SEMINOLE - Pinellas County Commission Chair Charlie Justice believes that by working together all the wastewater and stormwater problems that became known during heavy rain events this summer can be resolved.
The inaugural meeting of a countywide Wastewater/Stormwater Task Force was Oct. 17 at the University Partnership Center - Digitorium at the Seminole Campus of St. Petersburg College. Task force members and members of a technical working group, along with state officials gathered to talk about challenges and short-term and long-term goals. The first short-term goal is to have an initial action plan within 90 days.
Sewer overflows and spills of unprecedented volumes were reported throughout the county due to heavy rainfall associated with Hurricane Hermine Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Smaller spills occurred when Tropical Storm Colin passed offshore in early June.
While the presidential election continues to dominate the news, Pinellas County’s two-sided ballot has plenty of other decisions for registered voters to weigh in on, including 11 ballot questions.
The last chance to cast a ballot is Nov. 8, but local voters aren’t waiting. As for Sunday, Oct. 23, 17 percent of the county’s registered voters had already cast a mail ballot with 37 percent, or 109,292 ballots, already returned to a Supervisor of Elections office.
Supervisor of Elections Offices will be open each day from now through Election Day. Offices will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
SEMINOLE - A retired schoolteacher, long-time board member and retired sheriff’s office employee running to serve on the Pinellas County School Board debated the issues Oct. 5 in the Digitorium at St. Pete College in Seminole.
Joanne Lentino of Bay Pines retired after 10 years as a first grade teacher in Pinellas County.
“When I was teaching at Pinellas County, every child meant something to me,” she said in her introduction. “I did not give up on any of my students.”
James McLynas, no-party-affiliate candidate for Pinellas County Sheriff, filed a lawsuit against incumbent Bob Gualtieri Oct. 20 for intentionally refusing to provide public records, which he says violates the state’s open record laws and the state Constitution.
McLynas is one of two candidates challenging Gualtieri for his job. The other is a write-in candidate Greg Pound, who also ran against Gualtieri in 2012.
Gualtieri has served as Pinellas County Sheriff since November 2011.
CLEARWATER - Funding is coming from the state for the Pinellas Trail Loop and Courtney Campbell Causeway pedestrian overpass thanks to the Department of Transportation’s Sun Trail Program.
Pinellas County Administrator shared that bit of good news with the county commission Oct. 11. The Florida Department of Transportation has awarded $5.7 million to complete the Pinellas Trail Loop Phase 2 from John Chestnut Park to Enterprise Road in Palm Harbor and $1.36 million for pre-construction work on a project to create a bike and pedestrian overpass on the Courtney Campbell Causeway at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard in Clearwater.
Unemployment in Pinellas Count edged up slightly last month, going from 4.3 percent in August to 4.4 percent in September.
According to a report released Oct. 21 by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the county’s not seasonally adjusted rate is lower than the state’s at 5 percent and the nation at 4.8 percent. It also is appreciably better than September 2015 when the rate was 4.7 percent.
Pinellas County Utilities announced about 4:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, that repairs had been completed around noon to an 8-inch potable water main on the north side of Ulmerton Road between Roosevelt Boulevard and Stoneybrook Drive, North, in the Feather Sound area.
Service has been restored to affected businesses. The water main was damaged by a contractor working in the area.
CLEARWATER - A Disaster Recovery Center has opened in Pinellas County to help survivors affected by Hurricane Hermine’s severe storms and flooding that severely affected the state between Aug. 31 and Sept. 11.
The center is located at the EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College,13805 58th St. N., Clearwater. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sundays.
LARGO - For the eighth consecutive year, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education to host the annual candlelight vigil on Thursday, Oct. 20, 7 p.m., at Largo Central Park located at 105 Central Park Drive in Largo.
The vigil remembers those who have died as a result of drug and alcohol related overdose. The gathering is also an effort to reach out and support those who are currently living with addiction; and bring hope that the community working together can make a difference for the future.
TIERRA VERDE - During the Landscape Committee report at the Oct. 10 Tierra Verde Community Association meeting, Bill Bouwmeester provided an update on adjustments to the landscape contract he and the committee recently worked toward with ProCare, the association’s landscaping maintenance contractor.
According to Bouwmeester, although palm trees had been trimmed this past January, they had not been trimmed previously for five years prior to that.
All three Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Offices will be open Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day for voters to drop off their voted mail ballots or update their voter registration information.
“Pinellas County voters continue to enjoy the convenience of voting by mail, and we have already received back more than 25 percent of the ballots mailed to voters for the Nov. 8 General Election,” said Pinellas County Supervisor of Election Deborah Clark. “Our offices are now scheduled to be open each day between now and Election Day - the next 20 straight days - to help meet the needs of our voters.”
CLEARWATER - A number of dog owners who occasionally breed a litter of mostly purebred puppies took offense at new rules Pinellas County attempted to implement to try to prevent breeders who might not take the same care as those protesting.
Ten spoke out against the proposed changes during an Oct. 11 meeting, including the president of the Florida Kennel Club and the president and past president of the Clearwater Kennel Club. The speakers had a myriad of complaints, chief among them that they didn’t get notice that the changes in the works. The commission also received 16 emails in opposition to the changes.
Animal Services Director Doug Brightwell told commissioners that Animal Services had been working on the ordinance changes for about three years. The protesters, which between them belong to a number of local dog clubs, said no one had ever come to speak to them