St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport reports continuing decline in passengers

CLEARWATER — Officials at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport say that overall, passenger traffic in 2020 is down 39.8% which they say is favorable when compared to national estimates being down 74% based on Transportation Security Administration’s screening data.

However, July’s continues the decline in passenger traffic that started in April. According to the July report, only 137,462 passengers were served, which is down 44% compared to July 2019. Passenger traffic was down 38% in June, 61% in May and 97% in April.

Sun Country charters to the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Gulfport/Biloxi resumed service on July 19.

Face coverings are required inside the airport terminal and on Allegiant Airlines flights. Guests are also asked to maintain a recommended distance of 6 feet from others.

For PIE’s COVID-19 Action Plan and updates on impacted airport operations, visit fly2pie.com.

Virtual trade and vocational career information session set for Aug. 18

A diverse assortment of jobs requiring specialized skills are available for anyone looking for a career. Individuals can take the first step to a new career path by attending Pinellas County Government’s Trades & Vocational Info Session.

The virtual event will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, Aug. 18, noon to 1 p.m. Registration is required to attend. Those interested in the event can sign up at www.pinellascounty.org/hr/trades/.

The session will feature representatives from multiple departments providing their perspectives about job opportunities, including Fleet Management, Parks and Conservation Resources, Public Works, Facilities and Real Property and Utilities.

Positions with growth opportunity and excellent benefits, ranging from electrical technician to tree trimmer, are currently available. In total, the county has more than 400 vocational and trade jobs across a variety of departments.

For a personalized look at what the county has to offer, interested individuals can watch the I Am Pinellas County videos, a series that spotlights employees who do this exciting work daily.

Participants can join the session by computer, tablet or by phone and don't need to download software to create a Zoom account. They will use the information in the confirmation email they receive after registering.

For more information, email jobs@pinellascounty.org or call 727-464-3367.

Persons with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations to effectively participate in this meeting are asked to contact the Office of Human Rights by emailing such requests to accommodations@co.pinellas.fl.us at least three business days in advance, or call 727-464-4882.

More information about the ADA, and requests for reasonable accommodation, may be found at www.pinellascounty.org/humanrights/ada.

Forward Pinellas launches Safe Streets art contest

Forward Pinellas needs help from artists of all ages to design artwork for the Safe Streets Pinellas Action Plan.

Artists are invited to create and submit artwork depicting what #SafeStreets means to them through Aug. 31.

“Safe Streets Pinellas” is our Vision Zero initiative to work toward the ultimate goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on the county’s streets.

“In 2020, we’ve already seen 50 people lose their lives on our roadways. Everyone in Pinellas County should be able to walk, bike, take public transit and drive on streets that are safe,” said Whit Blanton, Forward Pinellas executive director. “No one should be killed on our roadways. The Safe Streets art contest is a chance for artists of every age to help bring awareness and promote ideas to make our streets safer for everyone.”

The winner’s art will be featured on the cover of the Safe Streets Pinellas Action Plan and the winner will receive a prize. All eligible artwork submissions will be featured in the Safe Streets Pinellas Action Plan or on the Safe Streets Pinellas website. The first 20 submissions will also receive prizes!

To enter: Take a picture or scan your artwork (if it is not digital) and then submit online at bit.ly/SSPArtContestForm.

Artwork can include a drawing, painting, photo, computer graphic, or other piece of art and should display original ideas that reflect the concepts associated with Safe Streets Pinellas and Vision Zero efforts.

For more information on the contest, visit: bit.ly/SSPArtInfo.

To take the Safe Streets Pledge and Forward Pinellas know why you support Safe Streets, visit bit.ly/SSPledgeForm.

To learn more ways you can take the Safe Streets Pledge, visit bit.ly/SafeStreetsPledge

For more information, visit ForwardPinellas.org/safestreets.

New #PickUpPinellas campaign helps keep community beautiful during pandemic

People in Pinellas County can now come together to keep America beautiful and still stay safe during COVID-19.

Keep Pinellas Beautiful is launching its new #PickUpPinellas campaign immediately so volunteers, sidelined by safety concerns during the first months of the pandemic, can pick up litter in their neighborhoods with confidence. Individuals, families and small groups are welcome.

The campaign continues through Oct. 19.

The effort is more important than ever now that protective equipment such as face masks and gloves are being discarded along with food wrappers, plastic packaging, cigarette butts and other trash, said Keep Pinellas Beautiful Executive Director Pat DePlasco.

#PickUpPinellas is a safer way for the community to participate in cleanups at a time when larger trash-pickup events are inadvisable. The traditional Great American Cleanup, an annual nationwide cleanup campaign that attracts thousands of participants in Pinellas County, had to be reimagined this year because of the danger of COVID-19.

#PickUpPinellas is a safer alternative that will improve the community and continue to fulfill the mission of Keep Pinellas Beautiful, the county’s leading litter-prevention nonprofit for 22 years.

“We adjusted our programming with the safety of our volunteers in mind,” DePlasco said.

Keep Pinellas Beautiful will provide free trash pickers, gloves and garbage bags. Participants can register online at www.kpbcares.org and share their success stories on social media using the hashtag #PickUpPinellas. They can call 727-533-0402 for more information.

By reducing the amount of trash on our streets, volunteers will help keep waterways clean too. Eighty percent of the debris in waterways comes from garbage discarded on land, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Our collective efforts will definitely make a difference in our county, especially during these uncertain times,” DePlasco said.

Ambulance billing resumes normal billing cycle

Sunstar Ambulance Billing resumed normal practices for ambulance invoices on Aug. 1. All invoices held for nonpayment will recommence through the billing system after collection efforts for non-payment were suspended in March due to hardships created by COVID-19.

Customers can pay their bills online at https://pay.bill2pay.com/client/PNLSEMS, by phone at 727-582-2008, or by mail to Sunstar Emergency Medical Services, P.O. Box 31074, Tampa, FL 33631-3074.

Customers who still have difficulty paying their ambulance bill are encouraged to contact Pinellas County Ambulance Billing Customer Service team by phone at 727-582-2008 to set up an interest-free payment plan.

Pinellas County Ambulance Billing will resend a final notice to customers who are in collection review with an unpaid past due balance on July 31 to allow additional time for the patient to coordinate payment arrangements and avoid collection efforts.

Water district approves proposed rolled back millage rate

Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted to decrease property taxes by adopting a proposed rolled-back millage rate of 0.2669 mills for the fiscal year 2021 budget.

The millage rate is more than 4.7% lower than the current fiscal year adopted millage rate of 0.2801 mills, a savings to taxpayers of approximately $6 million.

For the owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption, the District tax would be $26.69 a year, or about $2.22 per month.

The total fiscal year 2021 proposed budget for the District is $179.1 million and includes $65.5 million for Cooperative Funding Initiatives and District grants.

Through these cooperative funding partnerships, District funds will be leveraged resulting in a total regional investment of more than $119 million for sustainable alternative water supply development, water quality improvements, and other water resource management projects.

The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, through Sept. 30, 2021.

The District will hold a tentative budget hearing on Sept. 8 at 5:01 p.m. at the Tampa Service Office, 7601 U.S. Highway 301.

The Governing Board will vote on the final budget on Sept. 22 at 5:01 p.m., at the Tampa Service Office.

Suncoast Health Council vacancies announced

Applications are now being accepted for appointments to the Suncoast Health Council in the Health Care Consumers and Health Care Provider categories. The two-year terms expire Sept. 30, 2022.

Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of alternating months, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., in the Madison Building, 9600 Koger Blvd., St. Petersburg. To learn more about the Suncoast Health Council, visit www.suncoasthealthcouncil.org.

Applications are due by 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21. The application can be found at www.pinellascounty.org/boards/board-committee-list.htm. County commissioners will review all applications and make its selection at an upcoming meeting.

Suncoast Health Council is an independent, private non-profit organization governed by a board of directors to represent the concerns of health care consumers, providers and purchasers in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

The Health Council collects and analyzes health care data; describes community health status; identifies health care needs and resources; and works with community partners to design programs and services to respond to current and emerging health care needs.

The Suncoast Health Council board is comprised of 12 members; eight members are appointed by the Pinellas County commissioners and four members are appointed by the Pasco County commissioners.

The Council is a volunteer board made up of consumers, providers and purchasers of health care. Members are appointed to specific member categories: Health Care Provider, Health Care Consumer and Health Care Purchaser.

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

PCCLB seeking applicants for two vacancies

The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is seeking applicants for two vacancies. The Board is seeking applications to fill the vacancies for a licensed plumbing contractor and a south county building official.

Mandatory applications can be found at www.pinellascounty.org/boards and must be received no later than 3 p.m. Aug. 21. County commissioners will review all applications and make appointments at an upcoming commission meeting.

The PCCLB consists of 15 members from various trades, along with building officials, a fire official and two consumer representatives.

Members must be residents of Pinellas County. Terms for these positions are four years and members cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. However, individuals may be reappointed after a two-year hiatus. This limitation does not apply to the governmental building official or fire official appointees.

All terms of office expire on Sept. 30 of the last year of the term.

Meetings are held every other month, usually the third Tuesday, starting at 12:30 p.m. Average meeting time is 3 hours, depending on the agenda. For further information, email Gay Lancaster at glancaster@pinellascounty.org.

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

Ken Burke reappointed to Supreme Court committee

Ken Burke, Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, has been once again reappointed to the Florida Supreme Court Standing Committee on Fairness and Diversity.

Since his initial appointment to the Standing Committee in 2012, Burke has been reappointed every two years when the term expires.

The committee was created to help advance the state court’s efforts to eliminate biases from court operations based on race, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, financial status or any characteristic that is without legal relevance. Given the many changes that have arisen due to COVID-19, the committee’s purpose is more relevant and impactful than ever.

During the new two year term, the committee is set to focus on several goals including providing oversight so that the administration of justice and execution of judicial duties are done without bias or prejudice, enhancing the understanding of the purposes, roles, and responsibilities of the judicial branch through education and outreach, and promoting public trust and confidence by maintaining high standards of professionalism and ethical behavior.

“It is an honor to receive a reappointment to such an active committee and I know the Standing Committee will continue to work hard to ensure citizens receive the fairness and diversity they deserve from their judicial system,” Burke said in a press release. “Many strides have been taken thanks to the efforts of this committee in the past and the next two years will continue to build on that momentum.”