At 2 a.m. Sunday, March 9, Pinellas County will join in a time-honored tradition of setting the clocks ahead one hour.
Yes, daylight saving time is returning, bringing with it an extra hour of sunshine in the evening. Standard time will return at 2 a.m. Nov. 2.
Daylight saving time is part of a federal law, the Standard Time Act, which includes a daylight-saving measure that essentially moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.
Congress started changing time as a way to save energy, especially during the two World Wars; however, its effect on energy use today is a matter of debate.
Prior to 1883, time revolved around the sun. Cities and communities relied on solar clocks and sundials to synchronize events. Most historians credit the railroads with making the move toward standardizing time due to the need to keep to a schedule. The railroads first used time zones in 1883. In 1884, the system of international standard time was adopted.
But just because the railroads used a time system didn’t mean the concept was embraced by everybody. However, as communication and travel methods improved, it soon became more practical for people to use a measure of time that was standard.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a flood insurance bill Tuesday night that could signal the coming of relief for Florida families trying to deal with massive rate hikes.
Governor Rick Scott called the action the “right thing for Floridians.”
“The House’s action on this flood insurance fix tonight is an important win in our fight to undo unfair insurance flood insurance rate hikes that are hurting Florida families,” Scott said in a press release.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said the House bill didn’t do enough, but was a good first step.
“Although it doesn’t go as far as the bill we passed in the Senate, it’s good the House has approved some curbs on flood insurance,” Nelson said. “For the sake of policyholders facing massive rate hikes, I hope we can get a final version sent to the president quickly.”
The U.S. Senate approved legislation proposed by Nelson Jan. 30, which would delay many of the flood insurance rate increases for four years, during which time FEMA would be required to study the affordability of the policies and re-evaluate the accuracy of new flood maps.
The House bill does not delay rate increases but repeals certain sections, according to an analysis from the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. It restores grandfathering and repeals the automatic increase in rates from the sale of a home or a lapsed policy.
BELLEAIR - Discussion of the potential new zoning designation as it relates to the Belleview Biltmore property again dominated the discussion at the Belleair Commission meeting on March 4.
The zoning designation RM-10 would allow any developer to build 10 units per acre on the land. The previous designation RM-15 was considered inappropriate for the property.
Several weeks ago, based on a motion by Commission Stephen Fowler, the commission voted 3-2 to shelve any discussion of the zoning for six months. That was considered a hindrance to developer Mike Cheezem, who intends to buy and develop the property.
Two weeks ago the commissioners changed their minds and agreed to reconsider the designation at their meeting on March 25. The discussion at the most recent meeting was to refresh their memories about RM-10.
In addition to allowing 10 units per acre the new designation would also insist that a minimum of 5 acres would come into play, and the minimum size of a unit would be 1,200 square feet with the average square footage being 1,800 square feet.
The contentious part of RM-10 is the loosening of the height restriction. Buildings as high as 80 feet would be allowed as long as the average height of the project would be 48 feet. Other conditions would have to be met regarding parking and setbacks. Those height restrictions are what bothered Commissioner Stephen Fowler.
LARGO - A group of 10 Largo firefighters and police officers underwent an unexpected type of training last week: hoagie-building boot camp.
The team at the new Wawa at 8910 Ulmerton Road showed the city’s finest and bravest how to build their signature sandwiches for a contest to celebrate the opening of the store and gas station Feb. 27.
The resulting competition involved many handfuls of airborne lettuce and tomatoes, flung between the opposing teams as they battled to build 30 hoagies faster than the other. The team of five firefighters claimed the winning trophy, but Wawa donated $1,000 on behalf of both teams for their participation. The police officers named Suncoast Hospice as their charity of choice while the firefighters donated their winnings to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
In the ceremonies that preceded the contest, local officials welcomed the mid-Atlantic company, which began opening stores in Tampa Bay last year, to its first Largo location.
“We’re really happy that Wawa has opened here,” Largo commissioner Curtis Holmes said. “We understand you’re going to be opening a few more in our fair community, and I can hardly wait for that.”
CLEARWATER - Despite lingering questions about future maintenance and operations costs, Pinellas County Commissioners voted 6-1 Feb. 25 to award a contract for professional design build services for a new health facility to Creative Contractors Inc.
Commissioner Norm Roche voted no.
According to staff notes, the new facility, to be located at 14790 49th St. in Clearwater, will be an extension of the county’s mobile health unit, which is a federally qualified health center that currently serves the homeless population at 12 locations countywide.
“More specifically, the overall objective of this project is to provide a new health care facility to serve as a patient-centered medical home that uniquely serves the needs of homeless individuals through in-house medical care and social support services,” staff said.
Plans call for the facility to provide medical and dental care, as well as house a 24-hour medical respite facility to provide convalescent care for clients recently released from a hospital.
The project is divided into two phases. Phase 1 will include programming, schematic designs/design development and construction documents to allow for accurate subcontractor bidding and pricing that will be used to come up with a guaranteed lump sum price. Phase 2 is the building construction phase.
Pinellas County residents can water their lawns and landscape plants twice a week before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. beginning March 1.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board extended the Phase II Water Shortage order in the Tampa Bay Feb. 25; however, the new order allows up to two watering days per week.
“We are asking residents to continue to be prudent with their water use, especially outdoor irrigation, at this time. It’s important to be mindful of our water supply,” said District Chairman Carlos Beruff.
The board enacted Phase II Water Shortage restrictions Dec. 17 due to reduced river levels and increasing water supply concerns. Restrictions for lawn watering were expected to continue throughout Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties through at least March 1.
“The extended order follows a seasonal feature of Phase II, which recognizes that reasonable lawn irrigation needs may be higher in spring and summer, when days are longer and temperatures are hotter than the winter months,” Swiftmud officials said in a press release.
Phase II restrictions continue through at least July 31, depending on the amount of rainfall the area receives.
SEMINOLE - Before State Sen. Dennis Jones retired from public life in 2012, the honors and accolades rolled in from around the community. Then they continued after he stepped down.
But one of the biggest accolades came slightly more than a year later when Jones, a longtime leader in the Florida Legislature, a successful Pinellas County chiropractor and director of the Institute of Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College, was awarded the inaugural Public Service Award from the Institute of Strategic Policy Solutions during a dinner Feb. 21 at the SPC Seminole campus.
More than 200 community, education and government leaders turned out for the event, which featured comments by many of Jones’ colleagues during his 32-year political career. Among them was Kim Black, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association; close friend Jack Hebert, founder of the Mallard Group, which formulated most of Jones’ election campaigns; Jim Olliver, provost of the SPC Seminole campus and Jones’ son, Dr. Rod Jones.
Dr. James Winterstein, president emeritus of the National University of Health Services, provided a letter of congratulations that was read aloud and Fred Lippman, chancellor of the Health Professions Division at Nova Southeastern University and a 20-year member of the Florida House of Representatives, provided a video message.
CLEARWATER - Just looking at the little girl with big brown eyes and huge smile, one wouldn’t know that she’s a very sick baby. That is, except for the fact that she is permanently hooked up to an IV and her home has been All Children’s Hospital since Dec. 30.
Mia Cervoni only just turned 4 months old on Feb. 23, but she has already overcome a lot. Mia needs a new heart. She was born with dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle that affects the pumping of the heart, according to the Mayo Clinic. The left ventricle becomes enlarged and therefore can’t pump blood to the body properly. Mia’s mom, Priscilla Cervoni of Clearwater said that the scariest thing about this condition is that it often doesn’t come with any symptoms until it’s too late.
“That’s the thing about cardiomyopathy,” Priscilla said. “She looks like a normal 4-month-old, but she’s a very sick little girl. Because we’re here (at All Children’s Hospital) and she’s on all the IV medication, she’s still eating and all of those things. But I think that’s been the hardest part in explaining what’s wrong with her, because she doesn’t look sick. That’s the scary part.”
DUNEDIN - When Katie Ducharme was 6 years old, her mother arranged for her to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a college basketball game in her hometown of Detroit. Today, more than 20 years later, Ducharme is still singing the same song.
She’s performed the national anthem at Detroit Tigers baseball games, Detroit Red Wings hockey games and Detroit Pistons basketball games. She’s sung at the White House, Dave Coulier’s “Full House” Celebrity Golf Classic and in a Kenny Rogers Christmas Show. Locally, she’s done live performances for the Tampa Bay Rays, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Clearwater Threshers. But it was her experience singing both the Star Spangled Banner and the Canadian National Anthem at every home game for the Detroit Plymouth Whalers hockey team for more than 10 years that attracted the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I sing the Canadian and American national anthems, and the Blue Jays knew that when I talked to them,” Ducharme said. “And I think I can bring a hometown feel.”
Nearly 110,000 mail ballots had been returned to a Pinellas County Elections Office as of March 5 - well over half of the 201,000 distributed thus far.
According to a fact sheet from the Elections Office, 477,635 registered voters are eligible to take part in the District 13 special election to pick a new U.S. Representative as well as 12 municipal elections. Of that number, 460,600 can vote in the District 13 election - 170,565 Republicans (37 percent), 159,213 Democrats (34.6 percent), and 130,822 registered as minor party or no party affiliation (28.4 percent).
With 73,192 mail ballots returned the Elections Office as Feb. 21, and early voting set to begin Saturday, March 1, campaigns are in full swing for candidates looking to win Pinellas County’s District 13 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Two commission seats are up for election in the city this year. George Lawton is challenging three-term Commissioner Joe Barkley and Commissioner Taylour Shimkus, who is seeking a third term. Lawton ran unsuccessfully for a Bluffs commission seat a year ago.
CLEARWATER - Voters who missed the Jan. 15 candidates’ forum at the Salvation Army’s Joy Center got another chance to meet and evaluate the City Council candidates, when Bay News 9 anchor Al Ruechel moderated a candidates’ forum at City Hall the evening of Feb 13.
INDIAN SHORES - Three candidates have qualified to run in the March 11 municipal election for two Indian Shores councilor positions that will open in March when Councilors Carole Irelan and Steve Sutch retire.
The three candidates who qualified are Diantha Schear, Michael Petruccelli and Pat Soranno.
ST. PETE BEACH - Four candidates are seeking two seats on the St. Pete Beach City Commission in the March 11 election. Challenger Terri Finnerty faces incumbent Lorraine Huhn for the District 1 seat. Newcomers James Anderson and Gregory Premer are seeking the District 3 seat.
The Beach Beacon takes a look at the candidates with a series of questions designed to help voters make a better decision on Election Day.
TARPON SPRINGS - The three candidates for the Tarpon Springs City Commission are spending the weeks leading up to the March 11 election introducing themselves to Tarpon residents, including at the final two public forums.
TARPON SPRINGS - Once, a nursing home flourished on 3.46 acres at 501 S. Walton Ave. But when the tenants vacated the property in 2004, the building was left on its own, in the hands of the city of Tarpon Springs but with little care or attention. Ten years later, it still sits empty, run down and dilapidated.