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CLEARWATER - The Pinellas County Commission is taking steps to address the problem of wage theft within its borders.

At a July 30 work session, commissioners instructed staff to begin work on an ordinance that would give employees a way to get help when their employer steals from them. Paul Valenti, director of Human Rights, said wage theft occurs whenever employees are promised pay they don’t receive - regular pay, overtime pay or vacation pay.

The federal government regulates businesses that have $500,000 in annual gross sales, which tend to be the larger and more sophisticated employers, Valenti said. Businesses that use credit cards on an interstate basis also are regulated; however, the federal government only mandates that businesses pay the federal minimum wage, $7.25, even if the worker was promised a higher wage.

Smaller employers are not subject to federal law, including small restaurants, landscaping companies, contractors and other service-oriented businesses. And not all employees of businesses that engage in interstate commerce are covered.

In a report to commissioners, Valenti gave an example of a small restaurant, which has less than $500,000 in annual sales. A server that swipes a customer’s credit card would qualify for protection under federal law, but other employees would not, including cooks, bus-persons and dishwashers.
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Days of rain have left some areas of Pinellas County under water, and the rain continues to fall.

Due to high water levels, Tarpon Woods Boulevard in Palm Harbor is closed to through traffic, according to a media release from Pinellas County Communications. Local traffic may continue to use the roadway, but all drivers are encouraged to detour to Ridgemoor Boulevard.

Residents of the Tarpon Woods subdivision who need to evacuate can take shelter at Clearwater Community Church, 2897 Belcher Road in Dunedin. Animal Services will shelter any pets evacuated with their owners.
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Pinellas County
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LEALMAN - Unincorporated Lealman is one of the most impoverished areas of Pinellas County. It is a hotspot for crime with more than its fair share of abandoned properties being used by prostitutes and drug dealers.

The streets are old, narrow and unsafe, and many are flanked by open drainage ditches. Sidewalks are few and most do not connect. Streets running east to west don’t connect either, due to a railroad track and Joe’s Creek that run through the middle of the community. Drainage is a major issue.
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School News
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Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 7, and continuing through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, Floridians can take advantage of tax-free shopping on clothing, footwear, school supplies and personal computers.

Florida Department of Revenue has strict rules as to what qualifies for the tax exemption. Clothing items that cost more than $100 are not eligible, nor are school supplies that cost more than $15. The exemption only applies to the first $750 of purchases of personal computers and related accessories for noncommercial home or personal use. In addition, sales of qualified merchandise at theme parks, entertainment venues, public lodging establishments or airports will be taxed.
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Health News
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LARGO - Three children have already died in the backseat of hot cars in Florida since April. On July 31, National Heatstroke Prevention Day, five community organizations came together to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

A press conference at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s Largo campus focused on educating the public on the dangers of leaving pets and small children locked in hot cars.

Members from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Pinellas County Animal Services, SPCA Tampa Bay, Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition and Sunstar Paramedics spoke at the event.
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INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Indian Rocks Beach city officials have a good problem to address: Too much money in the bank. Specifically, they have $3.3 million in operating budget reserves.

“We’ve worked ourselves in a position of where we have a reserve fund that is what our annual budget is,” City Manager Greg Mims said at the City Commission’s July 30 work session.

He would like the commission to discuss the issue further after the budget is approved.
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Largo Leader
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LARGO - The Greater Largo Library Foundation celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Largo Public Library’s latest building with the announcement of a campaign to fund a mobile branch library July 30.

During the cocktail reception that evening, harpist Victoria Garcia entertained more than 150 guests, who enjoyed hors d’oeuvres by R.G.’s Bookmark Café, Maggie Mae’s on the Bluff, Wing House, First Watch, and Anthony’s Deli, Pizzeria & Bakery.
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SEMINOLE - Tampa Bay Newspapers won 11 awards in the Florida Press Association’s 2014 Better Weekly Newspaper Contest.

More than 1,600 entries were submitted in the annual contest. The awards were presented at the FPA’s annual convention, which was held July 23-24 at the Westin in Lake Mary.
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9911 Seminole Blvd.,
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