Local law enforcement encourages motorists to keep safety in mind as Pinellas County school students return to class Monday morning.
Sheriff’s deputies from several components within the Patrol Operations Bureau will be out in full force assisting with traffic enforcement near various school zones. School Resource deputies will be on hand at most schools, directing parents to the student drop off and pick up areas.
Students and parents walking to school should remember to cross the road within the crosswalks and watch for cars. School crossing guards will be present at 187 school crossing posts throughout the county starting Monday, Aug. 18, according to a press release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Some crossing guards will arrive as early as 6:20 a.m. while others will remain on post until as late as 5 p.m. Students walking or biking to school should become familiar with where their crossing guards are located and understand they are able to approach the guards for assistance if needed.
Children riding their bikes to school should always wear a helmet.
Drivers are asked to add a few extra minutes to their morning and afternoon commute and exercise caution in the coming weeks. Vehicles are to come to a full stop when approaching any school bus displaying a stop signal. Motorists must then remain stopped and are prohibited from passing the bus until the signal has been withdrawn.
ST. PETERSBURG - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives arrested a former teacher Monday, Aug. 18, for unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
According to the sheriff’s report, detectives began their investigation on July 22, after it was discovered that the suspect and a 16-year-old student were having an inappropriate relationship.
Detectives say that Elisha Joy Kingsley, 39, of St. Petersburg befriended the victim while she was a teacher at a private school in St. Petersburg. The suspect and the victim began texting each other via a phone application in mid-June.
CLEARWATER - Residents visiting the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office to renew their vehicle registration after Sept. 1 may be pleasantly surprised.
The legislature passed Senate Bill 156, which lowers the cost of motor vehicle registration fees for Florida residents beginning Sept. 1. It is estimated that Florida vehicle owners will save approximately $400 million a year.
In a proactive effort Diane Nelson, Pinellas County Tax Collector, is mailing September renewals later than normal to reduce confusion and help residents take advantage of the new lower fees. She wants to give residents every opportunity to take advantage of the savings this legislation offers.
SAFETY HARBOR - The Safety Harbor City Commission voted Aug. 4 to endorse the proposed Greenlight Pinellas plan.
With Safety Harbor’s support, Greenlight Pinellas is now backed by a majority of cities in Pinellas County.
Of 24 cities in Pinellas County, the 13 cities that have joined together behind the Greenlight Pinellas plan include St. Petersburg, Largo, Clearwater, Treasure Island, Redington Beach, Dunedin, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Bluffs, St. Pete Beach, South Pasadena, Madeira Beach, Tarpon Springs and Safety Harbor.
The last day to vote early in the Aug. 26 elections is Sunday, Aug. 24.
Early voting began Saturday, Aug. 16, at all three county Elections offices. When the offices closed Monday afternoon, 460 had cast an early ballot - 173 on Saturday, 84 on Sunday and 203 on Monday.
Early voting locations include the Election Service Center, 13001 Starkey Road., Largo (Starkey Lakes Corporate Center); Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Room 117, Clearwater (first floor, north side); and County Building, 501 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg (entrance on Fifth Street).
Former State Representative Ed Hooper is challenging incumbent Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche for the District 2 seat in the Aug. 26 primary.
The winner of the primary election will face Democrat Pat Gerard in November.
District 2 includes portions of Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Bluffs and Largo. Because the seat is an at-large position, all registered Republicans, regardless of where they live, are eligible to help choose a candidate to run in the November election.
Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who has represented District 4 since 2000, is not running for re-election. Ten candidates qualified to run for her seat, including seven Republicans, one Democrat and two independents.
Because it is a single member position, only registered voters who live in the district are eligible to vote. Because the Aug. 26 is a Republican primary for this race, only those registered as a Republican can help choose a candidate to run in the November election.
The field includes Dave Eggers, Johnny Johnson, Tim Keffalas, Wanda Kimsey, Macho Liberti, Peter Nehr and Jim Ronecker. The winner will face Democrat Mark Weinkrantz and non-party-affiliation candidates Carl Folkman and Marcus Harrison.
Tom Rask is challenging incumbent John Morroni in the Aug. 26 universal primary, which will decide the winner of the District 6 County Commission seat.
Republicans and Democrats who live in the district can vote in this election.
District 6 stretches from east to west and along the beach and includes portions of Largo, St. Petersburg, Seminole and Pinellas Park, as well as St. Pete Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Sores, Madeira Beach and Treasure Island.
CLEARWATER - The Pinellas County Commission is asking permission from its citizens to create a program that would grant ad valorem tax exemptions to new businesses and existing businesses that want to expand.
Commissioners approved the referendum question June 3, which reads: “Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Pinellas County be authorized to grant pursuant to s.3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs in the county.”
Residents will decide yes or no Aug. 26. If approved, tax exemptions to qualified businesses would be granted per project by separate ordinances.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission scientists continue to keep a close eye on a bloom of red tide offshore between Dixie and northern Pinellas counties.
FWC said in its Aug. 15 report that “recent satellite images have been unreliable due to cloud cover.”
Satellite images taken last week by the Optical Oceanography Laboratory showed a patchy bloom up to 60 miles wide and 90 miles long at least 20 miles offshore. The FWC said it has received numerous reports of a widespread fish kills.