Save energy, water and money, during the sale’s tax holiday on certain appliances Sept. 19-21 in Florida.
During the holiday, which begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Sept. 19, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, sales tax will be waived on the first $1,500 of the retail price of certain Energy Star and WaterSense appliances.
According to the Florida Department of Revenue, qualifying Energy Star products include air purifiers, ceiling fans, clothes dryers, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, freezers, packages of light bulbs, refrigerators, room air conditioners, swimming pool pumps and water heaters.
CLEARWATER - Last year when Pinellas County implemented its surface water assessment fee for unincorporated residents, some complained.
But this year, an overflow crowd showed up to protest after some received bills as much as 340 percent higher. Nearly all were residents of mobile home parks.
Kelli Levy, Natural Resources Section manager, explained that last year’s bills were incorrect - incomplete. This year’s assessments are more accurate. They were calculated using data from digitized images, showing all the impervious surfaces inside the different parks, including roads, swimming pools, patios, shuffleboard courts and other structures besides the mobile homes.
Assessments that are more accurate allow the county to capture the best revenue stream based on the amount of runoff from each property. Rainwater and water from sprinklers flow out onto the ground, which becomes saturated. The excess water, or runoff, continues onto sidewalks and streets, picking up pollutants as it then flows into storm drains, ponds, ditches and on into the county’s waterways and Gulf of Mexico.
SAND KEY - Concerned that as time goes on people might not remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001 as distinctly, a Clearwater firefighter decided to do something unique in the hopes of keeping the memory of those who lost their lives alive.
Lt. Mark Wing decided to don full firefighting gear, then, in the heat, 90-plus degrees, he ran 11 miles from Clearwater Fire and Rescue Fire Station 44 on Sand Key to Fire Station 49 behind the Clearwater Mall.
Before the run, he was concerned because of the heat and the extra 60 pounds of gear he would be carrying.
“I’ve done longer races, but not in full gear,” he said. “I’ve done the distance before, and I know it will be the heat that I’ll be battling.”
To battle the heat, Wing carried lots of water and sports drinks.
His day didn’t stop once he reached Station 49. Once there, he shed the firefighters gear and donned a military-style backpack and turned around and ran the 11 miles back to Station 44. He wanted to represent the firefighters and the military members who were all involved in the events surrounding 9/11.
PALM HARBOR - It is one thing to ride your bike 50 or 60 miles on the weekend. It is quite another to attempt a 1,500-mile bike ride across the country.
Palm Harbor’s Rick Watson is going to try it and he is sure he can do it.
Watson, 61, plans to ride his bike from Washington, D.C., to Lincoln, Nebraska to raise money for a military-related charity. Departure date is Sept. 22. He says he’s doing it out of a sense of thanksgiving.
“I have always enjoyed bike riding but I’ve never done anything remotely like this,” he said. “I need to try to give a little something back somewhere. I’ve always respected the military and I found this charity and it sort of went from there.”
The charity is Homes for our Troops and as the name implies it provides homes for severely injured and disabled veterans.
“I’ve done a lot of research and Homes for our Troops is a highly rated charity,” he said. “They build custom homes for veterans some of whom might be paralyzed or missing limbs.”
LARGO - The inaugural Sunset Market in Largo Central Park lived up to its name Sept. 5.
“The weather held out for us, and we had a beautiful sunset at the Sunset Market,” said market organizer Jennifer McCafferty.
Forty-three vendors participated in the first weekly market. McCafferty said she expected about 50 vendors for the second market Friday, Sept. 12, but will keep to no more than 60 as the market grows.
“I think it went well for our first one,” she said. “Everybody had a good time, including eating. We ate a lot.”
The market will run every Friday through May, 3 to 7 p.m., in parking lot No. 1 of Largo Central Park, at southwest corner of East Bay and Central Park drives. Vendors will offer vegetables, fruits, raw local honey, herbal teas and wild-caught seafood as well as organic body products, essential oils, arts and crafts.
McCafferty said she thought rain in the surrounding areas kept greater crowds away for the inaugural market, though it didn’t rain on the market itself. Vendors were pleased with the Largo location, she added.
“We got a lot of ‘walk-in’ traffic,” McCafferty said. “A lot of the people said, ‘We saw the tents coming down from East Bay.’”
CLEARWATER - Animal rights activists will have to wait a little bit longer to find out how much support Pinellas County will lend toward their mission to trap, neuter, vaccinate and return free-roaming cats.
Maureen Freaney, Animal Services bureau director, updated county commissioners during an Aug. 19 meeting about work ongoing with nonprofit organizations and concerned citizens on the feral cat problem. She expects that staff will be ready to present a proposed ordinance that would support a pilot program for TNVR by November.
Animal Services has been working with MEOW Now since September 2013. MEOW stands for Managing and Ending Overpopulation Wisely. The group’s mission is to “humanely reduce the community cat population,” using TNVR, along with caregiver support and advocacy.
SPCA Tampa Bay and Humane Society of Pinellas also have been involved in the planning for the pilot program.
In 2013, county commissioners asked staff to work with interested parties to develop the pilot program based on an approved business plan from Meow Now and ordinance revisions necessary to support the program.
Freaney said in an Aug. 18 memo to the commission that county staff had worked with the stakeholders on what “we believe is a fair ordinance proposal for piloting TNVR in Pinellas County.”
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - A deputy chief from North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District is expected to begin work Oct. 1 as chief of the Pinellas Suncoast Fire & Rescue District.
PSF&RD Commissioners chose Sal D’Angelo, who is responsible for leading three battalions of 112 uniformed personnel at seven stations, to be their new fire chief at a meeting Aug. 28.
Under the proposed agreement, D’Angelo will make $109,000 annually.
The board voted at the emergency meeting Aug. 28 to fire Acting Fire Chief Karry Bell, prompting the board to make the decision on hiring one of the two top applicants for fire chief.
“This action was based on your conduct while assigned the duties of acting fire chief, including the inappropriate interaction with, and the striking of, an employee,” a letter from Chairwoman Laura Martin to Bell said.
An investigation was conducted before the board took action to fire Bell, said Ginger Lyle, executive assistant for the district.
Commissioners had about 50 applicants, which a search committee narrowed down to five, said Fire Commissioner Larry Schear. From that pool, two applicants were selected, D’Angelo and Michael Tucker, the former chief of the Villages Public Safety Department. Both were interviewed Aug. 19.
CLEARWATER - Health-conscious and quality food lovers alike can look forward to the first Whole Foods Market opening at the Westfield Countryside Mall on Wednesday, Sept. 24. The grand opening is set for 9 a.m., where city officials and the Florida regional and state Whole Foods leadership will take part in the official “bread breaking” event.
Other perks coming to the grand opening include mystery gift cards for the first 500 people through the door. Most of the cards will range from $5 to $50, but one lucky recipient will get one for $500, said Mariah Fairweather, marketing and community relations team leader for Whole Foods Market.
This will be the first Whole Foods Market in Pinellas County and is about 38,000 square feet. The other two in the Tampa Bay area are located in South Tampa and in Carrollwood. Each store is unique, and the Clearwater one will have a beach theme, from the color scheme to the decorations, Fairweather said. There will be bird motifs, seashell accents and even little surfboards in the frozen food aisle, she said.
The store is located in what once was the bottom floor of Sears and is attached to the mall but is a separate entity.
DUNEDIN - The Dunedin Fine Art Center recently was tasked with overseeing a special call for artists. The goal: Find several gifted artists interested in bringing their imaginative ideas to the table for the newest additions to Clearwater’s Dolphin Trail.
More than a dozen proposals were submitted for the three new dolphins funded by the Advantus Leisure Management Services. Among those proposals was one from Addison and Ella Engle, twin 9-year-old artists.
“I was thrilled,” said Ken Hannon in a press release. Hannon handled the call for DFAC. “It takes a lot of courage for 9 year olds to jump into a commission like this. With the strength of DFAC’s youth programs, we thought it appropriate to offer them one of the commissions.”
DFAC’s youth programs have a stellar reputation. This year alone, the programs hosted more than 1,700 young artists during the Summer Art Academy. Even with those kind of numbers and that kind of talent, calls for commissions are usually left to more seasoned artists.
LARGO - This year was the first time Mayor-elect Woody Brown ran uncontested in his bid for Largo office since deciding to join the commission in 2007.
It also marks Commissioner-elect John Carroll’s first bid for office, but he’s no stranger to leadership in Largo, having retired from the Largo Police Department as police chief after 33 years of service with the department.
Both have claimed their seats without appearing on the ballot after no other candidates stepped up to run against them before the qualifying period ended Aug. 15. Three other seats on the Largo Commission are up for election in November. But before those campaigns kick off in earnest, the Largo Leader sat with Brown and Carroll to talk about their priorities, Largo’s future and what it means to be a leader.
Out of respect for Florida’s open government laws, the two were interviewed separately at Proino’s Breakfast Club Aug. 25.
Building a better Largo
To start, Brown said the city had to make it easier for private investors to fix up abandoned properties by establishing a program for forgiving code enforcement liens. Currently, potential buyers will ask the code enforcement board to reduce the penalties against a home before finalizing the sale, and the board must trust on faith that the new owners will follow through on bringing the home into compliance with the city’s standards.
DUNEDIN - Months from now the owners of House of Beer plan to be serving craft beer to patrons sitting within footsteps of the Pinellas Trail.
They are leasing a warehouse off Huntley Avenue just east of their existing location at 927 Broadway. House of Beer plans to brew beer in the 3,700-square-foot building and open a restaurant and bar, with outdoor seating facing the Pinellas Trail.
House of Beer co-owner Andy Polce said it would be about nine months before the business will open because of renovations to the building, which now is just a shell.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Sept. 19 red tide report shows background concentrations of Karenia brevis, the red tide organism, in only one of eight samples taken alongshore Pinellas County this week.
The other seven samples found no sign of Florida red tide.
Bloom concentrations were not found in, along or offshore Pinellas County, FWC says.
However, the patchy bloom of red tide continues to persist in the northeast Gulf of Mexico, but it seems to have moved north of Pinellas for now.
LARGO - Largo commissioners called for the resignation of Commissioner Curtis Holmes Sept. 16, following the discovery of inappropriate material on his city-issued iPad.
The links to images and YouTube videos were downloaded from Facebook and sent to Holmes’ personal email account. They included a cartoon depiction of Muhammad “makin’ bacon” with a pig and a video of a woman in her underwear shaking her butt in front of a webcam.
BELLEAIR - After weeks of dealing with accusations of micromanaging and interference in day-to-day operations, Police Chief Tom Edwards has resigned. His resignation came in a brief letter to Town Manager Micah Maxwell on Sept. 15.
“I would like to provide you two weeks’ notice and tender my resignation with the town of Belleair effective on Friday, September 26, 2014 at the close of business,” wrote Edwards. “If I can assist you in any way in the future please do not hesitate to contact me.”
TARPON SPRINGS - If it feels like the students at East Lake High School are younger this year, it’s because they are. This year, some of them are middle school students.
The students, dressed in polo shirts and khaki shorts, shuffle from class to class on a bell schedule separate from the high school. They don’t eat lunch with the high school students or take gym with them. They rarely even share a hallway. Instead, in a cluster of portables by the baseball field, the East Lake Middle School Academy of Engineering is finding its own identity.