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St. Pete Times

  1. Seminole dementia facility uses animatronic pets for memory care patient comfort

    Nursing Homes

    SEMINOLE

    Posters of Life magazine covers featuring Bing Crosby, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn line the walls of the Clare Bridge Place at Brookdale's Freedom Square, where about 10 residents gathered, watching the Hallmark Channel's Home and Family.

    Marie McCauseland, 87, pets “Clare,” an animatronic companion pet at Clare Bridge at Freedom Square in Seminole. Kathy Breese helps her with the exercise, which can help dementia patients reduce anxiety and stress.
  2. Under new leadership, Pinellas construction board starts judging contractors again

    Local Government

    LARGO — For years, a Pinellas County committee judged complaints against contractors without legal guidance, or transparency, or even rules.

    Gay Lancaster, interim executive director at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, leads a committee meeting Wednesday where the agency ruled on homeowners' complaints against contractors. It's the first time the panel has met in weeks, after a Tampa Bay Times investigation raised questions about the way the agency operates and treats consumers and contractors. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Joint Pinellas effort has reduced number of unwanted pets and strays that are euthanized

    Local Government

    A five-year effort by Pinellas County animal welfare agencies coordinating data and resources helped lower the number of unwanted and stray animals being euthanized and trapped in shelters.

    A five-year effort by Pinellas County animal welfare agencies coordinating data and resources helped lower the number of unwanted and stray animals being euthanized and trapped in shelters. Euthanasia is down 40 percent and stray pickup has dropped 25 percent since 2012 between Pinellas County Animal Services, Humane Society of Pinellas, SPCA Tampa Bay and Friends of Strays. This stray cat and her litter were brought to animal services in 2013. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. Want to learn more about Tarpon Springs' Greektown district? Now there's an app for that

    Human Interest

    TARPON SPRINGS

    The connections to Greece are everywhere. You can spot them as you watch workers fill wooden tubs with sponges outside the tourist shops on Dodecanese Boulevard. You can smell them as the scent of fresh Greek pastries floats down the sidewalk on Athens Street. You can hear them as you stand …

    Tourists are helped from the deck of the St. Nicholas VII, a sponge-diving exhibition boat at the Sponge Docks. Visitors can learn much about the area’s history by using the new tour app.
  5. Rick Baker confident in Tampa Bay Rowdies' MLS pitch but uncertain of possible pitfalls

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker's gut feels pretty good about the Tampa Bay Rowdies' chances to become a Major League Soccer franchise playing in front of 18,000 screaming fans in an iconic waterfront stadium.

    The St. Petersburg City Council approved a May 2 referendum that would allow voters to decide whether to let the Tampa Bay Rowdies expand historic Al Lang Stadium to 18,000 seats. The Rowdies' goal is to position the franchise to make the jump to Major League Soccer in the coming years. [Courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies]
  6. Pinellas Suncoast fire district spent more than 10 times budget for lawyers

    Fire

    INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — A small fire department that services several coastal communities spent more than 10 times what was budgeted for legal fees last year, the result of several lawsuits and personnel disputes.

    Pinellas Suncoast Fire Chief Salvatore D’Angelo says legal action was needed.
  7. St. Petersburg City Council wants to hire some help navigating a sea of paperwork

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG —Since the beginning of the year, City Council members have had to digest 4,522 pages of documents, attend meetings that lasted hundreds of hours and deal with resident complaints late into the night.

    St. Petersburg City Council member  Darden Rice, seen here at a 2016 meeting at City Hall, has proposed hiring four aides to help council members research issues and prepare for meetings. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  8. Mayor Rick Kriseman: Ridership numbers show a need for ferry service between Tampa and St. Petersburg

    Transportation

    CLEARWATER — With the ferry service between St. Petersburg and Tampa ending in April, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman vowed in front of the Pinellas County Commission to find money to help bring it back in November.

    Passengers board the Cross-Bay Ferry near the Tampa Convention Center.  JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times
  9. New Sunpass lanes open on Sunshine Skyway

    Roads

    We recently traveled south over the Sunshine Skyway bridge at evening rush hour after miles of traffic getting to the bridge from the 118th Avenue entrance on I-275.

    New Sunpass lanes are open on the Sunshine Skyway.
  10. Taste of the Islands expands with downtown St. Petersburg location

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Taste of the Islands opened on 34th Street in 1992, Yvonne Thompson said she wasn't sure it had been a good idea to get into the restaurant industry.

    Chef George Brown, left, and cashier Audie Damon, give to go service with a smile at the new Taste of The Islands Restaurant, located at  364 1st Ave. NE (across from Williams Park) in St. Petersburg.  LARA CERRI   |   Times
  11. Trial date scheduled for John Jonchuck, charged with throwing daughter off Dick Misener bridge

    Criminal

    John Jonchuck is scheduled to stand trial next February, three years after he was arrested on charges of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off the Dick Misener bridge.

    John Jonchuck is accused of throwing his daughter off the Dick Misener Bridge.
  12. Treasure Island residents get chance to comment on plans for golf and tennis center

    Local Government

    TREASURE ISLAND — Residents will get their first chance on April 6 to see the new design concept for the city's Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis Center.

  13. Pinellas news briefs

    Briefs

    Pinellas Citizen University begins new session April 13: Pinellas County residents can experience an up-close and behind-the-scenes look at the services provided by county government in this year's Pinellas Citizen University.

  14. Hometown Pinellas

    News

    14-year-old earns Eagle Scout rank: Simon Mesen, a ninth-grade student at St. Petersburg High School, recently earned Eagle Scout rank, the highest in Boy Scouts. Mesen, 14, is a member of Troop 219 at St. Raphael Church. He earned 29 merit badges. For his service project, Mesen organized the construction of a …

    Beth Houghton, executive director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, received the Roy G. Harrell Jr. Leadership Award from St. Anthony’s Hospital Foundation for her leadership and service to the community.
  15. Pinellas colleges notebook

    Education

    Tilar Mazzeo, the bestselling nonfiction author and biographer, will speak at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg on Thursday at 11 a.m. Mazzeo teaches English at Colby College and has written several books, including the New York Times bestseller The Widow Cliquot (2008), about the widow who …