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Pinellas County
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County’s grand plans to build a one-stop center to provide care to its homeless and indigent population will likely be replaced with a project much smaller in scale.

County Commissioners spent about three hours the afternoon of July 16 discussing the options. In the end, the consensus was to explore the possibility of getting federal funding for a smaller clinic, possibly for Safe Harbor.

Commissioners had previously approved accepting a $5 million grant for construction of a Bayside Health Campus. Ongoing cost is a big issue. The federal grant would pay for construction of a 15,000 square foot facility, but provide no money for operations or maintenance. Latest estimates show it would cost about $3 million a year to provide the level of care staff recommends. Officials still have to solve the problem of how to get those who need care to a fixed location.

Questions about expenses to furnish, maintain, operate the facility, along with ongoing issues with involved third party stakeholders caused the commission to begin rethinking its decision.

At a meeting June 3, Dr. Claude Dharamraj, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, encouraged commissioners to find a way to accept the federal grant. She suggested that a smaller facility be constructed that would meet the terms of the grant, but not over-extend the county’s capacity to provide services.
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CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners discussed the budget proposal presented July 15 by Interim County Administrator Mark Woodard during a July 22 work session and agreed to accept the millage rates as proposed.

Woodard and Bill Berger, director of the Office of Management and Budget, walked commissioners through a list of changes, including those made at a July 16 work session on homeless healthcare.
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CLEARWATER - After more than seven years on the job, the executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is moving on.

D.T. Minich announced the news Monday morning that he is leaving Pinellas County to work for the Kissimmee Convention Visitors Bureau effective Aug. 15.

“As you might imagine, this was not an easy decision to make,” Minich said in an email sent out Monday morning. “I have many fond memories of my time here, and I'm extremely proud of all the accomplishments we have achieved together as an industry. I'm also extremely proud of my incredibly talented and dedicated CVB staff, whose hard work and dedication is responsible for the amazing leaps we have made in Pinellas County tourism.”
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More than 13,600 have already cast their ballot for the upcoming Aug. 26 election, according to statistics reported on Monday, July 28, by the Pinellas County Elections Office.

Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark mailed 244,826 ballots to domestic voters July 22. An additional 2,657 were mailed to absent military and overseas voters July 9.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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Saturday, July 26
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ST. PETERSBURG - Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives arrested a St. Petersburg man Friday, July 25, on charges of lewd and lascivious molestation and for exposing three minors to pornographic materials.

Roger Lyle Kent, 67, was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation; protection of minors; and prohibition of certain acts in connection with obscenity. He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail where he is being held without bond.
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CLEARWATER - The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will host a candidate forum for those vying for seats on the Sixth Judicial Circuit bench.

The forum, co-sponsored by the Clearwater Bar and Tampa Bay Times, will be Wednesday, Aug. 6, 6 to 8:15 p.m., in the Ethics and Social Science Building on the Clearwater campus of SPC, 2465 Drew St.

Advance registration is requested. Visit solutions.spcollege.edu.
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CLEARWATER - Pinellas County has been designated as a 2014 Tech Savvy County by the Public Technology Institute. The Local Government Tech Savvy Award Program recognizes the efforts of counties and cities throughout the U.S. that create technology programs to serve constituents both internally and externally.

Pinellas County is one of four jurisdictions to receive the recognition. The county will be presented with a certificate of distinction at an awards ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee this September.

“It is very exciting to be recognized by the Public Technology Institute as a Tech Savvy County,” said Martin Rose, chief information officer of Pinellas County’s Business Technology Services. “This award encompasses a holistic view of the progressive use of technology, and associated business processes and governance across county government to better serve our community. As a true partner to all county departments, and with the support from the BTS Board and Board of County Commissioners, Business Technology Services is proud to play a key role in driving technology leadership and in delivering value added services across a wide range of Pinellas County government solutions.”
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Wednesday, July 23
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ST. PETERSBURG - The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will host a series of interactive telephone town hall meetings to share information and gather feedback about Pinellas County's transit future.

Residents from all over the county will receive automated calls inviting them to participate, and anyone can dial in to listen and make their voice heard. Participants will be able to ask questions, both on the call and through social media channels.
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