12/19/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — First there were pier visioning sessions, followed by a Pier Advisory Task Force, an 828 Alliance and the most recent, a new pier task force appointed by Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman as part of his transition team.
Now Kriseman's pier group, which held its final meeting Thursday, is suggesting the creation of yet another group to help the new mayor navigate the intransigence that has mired the pier issue....
12/12/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Given Florida's searing summer temperatures, it's probably no surprise that a majority of residents surveyed about what they'd most like at the city's pier ranked air conditioning a top priority.
Fine dining was another, along with observation and viewing areas, an iconic design and a place to walk, jog, bike and fish.
But one answer to the telephone survey of 1,000 registered St. Petersburg voters likely was unexpected. When asked whether the taxpayer subsidy, which averaged $1.4 million a year for the closed inverted pyramid, should be increased, decreased or remain the same as the city proceeds with plans to continue its tradition of a public pier, a majority appeared unconcerned about the cost....
12/11/13 Human Interest
POLK CITY — Kermit Weeks' goal has been to create an authentic version of the Benoist airboat flown by legendary pilot Tony Jannus in his historic New Year's Day hop across Tampa Bay almost a century ago.
For Weeks, founder of the Fantasy of Flight attraction in Polk County, where vintage and rare aircraft attract thousands of visitors, that meant commissioning a built-from-scratch engine that matched the one in Jannus' plane....
12/10/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — After months of suffocating barriers, stop-and-go traffic and a number of accidents, drivers in the Greater Pinellas Point and Lakewood neighborhoods are getting some relief.
The disruption along 31st Street and 54th Avenue S is at an end, but work in other neighborhoods will continue as part of a massive $35 million sewer project wending its way from the Albert Whitted Airport water reclamation plant to another facility 7.2 miles away near Eckerd College....
12/07/13 Human Interest
Earlier this year, when the Boy Scouts of America changed its policy to allow openly gay members, a local council braced for repercussions.
"We knew back in May that it might be a challenge, but we didn't know how great a challenge," said Bill Davis, executive with the Scouts' West Central Florida Council, serving Pinellas and West Pasco counties.
"So far, the biggest fallout is the financial loss. We need about $75,000 to balance our budget this year."...
12/04/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — An appellate court has rejected former mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford's attempt to stop the city from demolishing the inverted pyramid Pier.
The state's 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack Day's ruling against Ford's bid to force a referendum on the 1973 structure and to get a temporary injunction to prevent it from being torn down. The decision came without comments....
The crowds appeared thinner than in past years, but shoppers were eager to spend as they hit the stores for Black Friday.
Tampa Bay area retailers reported smaller morning crowds, thanks in large part to many stores opening earlier than ever on Thanksgiving. Many customers also had shopped online deals early, eliminating the need to rush to stores when the doors opened.
"It's different this year, more spread out," said Mick Carpenter, a sales manager at Best Buy in Tampa. "It seemed like it was an easier process than cramming everything into a few hours."...
A little more than a year ago, a hurricane that rightly earned "superstorm" as its prefix barreled through the Northeast and left behind billions in damage.
Some affected by Superstorm Sandy are still recovering, and as Hanukkah approached this year, the children of Congregation B'nai Israel in St. Petersburg began creating special religious-themed gifts for a Long Island congregation that had been badly hit....
TAMPA — Rabbi Richard Birnholz chuckles when he says the word Thanksgivukah.
Trademarked by a Boston-area woman, Thanksgivukah was coined to mark this year's rare confluence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving. It's spawned a Facebook page — with more than 12,000 likes and counting — T-shirts, aprons, notepads, recipes and more.
The convergence of the two holidays is a major happening. It last occurred in 1888, and after Thursday, won't happen again for 70,000-plus years....
11/22/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The city is gathering feedback from residents on what kind of pier should be built on the waterfront.
A survey open to all residents is now on the city's website at www.stpete.org; 1,000 already have been surveyed by phone.
The idea to gauge the opinions of residents came on the heels of voters' rejection of the Lens, which had been picked to replace the shuttered inverted pyramid....
11/22/13 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — When Rosa Jackson died, grandson Darryl Jones was the only family member willing to carry on her tradition of feeding the hungry and lonely at Thanksgiving.
He did so even as he battled cancer. When Jones died earlier this year, Rosa Jackson's family decided they would hold just one more gathering at the Campbell Park Recreation Center. It would be in memory of Darryl and his beloved grandmother....
11/22/13 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Jane Trocheck Walker tells the story of a family trying to subsist after their water and electricity had been turned off.
They caught fish for meals when their food stamps ran out and gathered sticks for cooking on a barbecue grill. They disposed of their human waste in plastic bags.
"This family is here in Pinellas County, living in that type of situation," Walker, executive director of the Daystar Life Center, said in the wake of recent disasters in the Philippines and the Midwest. "What people don't understand is that we have these disasters in our neighborhoods."...
11/14/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays would not give many specifics about a major renovation planned for Tropicana Field, but city records provided a better glimpse — including the overhaul's $1.3 million price tag.
The Rays are planning what is being referred to as 360-degree "interior stadium fan access" with the creation of walkways behind the outfield seating areas and opening up what was the dark, glass-fronted Batter's Eye restaurant into an open-air meeting spot with concessions. ...
11/06/13 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Against the backdrop of craftsman homes in the historic neighborhoods of Kenwood, Roser Park and the Old Northeast, an enthusiast of the arts and crafts movement has chosen St. Petersburg to build a museum to house his $60 million collection from the period.
Rudy Ciccarello plans to establish his Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement at 333 Third Ave. N, in the city's downtown. The 90,000-square foot, four-story facility will include galleries, a cafe, restaurant, store and studios....
11/05/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Neighborhoods south of Central Avenue, which include the struggling, predominantly African-American Midtown area, are expected to play an important role in selecting the city's next mayor.
So it was not surprising that in the Blessed Trinity Catholic Church parking lot Tuesday, in the diverse Greater Pinellas Point community, two rival groups were handing out fliers supporting their candidates. On one side were three men in yellow Police Benevolent Association T-shirts supporting Mayor Bill Foster. On the other were a couple of women and a man from the South St. Petersburg Democratic Club touting Rick Kriseman....