CLEARWATER - With time growing short before the scheduled end of the 2017 state legislative session May 5, Pinellas County Commissioners and staff continues to keep a close eye on the latest action.
Canaan McCaslin, special assistant to the county administrator, said April 11 that staff was tracking 22 issues that the Commission considers as priorities, including beach nourishment, the construction licensing board, flood insurance, regional transportation, vacation rentals, vehicles for hire, local tax referenda, affordable housing, community redevelopment areas, cell phone tower preemption and the possibility of an additional homestead exemption.
There is a bill in both the Senate and House that addresses beach nourishment. As of April 20, HB 1213 had passed two of three committees and SB 1590 had passed three of three committees. Both bills update the beach nourishment ranking criteria, focus efforts on inlet sand management and request the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a three-year work plan.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County commissioners approved a $94,500 funding request from the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency April 11.
Commissioner Dave Eggers, who represents North Pinellas, made the request on PHCSA’s behalf for a portion of the MSTU funding set aside for the needs of unincorporated areas of the county.
PHCSA represents the Palm Harbor and East Lake libraries and the two communities’ recreational programs.
Included in this year’s capital project funding requests is $25,000 from The Centre of Palm Harbor for a new digital road sign to be installed at the southwest corner of the Centre’s property. The cost of the sign is about $14,500 and the set up cost is estimated at $10,000, which includes the electric, concrete and permitting.
Departments that operate under the Pinellas County Commission will close on Wednesday, April 26, for a workforce recognition event. Sand Key Park in Clearwater will be closed until 3 p.m.
All other county parks and preserves, the Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village will be open. Boat ramps and beach access areas will also be open during regular hours, though annual beach and boat ramp parking permits will not be available for sale as the administrative offices of Parks and Conservation Resources will be closed.
The facilities of the Department of Solid Waste will close at noon. This includes the Scale House/ Disposal Facility, Solid Waste Administration Building and Household Electronics and Chemical Collection Center, the Solid Waste Administration Building, Household Electronics and Chemical Collection Center (HEC3).
Pinellas County Utilities is taking action April 22 to avoid service interruptions or additional restrictions for South County reclaimed water customers in response to continued limited rainfall and increased customer usage.
The excessive demand has exhausted the operational supply of reclaimed water in storage.
Beginning, Saturday, April 22, the South County reclaimed water system pressure will be reduced between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day, as well as the 24-hour period on Mondays as needed, to help restore supply for evening irrigation. Customers are reminded that irrigating between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is prohibited.
The number of people in Pinellas County with jobs continues to climb as unemployment rates fall to pre-recession levels, according to the April 21 report from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
In March, the county reported a not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, which is considerably lower than the 4.3 percent in February and 4.3 percent in March 2016.
The good news continued to the local metropolitan statistical area with Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater unemployment rate down to 4.1 percent, compared to 4.6 percent in February and 4.5 percent in March 2016. The state reported an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent in February and 4.8 percent in March 2016. On the national level, March unemployment came in at 4.6 percent with 4.9 percent reported in February and 5.1 percent in March 2016.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners approved an ordinance amending the Land Development Code April 11 that will allow wireless communications providers to place poles and equipment in county-owned and maintained rights-of-way.
Commissioner Karen Seel voted no, and Commissioner John Morroni was absent.
Existing county code prohibits the placement of vertical structures within the county rights-of-way where the primary purpose is to serve as a mounting device for antennae. However, that code does not comply with the Federal Telecommunications Act.
CLEARWATER - Sheriff Bob Gualtieri thanked Pinellas County commissioners April 11 for their $300,000 investment into a program that he said is providing better outcomes for people who commit minor crimes.
The adult pre-arrest diversion program is making a difference, he said. He described it as a way to treat people better.
“We want people to succeed even when they make mistakes,” he said, adding that it also saves money for the criminal justice system.
He gave an example of someone who goes to Publix and steals something. Without the adult pre-arrest diversion program, law enforcement would spend time investigating. The person would be arrested, booked into the jail and maybe bond out or maybe not. They would go through the judicial system process and the result would likely be a sentence of community service and restitution, if applicable.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners discussed a proposed amendment to the Land Development Code regarding locations, zoning and operating conditions for medical marijuana facilities during a first public hearing April 11.
A second and final public hearing is scheduled on April 25 in the fifth floor Assembly Room of the County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater. The public hearing segment of the meeting begins at 6 p.m.
Commissioners approved a 180-day moratorium Jan. 24 on approval of new medical marijuana facilities and treatment centers in unincorporated areas. The goal was to give staff time prepare an ordinance regulating zoning and operation of facilities and treatment centers allowed by the passage of Amendment 2.
Pinellas County Utilities is implementing additional mandatory reclaimed water restrictions for North County customers in response to continued limited rainfall and increased customer usage. The excessive demand has exhausted the operational supply of reclaimed water in storage.
Beginning Wednesday, April 19, North County reclaimed water customers who reside north of Curlew Road may water once a week based on house address according to the following schedule:
- Addresses ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 may irrigate on Wednesday
LARGO - Pinellas County Sheriff's Office announced on April 7 that Lt. Jeff Kanehl and Sgt. Michael Sherman had graduated from the Florida Criminal Justice Institute's, Florida Leadership Academy, at the Southwest Florida Public Service Academy.
The graduating class included 39 first-line supervisors from across the state, who serve in leadership roles within their agencies.
The graduates met for four week-long sessions at the Southwest Florida Public Service Academy in Fort Myers. They learned skills necessary to support the needs of their agencies and their communities as they prepare for future challenges.
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Sheriffs Association weighed in on immigration enforcement April 4. FSA challenged a weekly list published by the Department of Homeland Security of sheriffs’ offices who are not cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Florida Sheriffs expressed frustration with DHS’ unwillingness to work with local sheriffs within the constraints of federal case law to ensure our nation’s laws are being legally enforced.
At the heart of the problem is ICE’s detainer and civil arrest forms. The courts and statutory law prohibit sheriffs from keeping people in jail based only on receipt of these forms. ICE wants the sheriffs to comply with these detainers and civil arrest forms when we cannot lawfully do so. Failure to comply with these ICE requests improperly results in a sheriff being labeled by DHS as non-cooperative.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County and CSX Transportation Inc. will begin a railway crossing improvement project April 21 on Hercules Avenue North, between Sunset Point Road and Drew Street.
This work will require Hercules Avenue North to be closed to all vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists at the railroad crossing for approximately four weeks.
Local traffic will be able to access businesses up to the railroad crossing from either direction, but will not be able to cross the railroad tracks. Detour signs will be in place to route motorists around the closure and to local businesses from Sunset Point Road and Drew Street.
CLEARWATER - Tampa Bay Water, in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences County Extension Offices and Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program, is accepting applications for the 2017 Tampa Bay Community Water-Wise Awards. Residents, businesses and community organizations with water-efficient landscapes that represent the beauty and resiliency of Florida’s natural environment are encouraged to apply online by June 30.
To apply, applicants should visit tampabaywaterwise.org to fill out a short form and upload photos of their landscapes. If it meets basic criteria, a representative of the University of Florida IFAS County Extension will schedule an on-site evaluation of the landscape and irrigation system.
The awards program recognizes those who are committed to conserving water resources and protecting the environment by using the best in attractive, water-efficient landscaping practices.
ST. PETERSBURG - Glass-Pros recently was selected for the 2016 Pinellas County Small Business Excellence Award in the Auto Glass Services classification by the Pinellas County Small Business Excellence Award Program.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Pinellas County Small Business Excellence Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Pinellas County Small Business Excellence Award Program and data provided by third parties.
The Pinellas County Small Business Excellence Awards recognizes outstanding small businesses that serve the Pinellas County area. Each year, our selection committee identifies businesses that we believe have achieved outstanding marketing success in their local community and business classification. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.