BELLEAIR - The heavy equipment is on the site, what looks like a concrete bunker has risen from the ground and most of the grass is gone, torn up. By the end of the month all that will have been transformed into a pristine green space in the middle of Belleair. What was Hunter Park will become Hunter Memorial Park and the dream of several Belleair residents will have become a reality.
Nearly two years ago resident and former Commissioner Karla Rettstatt appeared before the town commission with a plan to transform the park into a memorial for veterans. She pledged to raise most of the money for the project as long as the town officials approved and would help with some of the costs.
It has been said timing is everything and for Rettstatt that day the timing was perfect. Parks and Recreation Department Eric Wahlbeck had been wanting to overhaul the community’s 20 parks. Many had fallen in disrepair and tables and benches were deteriorating. Rettstatt’s pledge of more than $300,000 couldn’t have come at a better time so a partnership was born.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - The Belleair Bluffs Commission voted against the extended terms and term limits at its Oct. 20 regular meeting, meaning neither will be on the ballot in next March’s election.
Voters will not be able to decide whether to extend the terms of the mayor and city commissioners from two to three years or limit commission members to three terms. Both had been among the recommendations of a committee set up to review and suggest changes to the city charter.
The commission also rejected a proposal that commission members forfeit their office if convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude.” That could include offenses such as a DUI conviction or being found guilty of passing checks with insufficient funds, according to City Attorney Thomas Trask.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Significant changes to the Belleair Bluffs Charter are being recommended by the Charter Review Committee, which meets every five years to review and consider revisions to the city’s charter and ordinances.
Among the changes being suggested is a proposal to extend the terms of commission members from two to three years, and add a three-term limit. Currently, the mayor and commissioners can serve for as long as they are re-elected. The extended terms and term limit proposals will be separate issues on the ballot, so voters can accept or reject either.
Charter Review Committee chairman Dave Shimkus presented the committee’s recommendations at the Oct. 13 commission workshop. Any changes to the charter must be approved by the commission and ratified in a referendum vote, which would be held next March.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - A full house at the Indian Rocks Beach Commission meeting on Oct. 14 heard plans by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish manatee protection zones all along the Intracoastal Waterway through the city.
Many supported the idea. Some thought it didn’t go far enough and others were opposed to it. In the end commissioners decided to take some time to think about it.
Conservation Commission scientist Scott Calleson and colleague Carol Knox were invited by City Manager Gregg Mims to speak to the commission about their plans. Calleson said the proposed protection zone was developed after years of study.
BELLEAIR - The town of Belleair has a new Police Chief. Bill Sohl was sworn in by Mayor Gary Katica Oct. 7 at the commission meeting.
Sohl takes over from former Chief Tom Edwards, who resigned in mid-September after a report found that morale in the department was low because of his management style. Attempts to fix the issue didn’t take root because Edwards decided to resign just days after meeting with Town Manager Micah Maxwell to try to solve the problem.
BELLEAIR - The town’s Planning and Zoning Board is recommending that the commission approve the zoning request by the proposed developer of the Belleview Biltmore site. The recommendation came during a special meeting on Oct. 6 called to consider that request and requests to approve the preliminary site plan and the development agreement.
The recommendation brings the demolition of the hotel ever closer because it plays into the plans outlined by Developer Michael Cheezem.
Town Planner David Healey told the board members that changing the zoning to a planned mixed use would allow the development of condos, townhomes and a hotel on the site. He also noted that the three items were closely linked and passing one without the others would not be practical.
BELLEAIR BEACH - While plans for the beautification of Gulf Boulevard move forward, residents have concerns about homes that have been abandoned for years and the negative impact of vehicles used to patrol the beach.
The issues were brought up at the Oct. 6 Belleair Beach City Council meeting.
Marvin Behm, a former city council member, wanted to know what the city plans to do about two houses that he said “look terrible.” One of the homes, on Louisa Drive, has been abandoned for five years, and the other, on Harbor Drive, for a decade, Behm said.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - It is all about helping people who need it. That is why two men have left Indian Rocks Beach on an epic journey by foot. They are walking to California.
Indian Rocks Beach resident Sam Leonard, 72, and his friend Al Blake, 74 of Sarasota say they are determined to make the 2,700-mile journey no matter how long it takes. Leonard was particularly descriptive about the time it might take.
BELLEAIR - The owners of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel have won the first round in their effort to be granted a “certificate of appropriateness,” which would give them the right to do whatever they wish with the hotel. That means that demolition is on the horizon.
The town’s Historic Preservation Board voted 5-1 to recommend to the Town Commission that the certificate be granted.
AHEC iQUIT sessions The Gulfcoast North Area Health Education Center provides free services to help people quit any form of tobacco.
In October, two IQUIT classes will be presented at these Florida Department of Health in Pinellas (DOH-Pinellas) health departments:
• Wednesday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. to noon, in Conference Room 109A, at 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg.
• Tuesday, Oct. 28, 1 to 3 p.m., in Conference Room 1226, at 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo.
AHEC’s tobacco training and cessation program, iQUIT, provides services that include in-person classes and free nicotine-replacement patches, gum and lozenges (while supplies last and if medically appropriate). The program is sponsored by AHEC and the Florida Department of Health.
To register for these free sessions, call Nicole Kelly at 813-929-1000, ext. 204, or email email@example.com. Visit www.ahectobacco.com.
Breast Cancer Basics CLEARWATER – Morton Plant Mease Hospitals will sponsor a lecture on breast cancer detection and treatment to bring focus to breast health during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Breast Cancer Basics will be presented Wednesday, Oct. 22, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., at YMCA of the Suncoast, Teen Room, 1005 S. Highland Ave.
Jola Baginski, ARNP, will discuss breast cancer detection and treatment. There is no cost to attend. To register, call 800-BayCare.
City Power Toastmasters Club meeting ST. PETERSBURG – The City Power Toastmasters Club, a nonprofit communication and leadership club, meets Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. at the Municipal Services Building, One Fourth St. N., Sixth Floor, Room 600.
The club teaches self-confidence and skills to help listen, think, speak and gain leadership qualities. Participants gain poise, positive body language and speak more easily.
Guests are welcome to visit for free with no pressure to join.
Fall Fest Open House LARGO – Pinecrest Place, a Brookdale Senior Living Community located at 1150 Eighth Ave. SW, will host Fall Fest Open House – Wednesday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m. – Attendees will enjoy seasonal treats such as pumpkin pie and cinnamon ice cream.
During the event, guests will have an opportunity to tour residents’ homes for a firsthand look at the spacious floor plans.
RSVP is required by Oct. 20. To RSVP, call 581-8142.
Roger Day performance SAFETY HARBOR – The award winning children’s performer, Roger Day, will perform at the Safety Harbor Public Library on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 4 p.m., at 101 Second St. N., courtesy of Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Day’s energetic live show incorporates his trademark wit, whimsy and wordplay, all grounded in the joy of a powerful love and respect for children. He creates an imaginary world populated by pachyderms, sherpas, isopods, and mosquito burritos. He urges kids to reach their potential by using their bodies and brains, mind and muscle.
Wednesday afternoon book club
TARPON SPRINGS – The Tarpon Springs Library offers a Wednesday afternoon book club called “Expand Your Horizons.” Fiction and non-fiction books from a variety of genres are discussed each month. For the date of the next meeting, call 943-4922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amendment 2 debate GULFPORT – A debate on the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Amendment 2, is set Thursday, Oct. 23, noon, in Grant Hall at Stetson University College of Law, 4101 61st St. S.
Attorney John Morgan will argue the merits of the initiative with former State Supreme Court justice Kenneth Bell, who has questioned whether the amendment might result in marijuana getting into the hands of children. Morgan is a proponent of the medical benefits of marijuana.
Annual candlelight vigil LARGO - Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will host the sixth annual candlelight vigil Thursday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m., at Largo Central Park, 105 Central Park Drive.
The vigil is a time to remember those who have died as a result of drug and alcohol related overdose; help those who are currently living with addiction; and bring hope that the community working together can make a difference for the future.
The vigil will bring together a wide range of groups from the religious, government and private sectors of the community. Pinellas County School students also will attend. Attendees will hear the personal stories from the families of those who have lost loved ones to drug overdose or are struggling with addiction today.
For more information about the vigil, or to add your story and video to the memorial wall, contact Laurie Serra at 727-424-6906 or email email@example.com.
The event is being hosted by NOPE, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and Operation PAR in partnership with the LiveFree Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Pinellas County (firstname.lastname@example.org), among many other community partners.
Garden tour LARGO – Vegetable, herb a tropicals tours will be offered Thursdays, Oct. 2 and 23, 9 to 11 a.m., at Florida Botanical Gardens, 12520 Ulmerton Road.
Participants will explore the vegetable garden and compost demonstration areas in the Florida Botanical Gardens and learn about growing their own food. Tours are limited to groups of four to 16 people and recommended for adults only.