INDIAN SHORES – When Mayor Jim Lawrence died the day after Christmas, dealing with the loss was both an emotional and logistical shock for the town of Indian Shores.
In the aftermath, Patrick Soranno was sworn in as mayor the day after Lawrence’s death and led the first regular council meeting through the process of healing on Jan. 10.
Soranno issued a proclamation declaring the month of January as Mayor James J. Lawrence Memorial Month, “in honor of our former mayor’s service to his country and community.” This early agenda item set the tone for the meeting that included elections, appointments, and memorials in order for the town to adjust to the loss.
Diantha Schear was elected the new vice mayor by the town council. This was to fill the vacancy left by Soranno when he assumed the position of mayor.
The town council appointed Michael Petruccelli to fill the council seat vacated by the previous vice mayor, which expires on March 28. With only 77 days left to serve, the council decided to have Petruccelli assume the vacancy since he will serve in that capacity at the conclusion of that term, having just won that seat unopposed.
Mike Hackerson was appointed to the vacant seat left by Petruccelli, who had resigned from the council to pursue an unsuccessful bid for the school board in November. Hackerson’s resignations from both Seat 3 on the Indian Shores Board of Adjustment, and as alternate citizen member of the Administrative and Finance Committee, were accepted as required for him to serve as a member of the town council.
John J. Yackowski was appointed to Seat 3 on the Indian Shores Board of Adjustment to replace Hackerson. The appointment was effective immediately and will expire on Oct. 28.
John Caruso was appointed as alternate citizen member of the Administrative and Finance Committee, effective immediately. This appointment replaced Hackerson on the committee.
A letter of resignation was accepted from Gene Thompson from Seat 5 on the Indian Shores Board of Adjustment. According to Soranno, Thompson would no longer be a resident of Indian Shores since he is moving to Tampa. The town council appointed James Ryan to fill Thompson’s vacancy, effective immediately and expiring Oct. 28, 2019.
Donations for an as-yet undetermined monument honoring Lawrence will be accepted pending recommendations from the Arts Council. There also were preliminary discussions about the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District’s plans to dedicate the new Station 26 in Lawrence’s name.
Soranno commended the staff and residents of Indian Shores who assisted in the memorial service at town hall last week in remembrance of Lawrence. Soranno referred to Lawrence as “a man of quiet elegance.”
Ordinance imposes marijuana moratorium
An ordinance imposing a moratorium on the operation of medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries for 15 months within the town passed on its first reading. During the moratorium, the town will not accept, process, or approve any application relating to the operation of medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries.
Tidwell recognized as flood plain manager
Soranno, along with building official Greg Yantorno, recognized Michelle Tidwell, permit technician/CRS coordinator, for completion of her certification to become a certified flood plain manager. Before passing what Yantorno referred to as “a very difficult exam,” Tidwell spent a year preparing for it. According to Yantorno, “In addition to (Tidwell) earning the designation of CFM, the town gains an additional 25 CRS points, which will contribute to reduced flood insurance rates for the town.
Police department gets refurbished vehicles
At the request of Police Chief Terry Hughes, the town approved the purchase of three refurbished vehicles for the police department at a total cost of $32,425. The vehicles include a 2006 Ford F160 pickup truck and two Ford police interceptors, model years 2010 and a 201l respectively.
The town accepted a donation of $5,000 from Communications Associates Inc. for an extended warranty on all three vehicles.