that those goals have not changed, but that his congregation had persuaded him to remain. That happened one Sunday about three weeks ago, Sykes said, when one of his ministers stood up in front of the church and "made an announcement that God put it on his heart that I'm not going to be leaving for another five years."...
02/04/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The Pier District is the city's quest to build a world-class attraction, and that means acquiring world-class public art.
That's why Mayor Rick Kriseman has urged a public arts committee to hire internationally renowned artist and Tampa native Janet Echelman to install one of her voluminous, floating sculptures at the Pier, where it would float above Tampa Bay.
Echelman's work, displayed in places like the Smithsonian, a waterfront in Portugal and in a Phoenix park, is pricey. The Phoenix piece billows 145 feet into the sky and is illuminated with colored lights that change from season to season....
02/02/17 Local Government
GULFPORT — The perennially neglected Lincoln Cemetery, resting place of African-Americans dating back to a time when they could not be buried in the same earth as whites, has found a long-term caretaker.
The historic cemetery is being taken over by the nonprofit arm of St. Petersburg's Greater Mount Zion AME Church, which announced plans to ensure ongoing maintenance, build a road, fence-in the 9-acre property and use ground-penetrating radar to locate every grave....
01/30/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The towers transforming downtown's skyline showcase the city's building boom, but those striving to preserve the city's history fear that progress could overshadow its past.
"When we are in a boom like we are now, we lose more of our historic properties," said former City Council member Jeff Danner. "People are more likely to tear something down and build something new and bigger."...
10/28/16 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG —The history of African-Americans in World War II is often told through the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, intrepid pilots like Benjamin O. Davis Jr., who became the first black general in the Air Force.
But there were also those like Vernon Baker, whose initial efforts to enlist to fight for his country were dismissed with the words: "We ain't got no quotas for you people." The Army lieutenant went on to receive the Distinguished Service Cross and the Medal of Honor....
ST. PETERSBURG — In some ways, the candidates running for Florida House District 69 are a study in contrasts.
Republican incumbent Kathleen Peters is at ease with her stump speech, amiably engaging audiences of familiar faces and seemingly oblivious to the woman who aims to supplant her.
Political newcomer Jennifer Webb, the Democrat, is earnest and studied, less at ease and more likely to take shots at her opponent....
ST. PETERSBURG — More than 50 years ago, Catholics were given permission to cremate their loved ones. Now the Vatican has issued new instructions governing the practice.
Ashes are not to be scattered or kept at home, according to the Vatican's new decree, but buried or deposited in a consecrated place.
The instructions "regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in case of cremation" appeared Tuesday on the Vatican's website and were issued by its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith....
10/19/16 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A large waterfront plaza has emerged as the centerpiece of the 25-acre Pier project planned for downtown, acting as a gathering spot that would serve as the city's "living room."
It's "the heart and soul of the whole project," city architect Raul Quintana said Wednesday, addressing a committee that will decide what kind of public art should grace the $66 million Pier District....
Incumbent Kathleen Peters, a Republican, was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2012 and has held the seat since. She is facing a challenge from a first-time political candidate in Democrat Jennifer Webb.
About the job: State House District 69 includes Gulfport, Madeira Beach, Pinellas Park, South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and parts of St. Petersburg. State representatives serve two-year terms and earn $29,697 a year....
10/14/16 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Ashley Stahl and her family cut it close the morning that deputies arrived to evict the last residents from the derelict Mosley Motel.
They made it out on that Oct. 3 day before the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office threatened to move them out. But the family didn't go far — they simply drove their packed minivan to another motel down the street.
That's because closing the Mosley — a longtime home for poor families and the elderly, but also a magnet for crime — does not solve the larger socioeconomic problems of the 34th Street corridor....