ST. PETE BEACH – City commissioners recognized the St. Pete Beach Lego Terrestrial Robotic Team June 10 for its 10th place finish at the World Lego Robotics Competition at Lawrence Tech University in Detroit.
The team scored the highest point total of any junior team from Florida at the World Competition since the start of the event 10 years ago.
Team members representing the city in Michigan were Charlie Kidder, Shane Fort, Kayla Oates and Alex Carroll. Alan Oates coached the team with mentoring from Jim Parent and Recreation Director Jennifer McMahon.
The first-year team won two regional competitions and was second in another before heading to Detroit. The program was supported by more than $13,000 in donations from businesses and residents of St. Pete Beach.
McMahon told commissioners the city would be expanding its robotics program in the fall to include beginner, intermediate and advanced programs. The city also will host a regional competition in November, she said.
In other action, commissioners:
• Renewed the city’s franchise agreement with Peoples Gas System for 30 years.
• Appointed Alan Slakis as the fifth trustee to the Police Officers Pension Board.
• Approved a request by the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce to hang banners over 75th Avenue and the Pinellas Bayway for the sixth annual Taste of the Beaches event, set Saturday, July 19, at Horan Park. The banners will be installed July 9 and taken down on July 21.
• Agreed to draft a letter to State Rep. Kathleen Peters concerning a request by Commissioner Terri Finnerty to install a traffic light somewhere along Blind Pass Road, south of the Blind Pass Bridge and a crosswalk across Gulf Boulevard in front of Skidders at 5799 Gulf Blvd. The letter would be drafted following input from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, city Public Works department and the city fire department.
• Mayor Maria Lowe requested that City Commission meetings in November and December be switched to different days to accommodate time off for the holidays. The November dates will be Tuesday, Nov. 4 and Tuesday, Nov. 18. The December dates will be Tuesday, Dec. 2 and Tuesday, Dec. 16. The city will get back to its normal schedule of the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month on Jan. 13. Lowe also suggested the July 8 meeting be canceled due to the Fourth of July holiday, but was told by interim city manager Elaine Edmunds that it wouldn’t be possible because of two important issues that are scheduled for that date. They include the second reading on an ordinance involving Beach Plaza Resort density and selection of a recruiter for a new city manager.
• Lowe told commissioners that the city needs to make a decision whether it will support or ask for a reduction in the number of manatee safe zones being proposed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “My concern is that we have commercial fishermen living in our city and the areas that these are currently proposed in will slow their transit time to get out in the Gulf,” Lowe said. A Local Rule Review Committee is about halfway through its process of taking public opinion on 21 proposed zones where boaters would be required to operate at reduced or idle speeds. The reason for the added safe zones is the number of manatee deaths that have occurred in Pinellas County since 2000. For more information, visit www.pinellascounty.org/statemanateeplan.