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Clearwater / North Pinellas

  1. Rep. Larry Ahern, R- Seminole, brought proposed legislation back to life that would help reform the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board. But that's news to the Pinellas County Commission and the agency's interim director. Ahern, a longtime pool contractor, had also said he would wait until the completion of a grand jury investigation before reforming the agency. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Tampa Bay Times
  2. Sheriff's Office: Deputies roll up to house party as intoxicated teen jumps off roof

    News

    Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies said they were already called to the house in unincorporated Largo twice for complaints about a loud party.

  3. While state lawmakers debate medical marijuana law, Pinellas County delays its own rules

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– As Florida lawmakers debate the regulation of medical marijuana, the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday tabled a vote on rules to grow, process and sell medical pot in unincorporated areas of the county.

    Larry Heiny of Sarasota rallies the crowd after a medical marijuana rally at the University of South Florida in Tampa in support of legalizing it in October. Amendment 2 passed with 71 percent of the vote in November. But lawmakers are still debating how to implement the law. In the meantime, the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday decided to wait for the state to act before it passes its own medical marijuana rules for the unincorporated county. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  4. With new director in place, Florida Botanical Gardens hopes to rise to 'the next level'

    News

    LARGO — The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation has hired its first-ever executive director, Vernon Bryant, a former horticulture manager for Pinellas County Parks who was part of the team that helped create the Botanical Gardens almost 20 years ago.

    Vernon Bryant talks about his new job and the garden tour at video.tampabay.com.
  5. Pinellas Commission gives preliminary nod to tax money for Blue Jays

    Ml

    CLEARWATER — After a confusing debate, the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday voted to help Dunedin move forward with an $81 million upgrade of the Toronto Blue Jays spring training complex.

    The county gave preliminary approval to spend $46.5 million in bed-tax money to help upgrade the Toronto Blue Jays spring training facility.
  6. Pinellas County commissioner to discuss tax money for Toronto Blue Jays

    Ml

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday will discuss the next steps for a plan to help Dunedin upgrade the spring training complex for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    A plan to renovate Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays, calls for Pinellas County to shell out $46.5 million. County commissioners will discuss the idea at a meeting Tuesday.[CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  7. Pinellas County to consider rules for medical marijuana

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission is slated to vote Tuesday on an ordinance to establish rules for growing, processing and selling medical pot in unincorporated areas of the county.

    The Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday will consider new rules for growing, processing and selling medical pot in unincorporated areas of the county. [Washington Post]
  8. In Clearwater, a new paramedic unit for medical calls improves response for bigger emergencies

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — The paramedics were in the 7-Eleven parking lot for barely a minute when the first call came in Tuesday.

    Paramedics from Clearwater Fire Rescue (in dark shirts) Chris Johnson, 36, left, and Carlos Rivera, 23, help a man who was having seizures outside the St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen.
  9. Instead of going to prison, Tampa man will be freed while appealing DUI manslaughter conviction

    Criminal

    Last month, Brock Troutman was convicted of drunkenly running down and killing a Clearwater Beach tourist who was crossing the street with his daughter in 2015.

    Brock Troutman, 34, of Tampa, was convicted of DUI manslaughter last month. On Monday he was sentenced to five years in prison. But a judge on Wednesday paved the way for Troutman to post bail and be freed from jail while he appeals his conviction. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  10. Clearwater City Council votes tonight on buying land eyed by Church of Scientology

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The City Council will vote today on whether to purchase a 1.4 acre vacant lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which the Church of Scientology is also lobbying to buy.

    A view looking east along Pierce Street on Clearwater's downtown bluff. At right is a grassy parcel owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and coveted by both the city of Clearwater and the Church of Scientology. The City Council will vote Thursday on whether to purchase the land from the aquarium for $4.25 million. The aquarium has rejected the church's $15 million offer. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  11. Police: Baby dies after being born to Clearwater woman who had just smoked crack

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — The baby of a mother who police said gave birth to him moments after smoking crack died Friday at St. Joseph's Hospital, according to police.

    The baby of 24-year-old Katrina Kegelman, who police said gave birth to him moments after smoking crack, died Friday at St. Joseph's Hospital, according to Clearwater police. [Pinellas County Jail]
  12. New disc golf course coming to Oldsmar this summer

    Local Government

    OLDSMAR — If you've wandered through Sheffield Park lately, along with seeing the usual walkers, runners, dogs and happy kids on the playground, you might have noticed some new "holes.''

    Trevor Toenjes has been playing disc golf since the 1980s.
  13. Scientologists and others step up the pressure as Clearwater nears vote on prized parcel

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The $19 million Skyview condo being built downtown with a penthouse for actor Tom Cruise could be the last investment developer Cleman Agami ever makes in the city.

    Should the Clearwater City Council vote this week to buy a prized piece of downtown land from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium? Or should it decline and allow the Church of Scientology to buy it? Opinions are strong on both sides as the Thursday vote approaches. The vacant parcel in question is between City Hall in the foreground and the multi-story building to the south, which is the church's Oak Cove retreat. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  14. There's a lesson for lost children in viral photo of Clearwater police officer

    Public Safety

    Whenever Clearwater police Officer Rich Edmonds has to respond to a call reporting a missing child, his heart stops for a second.

    Clearwater police Officer Rich Edmonds walks hand-in-hand with 6-year-old Hannah along Clearwater Beach after she got separated from her family on Tuesday. The photo went viral after being posted to Facebook. Edmonds hope it inspires familes to come up with a plan in case their own children get separated from their parents. [Photo Courtesy of Amy Amerell]
  15. Man sentenced to 14 years in prison in Clearwater motorcycle crash

    Criminal

    A 40-year-old man charged with vehicular homicide in a Clearwater motorcycle crash that killed his passenger pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.