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CLEARWATER - County Commissioners proclaimed May 19 as Pinellas County Day in celebration of the Utilities Department’s 80th birthday.

In a video presented during the meeting, Utilities Director Robert Powell described utility systems as a “silent service.”

“The only time you notice is when it is not there,” he said. “And then it is a surprise because most of the time, the majority of the time, it is there.”

Former Utilities Director Pick Talley, who retired in 2008 after 23 years with the department, joined Powell in the video that reviewed the history of utility service in Pinellas.

“The beach communities in the early 1900s could sink a well and hit a lens of fresh water that was sufficient for their use,” Talley said.

But in the 1920 and 1930s, the volume of water needed increased and wells began to draw in saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway. They had no choice but to move to the mainland to develop wells farther away for the coast, he said.

In 1935, an Act of the Legislature created the Pinellas County Water System.

The customer base for the first Walsingham plant was 200 served by a 1.5 million gallon a day system, Powell said. The first expansion of that system came in 1955.
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Summer Lifestyles 2015
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Pinellas County
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CLEARWATER - As Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long said May 19, the devil is in the details.

Commissioners agreed unanimously, after much debate, to defer a decision about proposed changes to the Tourist Development Plan and to future allocations of the county’s bed tax proceeds.

Most agreed there were details that needed discussion, most importantly the levy of a sixth cent (bed tax), which the county is now eligible to do after meeting requirements to become a high impact tourist destination in 2014.
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CLEARWATER - Despite protests from about a dozen residents, Pinellas County Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve four years of rate increases for water and sewer, as well as user fees and rates for reclaimed water May 19.

Commissioner Dave Eggers voted no.

The increases continue a pattern that began in 2011 when commissioners approved a four-year rate hike plan through 2015. Consultant Burton & Associates recommended another four-year schedule of modest rate hikes, lasting through fiscal year 2019.
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Health News
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More children die in Florida from drowning than any other state, according to the state Department of Health.

“Annually in Florida, enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms drown and do not live to see their fifth birthday,” according to information at FloridaHealth.gov.

In 2010, the state’s unintentional drowning rate for children ages 1 to 4 was 7.29 per 100,000 population - the highest in the nation. The state also had the most drownings and highest rate (2.67 per 100,000) for ages 1 to 14. Oklahoma came in second for ages 1 to 14 with a rate of 2.48 per 100,000, and Arizona was third with a rate of 2.05 per 100,000.
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Outdoors & Recreation
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CLEARWATER - Is your landscaping the envy of the neighborhood - not just because of its beauty, but also because it is Florida-friendly and water-efficient?

Then you need to enter the 2015 Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards, sponsored by Tampa Bay Water.

For the past 16 years, the Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards program has recognized those homeowners and businesses committed to conserving water and protecting the environment by using the most water-efficient landscaping practices.
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Belleair Bee
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BELLEAIR BLUFFS - An August or September opening is planned for the long anticipated bait house and convenience store the county is building on the Belleair Causeway Bridge. Public Works Director Robert David gave an update of the store’s status at the May 18 City Commission meeting. The project began in January.

David said the building is now nearly complete and would be finished by the end of June. A concessionaire must be hired and other operational functions taken care of before the doors can be opened to the public, he said.
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School News
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LARGO - About 300 parents and students attended Anona Elementary School’s second annual Science Extravaganza, during which individual students and classes showcased science projects May 7.

Anona’s Duke Energy STEM students presented what they learned about physics with their egg drop experiment and assisted families with a Sphero Robotic Ball obstacle course and a rocket launcher. Anona’s gifted students demonstrated their engineering skills with Rube Goldberg projects.
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Gov. Rick Scott recently announced that Florida set another record in tourism numbers by welcoming the highest amount of visitors of any quarter in the state’s history, according to Visit Florida.

Visit Florida is the tourism-marketing corporation for the state.

In the first quarter of 2015 (January-March), 28.4 million visitors came to the state, an increase of 6.2 percent over the same period in 2014. The previous high for a quarter for tourism was 26.7 million visitors in quarter one last year. The average number of direct travel-related jobs in quarter one of 2015 was also a record high, with 1,186,900 Floridians employed in the tourism industry - up 4.8 percent from the same period in 2014.
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Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
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