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Clearwater / North Pinellas

  1. Four questions with Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith before he helps lead the St. Pete Pride parade

    Human Interest

    A decade ago, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith was afraid to tell his friends and family he was gay.

    Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith will serve as a grand marshal at the St. Pete Pride parade on Saturday. [City of Largo]
  2. Lawsuit: Florida contractor fakes death to dodge angry homeowners

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE — For weeks, Glenn Holland, 67, crawled out of bed before the sun rose to look for a dead man.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. Gay, black leaders speak about finding their place


    When Lillian Dunlap moved to Florida at age 52 in 1999 she could finally breathe. The journalism professor from the University of Missouri and the University of Indiana hadn't been able live openly as a gay woman until then. She had considered coming out before but never did.

    Terri Lipsey Scott (standing) welcomed panelists Bob Devin Jones, Desmond Clark, Lillian Dunlap, Trevor Pettiford and Sheree Greer. Moderator Nadine Smith not pictured.
  4. Bar review: Les Partners Lounge goes old-school in Clearwater

    Bars & Spirits

    There are some local places that I'm shocked aren't more well known, and I think that's the result of a general aversion to stepping out of one's comfort zone. I make regular concerted efforts to step outside of mine, which often leads me to strange and rewarding drinking establishments.

    Les Partners Lounge is an old-school, smoker-friendly cocktail lounge and live music venue tucked away in a nondescript shopping plaza in Island Estates.
  5. Local craft beer of the week: Plongeur a L'eponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Tarpon Springs' Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. has a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to wild ale brewing, utilizing an open brewing approach involving uncovered fermenters in order to brew beer with local ambient microbes, reminiscent in some ways to the fermentation techniques used by rustic farmhouse breweries in Belgium …

     Plongeur a?€š€™L?ˆš??ponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, 6/23/17  Electric Chair Sour Shandy, Angry Chair Brewing, 6/30/17   Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA, Motorworks Brewing 7/7/17
  6. Work to start soon on new Morningside Recreation Center

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The city awarded a $5.7 million contract last week to Largo-based Caladesi Construction Co. to build the Morningside Recreation Center, replacing the former facility that was demolished in 2009.

  7. Clearwater wins contract for major softball tournaments

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The city secured a contract last week to host the 2017 USA Softball Gold 18- under and 16-under Fast-Pitch tournaments July 16 to 22, boosting the city's name as softball destination.

    A softball player takes a position on home plate during a break in practice at Clearwater's Eddie C. Moore Complex, where 64 teams will gather July 16-22 for the USA Softball Gold 18- under and 16-under Fast-Pitch tournaments. Officials say the event will boost the city's reputation as a softball destination. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes]

  8. Fire at vacant Clearwater apartment complex ruled arson


    CLEARWATER — A fire that broke out at a vacant apartment complex Wednesday was the result of arson, authorities said.

    Pictured is an image of the apartment complex that caught fire Wednesday afternoon, at 826 Woodlawn St. in Clearwater. On Thursday, officials ruled it as arson. [Clearwater Police Department]
  9. Dunedin considers raises for mayor, commissioners

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN — The city's finance board moved a recommendation one step forward to increase salaries of city commissioners and the mayor.

    A look at the exterior of  Dunedin City Hall, where officials are considering raising the mayor's salary from 10,000 to $14,500 and the salary for commissioners from $8,000 to $11,500. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  10. Largo fire station gets another rescue truck

    Local Government

    LARGO — Largo Fire Rescue is adding a rescue truck to help alleviate the call load at the fire station that responds to Pinellas Safe Harbor and the Pinellas County Jail.

  11. Few new details in state investigation of Tarpon Springs officer-involved shooting of Nick Provenza

    Public Safety

    TARPON SPRINGS — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has released a fact-finding report that largely mirrors an earlier investigation that ruled the officer-involved shooting that killed 25-year-old Nick Provenza last month was a "justifiable homicide."

    Stopping while riding by on his bike Michael Prater, 15, hangs his head after looking at the memorial at Safford and Tarpon avenues for Nick Provenza, a 25-year-old who was shot and killed there during a car show Saturday by a Tarpon Springs police officer. Investigators said Provenza pulled a knife on the cop who shot him. Friends find it hard to believe a man they described as a peaceful vegan and musician would be capable of such an act. Prater didn't know the victim but was at the car show.
  12. Residents to pay more for Jolley Trolley next year


    CLEARWATER —Taxpayers are slated to pitch in more for the Jolley Trolley next year to cover upgraded vehicles and technology despite declining ridership on the city's routes.

    The Jolley Trolley’s $217,263 subsidy, included in the city’s 2018 budget, is scheduled for a vote at the City Council in August.
  13. Dunedin may soon have a new permanent city manager

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN — After more than a year, Dunedin officials are down to two finalists for the city manager position.

    Jennifer Bramley
  14. Florida's toll system can be confusing to navigate


    After a recent road trip to Apopka, during which I travelled on State Road 429 from Interstate 4, I received a bill from the Florida Department of Transportation's toll enforcement for $5 and a bill from the Central Florida Expressway Authority for $6.80. After phone conversations with both organizations, I was told …

    Times files Florida's toll system involves a confusing array of agencies and methods of collection.
  15. Seminole blessing box works for those who give and those who need

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE — A national trend that features neighbors anonymously helping neighbors has come to the Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College.

    Friends and neighbors with the "Blessing Box" that they have set up and installed where people can anonymously contribute non-perishable food and toiletries for those in need along the sidewalk from the parking lot of the Dennis L. Jones Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College, 9200 113th St., in Seminole. From left are neighbors Sue Busch, 64, Barbara Cottrell, 57, Michelle Radin, 60, Tami Grzesikowski, 58, (the Blessing Box pictured in background) Victoria Munger,7, her older brother Charles Munger, 10, and their parents Kira Munger, 36, and Scott Munger, 39. The neighbors all live in the Frank Estates neighborhood in Seminole.