The last day to vote early in the Aug. 26 elections is Sunday, Aug. 24.
Early voting began Saturday, Aug. 16, at all three county Elections offices. When the offices closed Monday afternoon, 460 had cast an early ballot - 173 on Saturday, 84 on Sunday and 203 on Monday.
Early voting locations include the Election Service Center, 13001 Starkey Road., Largo (Starkey Lakes Corporate Center); Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Room 117, Clearwater (first floor, north side); and County Building, 501 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg (entrance on Fifth Street).
SEMINOLE - More than a dozen political, business and civic leaders spoke out at the Aug. 12 City Council meeting to encourage City Manager Frank Edmunds to delay his retirement.
Overwhelmed by the support, Edmunds agreed to stay in his position an additional eight months and retire Sept. 1, 2015. At the June 10 City Council meeting, he announced that he’d retire Jan. 16, 2015 to spend more time with his family and with a grandson on the way.
At the Aug. 12 meeting, the City Council voted 6-0 to change Edmunds’ vacation benefits so that he would receive one week of vacation per month until his retirement. The Council also agreed to initiate recruitment for a new city manager by April 1, 2015.
Councilor Patricia Plantamura, who has been critical of Edmunds, was absent from the meeting.
“This has been pretty difficult to sit through, but it is a compliment for a city manager to have the support of a community as has been demonstrated through this evening,” Edmunds said.
The City Council hopes that Edmunds will help the city get the Seminole Mall project off the ground and also assist with the search for his replacement.
“You’re A+. You’ve run this city beautifully and Seminole is what it is today because of you,” said Mayor Leslie Waters. “It makes my heart feel so good to see the leadership of this community come out today on your behalf.”
CLEARWATER - Norman Runkles was honored on Aug. 12 as the first recipient of the Doug Carey School Crossing Guard of the Year Award in a ceremony at the Clearwater Police Headquarters.
Runkles is one of the Clearwater Police Department employees responsible for training the crossing guards and will return to the streets on Monday, Aug. 18 when school starts.
Carey was a crossing guard who was killed while on duty May 20 at the intersection of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road. He was also a former Clearwater police officer. His widow, Jean, was in attendance at the award ceremony.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - The owners of P.J.’s Oyster Bar are blending the legacy of their old location into the look of their new restaurant at 415 Second St. in Indian Rocks Beach.
The artists are about 90 percent done with their painting on the exterior of the restaurant, which is now open. Renovations began about a year ago, said co-owner Steve Palmer.
“We are doing a tribute to the old P.J.’s building. Kind of paying homage to the 30 years over there.” Palmer said.
The Vitale Brothers of St. Petersburg, who have painted numerous signs and murals on businesses, are re-creating a picture of P.J.’s former building and parking lot, which was at 500 First St.
“When you look at this building, it’s going to look like the old P.J.’s,” Palmer said.
The Palmers, Steve and Rebecca, decided to move their restaurant to the building across the street to accommodate their customers.
“To be honest, we had so many requests for people to sit outside, listen to music and have dinner outside - we didn’t have any place to offer that over there,” he said. “We got so big, too many people. We needed a bigger place,” said Palmer.
LARGO - At 5 a.m. Aug. 11, the new 36,000-square-foot Bardmoor YMCA opened its doors to members.
The new building, at 8495 Bryan Dairy Road, is triple the size of the space it occupied at the nearby Baycare Outpatient Center Hospital, a space that it has long outgrown, said David Jezek, CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.
“It’s neat to see it come to fruition after you’ve worked so hard to pull it all together,” he said. “We want to deepen our impact on the lives of those that we serve and expand our footprint.”
The Bardmoor branch has been servicing the Largo community south of Ulmerton Road for 14 years. The new “beautiful facility” will allow the YMCA to serve up to 14,000 people from the community, Jezek said.
“It’s more than just the building. It’s the people in the building and our ability to build community within,” he said.
Along with a full gymnasium, group exercise room, dedicated cycling room, outdoor sports field and a cafe, the new building includes the first YMCA early learning preschool center in Pinellas County. The school will serve up to 120 children ages 2 to 5.
DUNEDIN - City officials are touting the accomplishments of the Dunedin Pipe Band for winning first and third place in events at the 2014 North American Pipe Band Championships.
Dunedin’s Grade 3 pipe band won its category, which included 13 bands, earning the North American Championship Title, and the Grade 4 pipe band earned third place in its category, which included 17 bands.
The competition was part of the Glengarry Highland Games held Aug. 1-2 in Maxville, Ontario. More than 50 bands competed.
Commissioner Heather Gracy, the city’s liaison on the Dunedin Highland Games Committee, presented certificates of recognition at the commission’s Aug. 7 meeting to the band members for their achievements at the games.
Gracy passed on a message she liked that the wife of a band member had posted online.
“It’s very simple, and it’s to the point, and she said, ‘It was the most impressive display of all good band things.’ That was coming from one of the judges,” Gracy said.
A banner will be posted off Main Street along the Pinellas Trail recognizing the band.
Iain Donaldson, city of Dunedin Pipe Band director and band director of the 2104 national champions, said he was proud the band represented Dunedin as ambassadors at the games.
PINELLAS PARK - To raise awareness of human trafficking, poverty, oppression and other social injustices around the world, Park Place Wesleyan Church, 4400 70th Ave. N. presents The Marketplace: A Fair Trade Experience on Saturday, Aug. 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This international bazaar will feature fair trade products from all over the globe - soaps, coffee, food, jewelry, clothing and more. There’s something for everyone, said Linda Swager, the church’s Women’s Ministry leader, and items start at prices as low as $2.50.
“We don’t want anyone to be scared away because it’s too expensive,” she said. “But there are a lot of interesting products for sale.”
This event is sponsored by the church’s Women’s Ministry, who discovered the North Carolina-based nonprofit The Marketplace at a women’s leadership conference promoting ethical companies last year. The Christian company partners with faith-based organizations to empower impoverished people around the globe with sustainable solutions.
LARGO - Since September 2013, teen volunteers at Largo Public Library have been constructing 27 layouts in different themes to turn the library into a miniature golf course.
The whole project will come together for Book Maniacs’ Mini Golf, an inaugural fundraiser for the teen program Saturday, Aug. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the library, 120 Central Park Drive.
“We have tons of themes,” explained teen volunteer Nicole Harrison, 18, of Largo. “Music, Candy Land, Quidditch, under the sea, bugs, fantasy, Seven Wonders of the World, space or astronomy.”
Nine of the holes are designed to be easy for younger participants, set up in the children’s area as the Toddler Tee-Off Course. The rest of the 18 holes are for older children and adults in the Family Fairway Course.
“Everything for the putt-putt, because we’re doing it in the library, is book-themed,” said Julie Gonser, library youth services assistant. “That’s not hard to do just because there are books about everything.”
The library will be open to regular patrons during the event, which will raise money for the library’s Teen Room. A vendor shopping area will feature local businesses such Coldstone Creamery, Ready Set Yo, local crafters and Massage and Wellness, which will be offering chair massages.
LARGO - The Haskell family, owners of Pellon Consumer Products, has been in the fabric and textile industry for four generations.
“This dates back to when my great-grandfather was selling war patches to the government during World War II,” explained Cris Haskell, CEO of the company, which recently moved its headquarters to Largo.
The business expanded into Dubin Haskell Jacobson, or DHJ, a publicly traded international company selling “non-wovens” to the apparel industry. DHJ was sold in the 1970s, but “non-wovens” still describe what the Haskell family manufactures and distributes within the craft and home goods markets.
The Haskells own the Pellon brand, a name that has come to describe the structural material in quilts, within North America. Pellon Consumer Products still works with the German company Freudenberg, which first brought the innovative material to the United States six decades ago.
“The Pellon brand has a lot of equity. It’s been around in the craft and hobby world for about 60 years,” Cris Haskell explained. “Consumers know and trust this brand.”
John Haskell, representing the third generation of Haskells in textiles, took over the Pellon brand at the start of the new millennium. The move to retail was a new direction for the family, his son explained.
SEMINOLE - Six years ago, Pat Bearry grew tired of his longtime career in law enforcement.
He’d moved to Seminole from Maryland a year earlier to take a job as a deputy sheriff in Manatee County and to remain close to his son, a football player at the University of South Florida. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized he wanted to do something he truly loved for a living; he wanted to get back to his roots.
PALM HARBOR - The race is on for Palm Harbor’s next honorary mayor. Sponsored by the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, the annual campaign is a long-standing tradition that began in 1982.
Three candidates are running in this year’s race - Nancy Jean Baptiste, Jessica Cleveland and Frank Nabozny - all own local businesses.
Every year, candidates raise money for the chamber’s foundation and for a charity of their choice. Each candidate hosts their own fundraising events where campaign supporters contribute $1 or more per vote. The candidate who raises the most money this year will be announced in early October.
CLEARWATER - Johntavia Shaw may only be 10 years old, but she already has a world record under her belt, ranks first in the country in her age group for discus, second for javelin, and third for shot-put. Her 8-year-old sister, Johnnay, is ranked second in her age group for shot-put, and sixth for javelin.
The Clearwater sisters recently competed in the AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa, July 25 through Aug. 2 for track and field. This closed out the season, locking in the girls’ impressive standings. At the event itself, Johntavia placed second in discus, second in javelin, and 13th in shot-put. Johnnay placed second in shot-put and seventh in javelin. A wall in their living room is heavy with all the medals they have won over the years.