1. News

St. Petersburg city employees to get paid family leave


City employees to get six weeks of paid parental leave

Come 2015, city employees will get six weeks of paid parental leave after the birth, adoption or foster-care intake of a child, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Wednesday.

The policy applies to both men and women who are full-time employees.

Previously, employees had to take unpaid leave if they wanted to take time off after welcoming a new child into their family, said Ben Kirby, Kriseman's spokesman.

Kriseman and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin said in a news release that the new benefit should increase employee morale and retention.

The policy takes effect on Jan. 1.


Brown, Fridovich retain seats

The deadline to file for a seat on the City Council has passed and, with no opposition, Christine Brown (Ward 2) and Michael Fridovich (Ward 4) will retain their seats. The two incumbents take the oath of office for a second term in March.


Eckerd's kids program get $10K

The White Family Foundation has donated $10,000 to Eckerd's Raising Hope program, which provides children clothing and other items to bridge the gap between the time of removal and going to a foster home.

The money will help the organization fill "Bags of Hope," which gives each child who visits the 24/7 Raising Hope Room a week's worth of clothing plus sleepwear, toiletries, a blanket, school supplies and a duffel bag to carry it all.

Jody Grutza, Eckerd's chief of external relations, said most kids entering foster care have only the clothes on their backs, no toothbrush and carry their few belongings in a trash bag.

The donation helps meet the children's emergency needs, as well as "helps them retain their dignity and gives them hope during a very traumatic time in their lives," she said.

The White Family Foundation aims to support the educational, health and religious needs of families and individuals across Florida.


Holiday parade, food trucks roll

An "old-fashioned" Christmas parade and food truck festival are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. The parade will begin at the corner of First Avenue and Fourth Street SW. It will go south until it ends at First Avenue SW behind Ulmer Park, 301 W Bay Drive. Ulmer Park will be the site of a Food Truck Festival during and after the parade. For information, contact City Commissioners Jamie Robinson at (727) 692-1240.


Police get pets microchip scanner

Inevitably, with a seasonal rise in visitors, someone's dog or cat will wander away and end up labeled a stray. Until recently, if the animal wandered on the weekend, it ended up in the Gulfport Police Department where it was cared for until Monday morning when it was transported to county's SPCA.

Not anymore.

Thanks to community donations, the Gulfport Police Department now owns a microchip scanner, enabling officers to scan the animal for a chip and reunite animal and owner.

"It reduces the stress to both parties," said Officer Marie Lavigne, who is in charge of the department's program. "Because we can scan the animal locally, we reduce the need to always involve animal control."

Lavigne encourages anyone who has a pet and is unsure if it is microchipped, to stop by the department for a scan.

For information, call (727) 893-1030.


Pass-A-Grille inn sells for $2.5M

It pays to invest in Pass-a-Grille real estate. Inn on the Beach, the well recognized pink, horseshoe shaped Pass-A-Grille inn, has sold for close to 10 times what its owner paid 14 years ago.

Ron Holehouse recently sold the popular stay to New York investor Jonathan Daou for $2.5 million. Daou recently paid $1.7 million for the former North Ward Elementary school on Fourth Street N and bought 1.5 acres at 930 Central Ave. for $1.7 million. Both properties are in St. Petersburg.

"It's sad but liberating," said Holehouse, who for the first time in 24 years isn't responsible for the 12-room inn and four cottages. He credited the inn's national reputation (it's been reviewed by USA Today, the Boston Globe and travel magazines) and Pass-A-Grille's charm for the price it fetched.

Staff writers Anne Lindberg, Katherine Snow Smith and Charlie Frago and correspondent Diane Craig contributed to this report.