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Gibson remains vice mayor
CLEARWATER – Traditionally, it was the custom to rotate the office of vice mayor annually among the members of the Clearwater City Council, but that custom has eroded somewhat in the past few years. This year, Vice Mayor Paul Gibson was nominated to continue in that capacity as he approaches being term-limited out of his council seat. But at the April 4 council meeting, Councilmember Bill Jonson nominated another candidate for the job: Bill Jonson.

“I am very much interested in serving you as your vice mayor in the next year,” Jonson said while reciting a list of accomplishments that qualify him for the job.

“Mayor, I’ll do whatever you want me to do as I wind down my tenure on the council,” Gibson told Mayor George Cretekos.

Gibson was retained by a 4-1 vote, with Jonson dissenting.

Four Island Estates bridges to be replaced
CLEARWATER – Kisinger Campo and Associates, the engineering firm that recently inspected seven Island Estates bridges, all of which are at least 40 years old, reported that all of the reinforced concrete bridges are nearing the end of their useful lives, but four of them are in worse shape than the others and should be replaced first.

At its April 4 meeting, the Clearwater City Council unanimously approved the payment of $346,126 to KCA to draft the plans for replacing Bridges 155515 and 155516, along Harbor Passage, as well as Bridges 155513 and 155514, along Island Way.

City to sue four companies for damage to gas lines
CLEARWATER – It is a periodic ritual for City Attorney Pam Akin to go before the Clearwater City Council and request permission to sue companies that have allegedly damaged city gas lines while excavating and refused to pay for the damage. That ritual was carried out again at the April 4 council meeting, as Akin sought and received permission to sue four such companies.

While operating a Bobcat tractor at 9057 Ulmerton Road in Largo, employees of Space Center, Inc., allegedly punctured a Clearwater Gas System line, and ignored several letters requesting payment for the $751.52 cost of the repairs.

City officials claim that on January 11, 2011, employees of Asphalt Engineering, Inc., hit a gas line at the intersection of U.S. Highway 41 and Gator Lane in Land O’ Lakes, causing $1,192.91 in damage; on April 21, 2011 they hit a gas line at the intersection of Oleander Road and Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Belleair, causing $1,597.08 in damage: and April 22, 2011, the company’s employees caused another $1,524.02 in damage at the same Belleair location. The city is suing for the damages at all three locations, as well as the cost of bringing the suit.

On January 25, 2011, workers from K and B Site Work, LLC, allegedly punctured a polyethylene gas line at 2432 Glennan Drive, Clearwater, and ignored repeated requests to pay for the damage.

While digging on Wayward Passage, near the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Island Estates on October 18, 2011, employees of R.E. Beckner Construction, Inc. allegedly caused $1,429.54 of damage to a city-owned gas line and ignored “several letters” requesting payment for the damage.

Coronado Drive lawsuit drags on
CLEARWATER – When Coronado Drive on Clearwater Beach was redesigned and reconstructed, three business owners filed suit against the city, claiming that the project encroached on their property and resulted in an unlawful “taking” of parking spaces. The court found that because of sidewalk encroachment on the plaintiffs’ property, there had been a small amount of “taking” in the cases of Divaco v. City and Rudman v. City, but none in the case of Szlechta v. City. The Divaco case was settled for $5,000, but the court must still decide how much the city owes Rudman for litigation expenses such as legal fees and the hiring of expert witnesses.

On April 4, the Clearwater City Council authorized City Attorney Pam Akin to pay attorney Jeffrey Hinds of the Smolker, Bartlett, Schlosser, Loeb and Hind P.A. law firm an additional $50,000 to continue his representation of the city in the Rudman case.
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