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Pinellas County
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners received a briefing Oct. 21 on the county’s state of readiness to identify and treat patients infected with Ebola.

“I hope you have your flu shot,” Dr. Claude M. Dharamraj, Department of Health Pinellas County director, told commissioners. “More people will die in the U.S. from flu than Ebola.”

She explained that thus far the only Ebola outbreak in the United States had occurred in Dallas Texas.

“There is no case in Florida. No case in Pinellas and no cases pending in Pinellas,” she said.

She said the CDC had issued guidelines to determine a person’s risk of having Ebola, which include travel to West Africa or contact with someone with the sickness.

Dharamraj is charged with the responsibility of declaring when someone should be quarantined or isolated. But response is a team effort, she said.

Anyone “highly suspected” will be taken to the hospital and placed in isolation. They will be tested and checked daily. Healthy people who were living with a patient also would be isolated and observed under quarantine for 21 days.

DOH would be in charge of observing and monitoring the patient during quarantine. DOH would provide food and a guard to make sure the patient stays quarantined.
 ... Read More 
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CLEARWATER - Once upon a time, Pinellas County had a robust Cultural Affairs department with its own staff and an annual budget of $2.9 million.

Its mission was to act as an advocate for the arts by promoting the development and appreciation of the arts throughout the county via programs and services. County grants were available to artists, teachers and art organizations to help fund their needs.
 ... Read More 
Nov. 4 General Election
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Early voters can cast their ballot for the Nov. 4 general election beginning Monday, Oct. 20, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at any of three Pinellas County Elections offices.

- County Courthouse - 315 Court St., Room 117, Clearwater
- Election Service Center - 13001 Starkey Road., Starkey Lakes Corporate Center, Largo
- County Building - 501 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg

Additional early voting locations are:
 ... Read More 
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Plans to expand mass transit systems continue to take shape across the country, with hopes of moving people more effectively in areas as large as Washington, D.C., and as small as Yulee, Florida.

And the projects are not without controversy.

Advocates for mass transit say their plans are necessary to reduce congestion and that the indirect benefits, such as reduced accidents and economic development, are undervalued.
 ... Read More 
Two new faces will join Pinellas County Commissioners in November.

One of the two will be decided in the race for the at-large District 2 seat currently held by Commissioner Norm Roche, who was defeated in the primary. The second will be the winner of the single-member District 4 seat of longtime Commissioner Susan Latvala, who is retiring.
 ... Read More 
Four candidates are running in the Nov. 4 election for a chance to represent District 4 on the Pinellas County Commission. Commissioner Susan Latvala, who has served the district since 2000, is retiring.

The winner of the race will be one of two new faces joining the commission in November. The second will be decided in the race for the at-large District 2 seat currently held by Commissioner Norm Roche, who was defeated in the primary.
 ... Read More 
U.S. Rep. David Jolly is facing two previous challengers for his District 13 seat in the Nov. 4 election.

The no-party-affiliated candidate, Ed Jany, withdrew from the race Sept. 22. His name will appear on the ballot, but votes will not be counted.
 ... Read More 
Tuesday, October 21
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LARGO - Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri hosted a promotion ceremony Oct. 10 recognizing eight employees.

The ceremony at the Sheriff’s Administration Building, 10750 Ulmerton Road, included family members and friends, who pinned new badges on their fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, who had just been promoted.

Four were promoted to sergeant: Joleen Bowman, Kimon Koungras, Paul Langlais and John Waugh. Two were elevated to the rank of captain: Richard Nalven and Jennifer Nobles.
 ... Read More 
In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Pinellas County Consumer Protection is partnering with the Federal Trade Commission to bring awareness about scams targeting the Latino community.

Imposters are targeting Spanish-speaking communities using fraudulent claims to obtain their money. Using common scam techniques, the caller may pretend to be a government official stating that the target owes money. Another common scam has the caller claiming the target has won a large cash prize or lottery, but must first send money for taxes or other fees to claim the prize.

Scammers have even made threats of arrest or lawsuits if the victims do not pay a supposed debt. For payment, the victim may be asked to give their bank or credit card number, wire money or even purchase a prepaid debit card. No matter what form of payment, the scam is the same - to steal money.
 ... Read More 
Sunday, October 19
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LARGO - The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officers Unit received a $47,960 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board to target distracted teen drivers.

The program called Targeted Response Against Distracted Drivers or #TRADD is being developed to educate teens on the fatal realities of distracted and impaired driving, while providing a service-learning opportunity for SADD members, who will - through the standard outline of the #TRADD program and the guidance of SROs - assist in the development of a school specific program for their peers.
 ... Read More 
Saturday, October 18
ST. PETERSBURG - Precautionary signs to avoid contact with the water were removed from Cross Bayou Oct. 17. Testing continues in Joe’s Creek.

Mary Burrell, public information manager for Pinellas County Communications, said in an email Saturday afternoon that county staff had been informed just after 5 p.m. Friday that all areas had been cleared, except Joe’s Creek, which has two spots that have not yet tested clean.

“Testing will be ongoing on a regular basis,” Burrell said.
 ... Read More 
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