CLEARWATER - As cold weather continues, Clearwater Marine Aquarium turtle department and stranding team have been working day and night to rescue and rehab an ever-growing population of sea turtle patients.
In January, the turtle team at CMA reported nearly 30 cold stun intakes over a single weekend, and hospital activity hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down in February. The 2016 total intake count is over 140, with 69 live sea turtles arriving at CMA, including 12 arrivals Tuesday, Feb. 9, and 11 arrivals on Wednesday.
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Retail Federation says that the average consumer will spend almost $150 per person this year for Valentine’s Day on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel, nights out and more, an increase over 2015.
Total spending nationally for this consumer holiday is expected to reach close to $20 billion, a survey high.
“Valentine’s Day continues to play a significant role in the bottom line for Florida retailers, as consumers buy gifts to show their affection for their loved ones,” said FRF President/CEO Randy Miller. “With an improving Florida economy combined with low gas prices, and great deals on popular merchandise and meals, we expect retailers and consumers to love this year’s Valentine’s Day shopping season.”
Consumers will spend an average of $146.84, up from $142.31 last year, according to FRF’s partners at the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, and total spending is expected to reach $19.7 billion, a survey high.
NORTH REDINGTON BEACH - The owners of a well-known eatery in the community are suing North Redington Beach over a dispute regarding the town’s sign ordinance.
Sweet Sage Café at 16725 Gulf Blvd. is at the center of the dispute. The lawsuit claims that the town’s sign ordinance, as it applies to the café, violates the owners’ First Amendment rights, the right to free speech.
The sign ordinance was enacted last year on June 15. Among the reasons for the ordinance as described in the ordinance was the need to make the town a desirable place to visit given the economic reliance on tourism. It also indicated the need for traffic safety and to avoid what it calls “visual blight.”
DUNEDIN - Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski took issue Feb. 4 with a document Commissioner Bruce Livingston provided in his evaluation of the former city manager, calling it “a new low” because it included her son in “negative politics.”
The document was at the end of Livingston’s evaluation of former City Manager Rob DiSpirito. It included a statement from a citizen contending that the mayor asked the Blue Jays organization to hire her son and they did.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives charged a former Tae Kwon Do instructor with capital sexual battery Monday, Feb. 8, after an 8-year-old female accused him of forcing her to engage in inappropriate sexual conduct.
Andrew Jin Kim, 23, of St. Petersburg is currently being held in the Pinellas County Jail on $500,000 bond on two charges of lewd and lascivious molestation of two females who were 6 and 7 years old at the time of the incident. Kim was arrested on those charges Feb. 5.
LARGO - The city of Largo and a local beekeeper have planted the seeds of a partnership that could yield some pretty sweet results in the near future.
Jim Johnson of Johnson Family Apiaries has entered into an agreement to establish a collection of beehives on a vacant portion of city-owned property to help the environment and possibly make a little honey and money in the process.
“It’s a situation where we are trying to find a habitat where we can promote bees and do some education with them and hopefully it will be a good venture for both of us,” said Johnson, who will be setting up 30 to 50 hives of European honeybees on a piece of land off Eighth Avenue Southeast and Donogan Road that served as a city dump decades ago.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - City residents who live in a designated flood hazard area will now receive a 15 percent discount on their flood insurance rates. Those in nonflood prone areas will get a 5 percent reduction.
Belleair Bluffs Public Works Director Robert David at the Feb. 8 city commission meeting announced the insurance breaks. They are the result of the city’s earning a 7 score (out of 10, with 1 being best) in the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program. The program is administered by FEMA.