Pinellas Receives Additional $16M for Beach Nourishment

The Pinellas County federal beach nourishment project will receive an additional $16 million in federal funding this summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced this week.

Last summer, the County was awarded $12.8 million to respond to storm damage to Pinellas beaches.  With the additional monies and $5.15 million from the County’s Bed Tax and $5.15 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Corps will be able to renourish up to 10.5 miles of beaches to provide critical coastal storm damage protection, recreational opportunities and enhanced natural habitats. The federal government has invested nearly $120 million in restorative beach erosion control measures, including beach nourishment and the construction of groins, to date.

“The Pinellas County beach nourishment program has been a model partnership among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state, county and local communities for more than 40 years,” said Janet C. Long, Chairman of the Pinellas County Commission.  “The funding for the construction this Fall would not have been possible without support of the Jacksonville District Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and Congressmen Charlie Crist and Gus Bilirakis.”

With construction scheduled to begin this Fall, a key step in the process remains securing the proper easements from property owners along the length of the project. Together, the County and Municipalities sent letters to all property owners last January to request the easements. The easements will allow for necessary construction activities without any gaps in the project and will preserve public access to the beaches. Property owners have until June 2 to provide the easement.  Owners with questions or who have not yet signed an easement should contact Dr. John Bishop, Pinellas County Coastal Management Coordinator, at (727) 464-8677.

The Pinellas County Shore Protection Project includes three federally authorized segments that are actively maintained by the federal government in a cost-share agreement with Pinellas County. Based on construction bids, segments could include Sand Key, Treasure Island and Long Key.

Our beaches provide critical costal protection from storms, unparalleled recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors, and important habitat for shorebirds and nesting sea turtles.  “This project aligns perfectly with the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners’ strategic goal of practicing superior environmental stewardship to preserve and manage environmental lands, beach parks and historical assets,” said County Administrator Mark S. Woodard.

Scam Alert

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging the public to be on alert of scammers targeting elderly citizens identifying and posing as employees of the water department. Victims are told there is a water leak in their home and once the suspects gain entry, one suspect distracts the victim while the other suspect steals various jewelry and valuables. Pinellas County Sheriff’s De- partment encourages citizens to not allow anyone entry into their home without first verify- ing the status of their employment by either contacting your local water department or the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office at 727.582.6200.

Join the friendly Team of Courthouse Ambassador Volunteers

Pinellas County is in search of friendly individuals to be part of the Courthouse Ambassador volunteer program. Courthouse Ambassadors are often the first contact citizens encounter while conducting business in the Pinellas County Courthouse.

Interested county residents are invited to attend a Courthouse Ambassador recruitment gathering this Friday, June 2, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., in Studio B, located in the Pinellas County Marketing & Communications Department at 333 Chestnut St., Clearwater.

To join this dynamic team, volunteers are asked to commit to one or more four-hour shifts weekly. Friends and family members are welcome to team up and share a time slot.

Located at the Information Station in the lobby of the courthouse, Ambassadors are well trained as information representatives to meet the needs of citizens, provide directions and assist with questions concerning county departments.
Refreshments will be provided for those who attend the gathering.

Interested participants are requested to RSVP to Volunteer Coordinator Vanessa Quintana at vquintana@pinellascounty.org or by calling (727) 464-4600. Volunteer information is available at www.pinellascounty.org/volunteer or by contacting Volunteer Services at (727) 464-8477.

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/.