CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners have made it clear. They want the Tampa Bay Rays to stay in Pinellas and they want to have a voice in the team’s future, especially its choice of a stadium site.
To that end, Mike Meidel, director of Economic Development; Tim Ramsberger, deputy director at Visit St. Pete Clearwater; and Cindy Margiotta, senior Economic Development manager, prepared an overview of possible sites for a new professional stadium for the Rays in Pinellas.
Forward Pinellas has instituted a program to make streets safer and friendlier for pedestrians and bicyclists, and it’s starting with West Bay Drive.
The pilot project will focus on the stretch of West Bay Drive from Clearwater-Largo Road to the Belleair Causeway in an attempt to establish a seamless multimodal connection between the Pinellas Trail and Gulf beach communities. It also hopes to expand travel options, help manage congestion and serve as a prototype for future “Complete Streets” projects around the county.
Complete Streets is a transportation policy that requires streets be safe and convenient for all travelers and all modes of transportation. Board members of Forward Pinellas, which is the name of the agency that formed when the Pinellas Planning Council and Metropolitan Planning Organization joined, approved the program during their July 13 meeting. They also authorized Forward Pinellas to spend up to $50,000 to hire a consultant to develop a scope and fee proposal for an assessment of West Bay Drive and develop a concept for the future.
Unemployment is up in Pinellas County, the state and the nation, according to a report released July 22 by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The county’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June was 4.3 percent, up from 3.9 percent reported in May, but still better than 4.9 percent in June 2015. The rate for the state in June was 4.9 percent, compared to 4.4 percent in May and 5.6 percent in June 2015. The U.S. not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate followed the same trend, going from 4.5 percent in May to 5.1 percent in June, which was still an improvement over June 2015 when the nationwide rate was 5.5 percent.
CLEARWATER - It will probably be at least a month before Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni can return to work.
He was admitted to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa July 17 for treatment of a rare blood disorder known as secondary myelodysplastic syndrome. It is a secondary effect of the chemotherapy he received to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2012.
This is the third time the commissioner has fought a battle with cancer.
Commission Chair Charlie Justice updated the public about Morroni at the July 19 commission meeting. He passed along a thank you to the public, as well as a personal message.
CLEARWATER - A tragic crash forever changed the life of a St. Petersburg man who spent his 21st birthday in the hospital fighting for his life. Now, the Sheriff’s Office will pay his family a $16 million settlement, which is possibly the biggest settlement in the history of the PCSO.
The man’s injuries occurred when his 2005 Honda motorcycle crashed into an unmarked 2011 Buick LaCrosse driven by an on-duty undercover narcotics detective Jan. 12 on Martin Luther King Street North near 62nd Avenue North in St. Petersburg.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard presented staff’s best effort to produce a balanced budget that reflects county commissioner’s strategic plan and priorities for service during the July 19 commission meeting.
The administrator’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 is just over $2.185 billion, which is $127.3 million, or 6.2 percent, more than the current year.
The budget includes an additional $89.9 million in operating expenses, which is a 5.8 percent hike made necessary primarily due to by inflation, Woodard said. The budget also includes an increase to the General Fund of $18.6 million, which is up 2.9 percent. The sheriff’s budget received an additional $17.3 million, a 6.5 percent increase, which reflects the commission’s willingness to invest in public safety and assist the sheriff in his need to provide training, better pay and purchase crime-fighting equipment, Woodard said.
Applications are being accepted for one four-year appointment to the Board of Directors of the Housing Finance Authority of Pinellas County. Mandatory applications found at www.pinellascounty.org/boards must be received no later than the close of business on Wednesday, July 27.
Applicants should be actively engaged as an advocate for low-income persons in connection with affordable housing. Applicants with multi-faceted work experiences are strongly desired. This is a working board and the Authority is seeking members who can dedicate the time to attend monthly meetings on a consistent basis. Applicants must be registered to vote in Pinellas County.
Per Florida Statute Chapter 159.605, the Board of the Authority consists of five members. The five-member board represents expertise in the fields of banking, construction, real estate, lower-income communities and affordable housing development.
Budding entrepreneurs looking to turn their home kitchens into a local business are invited to attend an informative event about the cottage food industry hosted by the UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County.
The first annual Tampa Bay Cottage Industry Expo will be held on Saturday, July 30, from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Wiregrass Ranch High School, 2909 Mansfield Blvd. in Wesley Chapel. Open to anyone interested in small-scale local food production, the expo aims to help attendees navigate the challenges of starting such a business.
A 2011 law passed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services defines a cottage food operation as a business where foods are packaged in a home and sold directly to consumers. Certain foods such as jams, cheese and dried herbs can be sold as cottage foods.
TIERRA VERDE - Pinellas County Utilities has rescinded the boil water notice that was put in place for Fort De Soto Park on Monday, July 18. Park visitors and staff can resume normal usage of drinking water within the park.
Water samples confirmed that there was no contamination to the potable water supply. Pinellas County issued the precautionary boil water notice pursuant to Florida Department of Health regulations.
The precautionary notice was due to a water main break that occurred Monday morning and affected water pressure within the park. All necessary steps were taken to ensure the safety of the drinking water.