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Pinellas County ended the partial activation of its Emergency Operations Center Monday, Aug. 31, at 4:30 p.m.

The partial activation began at 1 p.m. to allow county and partner agencies to monitor potential flooding concerns related to the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika.

A flood watch remains in effect for Pinellas County until 8 p.m. Residents who experienced flooding during heavy rains in July and early August are asked to stay tuned to the weather and prepare their homes for potential additional flooding.
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SEMINOLE - Tampa Bay Newspapers office will be closed Monday, Sept. 7, for the Labor Day holiday. Early deadlines are in effect Thursday and Friday, Sept. 3-4, for the Seminole Beacon, Beach Beacon, Largo Leader, Belleair Bee and Clearwater Beacon.

Deadline for press releases and other editorial copy is noon Thursday, Sept. 3.
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CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners may not be as happy with their attorney’s performance this year as they were in 2014 based on his annual review scores.

Commissioners had little to complain about during the County Attorney Jim Bennett’s annual review Aug. 18, except maybe his handling of the BP settlement and minor communication problems. Still, his overall score compiled from responses from the seven commissioners was down this year by 19.6 points compared to last year. Nearly every category showed a decrease.

Bennett scored 352.3 out of 400 on his annual performance review, which is down from last year’s score of 371.9. His highest score was for his integrity, receiving a 3.95 this year. He received a perfect 4 in 2014. His lowest score last year was for communication, a 3.46. This year he got a composite score of 3.07 in that category.

His score for the job of providing major legal services was 3.51, down from 3.66 last year. He scored 3.59 for legal services on routine internal matters, down from 3.9 in 2014. He received a 3.42 for organization, planning and management, compared to 3.5 last year. He received a 3.64 for staff effectiveness, a decrease from 3.81 last year. He received the same score for leadership as he did in 2014, 3.58.
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With the likelihood of additional rainfall early next week due to Tropical Storm Erika, residents are being urged to take steps to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and use repellants to prevent being bitten.

The first human case of West Nile Virus was confirmed in a 32-year-old male in Pinellas County Aug. 28. Health officials issued a mosquito-borne illness advisory Aug. 21 to alert the public of the need to protect against the threat.

Twenty-three sentinel chickens have tested positive for WNV so far in the county’s Mosquito Control coops located in Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Oldsmar and Seminole. 
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Tropical Storm Fred strengthened into a hurricane early Monday morning. Fred is the sixth named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season and the second hurricane.

Fred will likely be a short-lived storm. National Hurricane Center forecasters say it will travel through an area of favorable environmental conditions for about 36 hours before encountering vertical shear and an area of dry air. The latest intensity forecast shows Fred becoming a depression by Friday night.
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Outdoors & Recreation
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The recent heavy rain and rough weather along southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast impacted sea turtle nests along the beaches along the Florida's west coast, jeopardizing the eggs and hatchlings emerging from the nests.

Many nests of loggerhead and green turtles have been documented this year in Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties by people working under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission permits to survey the beaches for sea turtle activity.
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Crime, Crashes & Fires
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SEMINOLE - Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Largo High School student Thursday afternoon after he reportedly displayed a BB gun on a school bus.

Logan A Burton, 15, of Seminole was riding the bus home from school when the incident occurred about 2:38 p.m. Aug. 27. The bus was near 9200 113th St. N., according to a media release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said the school bus driver saw the student holding what she thought was a black-colored handgun. She called 911 and pulled the bus off to the side of the road.
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Seminole Beacon
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SEMINOLE - Spoto’s Grill 131, 13079 Park Blvd. N., changed hands earlier this month. James Gilbert and his son, Christopher Gilbert, purchased the restaurant from Bob Spoto, who retired.

Spoto is a well-known local restaurateur whose previous eateries included Spoto’s Stockyard Inn and Spoto’s Supper Club in Seminole, Smokey’s Texas Barbeque in Pinellas Park, and Spoto’s Steak Joint in St. Petersburg and Dunedin.

James, who lives in California, has been in the restaurant business for 60 years, and owns several seafood restaurants and steakhouses in Monterey and Santa Cruz.
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