07/02/15 Human Interest
If you've missed David McKalip's Founders Corner monuments with their display of the Ten Commandments and other sayings that stood at Fourth Street and 62nd Avenue N, never fear.
McKalip, a neurosurgeon and well-known political and religious conservative, will bring them to you. Having sold the property on which the four 6-foot-tall granite and limestone structures stood for a little more than three years, McKalip is now is carting them around on a 16-foot trailer....
ST. PETERSBURG — The first interfaith service ever for the St. Pete Pride celebration is planned for Saturday.
But with one day to go, organizers still don't know how many worshipers to expect when the doors open at Trinity Lutheran Church. So far, there's no indication any Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha'i or other non-Christian groups will participate in a religious service affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities....
06/25/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Wondering what's up with all the barricades, orange tape and dirt at South Straub Park in recent days? The popular 7.3-acre waterfront park is getting a facelift in the form of approximately 88,000 square feet of sod, parks and recreation director Michael Jefferis said.
"We do this all the time," he said, adding that parks throughout the city are on a cycle of sod replacement as areas become worn....
06/18/15 Local Government
Once a spot for croquet and presidential speeches, Williams Park has lost its luster.
It's a regular hangout for Charlie White, 55, who sat on a park bench one morning, a "buck-and-a-quarter" Styrofoam cup of coffee in one hand and a Remington cigar in the other. When it rains, he takes cover under the steps of the park's award-winning band shell.
Elaine Savastano, 56, is also homeless. She sat alone, wearing a winter coat on a humid day. She said she's been living in the park for two weeks....
06/18/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — As the City Council prepares to vote on a contract to build the new pier, Mayor Rick Kriseman is proposing $20 million to link the waterfront landmark to a thriving downtown.
A major part of the effort to tie Pier Park to the uplands would be the creation of pedestrian walkways along Second Avenue NE, the gateway to the attraction.
"That entire street will be reworked to make it more pedestrian friendly, making the entrance to the pier an inviting and welcoming experience," said Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination....
ST. PETERSBURG — Amid concerns about the Islamic State and its recruitment of young people in the United States, Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil, a leader in St. Petersburg's Muslim community and interfaith circles, acknowledges the challenges of being a Muslim in America.
Aquil, 68, is African-American, as well. The St. Petersburg native, who grew up attending the historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 912 Third Ave. N, and whose wife is Christian, converted to Islam in 1971....
06/11/15 Human Interest
Talk to professional storyteller and retired social studies teacher Jim Gregory and he'll tell you about his experiences as a young white man who accidentally got involved in the civil rights movement.
Gregory, 75, who once taught in Tampa and now lives in Miami, will recall tooling around the South in a converted school bus on a mission to take used school books to African-American children who had few of their own. ...
In control rooms loaded with gadgets, techies switch between camera angles showing a preacher sporting jeans and an untucked shirt with the sleeves rolled up. • A praise and worship band had set the tone. • Welcome to BridgePoint Church — where they like it evangelical, conservative and hip.
Four Sunday services can draw as many as 2,500 worshipers, the vast majority of whom are young. The church hopes to expand across Pinellas County, dotting the area with 10 satellite centers over the next decade that will tap into live feeds of the pastor's message from the main campus. St. Petersburg's hip downtown could be the first....
05/28/15 Local Government
GULFPORT — The neglected Lincoln Cemetery, where African-Americans including Civil War and other military veterans are buried, may soon benefit from more than sporadic attention.
Intermittent outrage about its upkeep has brought temporary remedies over the years, but a St. Petersburg pastor is now offering what he and others hope will be a long-term solution for the historic Gulfport cemetery....
05/17/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman has said that the budget for the new pier is firm, but a financial windfall or two may change that.
Of the $50 million originally budgeted for the project, about $4.5 million has already been spent, intensifying the challenge to conjure up amenities that residents have said will hold their interest in the downtown fixture.
The announcement of a $632,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant, to be supplemented with $300,000 from the city, boosts the strained budget. The money will be used for transient docks south of the pier's Pelican parking lot, near the breakwater....
05/08/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The journey toward the city's next pier may have reached an important juncture, but much lies ahead before celebrations can be contemplated for a projected spring 2018 grand opening.
Contracts must be negotiated and signed, designs have to be refined, permits must be gotten from federal, state and county agencies, and an old pier has to be demolished.
And amid the jubilation of finally selecting a plan to carry on the city's waterfront tradition, detractors are threatening to derail the process with a referendum for voter input on changes to the downtown waterfront, including the pier....
05/07/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — After years of infighting and false starts, St. Petersburg is preparing to build a new pier to carry on a tradition that goes back for more than a century.
City Council members voted Thursday to authorize contract negotiations with the designers of Pier Park, a concept that will pay little homage to the inverted pyramid that has stood since 1973 and still engenders deep passion among some residents....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mike Price has lived near Lake Pasadena all his life, accustomed to ducks lazing on the water, waddling along nearby streets and wandering into neighborhood yards.
Then they started dying, their carcasses floating on the lake with the tiny island in the middle, where egrets and other birds returned to rest in the evenings.
Price, 44, the owner of a martial arts business, became alarmed when he saw what was happening at the lake in his Eagle Crest neighborhood....
05/06/15 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Thirty-five years to the day since the horrific accident that sent 35 people plummeting to their deaths from the Sunshine Skyway, a monument is to be dedicated to their memory.
Saturday's ceremony will take place at a point overlooking the shipping channel through which the freighter Summit Venture was traveling when it struck a support column, collapsing the center section of the bridge's southbound span....
05/05/15 Human Interest
The homeless call it "the cage." The Huffington Post said it resembles "a giant chicken coop for humans."
But to St. Vincent de Paul and the city, the fenced space that stretches from the charity to under the interstate is "the Courtyard."
It's where homeless men and women sit and sleep on benches or on the ground, secure their bikes, smoke and wander in and out at will. It takes the overflow from St. Vincent de Paul's night shelter, which can accommodate only 75 people....