ST. PETERSBURG — Bishop Robert Nugent Lynch stood under the dome of the cavernous cathedral he rebuilt and looked out at the faces of priests he had ordained over the years. The sun was setting; the sky changed color through the glass walls he had commissioned. If ever there was a physical apex of his legacy in his last year at the helm of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, this was it.
It had been 20 years to this day, Jan. 26, that he lay prostrate at this altar at St. Jude the Apostle, inheriting a flock of more than 325,000 Roman Catholics in five counties stretching north to Citrus. That day, in 1996, he thought he knew what this job would bring....
Gregory Parkes, new bishop of Diocese of St. Petersburg, heard call to priesthood at Tampa's Christ the King11/28/16Religion
Tampa Bay's almost half-million Roman Catholics have a new leader.
Bishop Gregory L. Parkes, 52, head of the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese, and a former Tampa banker, will succeed Bishop Robert N. Lynch, who has led the Diocese of St. Petersburg for almost 21 years.
Parkes will be installed the fifth bishop of the diocese, which serves Catholics in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Citrus and Pasco counties, on Jan. 4 at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle....
11/17/16 Economic Development
ST. PETERSBURG — Years after a popular gay resort closed and its property was sold to Home Depot, the empty, weed-strewn site is about to be developed.
Phillips Development & Realty, which expects to close on the parcel in December, has unveiled plans for a $70 million mixed-use project that will include 300 apartments and about 15,000 to 25,000 square feet of retail space, including a restaurant....
11/11/16 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — As new, modern structures have risen into the city skyline around it, the historic YMCA building remains empty and derelict, stubbornly resisting any attempts to join St. Petersburg's reborn downtown.
Its newest owner, South Florida developer Nick Ekonomou, said he still plans to transform the site at 116 Fifth St. S into a boutique hotel and event venue.
Work began early this year, but after an initial burst of activity it has come to a standstill. The barrel tile roof, being rebuilt mostly with original tiles, hasn't been touched since March....
11/11/16 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council has agreed to amend its deal with the architects of the over-water portion of the Pier project. The amendment adds $120,000 to the $4.4 million contract.
City architect Raul Quintana told council members the change was necessary because the architects, ASD of Tampa and Rogers Partners Architects of New York, must redesign the section adjoining the $20 million pier approach....
The home of the $7 all-you-can-eat pasta supper is at stake as the Sons of Italy sue St. Petersburg lodge11/10/16 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Who knew that inside the nondescript building offering $7 all-you-can-eat pasta suppers a mutiny was brewing?
The Grand Lodge of Florida, Order Sons of Italy in America has had enough. The statewide organization has filed a lawsuit against the spaghetti-dinner stalwarts on 34th Street S, the Sons of Italy of St. Petersburg.
The disagreement apparently started two years ago, when the local group, whose Monday pasta offerings beckon passers-by, severed its ties with the Grand Lodge of Florida and consequently, the national "Supreme Lodge."...
11/09/16 State Roundup
Republican Kathleen Peters has won a third term to the Florida House of Representatives.
Peters, 55, beat out Democrat Jennifer Webb, a first-time candidate, for the District 69 seat, which covers south Pinellas beaches, South Pasadena, Gulfport and northwest St. Petersburg.
"I feel great," Peters said. "I have a great team here that has worked so hard to really get the word out about what a hard worker I am and my team is. I look forward to continuing the fight for people who don't have a voice."...
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....
ST. PETERSBURG — Joseph Bensmihen, a Republican candidate for the Florida House of Representatives, managed to discover a spiritual moment during Sunday night's contentious presidential debate.
The recognition came in the context of Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar, which begins today at sundown and marks the culmination of a solemn 10-day period of introspection, renewal, repentance and forgiveness....
On Sunday, Alexander Johnson wrote a one-sentence letter to the Florida Division of Elections. It said that he was withdrawing from the District 24 state senate race.
His isn't a household name. Johnson, 23, was a write-in candidate for the seat held by incumbent Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. With no other opposition, that means Brandes cruises to an easy and predicted victory....