From left, Clearwater Beach residents Skip Strittmatter, Belinda Bishop and Connie Freeman enjoy the music of the Tams, who performed a tribute to Motown, at the first Belleair outdoor concert of the year Feb. 22.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - The City Commission is moving ahead with plans to build a new fire station on Bay Way Avenue across from city hall.
The commission’s vote Feb. 23 gives Mayor Chris Arbutine and city staff members the authority to continue to meet with representatives from Belleair and Pinellas County and proceed with the planning, design and construction of the new station.
The motion also said the concerns of residents living nearby “would be considered and accommodated if possible.”
BELLEAIR - The election campaign by three candidates to fill two seats on the Belleair Commission has been going on for weeks. Election Day is Tuesday, March 10, and as the candidates sprint for home they seem to have little differences when it comes to the issues in the town.
Running for office is incumbent Commissioner Stephen Fowler, 70, who has been on the Commission, uninterrupted, since 1997. Incumbent Michael Wilkinson, 50, has served on the Commission since 2010. Challenger Karla Rettstatt, 56, is a former commissioner, having served two terms from 2006 to 2010.
The issue that has dominated life in Belleair for the past half dozen years is the fate of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel. Commissioners recently gave the green light to developer Michael Cheezem to demolish the hotel, which has been empty since 2009, and replace it with townhomes and condominiums. All three candidates say they are at ease with the decision.
BELLEAIR SHORE - Mayor Robert E. Schmidt Jr. and Commissioner Deborah Roseman will begin new two-year terms in office next month. The town commission passed a resolution at their Feb. 17 meeting, declaring both were elected as a result of being unopposed in the municipal elections scheduled for March 10. The election was also canceled.
Schmidt will be serving his first full term as mayor. A commissioner since 1996, he was voted mayor by the commission last March after longtime Mayor John Robertson resigned for health reasons. Schmidt had been deputy mayor prior to his appointment as mayor.
Roseman will begin her second term in office. She also currently serves as deputy mayor. Roseman joined the commission in August 2013, after being appointed to fill the remainder of Commissioner John E. Hayes’ term. Hayes left the commission due to a move out of state.
INDIAN SHORES - The Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District plans to re-establish Station 26 at the town of Indian Shores’ municipal center July 1, with or without financial help from Pinellas County.
District fire commissioners gave Fire Chief Salvatore D’Angelo the go-ahead Feb. 17 to relocate the squad from Station 27, which is in Indian Rocks Beach.
D’Angelo said district officials have asked the county to fund a paramedic’s position, but they haven’t heard back from county officials. If the county declines, the district plans to fund the squad, which is the same unit that was closed several years ago due to funding cuts. The station provided first-responder EMS service to the Redingtons and Indian Shores and was located in the Wachovia Bank building on Gulf Boulevard.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - The building of a new fire station in the city of Belleair Bluffs to replace aging Station 43 on Indian Rocks Road will be the main agenda topic when the city commission meets next on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m.
The meeting promises to be a lively one, as the proposed station has been an ongoing subject of controversy.
The need for a new station is unquestioned. The current facility is a former gas station converted for use as a fire station in the 1960s. It is badly outdated, and in need of costly repairs.
BELLEAIR - At special commission meetings in October and December, Belleair commissioners heard hours and hours of testimony regarding the plans for the Belleview Biltmore hotel property.
The plans included tearing down the century old hotel and replacing it with condos and townhouses. It also included plans to save part of the hotel and turn it into a small 33-room Inn.
After all that testimony and back and forth from both sides of the issue the Commissioners, at both special meetings, unanimously agreed to the plans of developer Mike Cheezem of JMC Communities. At the time they felt they had come to the end of a years-long debate over the future of the hotel.
BELLEAIR - Cami Starke recently opened up Salty Fitness, a stand-up paddleboard fitness company based in Belleair.
Most of the focus is on fitness, Starke also offers stand-up paddleboarding lessons and eco-tours.
“I’ve been paddling for about eight years now but have been an athlete and water sport lover my whole life,” Starke said in a press release. “I was born and raised in Ocean City, New Jersey, and made my way down to the west coast of Florida for a college soccer career.”
Calvary Episcopal Church is hosting its 10th annual Winterfest on the Rocks Saturday, Feb. 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 1615 First St., Indian Rocks Beach.
The event includes a children’s parade, activities, a pet parade, entertainment, a silent auction, many arts and crafts vendors and food and drink.
The Patriotic Children's Parade will begin at 11 a.m. from Kolb Park. Kids can dress up in patriotic attire and parade in a wagon, on foot or on a bike. Also participating in the Patriotic Children’s Parade will be members of VFW Post 10094 and Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Snowbirds and residents may be going in circles sometimes trying to find parking in the Narrows business district on the south end of town.
“On the weekends, Friday and Saturday nights, down there in the Narrows business district, it’s crowded,” Mayor R.B. Johnson said at the City Commission’s meeting Feb. 10. “Cars are parking anywhere they can.”
There’s only so much the city can do, Johnson said. He wanted people to know that if the solid waste facility is converted into a multi-purpose building the city will have an opportunity to have extra parking on the property, about 15 spaces. City officials have been discussing a plan to lease land off the beach for the solid waste facility, which is located adjacent to Keegan Clair Park and the new boat docks.
Indian Shores market INDIAN SHORES – The Indian Shores Sunday Morning Market is open in the parking lot of the Indian Shores Municipal Center, 19305 Gulf Blvd., every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through May.
The market is free of charge and family friendly. Leashed pets are welcome.
“All of our vendors are local, hands-on owners and operators,” said Market Operations Manager Laura Garrison. “We have organic produce, gourmet foodies and some of the best artists and crafters in the area. And we’re really happy to be part of the Indian Shores community. The administration and the police department of Indian Shores are an incredible group of people to work with.”
Miller Time Jazz Band Concert CLEARWATER – The Miller Time Jazz Band will perform Sunday, March 1, 2 p.m., at the Safety Harbor Public Library.
Swing to the sound of this local band as they play American Jazz, American Standards, Irish songs, and requests from the audience. The band is a combination of brass, strings, and percussion musicians.
The library is located 101 Second St. N., Safety Harbor. For more information, contact 724-1525, ext. 4112.
Pinellas Park Civic Orchestra concert PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park Civic Orchestra performs Sunday, March 1, 7:30 p.m., at the Performing Arts Center, 4951 78th Ave. N.
The concert will feature baritone Jeff Clark and soprano Suzanne Ruley.
This is a free event; donations accepted.
Call 397-3832 or visit www.pinellasparkcivicorchestra.org for more information.
Non-Trivial Pursuits CLEARWATER – Non-Trivial Pursuits will be presented Monday, March 2, 7 p.m., at Chapel-By-The-Sea, 54 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater Beach.
Harry Coverston will present the program “Is America Still a Christian Nation?”
One of the major questions that has arisen in the culture wars of the late 20th and early 21st century is whether or not America is still a Christian nation. This presentation will give an overview of the historical, legal and cultural issues raised by this question.
Non-Trivial Pursuits, a long-standing program at Chapel-By-The-Sea, offers presentations during the fall and winter on various topics scheduled on selected Monday nights. These presentations include religious and non-religious subjects. The community is invited to these free programs. Light refreshments are served.
Reservations are requested so proper arrangements can be made.
For reservations, call 446-0430. Visit www.chapelbythesea.net.