1. Pasco

Port Richey Council: The dredge isn't dead yet

Port Richey city government has been left challenged by the arrest this year of two mayors: Dale Massad, top left and Terrence Rowe, bottom left. [Times files]
Published May 29

PORT RICHEY — After Port Richey voters pick a replacement next month for jailed former Mayor Dale Massad, city officials plan to talk one more time about revitalizing efforts to dredge the cities canals that lead to the Gulf of Mexico. Two weeks ago, those efforts appeared doomed. Voters in Port Richey will head to the polls June 18 to vote in a special election to replace Massad. He resigned after his arrest in February on charges that he shot at Pasco County Sheriff's deputies who raided his home over concerns he was practicing medicine without a license.

Scandal continued to swirl around Massad's case after his replacement, Vice Mayor Terry Rowe, was suspended from his duties by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Rowe was arrested in March on charges of conspiring with Massad against a Port Richey police officer who helped to investigate Massad.

The Port Richey City Council met again on Tuesday — still two members short — and failed again to appoint a replacement to Rowe's seat. The skeleton council has continued to do business, and the city's two-decade-long attempt to dredge 27 canals has taken center stage.

Two weeks ago, City Manager Vince Lupo declared that the city can't afford to complete the project before Florida Department of Environmental Protection permits expire on Oct. 1. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits for the project expire next year.

The city has spent nearly $2 million on permitting and planning for the dredge, which many believe will help alleviate flooding in the city. After the meeting two weeks ago, several people posted on social media their ideas for finding public money for the project. The conversation caught the attention of Vice Mayor Will Dittmer.

Dittmer told the Tampa Bay Times that after reading the litany of ideas — from moving city funds around to asking Pasco County to pitch in — he came to believe that the city should host an informational workshop on the dredging. It would allow input from the public and the county, and provide clarity from the city about what is doable.

City Council members Richard Bloom and Jennie Sorrell agreed. In a 3-0 vote, they set a tentative workshop date for June 25, with hopes of having a full council by then.

"This way everything will be on the table," Ditmer said. "Nobody has to guess what's going on from where."


  1. Alec J. Roarks, 27, has resigned his position at Connerton Elementary School.
  2. A driver lost control and plowed into the garage of a townhouse in the 21400 block of Clubside Loop in Land O Lakes. The homeowner was in the garage at the time but was not injured. The driver suffered minor injuries. But the home's occupants had to leave because of the damage. Pasco County Fire Rescue
    The car drove through a garage wall. The homeowner was inside the garage at the time but was not injured.
  3. Charles Jerkins. Pasco County Sheriff
    The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries after a 10-foot-long log was dropped on his legs.
  4. Pasco County Sheriff's deputies lead three teenagers from a Wesley Chapel Publix store after responding to reports that the boys had been showing off handguns there in a Snapchat video. PASCO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE  |  Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    The three Pinellas boys were apprehended while they were still walking the aisles of the Wesley Chapel store.
  5. Luis Tull, 36, is a suspect in a shooting and carjacking at a Zephyrhills McDonald's on Wednesday night, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    Luis Tull, 36, was arrested Thursday after stealing three cars and driving at deputies, drawing their fire, the sheriff says.
  6. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    As expected, the union rejected the district’s plan to add work for middle and high school teachers in exchange for more money.
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Three cars were involved in the late-afternoon crash.
  8. The 53rd-annual Rattlesnake Festival will be held Oct. 19-20 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. The weekend event, kicks off with a prelude concert featuring the Bellamy Brothers on Friday, and raises money for the Thomas Promise Foundation. The foundation provides meals for Pasco County school children who do not have regular access to nutritional meals on weekends when school is not in session. "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The annual festival offers a family-friendly outing while raising money to feed school children in need.
  9. Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. Courtesy of Lynn Cristina
    Dad’s car is a spotless, no-fun zone. As primary chauffeur, my car is the kitchen, playroom, storage container and sometimes even the minute clinic.
  10. Zephyrhillls police Officer Timothy Alan Murr II, 33, was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. The police department suspended him with pay pending the completion of the criminal investigation. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    The officer is accused of grabbing a woman’s wrists. The Zephyrhills Police Department suspended him with pay.