BELLEAIR - The heavy equipment is on the site, what looks like a concrete bunker has risen from the ground and most of the grass is gone, torn up. By the end of the month all that will have been transformed into a pristine green space in the middle of Belleair. What was Hunter Park will become Hunter Memorial Park and the dream of several Belleair residents will have become a reality.
Nearly two years ago resident and former Commissioner Karla Rettstatt appeared before the town commission with a plan to transform the park into a memorial for veterans. She pledged to raise most of the money for the project as long as the town officials approved and would help with some of the costs.
It has been said timing is everything and for Rettstatt that day the timing was perfect. Parks and Recreation Department Eric Wahlbeck had been wanting to overhaul the community’s 20 parks. Many had fallen in disrepair and tables and benches were deteriorating. Rettstatt’s pledge of more than $300,000 couldn’t have come at a better time so a partnership was born.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - The Belleair Bluffs Commission voted against the extended terms and term limits at its Oct. 20 regular meeting, meaning neither will be on the ballot in next March’s election.
Voters will not be able to decide whether to extend the terms of the mayor and city commissioners from two to three years or limit commission members to three terms. Both had been among the recommendations of a committee set up to review and suggest changes to the city charter.
The commission also rejected a proposal that commission members forfeit their office if convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude.” That could include offenses such as a DUI conviction or being found guilty of passing checks with insufficient funds, according to City Attorney Thomas Trask.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Significant changes to the Belleair Bluffs Charter are being recommended by the Charter Review Committee, which meets every five years to review and consider revisions to the city’s charter and ordinances.
Among the changes being suggested is a proposal to extend the terms of commission members from two to three years, and add a three-term limit. Currently, the mayor and commissioners can serve for as long as they are re-elected. The extended terms and term limit proposals will be separate issues on the ballot, so voters can accept or reject either.
Charter Review Committee chairman Dave Shimkus presented the committee’s recommendations at the Oct. 13 commission workshop. Any changes to the charter must be approved by the commission and ratified in a referendum vote, which would be held next March.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - A full house at the Indian Rocks Beach Commission meeting on Oct. 14 heard plans by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish manatee protection zones all along the Intracoastal Waterway through the city.
Many supported the idea. Some thought it didn’t go far enough and others were opposed to it. In the end commissioners decided to take some time to think about it.
Conservation Commission scientist Scott Calleson and colleague Carol Knox were invited by City Manager Gregg Mims to speak to the commission about their plans. Calleson said the proposed protection zone was developed after years of study.
BELLEAIR - The town of Belleair has a new Police Chief. Bill Sohl was sworn in by Mayor Gary Katica Oct. 7 at the commission meeting.
Sohl takes over from former Chief Tom Edwards, who resigned in mid-September after a report found that morale in the department was low because of his management style. Attempts to fix the issue didn’t take root because Edwards decided to resign just days after meeting with Town Manager Micah Maxwell to try to solve the problem.
BELLEAIR - The town’s Planning and Zoning Board is recommending that the commission approve the zoning request by the proposed developer of the Belleview Biltmore site. The recommendation came during a special meeting on Oct. 6 called to consider that request and requests to approve the preliminary site plan and the development agreement.
The recommendation brings the demolition of the hotel ever closer because it plays into the plans outlined by Developer Michael Cheezem.
Town Planner David Healey told the board members that changing the zoning to a planned mixed use would allow the development of condos, townhomes and a hotel on the site. He also noted that the three items were closely linked and passing one without the others would not be practical.
BELLEAIR BEACH - While plans for the beautification of Gulf Boulevard move forward, residents have concerns about homes that have been abandoned for years and the negative impact of vehicles used to patrol the beach.
The issues were brought up at the Oct. 6 Belleair Beach City Council meeting.
Marvin Behm, a former city council member, wanted to know what the city plans to do about two houses that he said “look terrible.” One of the homes, on Louisa Drive, has been abandoned for five years, and the other, on Harbor Drive, for a decade, Behm said.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - It is all about helping people who need it. That is why two men have left Indian Rocks Beach on an epic journey by foot. They are walking to California.
Indian Rocks Beach resident Sam Leonard, 72, and his friend Al Blake, 74 of Sarasota say they are determined to make the 2,700-mile journey no matter how long it takes. Leonard was particularly descriptive about the time it might take.
BELLEAIR - The owners of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel have won the first round in their effort to be granted a “certificate of appropriateness,” which would give them the right to do whatever they wish with the hotel. That means that demolition is on the horizon.
The town’s Historic Preservation Board voted 5-1 to recommend to the Town Commission that the certificate be granted.
Connections @ Park Station
PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce hosts Connections @ Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd., Room 101, a free networking event, on the second and fourth Fridays of the month at 8:30 a.m.
Contact Carl Lucchi at 458-7863 for more information.
Cooters Crab Fest CLEARWATER – To celebrate the opening of stone crab season, Cooters Restaurant & Bar will host its 21st annual Crab Fest Oct. 23-26, at 423 Poinsettia Ave., Clearwater Beach.
The four-day big tent party will kick off Thursday, Oct. 23, 5 p.m., and will run throughout the weekend, while supplies last. Cooters’ special Crab Fest menu will feature fresh off the boat Florida stone crab, king crab, snow crab and Dungeness crab all at special reduced prices.
There also will be live music under the big tent, commemorative merchandise and drink specials.
Cooters’ Crab Fest is a family friendly event and there is no cover charge. Valet parking will be available.
Erica DiCeglie and the Holy Jazz ST. PETERSBURG – Erica DiCeglie and the Holy Jazz will perform Friday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m., at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 301 58th St. S.
Cost is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Call 347-3215.
This concert is a fundraiser for the Amigos Center (an outreach for farm workers) in Immokalee.
Erica DiCeglie is a local recording artist. She has cut two albums and currently has a song at No. 4 on the Reverbnation website. Holy Jazz is a fantastic musical journey into the heart of the Gospels combining music, words, and imagery.
Friends of the Clearwater Library book sale CLEARWATER – The Friends of the Clearwater Public Library is having its annual fall book sale on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Clearwater Main Library, 100 N. Osceola Ave. The books will be of all genres.
Scottish American Society social gatherings Ceilidhs, traditional Gaelic social gatherings, are held every Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Scottish American Society of Dunedin, 917 Louden Ave., Dunedin.
The cost is $5 for nonmembers. The social club is dedicated to the preservation of Scottish culture, offering Scottish country dancing, line dancing, holiday dinners and parties.
Stone Crab Feast INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – Keegan’s Seafood Grille will host its seventh annual Stone Crab Feast Oct. 24-26, with special pricing while supplies last.
Live music will be provided by local artists such as BillyD, Pamela Love and Jason Reagle. Keegan’s is at 1519 Gulf Blvd. Hours will be Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunset Market LARGO – Sunset Market is open every Friday through May, 3 to 7 p.m., in Largo Central Park’s parking lot No. 1, at southwest corner of East Bay and Central Park drives.
Vendors will offer vegetables, fruits, raw local honey, herbal teas and wild-caught seafood as well as organic body products, essential oils, arts and crafts. The focus will be on produce and organic products with about 40 percent of the market dedicated to art and craft vendors.
The market offers several ways for commercial business to advertise as well as two free spaces per market reserved for nonprofit entities.
Circus McGurkis ST. PETERSBURG – The St. Petersburg Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) will host the 43rd annual Circus McGurkis peace education celebration Saturday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lake Vista Park, 1401 62nd Ave. S.
Circus McGurkis is a peoples’ fair focusing on peace education and service to the community with special focus on activities for children of all ages and families of all types. It features arts, crafts, music, games, and ideas that celebrate the creativity and activism that makes the community a more beautiful, loving and just place to live.