CLEARWATER - Rows of Clearwater police officers stood in salute. The Clearwater Police Honor Guard fired a 21-gun salute. Off in a corner, a boy played Taps. And soon, the melancholy drone of bagpipes filled Station Square Park, as the Clearwater Police & Pipe and Drum Corp. played Amazing Grace.
May 3 marked Clearwater’s 32nd annual Police Memorial Service, honoring the four Clearwater police officers who have died in the line of duty over the years, as well as remembering all of the Florida and national law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty in 2012. Those Clearwater officers who were honored are Officer Harry L. Conyers, who died on Jan. 22, 1967; Officer Peter M. Price, who died on Feb. 12, 1969; Officer John F. Passer, who died on July 12, 1970; and Officer Ronald J. Mahony, who died on July 13, 1977.
Sandi Luoma of Clearwater, daughter of Harry Conyers, was present at the memorial.
SAFETY HARBOR - Detectives assigned to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s crimes against children unit arrested a Safety Harbor man May 15 for sexual battery on a child under age 12.
The crime occurred in June 2011 at a private residence in Safety Harbor.
John Richard Polgar Jr., 55, a registered sex offender, denies the allegations, according to detectives.
Detectives began their investigation in March of 2013, when the female victim disclosed that the suspect molested her. Through their investigation, detectives determined that Polgar molested her once in 2011.
CLEARWATER - When Jennifer Tollefson began meeting with her special needs students at Woodlawn Community Academy in Clearwater, many struggled with basic mathematical concepts, such as counting money, even though most were juniors and seniors in high school. But now, through her teaching and launching a student store that her kids run, her students are not only much better at their math skills, they also are learning many life skills that will help them in the “real world” after they graduate.
CLEARWATER - Before city officials can enter into an agreement for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to lease the current City Hall property, raze City Hall and build a new $160 million aquarium on the site, the voters must approve the lease in a special election that would be held on Nov. 5.
At the Clearwater City Council’s May 13 work session, City Attorney Pam Akin presented drafts of the proposed referendum and the ordinance that would enact it if the voters approve the project.
“The CMA has outgrown its current facilities and needs to build a new facility in order to accomplish its mission to preserve marine life and the environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in education, research, rescue, rehabilitation and release,” a staff memo to the City Council explained.
CLEARWATER - Faced with an unexpected groundswell of opposition from residents and the Clearwater Beach business community, the clearwater City Council at its May 13 work session decided to scrap plans for a new $438,881 playground near Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach.
The signage, sidewalk “flatwork” and military flag court that comprised the rest of the $510,000 makeover of the park are still under consideration.
Opponents said that the new playground, with its concrete sand castle, would be an unnecessary expense for a beach that already has an adequate playground. When asked about the condition of the existing playground, Kevin Dunbar, the city’s director of parks and recreation, replied that the equipment won’t need repair or replacement “in the next couple of years.”
Libraries to get radio scanners CLEARWATER - Supermarkets may still use bar code scanners, but they’re becoming obsolete in libraries. On May 2, the Clearwater City Council authorized Barbara Pickell, head of the city’s library system, to spend $582,549 for the purchase of a state-of-the-art Radio Frequency Identification system from Bibliotheca, LLC.
“Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the new form of technology used by libraries today to provide security for their materials and eliminate the need for several routine, repetitive tasks that have traditionally taken up staff time and resources.” Pickell wrote in a memo to the council. “Instead of a barcode, computer chips are placed inside books and materials. These chips can be read by scanners without having to open books as we have to with barcodes. This allows the library to have material automatically scanned as it is returned, and then use sorting machines to dramatically increase staff efficiency. It also replaces the old security system, which is no longer functioning.”
The memo goes on to say that since 2007, Clearwater’s library system has lost 25 percent of its employees, but library usage has declined only 6 percent. Pickell believes that the radio scanning system will enable the Countryside and East libraries to enlarge without having to hire extra staff, and will enable all the city’s libraries to increase productivity without having to increase staff.
CLEARWATER - The Clearwater Police Department warns people to not get caught up in phishing scams, where criminals try to get people’s personal information online. The department offers the following tips:
- Question authority - always validate the sender’s identity before responding to messages.
- Be cool on hot topics - use caution when responding to emails referencing current events, and never click on a link or attachment from an unknown source.
CLEARWATER - The next Pinellas County Utilities mobile hazardous waste collection is Saturday, May 11, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Countryside High School, 3000 State Road 580, Clearwater.
Drive up and drop off your hazardous and unwanted electronics and chemicals at this free service event for county households. Businesses should arrange for drop-off and payment by calling Creative Recycling at 813-621-2319 for electronics, or EQ Florida at 813-319-3400 for chemicals.
Household electronics and chemicals - such as TVs, cell phones, computers, paints, motor oil, fertilizers and batteries - should never be dumped in the regular trash, drains, storm sewers or on the ground. These products can be harmful to the environment and to the people handling them if they are not disposed of properly. Electronics contain useful materials that can be extracted and recycled, such as aluminum, glass and plastic. As for chemicals, the average household can accumulate as much as 100 pounds of chemicals around the home over time.
CLEARWATER - The Clearwater City Council decided on May 1 to postpone the contentious Clearwater Beach playground matter until its May 16 meeting.
As part of the consent agenda at the Clearwater Council’s April 18 meeting, the project was expected to receive rubber-stamp approval without discussion. But city officials were blindsided by a storm of opposition from speakers who either opposed the project or said that the city hadn’t given them enough information to make an informed decision about it.
The trouble began when Mayor George Cretekos pulled the item off the April 18 consent agenda and suggested that instead of using money from the city’s general fund, the project be funded from the parking fund. Vice Mayor Paul Gibson disagreed, and Cretekos’ motion died when none of the council members would second it. But the door had been opened to further discussion, and the council members got an earful.
PALM HARBOR – Former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham will be the speaker Tuesday, May 21, 6:30 p.m., during an Author’s Showcase at the East Lake Community Library, 4125 East Lake Road. Admission is free. Those attending should RSVP by calling 773-2665.
Graham served as the 38th governor of Florida from 1979 to 1987. From 1987 to 2005 he served in the U.S. Senate. In his years as a U.S. Senator, Graham was appointed chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
His new novel, “Keys to the Kingdom,” is a thriller set in the post 9/11 era of the U.S. intelligence community and features spies, murders, and international conspiracy. He has also written other non-fiction books such as “America: The Owner’s Manual” and “Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror.”
Downtown Optimist Club meeting ST. PETERSBURG - The Downtown Optimist Club meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month, 6:30 p.m. at Tic Tock Restaurant, 8123 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg. Call Vi at 527-2656.
English classes PINELLAS PARK – The fall session of English classes for speakers of other languages is beginning at Sacred Heart Catholic School, at 7951 46th Way N.
The free classes are held every Tuesday evening between 6:30 and 8 p.m. They are available to any adult who wishes to learn or perfect their English skills: speaking, reading, writing and comprehension. Walk-ins are welcome. The fall semester ends Dec. 11.
For more information, call 541-4447.
Every Child a Swimmer
ST. PETE BEACH – The Kiwanis Club of Gulf Beaches together with the city of St. Pete Beach is offering the Every Child a Swimmer water safety and survival program at The St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. A parent or guardian must be present to complete paperwork and each child will be water tested at this time. For more information, call 510-0582.
This free program is for non-swimmers in kindergarten through fifth-grade and aims to make sure every participant learns the basic swimming techniques to ensure their safety and to help them enjoy a lifetime of fun.
The program runs from May 6 to May 23 with classes Monday through Thursday. Class start times are 5 and 5:45 p.m.
Registration is limited and those interested can sign up on a first-come basis at The St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3.
Harmony Home Health caregiver support group LARGO - Harmony Home Health caregiver support group meets Tuesdays, 3 p.m., at 13787 Belcher Road S., Suite 220, Largo. For additional information, call 288-3503.
Herb Society meeting
CLEARWATER – The Florida Herb Society meets Tuesday, May 21, 6:30 p.m., at the Clearwater Garden Club, 405 Seminole St. Refreshments and herbal swaps will begin at 6:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome. The first meeting is free. Cost is $25 per year to join. Call Emily Wenzel at 365-8574 or email email@example.com.
Bob Huttick and MaryAnn Kirk from the Seminole Community Garden will share tips on harvesting and cooking with fresh herbs.
Denise O’Dunn with Balance and Bliss Academy of Ayurveda will share information about this ancient system of holistic medicine from India using herbs. The goal of the FHS is to educate members and the general public in the growing and preservation of herbs for use in culinary, medicinal and decorative purposes.
Kiwanis Club of Seminole Breakfast meeting SEMINOLE – The Kiwanis Club of Seminole Breakfast meets Tuesdays at 7:15 a.m. at the Seminole Family Restaurant, 6869 Seminole Blvd.
Each meeting features a speaker on various community topics. The public is invited to attend. Call 319-8343.
Palm Harbor community chorus PALM HARBOR – The Palm Harbor Community Chorus meets Tuesdays from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Centre, 1500 16th St. No auditions are necessary. Call director Anna Bona at 939-2952 for details.
Seminole SPC Toastmasters meeting SEMINOLE – The Seminole SPC Toastmasters group meets Tuesdays at 6:15 p.m. at the Seminole Community Library, 9200 113th St.
The meetings are open to the public.
Toastmasters exists to help folks become successful speakers and leaders. It is a self-paced, time-tested program that helps participants gain confidence in their personal and professional life.
Visit www.seminolespc.toastmastersclubs.org or call 688-3420.
Seniors play pinochle CLEARWATER – The Senior Citizens Services of Clearwater offers pinochle every Tuesday and Friday, 11:30 a.m., at 1204 Rogers St. Both new and seasoned players are welcome. There is no charge and refreshments are served. Call 442-8104.