What’s Cooking on the Beaches?

siris-island-cafeChange is one of the few constants in dining out on the south beaches.

In the past few months we have seen a continuing evolution in the options available for dining out with both new & established venues evolving to offer so much more than the beach and bar fare that was more the rule than the exception on the barrier islands for years. Several of our cover stories this year have had to do with the evolving dining and beverage choices on our islands and the trend is by no means over. Regular readers may notice some repetition, however, February and March are the height of our tourist season so new readers are involved too. There is a sidebar on the following page with the addresses, hours (where provided), phone numbers and websites for more information.

seaturtle-restaurantThe current round of changes began when Madeleina Cottage abandoned their five-year-old extravagant lease hold improvements on Corey Ave. to reopen just south of Dolphin Village as the Sea Turtle, where they are reportedly doing somewhat better.

That allowed our cover subject this month, Ruthie Buxbaum’s highly successful Chill to move 1½ blocks east, after a quick but substantial renovation was completed this summer. The renovations opened the place up in several ways, making it very practical for outdoor as well as indoor service and adding a wonderful kitchen and a great bar in the center. The beautiful wooden bar is now visible from the sidewalk and one of the dining rooms is open air.

chill-front-day

Across the street from the new Chill, while our seasonal residents were away this summer, Chef Jackie expanded Jackie’s Bistro & Jazz Club, opening an adjacent  Martuni Lounge” and has just launched yet another new venture three store fronts away, called  Tapz & Tapaz with more craft beers on tap than anywhere else I know of in the Tampa Bay area, and a great menu of small plates for $7 or less.

Meanwhile Craig Munroe, who had opened  A Slice of New York just west of the old Chill in the prior German Baker Boy location, is readying to open The Pit where Chill used to be. “Barbeque, Blues and high end Mixology are three things that are non-existent on this beach, and the Pit will feature all three, adding another new element to dining on the island,” says Craig, whose A Slice of New York has become an almost instant sensation with an interesting menu offered 17 hours daily 7 days a week for eat-in, takeout and DELIVERY until 4 in the morning. We love the meatballs, and the crispy thin crusted New York style pizza, especially the specialty pies like the Barbeque Chicken Pizza. 

siris-island-cafeOn 75th Ave., Siri’s Beachside has taken over where Max and Sam’s and The Riviera Club used to be. Famous for their pizzas and burgers in Gulfport, the beach branch’s menu also includes dinners and all of it is offered for delivery. Judging by spaces in adjacent parking lots, the dine-in and Karaoke plan has not yet taken wing there. Could be a great place to keep in mind when your favorite restaurant is mobbed later this month. There is plenty of parking within a block’s walk, including two spots with free electric car fast-chargers behind SPB City Hall.

Parking has been a constraint for the wonderful new Verducci’s Italian Market in the area that is becoming known as Little Italy on Blind Pass Rd. in St. Pete Beach, between 78th and 80th Avenues. The early bird/ happy hour crowd at their incredible restaurant next door starts to hog some of the prime market parking a little after four. Vinny has a solution, however, that will not only solve the current dilemma, but will allow them to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner there. Much as Mazarro’s Italian Market on 22nd Ave. N. in town has arranged for additional parking up to two blocks away, Vinny has done the same.  “With 40 additional parking spaces now permitted for our use, we should have everything we need to be a complete success”, says Vinny Fortunato of the Market’s future.

Breakfast congestion on the weekends continues at the Frog Pond and Beverly’s, although Chill and Jackie’s are great alternatives just a block away. So are the awesome Italian Bakery and Deli- La Casa Del Pane, Barracuda’s Deli, a great spot for fresh Cubans is now serving breakfast sandwiches, coffee and good home cooking six days a week for eat-in, take out and delivery.  

Heading south on Gulf Boulevard from The Pit on the left we encounter local philanthropist Beth Morean’s first restaurant venture soon to open, a new venue featuring  ‘broasted chicken‘ and homemade side dishes where Dockside Dave’s used to serve some of the best deep fried seafood on the beach.

The popular Café Luna closed last year &was reopened in late December by Tigran Khachaturyan,  whom you might have met as ‘Tig’ the bartender at the Madeleina Cottage or St. Petersburg Nights. His new restaurant, named Sola Bistro & Wine Bar, has garnered some excellent comments on Yelp in it’s first few weeks. “We are all about fresh and unusual for beach dining,” said Tig. “For example, we have rabbit on the menu, and we plan daily specials based on what is ripe and delicious at the local produce market today, so it is the freshest food you can get.”

Another great spot is the Rumfish Grille at the TradeWinds’ Guy Harvey Resort. I have generally found it quiet at breakfast time, allowing for seating close to the largest aquarium around, full of local species of fish. They have a huge, all-you-can-eat brunch starting around 10:30 on Sundays. Any other day and early on Sundays I enjoy their regular breakfast menu. Portions are generous. The Scottish salmon platter with an extra bagel and a couple nice slices of tomato makes a great meal for two, including a couple of excellent coffees for under $20. The scenery is really something, especially when you can’t sit at the beach.

Across the street, Boulevard Burgers & Tap House has become a popular spot, especially for outdoor dining around the full liquor bar on the deck when the weather is nice. We found the inside seating quite pleasant in the recent cold snap.  The owner/proprietor, Charlie has been introducing a Sunday Jazz Brunch 9-2 to a crowd that prefers being served at their tables rather than standing in lines. They may also like music, Charlie’s favorite Jazz trio entertains 10 am-1 pm.Guests are invited to stay for the Sunday NFL Ticket.

Just north of Dolphin Village Shopping Center, the once popular Village Inn Pancake House is being prepared for its next life as Selene. The owner is quoted online  “Selene is inspired by two generations of genuine aficionados of food and drink. Our aim and our family’s ethos is to inspire our customers into creating an environment of ‘home’. “ The Skiadiotis family has been in business for 40+ years, and feeding St. Pete Beach at ‘Skidders’ for 24+ years.  “We are dedicated to excellent service and quality ingredients (always from scratch). We are excited to open the doors of our newest upscale concept, Selene Restaurant.”

Next to Gigi’s, where La Casa Del Pane moved from, Savory hardly got breakfast and lunch off the ground before they merged with Monarca’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine from Cape Coral. They had planned a new location elsewhere that fell through and moved in with Savory in record time. Reports are that the food and service are just like you would get in Mexico, but most of the time you can drink the water. Beer and wine are available, but if you want harder liquor with your Mexican food go to Agave in St. Pete Beach or the VIP in Treasure Island. 

Continuing south, the new Zamora Hotel houses Castile, which was the subject of an excellent review in last month’s Paradise NEWS. A new chef, Louis Scaramuzzi brings his own flavor to the fore while maintaining the best of his award-winning predecessor, Ted Dorsey.

Story by Peter A. Roos

Chill: It’s Got a Groove!

chill-front“It’s got a groove, it’s got a meaning, Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion, Grease is the way we are feeling.” – Barry Gibb

As I drive my faithful Volvo to the newly updated Chill restaurant on St. Pete Beach, “Grease” is on air on The Dove (WDUV), my favorite local radio station. That tune made famous by the legendary Frankie Valli  has been a favorite of mine for years. Whenever I hear those lyrics I instantly swing into a very merry mode. 

chill-brie-dessert

Upon entering the restaurant I realize I am still humming those timeless lyrics. They are a dead-on doppelganger for Chill: The time – a Friday night. The place – Chill’s new location on quaint Corey Avenue. The motion – lots of  folks having loads of fun.

The night is young, about seven o’clock when we arrive. Sweet aromas waft from the kitchen; fruity scents of vodka infused drinks permeate the air.  To add to the ambience there’s piano tunes by Carl, a local celeb playing an assortment of golden oldies. The crowd loves it, gleeful as a pack of teens at the newest craft beer opening.

chill-bar

Chill owners Ruthie and Paul Buxbaum obviously have a passion for food and an affinity for hospitality. I’m totally impressed with the conviviality, politeness and cheerfulness of staffers. It’s the kind of place that locals know about, not just your early bird diners, but high-rollers as well.

chill-couple

In January 2011 the duo started their culinary journey with a coffee shop called “Steam” on Gulf Boulevard. Then they added “Chill,” just recently moving the  popular restaurant to quaint Corey Avenue, close enough to the Gulf of Mexico where you can feel the warm tropical breezes. This new location has a large, spacious, comfy bar, perfect for single diners. There’s also an inviting outdoor area to dine alfresco, but do get there early since seats are grabbed straight away.

chill-outdoor-seating

But now to the important part– the food!

It’s a cornucopia of a menu and for some a bit confusing since nearly every item in every dish is described cookbook style. The oh-so many choices and arrangement of the menu make it difficult to choose. Good idea to ask your server how large the portions are and which are his favorites.Chill is much about “Small Plates,” but to our surprise these “palate primers” are large, many even entree-sized. For instance, Brie with Shallots, Spinach, Bacon & Mushroom, priced at only $12, is plenty for three of us an appetizer. Bubbly brie, sautéed leeks and shallots, chunks of apple wood bacon, fresh mushrooms and an assortment of flavorful herbs make for an unforgettable dish.  A hands-down winner.

Another delicious dish is Roasted Spaghetti Squash, perfect for calorie counters. It’s served with a homemade tomato sauce and an excellent ratatouille.

One of my guests is still bragging on the ambrosial Pomegranate Champagne Salad done with a mesclun of mixed greens, fresh cukes and tomatoes, a sprinkling of quality gorgonzola, then splashed with lovely pomegranate-based vinaigrette, and only $7.

Other dishes sampled are the Piscatorial delight made with fresh red grouper and the espresso rubbed beef. My only complaint on these is the small size of the dishes. The exception, plated perfectly, is lump crab cakes served with a lovely remoulade. 

A new menu features salmon, Mahi, New York Strip and a Filet, Blackened Chicken, Pasta Carbonara and a fresh herbed Rack of Lamb. The “Rack” is outstanding and reasonably priced, as is the entire menu.

chill-alfredo

chill-roast

There’s also a lively Sunday brunch (not to be confused with “buffet”) where offerings are generous, innovative and delicious, including a comprehensive Bloody Mary Bar. There’s an excellent version of Shrimp and Grits with large shrimp and a luscious creamy lobster bisque style base that blankets a large portion of snowy white grits. There was so much I ate the rest for breakfast the next day.

There is not a long list of desserts. Perhaps because you are already so well fed that there’s hardly room for another spoonful. Yet, we cannot resist, so my guests and I order one of each: Red velvet cake made with bread pudding, Flourless Chocolate Cake and my favorite, their rendition of Bananas Foster made with fresh crepes and served with vanilla ice cream.

chill-banana-dessert

chill-martini-1There’s a fun list of “Share Your Happy” happy hour cocktails, and a lovely traditional red sangria lace with orange and cinnamon. Specialty cocktails 

include a luscious “Espressotini” and an ‘Endless Summer” cocktail made with St. Augustine vodka. The wine list could and should be improved to list a greater assortment along with vintages. After all, a 1995 Cabernet is of course much more savory than a 2013.

Another favorite lyric of mine from “Grease” —somewhat transcendental— reads, “this is a life of illusion, a life of control mixed with confusion, what’re we doin’ here? Well, if you’re at Chill, I promise, you’re having a great dining experience. 

Chill is located at 357 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706
Open Daily 8 am – 11:30 pm • Cocktail Happy hours 3 – 6 pm.
727-360 CHILL (2445)  • www.chillstpetebeach.com

Story by Joyce LaFray • Photos by Tropical Focus

chill-musician

chill-interior

chill-front-day

Mystery She Writes: Local Author Vanessa Hoffman

hoffman-book-coverShe’s an old-fashioned girl when it comes to mystery and murder. Local author and musician Vanessa Leigh Hoffman is a film noir buff, enjoys a good Sidney Sheldon thriller and grew up reading Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. 

Hoffman’s newest book, Domestic Ransom, debuts this spring. For many years, she wrote many of her books while living in Pass-A-Grille near the Don CeSar.  A wordsmith at heart and language teacher by trade, she’s inspired by the Gulf’s lapping waves: “I love the quietness and lived here for a number of years before moving to St. Petersburg,” says Hoffman, who moved to St. Pete Beach in 2003 with a job offer from Admiral Farragut. 

She and her adopted 9 year old daughter still love beachcombing as well as cooking, listening to music, walking the dogs and shopping. Hoffman speaks Spanish, German, Bulgarian (where her daughter comes from) and worked as a language teacher and travel agent before focusing on writing.

Her books are self-published (The Treasure, her first trilogy which includes her first book Rear View Mirror) and available on Amazon. When it comes to promotions, she’s a bit of a whirlwind, blowing up devoted fans after appearances at the Chicago and New York City Book Expos as well as the SCC College Tour from Vanderbilt to USF.

In 2015, she collected a handful of accolades including awards at the NY Book Festival, Hollywood Book Festival, Southern California Book Festival and in 2016, the Florida Book Festival and London. 

Her newest thriller is about a charming sociopath who holds his wife hostage after she invests her life’s investments into remodeling a house (based on a toney neighborhood in her Memphis hometown). 

hoffmanIt’s The Money Pit meets Misery. “He keeps ruining things, bent on mass destruction of her life and the home he’s promised to renovate,” says Hoffman. “She’s based a little bit on me, a hard worker and good money manager, but she’s more naïve when it comes to relationships – and I’m not.” Is there a happy ending? “We’ll see,” she says mysteriously.

Hoffman dances to her own drummer and her life has been anything but easy. In Memphis, she had a hit disco tune, but her teenage musical career was cut short by a car accident. “I had to learn to sing all over again,” she recalls. She lived and worked in NYC as a musician where they told her “she was too American looking. They were looking for Cyndi Lauper types.”

Her life intersected with “many famous and infamous people along the way,” including Robin Zander of Cheap Trick, who she adored. “I really blew it,” she says about her first love, who in 1986 during their last meeting, said he had written a song about her. But rock and roll fame was not the final destination of her journey. 

So Hoffman went back to school and studied romance languages, inspired by her Mom’s love of travel. Although she briefly attended L.A.’s Pepperdine University studying theater and music, teaching took her all over the globe, her imagination fueled by the people she met and the places she saw. 

As a writer, no scenery goes unused. “In my first book, Rear View Window (part of her The Treasure trilogy), the little pink hotel next to the Undertow is where the couple end up and the little island with the birds is where they were growing marijuana.”

Story by Nanette Wiser

St. Pete Beach Progress Report

“As we near completion of the legal hurdles to allow redevelopment within our Comprehensive Plan parameters,” Mayor Maria Lowe tells Paradise News, “we are in the process of working through the studies that were a component of the settlement agreement that ended the long-term lawsuits. The I & I study is the biggest still in progress and is due to be completed in March.” 

City Attorney Andrew Dickman summarizes, “Over many weeks, city staff and the parties challenging the city’s Comprehensive Plan negotiated text amendments to the plan and studies the city would complete before approving development higher than 80 feet in the community redevelopment district.

spb-aerial

The city and the petitioners reached agreement and the settlement was approved by the City Commission on February 24, 2015.  The parties dismissed the case on March 25, 2015. The city amended its Comprehensive Plan and is completing the studies in accordance with the settlement agreement. As a result, the City of St. Pete Beach has a legally binding Comprehensive Plan guiding all development.”

The Mayor continues, “Any large development in the City must go through a sequence of public hearings and review committees before the final plan can be issued a building permit. The Postcard Inn on Gulf Boulevard is at the very start of this process for the parking garage that they would like to build on their lot that is currently vacant. Their plan includes proposals for additional landscape buffers and architectural design features that would complement the neighborhood.

“These accommodations are in excess to what is required by the comprehensive plan. I consider this a good example of the developers taking into consideration their residential neighbors. I will be interested to hear the residents’ feedback as they learn more.”

PCI hosted an initial public community meeting at the SPB Community Center January 20, with General Manager Bob Sourwine reporting, “The meeting went extremely well. We had several hundred local residents and business people attending. They asked a lot of questions on how we would handle the project, and we got very positive comments on our responses.”

The Mayor continues, “New owners for the large properties on the east and west ends of Corey Avenue are both in the process of preparing their development designs. The east Corey project designers have discussed the inclusion of public areas at the street ends for full public access to the water. Other proposals include an underpass connecting Corey Avenue with the SPB Community Center and the new Library on the north side of the Corey Causeway.

“Once again, we are interacting with developers who want to include the public experience into their design to be good neighbors and good stewards of their water front properties. No final plans have been submitted but the discussions are encouraging as their architects begin design work. Both east and west Corey designers have been enthusiastic about the Downtown Plan Vision that the Commission adopted in 2015.“

Update on CRA 

Mayor Lowe explains, “The Community Redevelopment Agreement (CRA) is a proposal between the City and the County that allows for tax increment financing (TIF) funds to be returned to the city over 30 years to promote a specific area in the City that meets the requirements for blight and slum. The County is currently reviewing the St. Pete Beach CRA for approval.”

The CRA area extends from the Corey Avenue parcels south to 38th Avenue along a large part of Gulf Boulevard. The area covers 135 acres or about 7% of the city’s total area of about 1,930 acres. City Manager Wayne Saunders adds, “We will be involved in several important meeting over the next few months including the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners as they consider our request to establish the TIF.  Once established, the City will receive back from the County the additional County tax dollars that are generated in the CRA by new construction of increased values. This is not a tax increase but a return of County tax dollars to the City. These dollars, along with the City’s regular TIF dollars, will assist the City in moving forward with projects that are identified in the CRA Plan. The Municipal Library complex is identified as a potential project that could utilize TIF revenues as a source of funding. All projects will be reviewed and prioritized on an annual basis.”

The Mayor concludes, “We hope that all of our residents will write to the Pinellas County Commissioners in full support of the CRA. Without this agreement in place, we will not have access to these additional funds from the county.” 

New Library Progress

The City Commission voted for the future library to be built on the site adjacent to Horan Park and the SPB Community Center occupied by the old police department building. The Commission approved an $86,850 purchasing agreement with Forestall Enterprises Inc. for demolition and the City Manager anticipates it should be completed by late March.

The City currently has $2 million dollars earmarked for the library project but needs to raise funds for the additional  $2 million dollars needed for both the first level parking garage and library furnishings to fully make the learning center a reality.

The City Manager adds, “In addition to the budget dollars, the $200,000 PPLC (Pinellas Public Library Cooperative) construction grant is being partially used for vital repair needs and new furnishings at the current Library, which can be used in the new building. Another portion of this grant was used to issue a Request for Qualifiations (RFQ) for a design consultant/architect to survey the site and come up with preliminary plans. Bids were due January 22, with the Library Advisory Committee to review and recommend its choice to the Commission for February discussion and approval. This is vital to assure filing by April 1 for an up to $500,000 State construction grant.

The Mayor summarizes, “Once we have a design and a re-energized fundraising campaign kicks off, we will also be reaching out to our PPLC partner cities of Tierra Verde and South Pasadena in hopes that they will support the Library Learning Center as well. Our library services all three Cities through the PPLC so I hope the Tierra Verde and South Pasadena residents will be as excited about a new facility as we are.  Bringing this project to fruition in a fiscally prudent manner will be a magnificent long–term investment for the City and the families it serves, adults and children alike!”

[Editor’s Note: Special thanks to SPB Mayor Maria Lowe, City Manager Wayne Saunders, City Finance Director Elaine Edmunds and City Attorney Andrew Dickman for their excellent commentary.] 

[Steve Traiman is President of Creative Copy by Steve Traiman in St. Pete Beach, offering freelance business writing services. He can be reached via email at traimancreativecopy@gmail.com.]

Florida’s Hidden River- Treasured Tales by Julian Fant

treasured-tales-1Many residents and countless visitors to peninsula Florida are familiar with most of  the major rivers of the “Sunshine State.”   

They range from the wild and remote “River of Grass” in the Everglades, to the northward- flowing St. John’s, (which is only yards wide at its source south of Sanford) to the mile-wide river, which empties into the Atlantic, near Jacksonville. There is also the historic Suwannee, Lostman’s River, Peace River, Withlacoochee and Econlockhatchee!

But, chances are very strong that these millions of residents and visitors are completely unaware of a vast river, flowing from north to south at a steady 5 to 6 miles per hour through expanses of porous limestone caverns, caves and fissures, right under our feet, for eons! 

treasured-tales-2About the only time this vast underground river is visible is at the more than 110 fresh-water springs all throughout Florida, many in the Ocala National Forest, and some with names ranging from Silver Springs to Ichetucknee to Econlockhatchee. This “unseen river” has existed for millions of years and remains one of the state’s most unique and valuable geological features. A pair of experienced divers recently risked their lives in an underground filming of this river for about eight miles, entering at one spring, and emerging at another, with unforgettable footage!

Unfortunately, it is also the source of many sinkholes, ranging from small to enormous, and even the source of fatalities to humans… as well as to animals. It is very likely that this “Hidden River” is flowing silently below you as you read this article!  PN

For more information, CLICK HERE.

‘Dispatches from the Gulf’ – Gulf Oil Spill Film/Panel

The Florida Institute of Oceanography, hosted at USF St. Petersburg, is organizing the free premier showing of  ‘Dispatches from the Gulf’, Monday, Feb. 29, 7 pm at The Mahaffey Theater. Narrated by Matt Damon, the film focuses on the Gulf oil spill and its impact on the ecosystem, and the progress research is making to restore the Gulf.

fio-at-usf

According to Mark Collins, USF Public Education Officer,  “A panel discussion of first responders and researchers from Deepwater Horizon will follow the hour-long documentary.  Moderator is Al Ruechel, Bay News 9 TV Senior Anchor, and panelists include Dr. Steven Murawski, USF Fisheries Biologist.

“In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded, starting the largest oil spill in US history, releasing 3.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The event initiated an unprecedented response effort and mobilized the largest, coordinated scientific research endeavor around an ocean-related event in history – orchestrated through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).  The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP.”

“The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect and the potential associated impact of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization & remediation technologies.  An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings, and publications will be made publicly available.”

“Screenscope Films is developing the documentary to help tell the story about the scientists involved and their research to improve society’s ability to understand, respond to, and mitigate the impacts of petroleum pollution and related stressors of the marine & coastal ecosystems. The film will premiere later this year as a new episode in the award-winning PBS  ‘Journey to Planet Earth’ series.” Seating is first-come, first-served, based on availability. For tickets, the online link is www.eventbrite.com/e/journey-to-planet-earth-dispatches-from-the-gulf-premiere-tickets-19827240811.

Story by Steve Traiman

A Trainer Even Your Dog Will Love

dogmandu-logoMore of a pet psychologist than dog trainer, Theresa Reiter recently relocated with her husband Tim, their two Italian Greyhounds, Jordan and Honor, and her business, ‘Dogmandu’  ‘Family Dog Training’ from Pennsylvania to South Pasadena. After more than eight years in dog training, she thought she had seen it all. “Florida has some unusual challenges for pets. I was busy this summer teaching dogs how to swim in the family pool. Several clients were high energy Labradoodles who needed a way to exercise during the summer heat,” says Theresa. “I never had to help dogs get over their fear of swimming pools in Pennsylvania.”

Theresa gives group seminars on topics like dog park safety, low stress handling for vets and groomers, and private lessons for behavior problems like excessive barking, pulling on the leash, come when called and teaching dogs how to handle going out to pet friendly dining spots and events. She adds,  “I love living in a neighborhood where dogs are welcome at so many restaurants and businesses.”  She is also an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. 

dogmandu-beach

Committed to life-long-learning, Theresa keeps current on the latest training and techniques by attending seminars, workshops and networking with other positive trainers. ‘Dogmandu’ is a full member of the Pet Professional Guild, whose members and affiliates focus on pet’s physical, mental, environmental and nutritional well being, a holistic approach to the care and training of family pets. Theresa is committed to using science-based, force free methods. NO choke, prong or shock collars, preferring to use well-researched, least intrusive methods to change problem behaviors.  “Dogs don’t speak English, it’s not that they can’t follow your household rules, they don’t understand what the rules are. My goal is to teach you and your dog to work together to form a trusting successful relationship” says Theresa.

Theresa has a file full of positive references from happy clients, such as this one from St. Pete Beach resident Anna Yardley,  “Theresa is an excellent force-free trainer. She has helped train my dogs and also taught me to understand their language so I can continue the process. It is extremely rewarding to watch behavior improve when you learn how your dog ‘thinks’. If you’re ready to be a better friend to your best friend, give her a call!”

If your neighbor’s dog has a problem, suggest they read page 20 in the February Paradise NEWS, or tear it out and hand them this article and ask if you can call to set up a consult with the new dog psychologist in town.

If you have challenges with mutual understanding or you want your dog to overcome a phobia or to stop barking incessantly when you are away, call Theresa for a FREE, no-obligation consultation at 610-248-0467 email info@dogmandu.net  or visit www.dogmandu.net.

Story by Peter A. Roos.

2016 Waterfront Solar Model Home OPEN HOUSE – February 19-21

waterfront-solar-model-homeI’ve never heard Tom Smith, more excited. A contractor for over 44 years, Tom has constructed over 6,000 homes, building in Florida since 1971. His company’s new model home in Madeira Beach, a 2016 ‘Key West’/‘Bahamian’ design home on the water is a 5-bedroom/3-bath model in a design that I really love. It features a complete Solar Electric System (no electric bill), all hurricane resistant and above the FEMA level. Tom told me excitedly “Many waterfront residents are replacing their 50-year old homes. 

There are also literally hundreds of vacant lots (waterfront and waterview) along the beaches and the intracoastal waterway. Pinellas County offers the most affordable waterfront lots on the Gulf of Mexico, considerably less than Naples, Sarasota and the Seaside communities in the panhandle. These lots will not last long at today’s prices!”

Before that model was even complete they already had 4 new homes in the permit stage for customers. Now ready to be open to the public for the first time, Tom and his company GHD Construction Services Inc., are inviting all interested Paradise NEWS readers to visit the new model home at 14305 N. Bayshore Drive, Madeira Beach, 33708 for their first public Open House all weekend Friday, February 19, Saturday, February 20 & Sunday, February 21 – 11 am – 5 pm.

For further information call (727) 321-8719, or e-mail: tsmith@GHDcsi.com.

2016 Presidential Preference Primary & Municipal Elections

every-vote-countsfRegistered Republican and Democratic voters may vote for one of their own party’s candidates  in the Republican or Democratic Party Primary for President.

Voter Registration & Political Party Affiliation Choice Deadline: February 16, 2016

Early Voting: Saturday, March 5 – Sunday, March 13, Mon-Fri 10 am – 6 pm, Sat-Sun 9 am – 5 pm

Election Service Center – 13001 Starkey Rd., Starkey Lakes Corporate Center, Largo, 33773 County Building – 501 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 33701.  Voters can go to any early voting site. In order to vote a regular ballot, voters are required to present both picture and signature identification. Voters who do not bring both types of ID will be required to vote a provisional ballot.

Republicans pick 1 from a long list: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, John R. Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald J. Trump

Democrats choose from Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders

Municipal Offices In GULFPORT, incumbent Mayor Sam Henderson is challenged by Barbara Banno, former council member and owner of the popular Beach Blvd. restaurant, Stella’s. In Ward 1, incumbent council member Dan Liedtke is being faced by April Thanos. A Seattle transplant, Thanos worked for most of a career at Mearsk Lines, the world’s largest shipping company, was previously active in Greater Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce and Business Association and recently with the Greater Gulfport Chamber of Commerce. 

MADEIRA BEACH

Super Majority Vote Required for Sale of Real Property.  Shall the City Charter, pursuant to Ordinance 2015-06, be amended to require a super majority vote by the Board of Commissioners prior to the sale of any real property possessed by the City and a simple majority vote prior to the conveyance of public utility easements? 

SOUTH PASADENA 

Choose incumbent Mayor Dan Calabria or challenger, Commissioner Max V. Elson, a Kansas native who retired to consultancy from ownership of Fancy’s Specialty Market on 4th Street in St. Petersburg 18 years ago. A Rotarian and volunteer for Abilities, he ran for commission to bring some business sense to the board.

ST. PETE BEACH 

Commissioner District 1 Incumbent commissioner Terri Finnerty once again faces her predecessor, Lorraine Huhn, who headed the push for comprehensive plan that has just been implemented. Commissioner District 3.  One of the city’s best loved Mayors & Commissioners Ward J. Friszolowski, comes out of political retirement to face the city leadership’s 2nd most vocal critic, Deborah Schechner.

CHARTER AMENDMENT – Increase Compensation for City Commissioners & Mayor  Charter Section 3.04 sets compensation for City Commissioners at $400 per month and compensation for the Mayor-Commissioner at $600.00 per month, in addition to reimbursement of expenses incurred in connection with performing official duties and the monthly sum for ordinary expenses.  Shall the Charter be amended to provide an increase in compensation for City Commissioners to $800/month and an increase in compensation for the Mayor- to $1,600/ per month? Editor’s note – Even with the raise it is unlikely the charter amendment is what made Ward run once again. “These are exciting times and it would be good to have a knowledgeable architect on the commission for library and prospective hotel design reviews.” 

TREASURE ISLAND

City Commissioner District 4 Alan Bildz Incumbent, Challenger Sunset Beach resident and marketer of medical equipment to the military, Ken Keys. A Texas Tech University graduate, Ken worked for Quaker State Corp., Patient Care Systems, Inc., and RecoverCare LLC, before becoming Managing General Partner of Therapy Beds Direct, LLC.

Tim Ramsburger, who was unopposed as commissioner for the north most district in Treasure Island, resigned from his elected office two weeks before the local election. To fill the vacancy a commissioner is selected by the others from qualified candidates who volunteer to serve. The mayor has the deciding vote if the commissioners tie.