Tidbits February 2016

Gulfport Tidbits

The Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce has relocated to 3101 Beach Blvd S, Suite 1, Gulfport, FL 33707. The chamber’s top fund raiser, the Pink Flamingo Home Tour is March 5th. 

The new Gulfport Chili Cookoff is coming to the Historic Gulfport Casino on Sunday, March 20, 2016. Home cooks & professionals are invited to compete for medals and cash prizes. Officially titled The Artsy Phartsy Chili Cook off & Salsa Show off, cash and medals will be awarded to the winning chili and salsa cooks. The top prize is $200 for First Place Chili. Artistic Gulfport bohemian-style booth decorations are encouraged for extra points in judging. This event is all family friendly. Admission includes all the championship chili and savory salsa you can eat until it runs out! There will be lots of room for dancing to live music by dynamic performer Cyndi Burger, whose repertoire includes music from the fifties to today’s current hits.  Cook off details, registration and tickets are available online now. Advance “Four Friends Fun Pack” admission tickets are available in a discounted pack of four for $50. General admission tickets at the door will be $20 for adults (age 13 & up) and $10 for kids 5-12. Two Gulfport non-profits will share 10% of all ticket proceeds. Corporate sponsorships available. For information, call 727-289-9365 or visit the official website at GulfportChiliCookoff.com.

Madeira Beach Tidbits

The Madeira Beach Market is held Wednesdays 9am-2pm October – July. Growers, gourmet foodies, fine arts and crafts, community connections! Free, family and pet friendly.

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge No. 291, located at 14020 Marguerite Dr. Madeira Beach, held its 66th Annual Installation of Lodge Officers recently at the Masonic Temple with seventy members, visitors and family.


Madeira Beach Youth Baseball & Softball registration is now open to all children residing in Pinellas County. Baseball, softball and t-ball for children ages 4 to 18. Registration and more  information at MadBeachBall.com.

Pinellas County Tidbits

pinellascountyThe Sunstar FirstCare Ambulance Membership Plan is a Pinellas County government program that covers out of pocket co-payments or deductibles not paid for by insurance. Members enrolled in the program without insurance receive a 20-percent discount on ambulance charges. The plan covers medically necessary transports in Pinellas County by Sunstar ambulance units. Plans cost $61.35/individuals and $95.43 for families. Applications are accepted throughout the year. Completed and signed applications with full payment are effective on the postmark date. Call (727) 582-2008. Download apps from pinellascounty.org/firstcare.  Members have until April 1 to renew to avoid interruption of coverage.

Pinellas County Extension is hosting the new Florida Waters Stewardship Program for those looking to make a difference for local water resources. The program starts Tuesday, Feb. 9, and  participants meet for three hours every two weeks for a total of six sessions. This course is interactive and informal with class discussions, field tours and conversations with local water experts. Participants will be expected to attend all six-class sessions, finish short take-home  “assignments for exploration,” contribute to the class stewardship project and engage with guest experts and other participants.

The program requires a commitment of time, both inside and outside of class sessions with total commitment estimated at 30 hours over three months.Those interested in the program should register online at fwsp.eventbrite.com  

The cost for the program is $99.  Each class session meets at a different location and includes a site tour and at least one guest speaker.

Session 1: Tuesday, Feb. 9, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Brooker Creek Preserve – Watershed Basics and Stewardship and Leadership Skills
Session 2: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Fort De Soto Park – Changing Waterscapes and Working with Thorny Issues
Session 3: Saturday,  March 12, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Pinellas County’s Waste-to-Energy Plant – Regulatory Policies, Tools & Economics & Getting Things Done: The Power of Partnership
Session 4: Tuesday, March 22, 5:30 to 8:30 pm. – St. Petersburg Water Resources Department – Water Supply and Emerging Water-Resource Issues and Communication is More Than Words
Session 5: Tuesday, April 5, 5:30 to 8:30 pm  – Life Farms and Safety Harbor Library – Field Trip – Stakeholder Panel Discussion
Session 6: Saturday, April 16,  9 am to  12:30 pm – Weedon Island Preserve – Final Reflections and Where To From Here? A video about many of these programs can be found at youtube.com/pcctv1.

St. Pete Beach Tidbits

spb-city-bannerHONOR WALK AT UPHAM BEACH The 2016 Brick Campaign will continue until March 18, 2016. Installation of the bricks will occur Summer 2016. Call 727-363-9232 or visit stpetebeach.org.

SPB PUBLIC SERVICES appreciates your patience and understanding regarding the traffic delays around Christmas. With work going on at the northern end of the Pass-A-Grille project, the annual holiday/seasonal traffic surge and the unforeseen significant spike in beach-going traffic resulting from historically warm weather.

St. Pete Beach Parking permits are available at city hall this year.  Please bring one of the following in addition to your car registration whether you rent or own your property.

– Voter Registration Card
– Real Estate Tax Bill
– Lease Agreement
– Driver’s license w/current address
– Utility Bill with current address or
– Three pieces of mail w/current address.

The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce hosted its Annual Dinner on Wednesday, January 20th at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort. Bay News 9 anchor and event emcee, Holly Gregory, announced the 2015 Businesses Awards. For the first time, the chamber opened up voting to the entire membership after receiving a record number of nominations. The following took top honors:

Non-Profit of the Year: Winner: Pet Pal Animal Shelter; Runner up: Old Salt Fishing Foundation
Stellar Staff (Customer Service):Winner: Chick-Fil-A St. Pete Beach; Runner up: RumFish Grill
Top Dog Award (Best Office Canine): Winner:  Zoey at Sirata Beach Resort; Runner up: Madison@Caputo Creative=
Business of the Year <100 employees: Winner:  Verduccis; Runner up: Travel Resort Services
Business of the Year >100 employees: Winner: Loews Don Cesar Hotel; Runner up:  Clearwater Gas System

Congratulations to all winners and nominees!

St. Petersburg Tidbits

CAI’S Community Associations Day & Trade Show Thursday, February 25, 2016 at The Coliseum, 535 4th Ave. N. St. Petersburg. 88 booths will be open from 10 am – 4 pm.  Features free coffee & doughnuts in the morning and displays of products and services for association living, and many giveaways.  Admission is free, no registration required and everyone is welcome!  For more information, visit www.suncoastcai.com or call 727-345-0165.

Wednesday January 20th, was Tourism Day in Tallahassee. Each year, Florida’s tourism partners host the event to educate the legislature, media and Floridians on the significant role tourism plays in the success of our state’s economy. The early welcome session drew more than 500 industry attendees. 

Senate Bill 1646 in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic  Development, chaired by Senator Jack Latvala. Film Florida attended and provided a public testimony. This bill was to be heard in its first committee (Commerce and Tourism, chaired by Senator Detert) on Monday, January 25th at 1pm. Film Florida continues to monitor things closely. Enthusiasts are encourageed to like Film Florida on Facebook or follow @FilmFlorida on Twitter.

St. Petersburg received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2015  Municipal Equality Index. The report scores cities according to non-discrimination laws, mployment policies, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership on matters of equality. Of the 408 cities examined, 47 achieved perfect scores.

Florida-based Tropic Ocean Airways are now offering scheduled, commercial airline service from  downtown St. Petersburg’s Albert Whitted Airport to Fort Lauderdale, with continuing service to the Bahamas, twice weekly, on Monday and Friday.

Nearly 80 Eckerd College students travelled to Cuba recently to study science, the environment, economics and photography. They are among 375 students in 22 Eckerd College classes who will study abroad during Winter Term, the largest number in Eckerd’s history. Last year, 18 Eckerd   students spent two weeks studying the Cuban economy during a particularly historic time. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Eckerd sent a group of adult learners to Havana Jan. 23-29 to study the art, history and landscape of the island nation and meet with government and cultural representatives.


Allison Stribling has become St. Petersburg Preservation (SPP)’s executive director.  Look for Allison at the upcoming porch party or “What Makes St. Pete Special” program.

Tampa Bay Watch Tidbits

The Duke Energy Foundation on Thursday, January 28, 2016, donated $25,000 to Tampa Bay Watch.  The funds will support the Bay Grasses in Classes (BGIC) program and will be used in the construction of two new salt marsh nurseries for the BGIC program and facilitate school and community-based coastal restoration projects.


Photo ID Left to Right: Larry Weiner, Tampa Bay Watch Board of Directors, Peter Clark, President of Tampa Bay Watch, Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Government & Community Relations Manager, Gregory Wright, Duke Foundation, Jessie Landi, Tampa Bay Watch Director of Development, Serra Herndon, Tampa Bay Watch Habitat Restoration Director and Mark Chmielewski, Tampa Bay Watch Board of Directors.

tampa-bay-watch-corp-sponsor-awardOyster Shell Project – February 25, 26 & 27

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteers to create an oyster shell bar on the shoreline of Bay Vista Park.  The City of St. Petersburg is concerned with erosion along its shoreline. Tampa Bay Watch will install oyster habitats to help with erosion of the shoreline and to promote oyster habitats to improve water quality to this part of the bay. The project involves shoveling fossilized oyster shells into mesh bags and placing oyster shell bags on the shoreline to create a series of oyster bars. It is pretty physical labor with oyster shell bags weighing around 30 pounds each, therefore the minimum age to participate is 15 years old. The project meeting location is Bay Vista Park, 7000 4th St. S, St. Petersburg.

Volunteers to Restore Fantasy Island –  March 1 – 4, 9 am to noon & 1 – 4 pm

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteers to help install oyster domes and create an oyster shell bar on the shoreline of Fantasy Island in Hillsborough Bay. Meeting location is Williams Park Boat Ramp, 8749 U.S. 41, Riverview, FL 33578. Boat ramp is on the west side of US 41 (Tamiami Trail) where US 41 & the north side of Alafia River intersect.  Fantasy Island has severely eroded since it was created in the 1970’s due to changes in currents & sand distribution, mainly since it is close to the heavily used shipping channel. Creation of a series of oyster dome fields and shell bars is an effort to restore lost habitat systems to the bay, prevent further erosion of Fantasy Island, and improve water quality through natural biological filtration.

Dome Installation, a very heavy project since oyster domes weigh 150 pounds each. We need volunteers to help install domes on the following dates and times:

Tuesday, March 1, 9am – noon & 1-4pm,
Wednesday, March 2, 9am – noon & 1-4pm,
Thursday, March 3, 9am – noon & 1-4pm,
Friday, March 4, 9am – noon & 1-4pm. 

Oyster Shell Bar Creation involves shoveling fossilized oyster shells into mesh bags, transporting the bags via boat and placing oyster shell bags on the shoreline to create a series of oyster bars. Physical labor with oyster shell bags weighing around 30 pounds each, therefore the miminum age to participate is 15 years old. 

Volunteers needed on the following dates: 9am – noon on each day: Wed., March 2; Thur., March 3 & Friday, March 4.

Tampa Bay Watch
3000 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, FL 33715
Tel: 727-867-8166 • http://www.tampabaywatch.org/contact-us.html

Treasure Island Tidbits

Gulf Beaches Rotary Tennis & Golf Challenge – Gulf Beaches Rotary Club and the City of Treasure Island hold their 17th Tennis & Golf Challenge, Sat., March 5 at Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis, 10315 Paradise Blvd. The Doubles Round Robin for men and women starts at 9am. The Golf Scramble shotgun start is at 9:30am. Proceeds benefit Treasure Island Recreation & Gulf Beaches Rotary Foundation. Playing times 9am – noon, for  $25 /player includes play, goodie bag, prizes and raffle. A silent auction will include tennis racquets, hotel and restaurant packages and much more. The tournament & auction are open to the public. Anyone can bid on the silent auction items. Food and beverages available.

Come watch the St. Petersburg College Women’s Tennis Team at 3 pm Friday, March 4. A silent auction Preview and Draw Party will be held at Treasure Bay at 6pm with a reception. At 7pm Lee Roy Selmon’s will offer a catered dinner for $25/person. Please call the Treasure Island Rec at (727) 547-4575, X 237 – buffet reservations. Court and hole sponsorships are available. Please call Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis at (727) 360-6062 or T I Rec. at (727) 547-4575, ext. 237.   chayduke@mytreasureisland.org

Two Cute: 2nd Bornean Orangutan Born in 2 Months

On February 17, a 10-year-old Bornean orangutan named “Hadiah” gave birth to her first offspring less than two months after her own mother, a 30-year-old Bornean orangutan named “Josie,” gave birth to her fourth offspring (on December 20, 2015). The newest baby, a female, creates a third generation of the orangutan family living at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.

“We are very fortunate that Hadiah was able to observer her mother’s labor and delivery just two months before her own experience,” said Angela Belcher, animal care manager for primates.  “As a first time mother, it took her some time to learn how to properly handle the infant, but much progress has been made in the last few days and she has the benefit of a great role model.”


With the second newborn, the Zoo is currently home to a group of seven endangered orangutans: Hadiah and female infant “Topi” (a Malay word and type of hat or cap worn in Southeast Asia), adult male “Goyang” who sired the infant, Josie and male baby “GoJo,” adult female “Dee Dee,” and her juvenile daughter “RanDee.” 

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of theAssociation of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to support the conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction.  The female baby is ninth Bornean orangutan born at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. There are fewer than 100 Bornean orangutans in 24 AZA-accredited institutions in North America.

Born with a thin layer of red hair and cream-colored skin around her face and abdominal region, the tiny infant (estimated at 2-3 pounds) will spend her days resting, nursing and snuggling with mom. New babies ride on their mother’s chest and back for the first few years and will nurse for three to five years, on average. Orangutan offspring are dependent on their mothers for about seven years. As one of the world’s largest primates, the orangutan is second only to the gorilla in size.

Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, the longhaired red great apes can be found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.  The species is considered endangered in the wild due to critical habitat loss in Southeast Asia, with an estimated population decline of more than 50 percent during the last 60 years. Conversion of orangutan habitat to palm oil plantations is the greatest threat to the survival of the species. In 2015, raging fires intentionally set to burn the land before plantation development has had devastating effects on the forests – more than 2 million hectares (nearly 5 million acres) were burned. In addition, poaching and the pet-trade remain major threats to orangutans across most of Borneo.

Mote Scientist Identifies First Black Grouper Spawning Site

mote-marine-logoMote Marine Laboratory scientist Dr. James Locascio describes the first-known U.S. spawning site for black grouper in a February 2016 print volume of U.S. Fishery Bulletin, the nation’s oldest peer-reviewed fisheries journal. This site is located in the Florida Keys and also hosts spawning, or reproductive activity, of red grouper and red hind.

The spawning site called Riley’s Hump is located in the Tortugas South Ecological Reserve, a research-only marine reserve in the Florida Keys. Riley’s Hump is a documented spawning site for mutton snapper, and now research by Locascio and partners indicates that it is used for reproductive purposes by three grouper species as well.

The study, funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program, began in April 2010 and ended in June 2012.

“An important result of this study is that this is the first time a black grouper spawning site has been identified in U.S. waters,” Locascio said. “Identifying spawning sites allows us to better understand and protect the spawning stock and habitats that support them. It also provides many additional research opportunities, such as predicting the downstream locations where grouper larvae originating at Riley’s Hump will settle into juvenile habitat which is just as important to protect.”

Read the full study here: http://fishbull.noaa.gov/1141/locascio.pd

Locascio used passive acoustic technology to identify Riley’s Hump as a grouper spawning site. Passive acoustics research involves recording sounds, including those of spawning fishes. Because different species produce different sounds associated with courtship and spawning, passive acoustics can be used to identify species and document the timing and location of their reproduction.

Acoustic digital recorders were deployed at seven locations on Riley’s Hump for the duration of the study. These locations included three previously established study sites where visual surveys of fishes were conducted during prior years, along with four new sites, including three sites on Riley’s Hump and a site approximately 197 feet (60 meters) deep off the southwestern edge of Riley’s Hump (RHDW).

Black grouper, red grouper and red hind and several other reef fishes of ecological, recreational and commercial importance reproduce in large groups known as spawning aggregations, making them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, black grouper is widespread and abundant but is considered “near threatened,” as its populations have declined nearly 30 percent are expected to continue declining if current threats remain. The red grouper is also listed as “near threatened” and red hind is listed as “least concern.”

“Because these groupers support large commercial and recreational fisheries, there is an increasing focus on the conservation and management of their stocks and habitats,” Locascio said. “Beyond that, these fish are high-trophic level feeders. There are not many species above them in the reef community food web, and they may help reef ecosystems maintain a healthy balance.”

Riley’s Hump is a protected marine area where scientists can study the fish populations but recreational and commercial fishing are not permitted.

The discovery that at least three grouper species use Riley’s Hump for reproduction further indicate its importance as part of a marine reserve and the need for continued research to understand its significance for the recovery of fish populations in the southeastern U.S.

“My hope is to use the information from this study to learn more about the movement patterns of these three species of groupers,” Locascio said. “If we can identify where they reproduce, where the juveniles live their lives and track the adults back to the same reproductive area, we can learn how to manage this population as a whole. We can use passive acoustics to explore long-term monitoring of habitat use by important sound-producing fish.”

Expert field assistance during this study was provided by members of the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center laboratories in Beaufort, N.C., and Miami, Fla.; the National Ocean Service’s Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, N.C.; the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Overseas Research Laboratory in Marathon, Fla.; and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation of Key Largo, Fla.

Photo credit: A black grouper swimming in the wild. Credit: sdubrov/Adobe Stock.

Story courtesy of MOTE Marine Lab and Aquarium. Find out more about MOTE at https://mote.org/.

Exercise Group Raises Money for “Ready for Life”

Local Fitness Instructor Eileen Arsenault believes that exercise workouts should be both fun and inspiring so every few months she and her classes decide on a charity to support. They come up with a theme and dedicate an exercise session to helping their cause. On February 18th, the Treasure Island Jazzercise class participated in “Fairies for the Future” by donning fairy wings and ballet tutus for a dance-centered workout to support their second annual fundraiser for Ready for Life, a non-profit organization that supports children transitioning out of the foster care system. The sixty-minute exercise session raised over $870.00 through donations and a raffle. The group presented the funds to Kathy Mize-Plummer, a mentor with Ready for Life’s organization, who joined the group to explain the charity’s mission. 


In addition to periodic fund raisers, Eileen’s exercise groups are known for combining their workouts with celebrations and the formation of friendships.  Believing that participating in regular workouts is life-changing and essential in maintaining a happy and positive life outlook, she strives to make fitness both fun and attainable.  Eileen, a certified Jazzercise and Sport Yoga instructor, leads a variety of different types of exercise classes which encompass all levels of ability at three locations, Redington Shores Town Hall, Treasure Island City Hall, and Clearwater Sun Watch on Island Estates. The classes include simple yoga for beginning and moderate exercisers, regular Jazzercise dance mix sessions for moderate to heavier workouts, and Jazzercise Strength60 for fat burning with muscle toning. All classes are moderately priced. For more information and to obtain the full class schedule email Eileen at eileen.fitnesssimple@gmail.com or contact her by phone at 727-481-3995.

For more information on Ready for Life, go to www.readyforlifepinellas.org.

Clearwater and St. Pete Beaches Make Trip Advisors Top 10 US Beaches!

Clearwater Beach made it to #1 on Tripadvisor’s Top 25 US Beach for 2016! St. Pete Beach made it in the top 10 as well. See the Top 10 below or go to www.tripadvisor.com for the full list! 

1- Clearwater Beach in Clearwater Beach, Florida
2- Lanikai Beach in Kailua, Hawaii
3- Siesta Beach in Siesta Key, Florida
4- Saint Pete Beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida
5- Wai’anapanapa State Park in Hana, Hawaii
6- Ka’anapali Beach in Lahaina, Hawaii
7- Pensacola Beach in Pensacola Beach, Florida
8- La Jolla Shores in La Jolla, California
9- St. Augustine Beach in St. Augustine, Florida
10- Beach at Panama City in Panama City Beach, Florida


Image by VisitStPeteClearwater.com.


2016 Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes – Gulfport 

The Gulfport 2016 Pink Flamingo Home Tour is scheduled for Saturday, March 5th • 11 am – 5 pm.

Be prepared to enjoy a delightful time in this funky, artsy city, where creativity abounds!

As always, tour-goers will experience a diverse group of homes reflecting the imagination, whimsy and charm that characterize Gulfport!  Allow yourself some time to take a mid-point break and have a bite at one of Gulfport’s many culinary spots just minutes away.  Or, perhaps, at tour end, peruse some of the stunning gift shops and art galleries in town.  Or, just relax and have a drink with friends in Gulfport, known for its hospitality & friendliness! 

For ardent tour-goers, please be aware that the Pass-A-Grille home tour, usually also at this time of year, will not be held this year due to road re-construction in Pass-A-Grille, so Gulfport’s Pink Flamingo tour is your best chance to get that creative “Fix” we all need!!! There is something for everyone, from the very sleek minimalist mid-century modern style to the home of a long time collector. Can you imagine a ferris wheel seat at the dining table, a phone booth in the living room, or a hand-carved  stair-railing built to mimic the wetlands?  Attend the tour and you will see it all, plus much more. 

pink-flamingo-home-tour-1 pink-flamingo-home-tour-2

Tickets are $20/advance and $25/day of the event.  They may be purchased online at: www.pinkflamingohometour.com

Tickets may also be purchased at the Gulfport Welcome Center (corner of Beach Blvd. & 31st St. S.) using cash, check or credit card and also at Beach Bazaar (3115 Beach Blvd. S.) using cash or check.  


Events in Gulfport often sell out, so don’t delay! Get your tickets now and save!  Free shuttles will be provided for transportation between the homes on the tour. The level walkable route is approximately 1.5 miles. Whether you walk it, bike it, utilize the shuttles or not, you will have a great day with a little exercise and a memorable experience. Everyone, including ticket holders, must register at the Boca Ciega Yacht Club (4600 Tifton Drive S.) on the day of the event to receive your wrist band and tour book with a map of the area and the addresses of the homes. The wrist band is your entry into the homes.

The event is sponsored by the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce. For general Gulfport information call the Chamber at 727-344-3711. For more home tour info, call Karen Love at 770-497-1139 or karenlovegfl@gmail.com.