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Mayor hospitalized, councilors sworn in
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New Indian Shores Town Council members Patrick Soranno, left, and Michael Petruccelli pose for a photo after being sworn into office on March 25.
INDIAN SHORES – Mayor Jim Lawrence was admitted into Largo Medical Center March 25 only a few hours before new council members Patrick Soranno and Michael Petruccelli took their oaths of office at the Indian Shores Town Council meeting.

“The mayor was taken to the hospital in the afternoon when he passed out,” said retired council member Carole Irelan.

According to new Town Clerk Elaine Jackson, the mayor was diagnosed with pneumonia in one lung and suffered possible kidney damage. He was expected to stay in the hospital into early this week.

After the oath of office was administered to Soranno and Petruccelli by Town Attorney Bob Metz, Vice Mayor Bill Smith began the meeting.

“I have no idea what will happen,” said Smith. “I am the current vice mayor but the council is voting on a new vice mayor (tonight) and, although I am presiding over the meeting initially, that may change during the proceedings.”

Councilor Joan Herndon was later elected vice mayor by the new Town Council. Metz’s recommendation was accepted that, even though Herndon was the newly elected vice mayor, for the sake of continuity, Smith continue to preside for the duration of the meeting.

The Town Council approved the appointment of council members and citizens to serve on various committees. In the absence of the mayor, the council decided to continue the precedent that was established in keeping the mayor’s previous assignments from the prior year. Citizen volunteers were also reassigned their previous assignments unless they had resigned their posts.

The council members on the Administrative and Finance Committee are: Lawrence, chairman; Soranno, vice chairman; and Herndon, council alternate. Art Newsome is the citizen member and Steven Uhlhorn is the citizen alternate.

The Public Services Committee has the following council members: Herndon, chairman; Petruccelli, vice chairman; and Smith, council alternate. Janet McKee is the citizen member and Neil Rode is the citizen alternate.

Planning, Zoning and Building Committee has the following council members: Soranno, chairman; Smith, vice chairman; and Lawrence, council alternate. The citizen member is John McBaine. Alternates are Anne Miller and Fred Strahlendorf.

The Town Council also approved council representatives for various positions. The voting member of the BIG-C is Lawrence with Smith as the first alternate and Herndon the second alternate. Herndon is the liaison to the Indian Shores Property Owners Association, Petruccelli is the council representative for the boat parade, Soranno is the director for the coastal cleanup, and Petruccelli will serve as the town’s rep on the Suncoast League of Cities.

Access to both the town’s bank accounts: Lawrence, Herndon, Director of Finance Lisa Robinson, Director of Administration Bonnie Dhonau and Chief of Police Terry Hughes.
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