If you plan to join the more than 2 million Floridians traveling this Memorial Day, you might want to leave early, if you can, to get ahead of the traffic. AAA expects the number of Floridians traveling from May 25-29 to be the highest in 12 years.
Nationwide, AAA is predicting holiday travel will be at the highest level since 2005 with more than 39.3 million Americans planning to take a trip.
Nominations are open for Tampa Bay Newspapers 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards with voting taking place online only.
We want to know your favorites for best dining, entertainment, businesses and services in Pinellas County. You can vote as many times as you like between now and May 30.
Ballots must include a minimum of 10 nominations. Nominees must be Pinellas County businesses.
Ballots will be entered into a drawing for $50 cash or four tickets to a Rays game. Ballots with fewer than 10 Pinellas County businesses or incomplete contact information will be disqualified. Employees of Tampa Bay Newspapers and their family members are ineligible for the drawing.
SEMINOLE - Tampa Bay Newspapers will be closed Monday, May 29, in observance of Memorial Day. Early deadlines for advertising and editorial copy are as follows for the Seminole Beacon, Beach Beacon, Largo Leader, Belleair Bee and Clearwater Beacon:
- Retail advertising: noon, Thursday, May 25
- Classified display ads: 5 p.m., Thursday, May 25
CLEARWATER - In past years, presentation of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s budget has been a near all-day affair. That didn’t happen this year.
County commissioners scheduled only four budget presentations for May 16, anticipating that Sheriff’s Bob Gualtieri would need more time than other departments to talk about his needs. After all, the sheriff’s budget makes up 51 percent of the entire general fund.
In addition, especially during and after the Great Recession, it wasn't unusual for the sheriff to exceed the target set by the Office of Management and Budget. That also didn’t happen this year.
PINELLAS PARK - A 19-year-old homeless man died at a local hospital May 18 from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head that occurred at a shooting range in Pinellas Park.
According to Pinellas Park police, the shooting occurred about 8:10 p.m. May 17 at Shoot Straight, 4594 Ulmerton Road.
Police say that Luke Prendergast, 19, met an unidentified male on the beach in Treasure Island earlier in the day, and they spent time together target shooting at a gun range in St. Petersburg. About 8 p.m., the two men arrived at Shoot Straight to continue target shooting. A video inside the gun range shows that Prendergast fired a couple of rounds at targets before turning the handgun on himself. The man he was with was shooting at targets down range.
ST. PETE BEACH - Issues surrounding a proposed powerboat race off St. Pete Beach June 17-18 have been resolved and the event is now set to go.
Organizers of the race from Powerboat P1 USA told city commissioners May 9 that they have adjusted the 2-mile course in a manner that will not infringe on beach vendors. The event hit a stumbling block a month ago when it was determined a safety zone mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard would extend onto the beach and thus shut down water sports vendors at the site.
CLEARWATER - At first glance, Calvary Christian’s latest win - a come-from-behind, 4-2 victory over Trinity Prep in the 4A-4 regional semifinals on May 10 - would appear to be a result of the Warriors’ formidable offense coming through in the clutch once again.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Calvary (27-0) got one run back on a triple and a groundout before exploding for three runs in the sixth, the big blow a near grand slam by slugging catcher Matt Nelson that cracked the yellow tubing atop the leftfield fence.
LARGO - On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany to enter World War I. At the time, Worth Edward Johnson was a 15-year-old student at Largo High School. He was a member of the Packers’ band and played the cornet.
Six days later, he was no longer just a boy who played an instrument for the school band. He was a soldier in the U.S. Army who played the bugle for the 54th Infantry Regiment of the 6th Division.
He was deployed to France and as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces, the first group of soldiers in U.S. history sent abroad to defend a foreign country, he fought alongside French and British troops.
SEMINOLE - David Miller has one great passion in life - assisting fellow military veterans.
In fact, if there’s an event or service for veterans in Pinellas County, there’s a good chance that Miller, 70, is somehow involved. From his volunteer work through the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System and American Legion Post 273 in Madeira Beach to speaking at community Memorial Day and Veterans Day events and local schools, he is known throughout the region as an advocate for veterans.
PALM HARBOR - On Easter, 8-year-old Oliver Bellant stood up on the pool steps, and for his family, that was a win.
“It’s like dreams really come true,” David Bellant said, recounting his son’s words. “I told him anything you want can come true.”
When Oliver had his first fracture at 7 months of age, the Bellant family knew something about their son was different. It wasn’t until he was 16 months old they learned he had Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a rare genetic disorder also known as brittle-bone disease.
SEMINOLE - With the end of the school year just weeks away, the Seminole Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its summer kick-off celebration, Kids Appreciation Day.
This year it will take place on the last day of school, Thursday, May 25, 3 to 5 p.m., at Seminole City Park, 7464 Ridge Road.
The annual event, now in its 38th year, features games and other activities for children, food, entertainment, and prizes. While the chamber will have a dozen bikes to give away during the event, the emphasis is on every child attending having a good time as they celebrate the start of summer vacation, said Donna Miller, the chamber’s administrative assistant.
PINELLAS PARK - For the past 1 1/2 years, the Foundation for Sustainable Families has slowly been working to rehab the property of an historic 78th Avenue home.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Ashley Rhodes-Courter, who founded the nonprofit organization with her husband, Erick Smith. “But it’s a start.”
There’s a world of difference between the acre lot - “a piece of old Florida” - now and when the foundation decided to move in, she added. But it’s taken a significant amount of work. There was trash throughout the yard, which was overgrown to the point “where you couldn’t even see in the back. It was pure jungle,” she said.