INDIAN SHORES — A vehicle heading south on Gulf Boulevard at about 8 p.m. March 11 veered into the northbound lane and crashed head-on into an Indian Shores Police Department vehicle. The police vehicle was a total loss, and at a special meeting on March 22, the Town Council voted unanimously 5-0 to approve an emergency allocation of $50,000 to purchase a replacement vehicle.

As a result of the crash, officer Natasha Hindman, who was driving the Police Explorer vehicle, was taken to the hospital, later released and returned to duty while the driver of the other vehicle was reportedly uninjured. According to ISPD Chief Rick Swann, the name of the other driver is being withheld pending an investigation by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.

 “While the 2018 Police Explorer Vehicle 37 did absorb the direct hit and did protect the police officer from sustaining injury, our patrol vehicle did not fare as well,” said the chief.

The damaged vehicle was one of five vehicles from a 2018 lease agreement that Swann inherited from his predecessor, so there was still a balance owed on it. However, the car was covered under the police department’s vehicle insurance policy, allowing the town to receive what is left over once the balance due on the lease is paid.

The vehicle that will be replacing the 2018 Police Explorer is a 2022 Chevrolet Colorado crew cab 4x4 pickup truck from Duval Ford. Swann explained that this vehicle “is a work-rated model truck” that has a heavy-duty transmission as well as sturdy cooling and brake systems.

“Our plan is to use salvaged equipment from Unit 37 to convert Capt. Smith’s 2018 Police Interceptor model Explorer into a patrol fleet vehicle and use the new truck primarily for administrative non-patrol purposes,” said the chief.

Further ISPD business included two personnel changes. The council acknowledged the resignation of Sgt. Timothy Kennedy effective Mar. 18 and unanimously approved Swann’s request to begin recruiting for a replacement.

The council also unanimously authorized the chief’s request to retitle and reclassify the department’s administrative assistant position to Executive Assistant to the Chief of Police/Office Administrator. Over the last three years, Lori Kaess has held the administrative assistant position which has expanded to include supervisory duties as well as records and accounting.

“Lori has grown with the position and continues to excel as she has assumed the additional duties and responsibilities we have assigned,” said the chief. 

Monument changes

The council voted unanimously 5-0 to accept four additions to SignStar’s work on the Monument Project.

First, the council opted to go with a 5-year instead of the 1-year extended warranty proposal for Town Monument style signs effective Apr. 1. Town Administrator Bonnie Dhonau said that going with the 5-year plan would save in excess of $4,000 over that period of time.

An irrigation controller for the Monument Project was approved at Tiki Gardens at a cost of $5,306.60. Initially, it was thought that the existing irrigation system could be adapted to the new configuration, but it cannot.

A flow meter and valve to isolate the new reclaimed water tie-in irrigation system from the rest of Tiki Gardens was approved at a cost of $2,574.

The installation of an additional bollard light at the sidewalk leading from the Monument Plaza to Legacy Resorts was approved at a cost of $3,166.74. Mayor Patrick Soranno said that he would be approaching Legacy Resorts to help with this expenditure.

Dhonau pointed out that the project management fees would be going up concurrently with the added work orders. The mayor said that there was an up side to these extras. “Security system cameras at a cost of $14,000-$15,000 are being picked up by (Pinellas) County,” said the mayor.

Officials sworn in 

The oath of office was administered to council members  Diantha Schear and William F. Smith by Town Clerk Freddie Lozano at the special meeting on March 22. Both council members were unopposed in the March 15 election. Schear was elected vice mayor for the next year by the council by a vote of 3-2 with council members Mike Petruccelli and Mike Hackerson voting against.