Practice Fire Safety this Memorial Day Weekend

Pinellas County is asking residents to use additional caution to prevent wildfires over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer.

With the summer months upon us, grilling and fire pits are in full swing. The extended holiday weekend also brings a large number of visitors to Pinellas County parks and preserves. Following dry conditions and warm temperatures, the county is still vulnerable to wildfires.

“Despite recent rain, we know there is fire danger,” said Craig Hare, director of Pinellas County EMS and Fire Administration. “We’re asking people to take extra care. An escaped fire from a recreational grill or fire pit can threaten lives, property and natural resources.”

Make safe outdoor cooking a priority:

  • Make sure that all grills are placed at least 10 feet away from any structures.
  • Deck railings, awnings, overhanging branches and other things can catch fire.
  • Never grill on a condo or apartment balcony.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill when it’s hot.
  • Stay with the grill the entire time you’re cooking.
  • Keep your grill clean so leftover grease and fat won’t catch on fire.

Permanent and portable fire pits can bring fire danger to your home if not used properly. Prevent fire or burn injury with these simple steps:

  • Make sure the fire pit is at least 15 feet away from your house and anything that can burn.
  • Ensure that children and pets are kept a safe distance away.
  • Never leave any fire unattended.
  • Use a metal screen over wood-burning fires to keep sparks from floating out.
  • Make sure all fires are completely extinguished after use.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children’s sight and reach.

When visiting local parks and outdoor spaces, follow these simple steps:

  • Restrict vehicles to paved roadways and parking lots. Hot engines and exhaust pipes could start a fire in tall grass.
  • Fully extinguish smoking products (cigarettes and cigars) and only discard in approved fire safe containers.
  • Only use park-supplied grills at county picnic shelters. Only use charcoal briquettes or propane in personal grills at campsites. Do not place hot coals on the ground or in trash cans, and fully extinguish coals before leaving.
  • Do not start open fires. Restrict fires to campfire rings or other approved structures.
  • Do not burn trash wood or combustible materials.
  • Sale, purchase or use of fireworks that project into the air or explode is illegal. To report illegal use of fireworks, call your city’s law enforcement non-emergency number. A list of law enforcement non-emergency phone numbers is available at www.pinellascounty.org/publicsafety/pdf/Contacts.pdf. Residents should call 911 only in the event of an emergency.

Information courtesy of Pinellas  County. Learn more at www.pinellascounty.org/wildfires.

Beginners Tackle Fishing Skills at Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! Clearwater, FL Seminar May 20-21, 2017

Aspiring anglers were treated to an intense seminar and fishing experience at the Clearwater/Tampa Bay  “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” University, May 20-21 at MarineMax, Clearwater. Hosted by the nonprofit organization, the weekend conservation-minded university offered classroom presentations by Betty Bauman/Fishing Basics/Conservation and Captains Stewart Ames and Dave Blanchard for Tampa Bay Fishing Techniques. The education continued with hands-on skill practice for releasing, knot tying, spin casting and net casting.

On Sunday, participants took their skills to the seas, catching or releasing snook, redfish, sea trout and jack crevalle. Everyone caught fish.

While the focus was on women, there was one lucky guy who attended with his girlfriend. For Vivian Fasula, the experience was a Mother’s Day gift from her daughter, Alexandria Lambert, so the two could spend time learning and fishing together.  

Ladies have the option to register a male guest and/or teens to include the whole family. Eight thousand women have graduated.

Featured on national network television and more, the series is supported by major partners including ACR Electronics, Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation, Mercury, Ranger Boats, Magic Tilt trailers, Penn, and Fish Florida. Annual sponsors are Humminbird, Minn Kota, Freedom Boat Club, Coastal Conservation Association, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Savage Gear/Okuma, Treasure Cay Beach, Marina & Golf Resort, Sunrise Resort & Marina, AFTCO/Guy Harvey, Future Angler Foundation, Seaguar and Power-Pole. Local sponsor was MarineMax, headquartered in Clearwater, FL with 62 locations in the U.S. and vacations in the British Virgin Islands.

Fishing Report for Sunday May 21 – an amazing day for 5.5 hours of fishing. All boats used live and cut bait, mostly pilchards.

Capt. Brian Caudill: Karen Mercaldo started the excitement by releasing a 35 inch snook, her first catch in her lifetime. Betty Bauman landed a 26 inch redfish, her first catch of a redfish with no spots on either side. They experienced a fishing frenzy with quadruple hookups. They caught or released seventeen sea trout and three jack crevalle. Vivian Fasula and Alexandria Lambert celebrated their Mother’s Day gift by enjoying their fishing trip together and enjoying watching dolphins chase trout.

Capt. Christian Zarra with Capt. Dave Blanchard: A total of fourteen sea trout were caught by Team BAITMASTERS/Aylesworth’s Fish and Bait, who treated their employees to a chance to participate in fishing. Veronica Brady released a 28 inch snook and landed three sea trout. Michelle Behanic caught a 25 inch redfish and three sea trout, one measuring 21.5 inches. Rachel Rivera caught a 24.5 inch redfish and two sea trout. Dawn Aylesworth caught six sea trout.  

Capt. Ben Urion: Karen Macallum of Team BAITMASTERS battled a huge mystery fish for over an hour, a 5 foot wide stingray. The gals rescued a wounded bird wrapped in sabiki lines. Brianna Macallum of Team BAITMASTERS released a 25 inch snook. She and her mother enjoyed fishing together. The group also caught two sea trout.

Capt. Stewart Ames: Pat Kucera caught an 18 inch sea trout and a 21 inch redfish. Mary Ann Neary released a 32.5 inch slammer redfish. Stephen Bailey released a 31 and a 26 inch snook. Venny Melton caught a 25 inch redfish. They battled but lost four more snook.

The LLGF upcoming schedule includes:

June 17-18 Keys Fishing Adventure Islamorada, Anyone Can Win Tournament
July 29-30 Homosassa Scalloping
Sept. 9-10 Northeast Florida Seminar weekend St. Augustine
Oct. 20-22 Keys Seminar Weekend/Islamorada
Nov. 17-19 Everglades/Chokoloskee Adventure

International Adventures – Cuba:

Sept. 14-18 Havana Varadero
Oct 12-16 Havana-Santiago
Oct. 19-23 Havana-Vinales
Nov. 9-13 All Santiago
Nov. 30-Dec. 4 Havana Varadero

Contact: LLGF, phone 954-475-9068, fax 954-474-7299, email: fish@ladiesletsgofishing.com, website: www.ladiesletsgofishing.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/ladiesletsgofishing   

 

About “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!”

The Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing Foundation (LLGF) is a national charitable 501C3 organization dedicated to attracting women and families to fishing and encouraging conservation and responsible angling. LLGF promotes networking among women anglers and emphasizes mentorships. Founded in 1997 by Betty Bauman, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, LLGF has over 8,000 graduates and is the largest organization in the world whose objective is to introduce women and families to fishing. Both Bauman and the University series – dubbed “The No-Yelling School of Fishing” – are known nationally in the fishing and marine industries. The organization has earned rave reviews from media including Inside Edition, The Early Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS, Good Morning America, Outdoor Life Network, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Southern Living and more. 

Pinellas County Residents Invited to 8th Annual Community Conversation

• Event to be hosted at the St. Petersburg College, Seminole Campus
• Citizens able to submit questions live via blog, social media, telephone and in-person

Residents are invited to join the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners and the County Administrator in a Community Conversation to discuss county services and important topics live on June 15.

The public meeting will take place from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at St. Petersburg College- Seminole campus, in the University Partnership Center Digitorium, 9200 113th St. N., Seminole. It will be preceded by a Meet and Greet from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

There are five ways to participate in the conversation:

  • Be part of the live audience at the St. Petersburg College- Seminole campus.
  • Watch it live and blog on www.pinellascounty.org/CommunityConversation. The blog opens in advance for questions on Wednesday, June 14, at 9 a.m.
  • Watch it and ask questions on Pinellas County’s Facebook or post on Twitter and Instagram accounts using #pinellascc.
  • Call (888) 409-5380 to listen and ask questions.
  • Watch on PCC-TV (Spectrum Channel 637, WOW! Channel 18 or Frontier Channel 44) and SPC-TV (Spectrum Channel 636, WOW! Channel 19 or Frontier Channel 47).

Citizen comments are encouraged as part of the conversation with Pinellas County Commissioners: Chair Janet C. Long, Vice Chair Kenneth T. Welch, Charlie Justice, Dave Eggers, Pat Gerard, John Morroni, and Karen Williams Seel, and County Administrator Mark S. Woodard. The conversation will be moderated by Al Ruechel of Bay News 9.

For more information about Community Conversation, including links to resources about the county’s strategic plan and the citizen survey, visit www.pinellascounty.org/CommunityConversation or call (727) 464-3000.

Residents Reminded to Review Flood Insurance Policies

Pinellas County is currently experiencing drought conditions, but the rainy season will be upon us in a matter of months. Rain brings the potential for flooding, especially since most of our county is located within a floodplain.

To help our citizens plan and prepare for these summer showers and afternoon thunderstorms, Pinellas County is reminding residents to review their current insurance policies and consider adding flood insurance to their coverage.

“Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Having a flood insurance policy, whether for the home, business or rental property, is a good preparedness tool for residents regardless of whether or not they live within a designated flood zone,” said Lisa Foster, Pinellas County floodplain administrator.

Regular homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover property damage caused by floods and hurricanes. Flood insurance, on the other hand, provides coverage for water intrusion due to flooding caused by heavy rains, tropical storms and hurricanes. Because the County and municipalities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters and business owners whether or not they are in a designated flood zone. Nearly 20 percent of flood insurance claims comes from areas that are not in a special flood hazard area.

Flood insurance is mandatory for federally-backed mortgages on buildings located in the special flood hazard area. Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before a flood policy goes into effect.

Due to Pinellas County’s proactive efforts, residents of unincorporated areas are eligible to receive up to 25 percent savings in the cost of their flood insurance By participating in the federal Community Rating System (CRS), Pinellas County saved residents in unincorporated county more than $5 million in flood insurance policy premiums over the last year.

Residents and business owners can learn more about flood insurance topics by visiting www.pinellascounty.org/flooding or calling (727) 464-7700.

Pinellas County Air Pollution Advisory Issued for Wednesday

  • Air Quality Index considered “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” for today
  • Affected citizens should take into consideration before planning outdoor activities
  • The alert remains in effect until dusk, elevated levels could occur Thursday
  • Conditions which could lead to today’s elevated levels are forecast to be the same tomorrow.

The Pinellas County division of Air Quality is issuing an Air Pollution Advisory due to elevated levels of the pollutant ozone. This advisory is effective immediately for today, Wednesday, May 10. Individuals with pre-existing respiratory ailments, the elderly or the very young may want to take this into consideration when planning any outside activities. This alert remains in effect until dusk today; however, ozone levels typically decrease during the night.

Ozone is caused by emissions of certain chemicals called oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic material in the presence of sunlight. These emissions come from industrial facilities, vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents. It is possible that high pressure atmospheric conditions, intense sunlight and brushfires in neighboring counties may have contributed to the elevated levels.

Ozone pollution is a concern during summer months because strong sunlight and hot weather result in harmful ozone concentrations in the air in urban environments, but can still reach high levels during colder months. Yesterday afternoon, Pinellas County experienced an Air Quality Index of  “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” for ozone between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. Prior to the current advisory. Pinellas County last experienced an “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” AQI in 2014 due to ozone.

Conditions which could lead to today’s elevated levels are forecast to be the same tomorrow. Moderate levels of ozone may still occur. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please call: Pinellas County Air Quality at (727) 464-4422. The public is encouraged to stay alert to any news coverage or health advisories. For current air quality information, visit www.airnow.gov or www.dep.state.fl.us/Air/air_quality/county/pinellas.htm.

Pinellas County Warning: Scammers Posing as Utilities Workers

Pinellas County Utilities is warning residents about a scam targeting citizens that involves people going door-to-door posing as employees of a utilities department.

Detectives with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office say they are investigating the cases involving two men posing as employees of a water department informing victims of a water leak in their homes. Upon entry, one suspect distracts the residents while the other suspects steals valuables, such as jewelry.

Over the past 11 days, detectives say they have heard of three cases involving senior citizens who live in the City of Seminole and the City of Redington Beach.

The suspects are described as two men 40 to 50 years of age. The first suspect is described as having a heavy build with a beard and possibly wearing glasses. The second male is described as white male with a slim build. The suspects were seen leaving in a newer model black full-size Dodge Ram pickup truck.

By policy, Pinellas County Utilities employees do not enter customers’ homes. If you have any questions, call our Utilities department at (727) 464-4000. Detectives advise residents not to allow anyone to enter into their homes.

Residents who feel they may have been targeted by these suspects are encouraged to call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at 727-582-6200.

Contact Detective Weil of the Burglary and Pawn Unit at 727-582-6337 with information about this case. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS or www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org.

2017 Summer Dive-In Movies at St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center

Bring your noodles, floats and chairs to lounge by the pool while watching a movie on our inflatable screen out under the stars. Snacks, drinks and glow jewelry will be sold. No outside coolers or food allowed. Event will be cancelled in inclement weather.

Schedule
June 2- Moana
June 16- Jungle Book
June 30- Lego Batman
July 14- Finding Dory
July 28- Doctor Strange

–  Tickets on sale at 7pm; Gates open at 8pm.
–  Admission is $5.00 per person

Find out more at http://www.spbrec.com/special-events/.

Lights Out to Protect Sea Turtles

Sea turtle nesting season is under way and ends Oct. 31. Newly hatched turtles find their way to the sea by following the natural light reflected by the water. Young turtles have a small amount of energy that must take them to the water, which under natural conditions is the brightest spot on the nighttime beach. If they disorient and head the wrong way, they may starve to death before landing in the floating sargassum weeds that are their food source.

Clearwater city ordinances determine specific lighting requirements for beach parking lots, streets and promenades to protect sea turtles. If you live near the beach, make sure you shut off or dim your lights at night. If you play at the beach, follow these tips from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to help protect sea turtle nests:

  • Take all personal belongings from the beach at the end of the day so no obstacles exist on the way to the water.
  • Flatten sand castles and fill in holes.
  • Pick up and properly dispose of litter on the beach.
  • Stay off the dunes and use the designated walkovers for crossing.
  • Shield any artificial lighting that might shine toward the beach.

The Tampa Bay area averages about 120 nests each season, and each nest can contain an average of about 100 eggs.

If you are lucky enough to find a turtle nest on the beach, don’t disturb it. If the nest is unmarked, notify the Clearwater Marine Aquarium at (727) 441-1790. They also will be able to provide more information about sea turtle nesting season.

Information Courtesy of the City of Clearwater

“Pay It Forward Day” Officially Celebrated in Our Neighborhood

GULFPORT, NORTH REDINGTON BEACH, ST. PETERSBURG, SOUTH PASADENA, TREASURE ISLAND, FL — On April 28th, our local community joined people in more than 80 countries all over the world to perform random acts of kindness as part of a little-known celebration known as International Pay It Forward Day. For the first time ever, the cities of Gulfport, North Redington Beach, St. Petersburg, South Pasadena, and Treasure Island participated with official Proclamations issued by all 5 Mayors thanks to the efforts of the dedicated team at Home Care Now, a private home care agency operating in our local community.

Having seen the Pay it Forward movie back in 2001 (based on the book of the same title by Catherine Ryan Hyde), Home Care Now owner, Denise Seaman, was pleasantly surprised to learn that an actual day had been set aside to honor that concept and proud that her team wanted to champion it. According to Seaman, “Everyone benefits from an unexpected act of kindness and those that need it most are usually right in front of us. Working with people in need of care, my team sees every day how the smallest action can warm someone’s heart.” Armed with over 1,500 Pay it Forward cards, bracelets, and flyers, this team spread the word throughout the three counties they serve and engaged others to do the same. “It was heart-warming and inspiring to see how everyone embraced supporting this day,” said team member, Christine Hamacher, “and to hear so many people vow to keep the wave of kindness going.” Hamacher teamed up with friend and colleague from Arden Courts, Maryanne Fisher, to randomly deliver flowering plants to customers at local restaurants on the big day. They were received with open arms and big smiles. [Picture ID: Maryanne (left) and Christine(right)]

This year marks the 11th anniversary of the very first Pay it Forward Day (founded by Blake Beattie in 2007). By opening a door, letting someone ahead of you in line, paying for a coffee, helping with a task, offering a hug, or simply making time for conversation – we all can make every day a Pay it Forward Day.

3rd Annual Beer Project Returns to the Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts and fifteen area craft brewers collaborate to preserve one of the Museum’s most popular pieces of art, a 20th century beaded Bamileke elephant mask.  This MFA fundraiser features hand-crafted beers, available for one-night only, inspired by selected works in the Museum collection. From the vintage tattoo girl photographed by H.H. Bartram to the sun-drenched, California glamour of a James Weeks painting, each work of art inspires a different taste profile and mood, all captured by craft beer makers. Each guest receives a commemorative Beer Project glass, beer tasting, gourmet appetizers and entrance into the MFA galleries.

Festivities include a roving tattoo parlor, themed pop-up beer lounges designed by Andrew Winchell of Inside Jobs Design, and live painting by Daniel Mrgan, a St. Pete-based muralist and artist. Mrgan’s work, seen in galleries and collections throughout the Bay area, is a celebratory paean to an ever-changing St. Pete. His large scale work, painted live on-site during The Beer Project, will be auctioned off that evening. All funds raised at the auction will help conserve the Museum’s Bamileke elephant mask.

Participating breweries include Abita Brewing Co., Big Storm Brewing Co., Bootleggers Brewworx, Bury Me Brewing Co., Cigar City Cider & Mead, Crooked Thumb Brewery, Flying Boat Brewery, Green Bench Brewing Co., Green Bench Cider & Mead, Marker 48 Brewing Co., Mastry’s Brewing Co., Pinellas Ale Works, Rapp Brewing Co., and Stilt House Brewing Co.

DATE: Friday, June 9
TIME: 7 – 10 pm
TICKETS: $45 for MFA members; non-members pay $60 in advance and $75 at the door.

Wine passes are also available for an additional $5.  Designated drivers are $30.  

Guests must be 21 years or older to participate.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – The MFA at 255 Beach Drive N.E. has a world-class collection, with works by Monet, Morisot, Rodin, O’Keeffe, Willem de Kooning, and many others. Also displayed are ancient Greek and Roman, Egyptian, Asian, African, pre-Columbian, and Native American art. Selections from the photography collection, one of the largest and finest in the Southeast, are now on view in a gallery dedicated to the medium. Kristen A. Shepherd is the new Executive Director.

To order tickets, please call 727.896.2667 or visit mfastpete.org/beer-project. To receive further Beer Project updates, visit us on social media at Facebook.com/MFABeerProject or on the MFA Viewpoint App under Custom Tours.