Pinellas County News Briefs - Oct. 6, 2021

Sunstar Paramedics uses this special ambulance to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month observed in October each year.

Sunstar goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

LARGO — In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Sunstar has again wrapped one of their ambulances in pink for the month of October.

Wrapping this ambulance helps spread the message that early detection saves lives. The ambulance is in service and used throughout Pinellas County for 911 calls, as well as at events and standbys.

Each year, an ambulance is dedicated to the women at Sunstar as well as the community who have courageously fought the battle against breast cancer. Sunstar began going pink for October approximately 15 years ago, in honor of one of their EMT’s who lost her battle with this devastating cancer.

The pink ambulance has been a center piece in many charity walks held in Pinellas County over the years, raising awareness and money for breast cancer. This year, Sunstar is once again raising money through an internal “pink hat and shirt” sale, donating all proceeds to the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation.

Sunstar is the 911 ambulance transport service for all Pinellas County residents, employing seven residents, and responding to around 520 calls a day.

For more information on breast cancer awareness and prevention visit https://www.floridabreastcancer.org/ or https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/.

Leadership PSTA donates bus to Reach St. Pete for mobile market

ST. PETERSBURG — Members of the Leadership PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) team recently donated a bus to Reach St. Pete, a local non-profit, to address the growing issues of food and basic necessity insecurity as a result of the pandemic.

Reach St. Pete is committed to preventing and alleviating homelessness, low-income and at-risk situations by bridging the gap between people and resources, which officials say is the perfect partner to operate a retrofitted PSTA bus as a mobile market, bringing food and other resources to underserved communities across Pinellas County.

More than 135,000 Pinellas County residents struggle with food insecurity. By working together, PSTA and Reach St. Pete share the goal of reaching our neighbors and making an impact in their lives.

“We know that there is a food and basic necessity insecurity issue in Pinellas County, so why not have a bus that come directly to our neighborhoods to help those in need,” said Pat Gerard, PSTA Board Chairwoman and a county commissioner. “I am proud of the partnership we have created with Reach St. Pete to work together to find a solution for these problems.”

The mobile market is expected to make its debut around Pinellas County in early 2022. It will have supplies such as food, diapers, hygiene products and more.

Free food and produce distribution event set for Oct. 15

The Pinellas County Commission will join community partners to host a free produce and food distribution event on Friday, Oct. 15, in Clearwater. The Farm Share event will begin at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of the Juvenile Welfare Board, 14155 58th St. N., Clearwater.

The giveaway will feature drive through distribution of fruit, vegetables and other nutritious food. The event is scheduled to run until 11 a.m. or while supplies last.

Anyone needing some groceries is welcome to attend.

Farm Share is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the distribution of nutritious foods to those in need. It serves as a link between farmers with surplus produce and social service agencies in Florida and throughout the southeastern United States. Last year, Farm Share served more than 6 million Florida households and distributed 40 million pounds of food to needy families. For more information on Farm Share, visit www.farmshare.org.

For more information about the upcoming produce giveaway, contact Pinellas County Communications at 727-464-4600.

One of two COVID testing sites closes on weekends

As of Oct. 2, only one of the two no-cost, no-appointment COVID-19 testing sites in Pinellas will be open on weekends.

The longest-running site at the Center for Health Equity, 2333 34th St. S., St. Petersburg, closed on Saturday on Oct. 2. The test site's hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, with the last clients processed at 4:30 p.m.

The site at 7150 114th Ave., Largo, will continue to offer testing on weekends. The Mid-County testing site will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until further notice. The last clients are also processed at 4:30 p.m.

Although testing is provided at no cost, those needing a test should bring insurance information. Both sites are operated by CDR Maguire and offer rapid and PCR testing.

There are other testing locations in Pinellas at pharmacies and urgent care clinics. For a list, visit https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/testing/. Before making appointments for testing at those sites, ask about cost.

Vaccines remain the best protection from the serious effects of COVID-19. They are provided at many locations in Pinellas. To find a convenient vaccination site, visit www.vaccines.gov or call 800-232-0233.

Seasonal reclaimed water restrictions in effect

Pinellas County seasonal reclaimed water restrictions went into effect on Oct. 1 and will continue through Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Due to supply fluctuation in both the north and south county reclaimed water systems, the restrictions schedule for reclaimed water users will be different for north and south county customers during this period. Enforcement of watering restrictions is currently being intensified to encourage responsible use of reclaimed water.

North County reclaimed water schedule

As of Oct. 1, North County reclaimed water customers may only irrigate two days per week based on property address, according to the schedule below:

• Addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, or 8) may water on Tuesday and/or Saturday.

• Addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, or 9) may water on Wednesday and/or Sunday.

• Parcels with mixed or no address, such as common areas associated with a residential subdivision, may water on Wednesday and/or Sunday.

• Watering is prohibited between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on all authorized days.

Because irrigation is entirely prohibited on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, the reclaimed water system will be shut down on these days, as needed. The system will also be shut down from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on all days of operation for supply recovery. Customers should monitor the reclaimed water restrictions website for up-to-date information on shutdowns and schedule changes at www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/reclaim-irrigation.htm.

Customer cooperation in following the two-days-per-week watering schedule is critical, as excessive demand may require returning to watering one day per week.

South County reclaimed water schedule

South County reclaimed water customers may irrigate three days per week based on property address according to the following schedule:

• Addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) may water on Tuesday, Thursday and/or Saturday.

• Addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) may water on Wednesday, Friday and/or Sunday.

• Parcels with mixed or no address, such as common areas associated with a residential subdivision, may water on Wednesday, Friday and/or Sunday.

• Lawn irrigation is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on all authorized days.

• Lawn irrigation is also prohibited on Monday.

Pinellas County Utilities reminds all customers that reclaimed water is a limited resource due to water usage, fluctuations in weather and capacity of the system. Conservation is necessary to promote an adequate supply that is shared by all customers.

Customers are encouraged to follow these restrictions throughout the year to promote a healthy, sustainable Florida lawn and landscape. Utilities advises customers to learn about and apply Florida-Friendly Landscaping practices, including watering only when grass and plants start to wilt and, when needed, watering deeply to encourage deep, drought-tolerant root systems.

Pinellas County Extension offers a multitude of information about creating Florida-appropriate landscapes that are attractive, healthier with less water and are less costly than replacing plants every year. Visit Pinellas County UF/IFAS Extension to view lawn and garden resources and a listing of upcoming classes.

Utilities customers are also reminded that Pinellas County follows year-round conservation measures allowing irrigation using potable, well, lake or pond water two days per week on assigned days based on house address. To verify watering days, visit www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/water-restrict.htm.

For more information about reclaimed water, visit www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/reclaim-irrigation.htm, or call Pinellas County Utilities Customer Service at 727-464-4000. Customers are advised to monitor the website, as additional restrictions may be implemented if seasonal rainfall is lower than anticipated and the reclaimed water supply becomes limited.

County seeks input on Sustainability and Resiliency Action Plan

Pinellas County would like to hear residents’ ideas and top concerns for the development of the county’s first Sustainability and Resiliency Action Plan.

The first of two public input surveys about sustainability and resiliency is open at sustainability.pinellas.gov/survey. The survey runs through Oct. 26, and the county is asking for feedback from residents of all backgrounds.

The Action Plan will address the unique environmental, social and economic challenges of Pinellas County. The plan will guide internal government policies and programs, as well as the services it offers.

As the county develops the action plan, community feedback will play a key role in identifying strategies to meet current and future needs of the county’s diverse communities, natural habitats, businesses, institutions and visitors.

Pinellas County will host more community engagement events as it continues to develop the Action Plan. To hear about future opportunities to share feedback, residents can sign up for updates at pinellascounty.org/sustainability/updates.htm.

Tax Collector offices support breast cancer awareness

Each October, people all over the world join together to raise awareness about breast cancer and show support for those affected. This year, the Pinellas County Tax Collector offices are joining forces with the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation to raise funds for this cause during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The tax collector offices are promoting the "End Breast Cancer" license plate all month long. Drivers who purchase or renew this specialty plate at any Pinellas County Tax Collector office this October will receive a complimentary reusable tote bag. All funds raised from the "End Breast Cancer" license plate stay in Florida to support breast cancer education and medical research. The plate has raised over $8 million since it launched in 2002.

Customers wishing to donate $5 or more to this cause will also receive a reusable tote bag as a "thank you" gift. Tax collector employees will wear pink Breast Cancer Foundation T-shirts every Wednesday in October to help spread awareness and spark conversations with their customers.

According to the CDC, every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite medical advancements and increased awareness, breast cancer is still the most common cancer worldwide as of 2021.

In addition to raising awareness, the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation is committed to funding innovative research for diagnosing, treating, and hopefully one day, curing breast cancer. The Florida Breast Cancer Foundation is the sixth local or state nonprofit the Pinellas Tax Collector offices have supported in 2021 as a means of giving back to the community.

Find more information about the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation at www.floridabreastcancer.org.

Major Projects identified for Downtown St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — The public has a chance to have a say in the future of the highways and roads in downtown St. Petersburg.

Forward Pinellas, the city of St. Petersburg and the Florida Department of Transportation have identified potential projects that will improve access, connectivity and safety for everyone in downtown St. Petersburg. Now, they want the public’s thoughts on these potential solutions to ensure this plan represents the community’s vision and values. Throughout October, everyone is invited to one in-person and four online Community Conversations.

At the online and in person Community Conversations, staff will talk about the potential projects as well as the benefits and impacts these projects would have on the community, both in terms of local access and regional mobility. Attendees will have the opportunity to talk with the Forward Pinellas executive director, city of St. Petersburg Transportation and Parking Management director, and other project managers who can answer questions and hear opinions.

Major projects under discussion include:

• Interstate 175 or Interstate 375 modification, redesign or removal to enhance connectivity throughout downtown and to surrounding neighborhoods.

• Third and Fourth streets conversion to two-way roads for a more walkable community, reduce trip lengths and improve access.

• Fifth and Fourth avenues conversion to two-way roads for more connectivity and to promote safety.

• Dr. MLK Jr. and Eighth streets conversion to two-way roads to promote safety and improve access to businesses.

Registration is open for the in-person conversation and open house on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 4-6 p.m., at USF St. Pete Campus, Student Center Ballroom, 140 Seventh Ave, S. St. Petersburg.

Register at bit.ly/DTSPete. Registration is required. Space is limited.

Four online community conversations also are scheduled using the Zoom Platform.

The first is Monday, Oct. 11, noon-1 p.m. Register at bit.ly/FPdtsp1.

The second is Thursday, Oct. 14, noon-1 p.m. Register at bit.ly/FPdtsp2.

Next is Monday, Oct. 18, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Register at bit.ly/FPdtsp3.

The last one is Thursday, Oct. 21, 8:30-9:30 a.m. Register at bit.ly/FPdtsp4.

Registration is required and space is limited. All online sessions will include the same information.

After the community conversations, Forward Pinellas will finalize what projects it will recommend the city of St. Petersburg advance into the next phases of project development, engineering and design. The final action plan will be presented at the St. Petersburg City Council meeting in December.

Persons unable to participate online but would like to give feedback, can email info@forwardpinellas.org or call 727-464-8250.

For more information and to stay up to date, visit ForwardPinellas.org/DTSP.

Vacancy Announced on Unified Personnel Board

Applications are being accepted for one appointment to the Unified Personnel Board as the appointee for the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners. This appointment is for a two year term, beginning on Jan. 1, 2022.

Applications are due by 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25. The application can be found at www.pinellascounty.org/boards.

The Unified Personnel Board, established by the Personnel Act (Florida Law 77-642), is the final authority in all matters relating to personnel policy and actions for offices, agencies and employees of the Pinellas County Commission, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections, Human Resources, Office of Human Rights, Business Technology Services, County Attorney’s Office and Forward Pinellas.

It reviews and adopts pay and classification plans, revises personnel rules and regulations, investigates compliance with the Personnel Act, establishes merit-based selection processes and determines processes for grievances and appeals.

The Personnel Board consists of seven members: two appointed by the BCC, two by the constitutional officers, two by the Employees' Advisory Council and one by the other six members. Board meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. Additional special meetings may be occasionally scheduled.

Note: All materials submitted to Pinellas County government are subject to the public records law of the state of Florida.

Value Adjustment Board vacancy announced

Pinellas County is now accepting applications for one vacancy that represents a two-year term appointment on the Value Adjustment Board. This is a volunteer position.

Applications are due by 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25. The application can be found at www.pinellascounty.org/boards.

The Value Adjustment Board serves as the decision-making authority when there is disagreement between a property owner and the Property Appraiser concerning exemptions, valuations and classifications. The Board Records Department of the Clerk of the Circuit Court has been designated to serve as the Clerk, and all processes related to the board are administered by that department.

The Value Adjustment Board meets a minimum of three times per year, scheduled as needed. The applicant should have homesteaded property in Pinellas County and cannot be a member or an employee of any taxing authority, and cannot be a person who represents property owners in any administrative or judicial review of property taxes.

Note: All materials submitted to Pinellas County government are subject to the public records law of the state of Florida.