SEMINOLE - Nearly 40 current and retired Seminole Fire Rescue staff and volunteers, and their friends, family and supporters gathered at Fire Station 32, 9199 113th St., to say goodbye to the building, which will be torn down in November.
The volunteer-built building, which was dedicated in March 1970, will be razed to make way for “state-of-the-art facilities with modern safety features and conveniences,” said Chief Heather Burford. “It’s a welcome and much deserved arrival.”
First, she wanted to give the department and former volunteers and employees one last time to honor the building, which has served the community for nearly 45 years.
“We are here today as a chance for you to say goodbye to this station, which in a little while is going to be torn down for the future,” she told the crowd. “So I thought it would be a nice opportunity to bring you in and give you a chance to see each other and see the building for a final time.”
The group removed the original dedication plaque, which, Burford said, will be cleaned and hung in the new station.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners delayed any decision Oct. 6 about moving forward with a proposal to develop the Toytown landfill site until at least November.
In part, due to uncertainty over a potential need to spend Tourist Development Tax dollars to build a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays in the future. The No. 1 ranked proposal to develop Toytown includes a request for as much as $10.5 million in tourist development tax proceeds, which would then become unavailable for the Rays.
Staff presented three plans that came in as the result of a Request for Proposals sent out this summer looking for developers interested in purchasing or leasing the 241-acre former landfill site, located south of Roosevelt Boulevard and east of I-275 within the city of St. Petersburg.
A committee evaluated and ranked the proposals, using a set of criteria specified in the RFN. SportsPark Partners LLC received the No. 1 rank, followed by Meridian Realty Capital LLC and Trinity Resurrection Partners LLC (Sun Ray Park).
However, County Administrator Mark Woodard announced that Meridian had since been disqualified, due to a violation of the county’s lobbying policy. Meridian had proposed a mixed-use development with residential, retail and office space, as well as amenities such as a hotel and recreation facilities.
ST. PETE BEACH - Plans were unveiled last week for the first major hotel redevelopment on the beach since issues surrounding the city’s comprehensive plan were resolved in May.
Robert Czyszczon, general manager of the Plaza Beach Resort, 4506 Gulf Blvd., explained his vision for The Allure, a new 66-room boutique hotel, during a community meeting Sept. 28 at the St. Pete Beach Community Center.
Plans call for a majority of the rooms to be two-bedroom, two-bath units offering 870 square feet of space. The remainder would be one-bedroom, two-bath units with 750 square feet.
“There are no two-bedroom, two-bath products on St. Pete Beach and that’s really the product this beach needs and is desired,” said Czyszczon.
Czyszczon has high expectations for the project based on similar two-bedroom, two-bath suite hotels in Treasure Island.
“The Sunset Vistas in Treasure Island is completely two-bedroom, two-bath and has one of the highest occupancy rates in Pinellas County,” he said. “They’re about 90 percent occupancy, which is unheard of in this area.”
DUNEDIN - Jean “Carlos” Ulloa said in so many words that he was just doing what he was trained to do during a life-threatening incident at Three Rooker Island April 19.
But a father, near tears, said his family is forever grateful to Ulloa for the firefighter paramedic’s actions to help rescue four children.
“On that day I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to see my children again,” said Ram Singh, addressing the Dunedin City Commission Oct. 1.
For his efforts, Ulloa received the Dunedin Fire Department’s Certificate of Valor for outstanding bravery in observing and preventing a potentially life-threatening incident. It’s the department’s highest award.
In a letter Singh wrote to Fire Chief Jeff Parks, Singh said as he was walking around the island with his boat captain, a few women were trying to get his attention, waving for him to hurry.
“As I got closer to them I realized that something had gone wrong. My wife had her hands covered over her face and [was] crying. She could not speak clearly but she was able to say that ‘the kids are gone.’ I was shocked beyond belief as I looked at the ocean (Gulf) only to see a vast body of water; no sight of humans but just boats,” Singh wrote.
LARGO - Building Official William Ondulich has resigned, following a complaint to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation that employees in Largo’s building division were approving construction plans without proper licenses.
The complaint, made by a city inspector who was put on administrative leave Sept. 22 for a reportedly unrelated issue, stated that Ondulich knew the city’s three plans examiners signed off plans they weren’t qualified to review. The Largo Leader has reviewed documentation that may back up the accusations.
The cost for lack of expertise perceived by local contractors who deal with the city on a regular basis is loss of time and money during tight construction schedules. In the cases of some larger projects - including the new Walmarts on Ulmerton Road and Missouri Avenue and Largo’s Wawa - portions of plumbing had to be removed and reinstalled in the middle of construction when it was found that the plans didn’t meet state building standards.
Mistakes like that should be caught at City Hall and corrected before they make it back into the hands of contractors, said city building inspector Glenn Hall, who was responsible for finding the plumbing errors in the plans at the two Walmarts and the Wawa, as well as the state complaint.
CLEARWATER - One government’s trash pile could be a developer’s treasure trove, if Pinellas County Commissioners give staff the go ahead to negotiate with one of three with plans for the 240-acre Toytown landfill site.
Director of Purchasing Joe Lauro confirmed Sept. 24 that only three proposals had been received in response to a request for negotiation, or RFN, sent out by the county’s Economic Development Authority. Deadline to express interest in buying or leasing the property was Aug. 18.
An evaluation committee has since reviewed the proposals and ranked them according to criteria contained in the RFN, Lauro said. The committee ranked SportsPark Partners LLC as No. 1. Meridian Realty Capital LLC ranked No. 2, and SunRay Park ranked No. 3.
Staff will present the committee’s ranking of firms to the County Commission Oct. 6. Successful fruition of any of the three plans could be a big boost in the county’s economy in terms of new jobs and tax revenue. A previous deal approved by the commission July 1, 2008, to sell the land to Florida Gateway Development LLC was stalled by the Great Recession and never came to be. The developer pulled out in 2011.
ST. PETE BEACH - When St. Pete Beach City Commissioners gave the final approval last week on an ordinance allowing outdoor dining and alcohol consumption on sidewalks in the Corey Avenue business district, they said they opened the door for future redevelopment.
But for Rob Williams, proprietor of the popular Swigwam Beach Bar at 336 Corey Ave., it ended a three-year battle with other Corey business owners over the right for Swigwam patrons to enjoy a cold beer in the comfort of chairs on the sidewalk in front of the pub.
Williams’ victory was the latest in a series of challenges he has been faced with. Surprisingly, he has walked away from all with success, including a recent battle with throat and neck cancer. On that front, he is now cancer free for five years and will soon be marrying his long-time fiancée Pam.
Williams’ story starts many years ago. It goes back to spring break in 1986 when at age 26 he began working as a bartender at the Swigwam Beach Bar behind what is now the Post Card Inn at 6300 Gulf Blvd.
“That was a fantastic job for all those years,” Williams said. “It was great watching the sun go down every night. I loved it.”
LARGO - Sixty-four arrests have been made in the past five weeks, as local law enforcement agencies collaborate to deal with a recent increase in auto theft and auto burglaries.
Two police chiefs and the Pinellas County Sheriff announced results of the work done by a 36-member Auto Theft Task Force at a Sept. 25 press conference at the sheriff’s administration building in Largo.
Of the 64 arrests, 36 suspects were adults and 28 were juveniles. Suspects were arrested for various crimes, resulting in 171 charges, including 37 for grand theft auto, 19 for fleeing and eluding, 19 for resisting arrest without violence, 12 for conveyance burglaries, 11 for driving while license suspended or revoked and others, according to a media release.
St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway said an increase in auto burglaries was noticed in his city in February. Investigators soon discovered that cars stolen in St. Petersburg were being dropped off in Tampa and cars stolen in Tampa were being dropped off in St. Petersburg, he said.
So, Tampa police and St. Petersburg police began working together. Soon after, when it became apparent that the problem was bigger than earlier believed, they called Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
CLEARWATER - Julie Daniels remembers being stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and hearing what she and her Air Force colleagues thought were enemy bombs exploding nearby.
As it turns out, the bombs were actually U.S. missiles.
“Sirens go off. Everybody jumps into their chemical gear. Because we don’t know. We are ripping stuff apart in the middle of the night,” she said.
She had pajamas on under her chemical gear.
“I had the mask on. It was crazy,” said Daniels, who spent 21 years in the military, retiring as a captain in 2007.
“There was actually a Patriot launch site two miles from where we lived. What we thought was actually bombing us were the Patriots launching. And it literally sounded like somebody was shooting bombs at us,” Daniels said.
She served overseas during the Gulf War for five months. That and other experiences in the military prepared her for challenges in her personal and professional life years later.
Joining the Air Force on the advice of a friend, she served in Germany before being stationed for 60 days at Hurlburt Field in Fort Walton Beach. Then she was deployed to a communication station as part of Operation Desert Storm. As can be expected, Daniels was nervous about her overseas assignment.
CLEARWATER - Fall in Florida brings cooler temperatures, seasonal residents and a variety of outdoor festivals. For Pinellas, October means jazz.
The 36th annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday will run Oct. 15-18, at Coachman Park on the waterfront in downtown Clearwater.
Daily general admission tickets are $15 in advance and $25 the day of the show. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free but must be accompanied by a paying adult. Four-day tickets also are available. Reserved seating prices start at $40 a day in advance.
PINELLAS PARK - Two males and a female took an undisclosed amount of cash in an armed robbery of a Pinellas Park 7-Eleven Tuesday, Oct. 13.
According to a media release from Pinellas Park police, two males, wearing masks covering their faces and heads, entered the 7-Eleven at 11787 66th St. N. about 3:10 a.m. One of the two males had a black semi-automatic handgun, as they demanded money from the clerk. The female stood as a lookout at the front door.
The clerk gave the gunman the cash register drawer, which contained an undisclosed amount of cash. The three fled the scene in an unknown direction.
SEMINOLE - Seminole City Council candidates incumbent Chris Burke, Joe Haynes, David Outlaw and Trish Springer faced off during an Oct. 8 debate hosted by the Institute for Strategic Police Solutions at St. Petersburg College Thomas Christy and W. Fred Petty also are running for office but were unable to attend the debate.
A 25-year employee of the Largo Police Department, Burke is currently a sergeant in charge of special events, school resource officers, crossing guards, volunteers in policing and chaplain corps. He’s lived in Seminole since 1979, graduating from Seminole High School, and is also a decorated United States Army and Gulf War veteran.
ST. PETERSBURG - For more than a thousand years, an ancient dugout canoe lay buried under mangrove peat near a shoreline on Old Tampa Bay at Weedon Island Preserve.
Since its discovery in 2001, archaeologists have investigated, excavated, analyzed and conserved the ancient treasure.
The public is invited to view the 1,100-year-old canoe during the grand opening of a new exhibit, Navigating Tampa Bay’s Maritime Past. The grand opening will take place Saturday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center located at 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. A ribbon-cutting ceremony be presented at 10 a.m. and will be followed by presentations and activities designed for the entire family.
One of the scariest diagnoses a woman will ever hear is “You’ve got breast cancer.”
The National Cancer Institute estimates that 231,840 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,290 will die. Excluding skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Statistics show that one in eight women, about 12 percent, will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
Free English lessons PINELLAS PARK – Free English lessons for adult speakers of other languages are offered Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the parish hall at Sacred Heart Church, 7809 46th Way.
Everyone is welcome. For information, call 541-4447.
A Girlfriend’s Touch Boutique ribbon-cutting PALM HARBOR – A ribbon-cutting will take place Tuesday, Oct. 13, 6 p.m., at A Girlfriend’s Touch Boutique, 32728 U.S. 19 N., in the Palm Lake Shopping Center. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
Ministerial Association discussion TARPON SPRINGS – The Tarpon Springs Ministerial Association will host a discussion among the service provider organizations and churches in the Tarpon Springs community Tuesday, Oct. 13, 10 a.m., at St. Nicholas Greek Cathedral’s Father Tryfon Community Center, 36 N. Pinellas Ave.
The Ministerial Association is an organization of pastors and clergy in Tarpon Springs. The meeting will provide an opportunity for everyone in the community to hear what each organization is now doing and what their future plans are and to share their mission and passion toward the city of Tarpon Springs.
The hope is that all will work together to better help those in need in our community. All churches and service provider organizations are expected to attend. The organizations will bring informational and descriptive materials to share with participants. Refreshments will be served.
Pasta and dancing CLEARWATER – The Italian club of Greater Clearwater will host pasta dinners each Tuesday, monthly, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at 200 S. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Dancing also will be held on some Saturdays. For information, call 791-8698.
Pinellas Technical College open houses The Clearwater and St. Petersburg campuses of Pinellas Technical College will host open houses in preparation for the start of a new school term.
The open house on the Clearwater campus will be Thursday, Oct. 8, 5:30 to 7 p.m., at 6100 154th Ave. N., Clearwater.
The open house on the St. Petersburg campus will be Tuesday, Oct. 13, 5:30 to 7 p.m., at 901 34th St., St. Petersburg.
High school seniors and the community can visit the campus and learn about the variety of career technical training opportunities available at Pinellas Technical College.
The college is a prime resource for individuals looking for a career change, an opportunity to enhance and update their current career skills or for people who are entering the job market and need technical credentials.
At the open houses, Pinellas Technical College staff members will assist potential students in choosing a career path before courses begin on Oct. 20.
Information regarding the availability of financial aid for those who meet the eligibility criteria will also be shared. There will be refreshments and door prizes.
Prenatal nutrition class ST. PETERSBURG – A prenatal nutrition class meets second Tuesdays, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., at St. Petersburg General Hospital, 6500 38th Ave. N.
The class is free and open to the public. Attendees will have an opportunity to tour the labor and delivery and post-partum units.
In a relaxed environment, the class gives practical tips on how to keep fit and healthy with good, nutrient-rich foods. The presenter will discuss ideal eating patterns, answer participants’ questions and explore the science behind which foods best benefit mom and baby.
Covering subjects like protein, antioxidants, exercise, allergies and organic diets, the material is perfect for all moms-to-be – from first-timers to those who want a refresher course on the fundamentals of prenatal nutrition.
Attendees also receive a free cookbook with staff members’ recipes.
Safe boating class ST. PETE BEACH – U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 78 has a 12-week continuous cycle of Safe Boating Program meetings Tuesdays, 7 p.m., in the Warren Webster Building, at 1500 Pass-A-Grille Way.
Attendees can start at their convenience. New participants should arrive for their first class at 6:30 p.m. to register. Included in this program are detailed and illustrated materials that cover a variety of program topics.
The program package is based on the new USCG Auxiliary Boating Skills and Seamanship 14th edition 400-page manual. All materials will be included in the cost of the program, which is $45 per participant for 12 weeks. Cost is $60 for couples sharing the materials.
For information, call Jim at 360-4846, Warren at 321-7801 or Phil at 865-2226.
Seminole-SPC Toastmasters meeting SEMINOLE – Seminole-SPC Toastmasters meets at 6:15 p.m. Tuesdays at the Seminole Community Library, 9200 113th St.
This personal development program helps individuals become confident speakers in a self-paced, fun atmosphere.
Contact Dennis Hamel at 374-2612 or visit seminolespc.toastmastersclubs.org for more information.
Staying Balanced Inside & Out LARGO – The Fall Prevention Coalition of Better Living for Seniors will host a free program, Staying Balanced Inside & Out, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Largo Community Center, 400 Alt. Keene Road.
Staying Balanced Inside & Out is an educational event with exhibits, balance demonstrations, expert speaker panels and prize drawings totaling more than $3,000 in fall prevention products, equipment and services.
“Our goal is to empower seniors and their caregivers in finding answers before the problems arise,
eliminating the crisis from hitting and causing irreversible damage,” said Christine Hamacher in a press release. Hamacher is event coordinator and chair of the coalition. “Falls can be devastating and the fear of them is paralyzing for many. Through education and trusted resources, we are showing people how to reclaim their independence and freedom and live life to the fullest despite limitations.”
The speaker panel at 11 a.m. will highlight key factors in evaluating and minimizing fall risk. This event will include refreshments from local independent living facilities. Prizes will be awarded after the speaker panel and winners will be able to select their prize if they are present.
The venue is handicap-accessible. For information, call 518-3131.