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Pinellas County
Pinellas County motorists are paying less than $2 for a gallon of unleaded - the lowest pump price in the state, according to AAA Auto Club’s Fuel Gauge report for Jan. 23.

The average price in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Area was $1.97, which is nearly 13 cents lower than the average price statewide. The state average was $2.10, six cents more than the national average of $2.04.

As prices continue to fall, experts are predicting that the national average could hit $2 at any time.

Residents of Tampa Bay are saving more than $1.32 a gallon compared to Jan. 23, 2014 when the average price was $3.29 a gallon Jan. 22. In late December, prices averaged $2.37. A week ago, AAA reported an average price of $2.044. The highest price ever recorded in the local area was $4 on July 16, 2008.

Orlando was the only other metro area reporting pump prices less than $2 as of Jan. 23 with motorists paying an average of $1.99.

According to gasbuddy.com, the highest average price of gas in the United States was $4.10 on July 16, 2008. The lowest was on Dec. 29, 2008. The highest average in 2014 was $3.70 recorded on April 29 and the lowest was $2.25 on Dec. 31 of that year.
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Allegiant Air is expanding again, adding non-stop jet seasonal service from Tulsa, Oklahoma to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport beginning May 7 and continuing through Aug. 18.

“The Tulsa market has performed very well for us, and we see an opportunity to provide the community with even more affordable travel options,” said Jude Bricker, Allegiant Travel Company senior vice president of planning.

Allegiant also is adding seasonal non-stop flights from Tulsa to Los Angeles and year-round service to Las Vegas.
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Creative Pinellas, the county’s designated non-profit Local Arts Agency, takes the next step in developing a proposal for increased Pinellas County arts funding by launching a series of five public meetings accessible to residents in the northern, central, and southern parts of Pinellas County.

Facilitated by Frank Biafora, dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, these meetings will invite comment from the public, who are encouraged to express the needs and desires of their creative communities, as well as to share ideas on how the arts can impact all areas of daily Pinellas life.

The outcome of these public input sessions will provide organized themes that will be developed into prioritized actions to be reviewed by a panel of community stakeholders. Their input will assist in drafting a proposal for review by the Creative Pinellas Board of Directors, and subsequently by the Pinellas County Commission in hopes it will approve an arts funding increase for fiscal year 2016.
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Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, Jan. 26 to 30, is dedicated to furthering the education of citizens on how to protect themselves from tax-related crimes.

Tax identity theft occurs when an individual uses stolen personal information, such as a Social Security number, to file a fraudulent tax return and obtain a refund.

In recognition of this week, Pinellas County Justice and Consumer Services has partnered with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to inform consumers of tax identity theft and what to do if a Pinellas County resident has fallen victim.
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U.S. Rep. David Jolly has been named to three Appropriations Subcommittees: the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs; the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science.

“I'm excited that these assignments reflect many of my priorities in Congress and will allow me to continue the work I started in the 113th Congress while serving on Veterans’ Affairs and Transportation and Infrastructure,” Jolly said.

Jolly was one of only four Members of Congress added in December to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations.
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Saturday, January 24
PALM HARBOR - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating a Jan. 23 stabbing that occurred at the south end of Market Place Drive, just behind 36301 East Lake Road South in Palm Harbor.

Deputies responded to a call about 2:22 p.m. concerning an assault and battery in progress, according to the sheriff’s report.

Investigators with the sheriff’s Investigative Operations Bureau said Dwight Tisdale, 23, of St. Petersburg and an unidentified suspect were in a vehicle that was moving slowly along Market Place Drive. Witnesses told detectives that they appeared to be arguing.
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Friday, January 23
Eight Pinellas County municipalities have scheduled elections on March 10, including Belleair, Belleair Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Kenneth City, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island.

Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark mailed 94 ballots Jan. 23 to absent military and overseas voters who have requested ballots to date. State law requires ballots for absent military and overseas voters to be mailed at least 45 days prior to an election.

Clark’s office is tentatively scheduled to begin mailing ballots to 16,700 domestic voters who have requested ballots on Feb. 3. State law requires domestic ballots to be mailed between 35 and 28 days prior to an election.
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Pinellas County’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment dropped to 5.3 percent for the last month of 2014, according to a report from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released Jan. 23.

December’s unemployment was down from 5.6 percent reported in November and 5.8 percent in December 2013.

The same downward trend is evident in the not seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers for the state of Florida and the United States. The state’s unemployment rate for December was 5.4 percent, down from 5.6 in November and 5.9 percent in December 2013. The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 5.4 percent down from 5.5 percent in November and 6.5 percent in December 2013.
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A Pinellas Park woman died at a local hospital Jan. 22 from injuries suffered when she was hit by a car about 6:45 a.m. on State Road 688 west of U.S. 19 in Pinellas County.

According to a report from Florida Highway Patrol, Virginia Stoner French, 62, was crossing State Road 688 from south to north when she “entered the path” of a vehicle in the westbound lane. Troopers said French was not in a crosswalk.

She was transported to Bayfront Medical Center where she later died.
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Wednesday, January 21
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PINELLAS PARK - Detectives with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit arrested a Pinellas Park man at his home about 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20 for possession of child porn and other charges.

Peter Douglas Emr, 34, was charged with six counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of possession of child pornography with intent to promote. Bond was set at $320,000.
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John Wayne Salem, 71, died peacefully Jan. 9, 2015, at Bayfront Medical Center, in St. Petersburg, Florida.

He was born Nov. 11, 1943, in Millinocket, Maine, the son of Fred and Pat (Murphy) Salem.

John worked with his Dad at the family grocery store, Salem's Stop N Shop, in the 50s, 60s and 70s. John was stricken with polio at age 2 and spent many of his early years at the Shriner's hospital. John won the State of Maine soapbox derby in 1959 and went on to compete in Akron, Ohio.
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PALM HARBOR - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the death of a Palm Harbor man found in the water Jan. 21 after he reportedly jumped off a boat ramp in Oldsmar.

According to the sheriff’s report, witnesses said Anthony Norton, 25, intentionally jumped into the water from a dock at National Orange Drive and Lafayette Boulevard about 6:15 a.m.

The sheriff’s office marine unit and flight unit along with the assistance of the United States Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife searched for Norton, who was located in the water about 8:50 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
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LARGO - The last recorded bid was $9,650 when the auction closed on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s “doggone rug” Wednesday afternoon.

A deputy found a typo on the rug, which had been on the floor for a couple months in the lobby of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s new Administration Building at 10750 Ulmerton Road in Largo. Instead of the intended inscription “In God We Trust,” the misprinted rug’s inscription read, “In Dog We Trust.”
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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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