Staffers of 211 Tampa Bay Cares field crisis calls and phone queries about area human services.

SEMINOLE — The city council got down to where the rubber meets the road at its latest session.

The council on Feb. 1 unanimously authorized the city manager to hire a pair of contractors for street paving and related work at a cost of almost a half-million dollars.

Contracts went to the lowest qualified bidders. They include a $290,305 contract awarded to Gator Grading & Paving of Palmetto and one for $187,725 awarded to Asphalt Paving Systems of Zephyrhills, representing a combined $478,000.

Road projects will feature the repaving of Blossom Lake Drive, Kumquat Lane, Lime Way, Naranja Street, Orange Road, Satsuma Drive and Valencia Road.

Seminole is in the third year of a seven-year paving plan in a concerted push to improve the level of road conditions citywide.

“Every year we’ve been under budget,” Public Works Director Rodney Due said.

Last year, the city’s street-maintenance program included the repaving of Johnson Boulevard, Liberty Lane and 80th Street.

211 grant provided

The council presented a $500 grant to 211 Tampa Bay Cares, which handles 211 calls for social services. The agency fields suicide prevention calls, homeless shelter referrals, rent-assistance requests and other service queries.

There were 4,500 such calls from Seminole residents last year, chief executive Micki Thompson said. 211 Tampa Bay Cares is based in Clearwater, but many of its 46 employees work remotely.

“211 Tampa Bay Cares is very dear to us,” council member Trish Springer said in making a check presentation.

“Thanks for this recognition of the organization,” said Thompson, who noted that Feb. 11 is National 211 Day this year. “211 is for help in human services if you’re struggling.”

The council annually earmarks a handful of small budgetary grants to important area nonprofit organizations.

The $38,300 in council grants allocated for 2022 also include: Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce, $20,000; Neighborly Care Network, $3,000; Pinellas Hope-Catholic Charities, $2,500; Pinellas Safe Harbor-Pinellas County Sheriff, $2,500; Interfaith Food Pantry, $2,300; Seminole Youth Athletic Association, $1,000; SPCA Tampa Bay, $1,000; Seminole Historical Society Museum, $1,000; St. Petersburg College Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition, $1,000; Bauder, Oakhurst, Orange Grove, Seminole and Starkey elementary schools, $500 each; LiFT Academy, $500; and Keep Pinellas Beautiful, $500.

Tallahassee talk

The next council meeting will be held on Feb. 15. The council moved its February meetings to the first and third Tuesdays instead of the usual second and fourth Tuesdays to allow council members to attend legislative committee hearings in Tallahassee.

City officials have expressed concerns over several bills working their way through the state Legislature that would rein in local prerogatives. Mayor Leslie Waters has said the proposals collectively represent the biggest potential incursion in decades on Home Rule powers of municipalities and county governments.

At the latest meeting, council member Chris Burke criticized another legislative proposal as something he said would harm individual homeowners throughout the state. A set of “net metering” bills — SB1024 and HB74, backed by conventional power companies — would limit incentives for home solar installations and effectively forestall savings from going solar for the first several years.

“I’m just disgusted by this behavior in Tallahassee,” Burke said. “It makes it look like our state is for sale to lobbyists and public utilities.”

Lock the doors

The council also heard from Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Siem regarding burglary-prevention tips for residents. One biggie: Don’t leave doors unlocked while work crews are doing home improvements.