EAST LAKE - In January 2015, Mark Sanders left his job as athletic director of the largest high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to head up East Lake Recreation - a position that didn’t have a clear job description or even an office to offer its new director.
He began running the fledgling organization, funded with dollars from a new special taxing district in East Lake, out of his truck. One of his first tasks was to secure a trailer and fill it with enough furniture so he could work and host meetings.
“I started from the ground floor, getting the trailer, buying the furniture,” he said. “Moving into this position, it was brand new. There really wasn’t any template to follow because the libraries and the other parks and rec (oragniation) in Palm Harbor is so much different than this.”
PALM HARBOR - Saroeup Im, a former Cambodian refugee and survivor of the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime, told her story to the Rotary Club of Palm Harbor Feb. 3.
Im now lives in Largo with her husband Sophann and owns a health and nutrition business. She is the co-founder and director of Christian Professional Network of Tampa Bay. The native of Cambodia came to the United States in 1981, one year after escaping the “killing fields” where she and thousands of other Cambodians were forced to work long hours in terrible conditions, battling curable diseases like malaria and typhoid without medicine or treatment.
OLDSMAR - During the Feb. 2 meeting, the Oldsmar city council unanimously approved an amended site plan for a zip line adventure as well as an agreement with Empower Adventures Tampa Bay LLC, which will construct and operate the attraction.
The major change to the site plan was in creating varied platform heights, increasing the maximum height of the attractions from 35 feet to 79 feet.
The course will consist of five platforms connected by zip lines, a suspension bridge and what is being called an “adventure park,” said Marie Dauphinais, Oldsmar planning and redevelopment director.
OLDSMAR - In the room where the Oldsmar City Council usually meets, a community organizer and elder statesmen faced off, answering the public’s questions in an open forum Jan. 26.
Candidates Becky Alfonso and Jerry Beverland were the only candidates left to debate that evening. Three seats were up re-election in this year's city elections March 15: that of the mayor and the seats currently held by Council Members Dan Saraki and Linda Norris.
No one qualified to run against current Mayor Doug Bevis. Saraki’s opponent, Daniel C. Belcher, owner of Premiere Wealth Care Group in Clearwater, dropped out of the race after the qualifying period.
PALM HARBOR - The Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, or PHCSA, gave a glowing first-year review - as well as a 3.5 percent pay raise - to its newest director Jan. 20.
East Lake Recreation Director Mark Sanders has steered the new branch of the agency for about a year, accepting his position after East Lake residents voted to pay extra property taxes to support youth recreation beginning Oct. 1, 2014.
He scored 95 points out of a possible 114 on his annual review, earning a rating of “exceeds expectations.”
OLDSMAR - The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the city of Oldsmar, is hosting a candidate forum for two city council seats Tuesday, Jan. 26, 7 to 8 p.m., at the City Council Chambers, 101 State W.
This event is free and open to the public. The forum is being presented to provide voters the chance to meet the candidates seeking to represent them. Select the leaders who will set the tone for continued development and quality of life.
Vying for City Council Seat 2 will be Dan Saracki, a current City Council member who also is heading the City’s Bi-Centennial Planning Committee, and Dan Belcher, a political newcomer with a background of community involvement particularly in youth sports. Belcher is promising new ideas and new energy to help shape Oldsmar’s dynamic growth and future.
OLDSMAR - The Oldsmar City Council kicked off 2016 by establishing a poet laureate and a concept for a new public art project for the city Jan. 5.
City Attorney Tom Trask read to council a resolution establishing the position and an appointment process for a City Poet Laureate. The resolution states that the person in the position must be a city resident and will serve, without compensation, for an initial term of five years. The term has the ability to extend another five years with a unanimous council vote.
“This was brought to us from a resident, and I think it keeps in the theme of our art and culture that we’ve talked about for the city as well as north Pinellas County,” said Mayor Doug Bevis.