INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Members of Indian Rocks Beach Action 2000, a community nonprofit that promotes the preservation and beautification of IRB, recently presented the organization’s annual Preservation Awards to a pair of deserving recipients.

The Sea Star Motel at 1805 Gulf Blvd. and a residential property on Gulf Boulevard owned by Georgeann and Robert Thompson took the honors.

The awards were announced at the May 8 meeting of the group, also known as IRB A2K.

“For 16 years, as part of its nonprofit mission, A2K has recognized local residences and businesses that demonstrate the spirit of preserving the small-town atmosphere and charm of IRB,” board member Daryl Frahn.

In highlighting the winners, Frahn said the motel, which is owned by Betty Anne and Bruce Tripke, dates to 1946 and serves as “a bright light in IRB’s historic preservation.” He lauded the Thompsons, who also won in 2012 for another home nearby. “Their 202 Gulf Boulevard property, dating back to 1947, is meticulously cared for and exemplifies the IRB cottage character,” Frahn wrote.

In praising the recipients, recently installed IRB A2K President Shawn Stover said “each year, A2K in collaboration with the Plein Aire Cottage Artists, are proud to recognize those places and people that makes IRB the special and unique place that it is.”

He said the group believes “it’s important to celebrate those people who are working hard to preserve and keep IRB beautiful while honoring our history.”

PSFRD honors its own

The Pinellas Suncoast Fire & Rescue District held its first annual Awards and Recognition Banquet on May 20, where department officials recognized new hires, promotions and 2023 award winners.

According to a May 21 PSFRD Facebook post announcing the event, Assistant Chief Doug Higley, District Chief Todd Grantham, and Lts. Patrick Schwab, Steven Raisch, and Matthew Tomilonus received congratulations for promotions, while a handful of employees were recognized for more than five years of service to the department. Raisch, FF-Paramedic John Webber and DC David Karpinecz were named Phoenix Award recipients. The 2023 Firefighter of the Year went to Spencer Finkhousen; Paramedic of the Year to Webber; EMT of the Year was Christopher Barnes; and the Fire Chief Values Award recipient was Mary Miller, according to the post. “Last night was PSFRD’s first annual Awards and Recognition Banquet,” the post stated. “Thank you to everyone who helped make this such a special and successful event!”

Kennedy launches candidacy

Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy announced her candidacy for Pinellas County Commission during a private gathering at Casa Italia on May 8.

The event, which was attended by roughly 50 friends, family members and past and current commissioners, served as Kennedy’s official kickoff for a campaign for an at-large seat that was announced via press release several weeks ago and began with a bunch of praise and accolades from a handful of her supporters. 

“Working with you has been incredible,” Belleair Beach Mayor Dave Gattis told Kennedy, a fellow member of the Barrier Island Governmental Council, or BIG-C. “I’ve admired everything you’ve done for the beach communities.” 

Others spoke about Kennedy’s tenacity, with former commissioner Phil Hanna stating she would “tear things open” and get things done at the county level. 

After being introduced as “the next commissioner of Pinellas County!” Kennedy spoke about her longstanding connection to the county and its residents. She grew up in Largo the daughter of a schoolteacher and spent most of her adult life in IRB, where she owns a hair salon she intends to keep after she moves “a few blocks” into her new district. 

“This is about family, and I want you to know you can call me and we can talk about whatever really comes up because I believe there is a mistrust of government at all levels,” Kennedy said. The registered Democrat added she’s always been proud to represent the beach communities but “this is a bigger thing for me. Janet (outgoing PCC chair Janet Long) told me I was born for this, and I think it couldn’t be more important to have representatives on the (Pinellas County) commission who have served in my position.”