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Mark Woodard

More than 395,000 people without power in Pinellas County

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(Updated) More than 395,000 Duke Energy customers in Pinellas County are without electricity following Hurricane Irma’s entry Sunday night and Monday morning. That’s 70 percent of Duke’s service area in Pinellas County. (On Tuesday afternoon, Duke officials said that of their 1.2  million customers throughout Florida, 375,000 have had their power restored. They did not say how many of those customers were in Pinellas. Duke Energy provides power to 35 different counties in Florida). Approximately 120 pump stations are also…

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Director of Pinellas construction licensing board retires

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Rodney Fisher, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, announced his retirement during a meeting Tuesday of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation. Fisher, who has been the target of recent stories in the Tampa Bay Times, referred to those saying, “The issue with the PCCLB should not be about me. … I am retiring as the executive director.” The stories have alleged that some homeowners and contractors feel “cheated, ignored and even stonewalled” by the agency. As…

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Pinellas County launching educational campaign to renew Penny for Pinellas

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Pinellas residents can expect to hear a lot next year about the number of roads, fire stations, parks, buildings and other projects the county and cities have constructed during the past 30 years. Residents will also hear a lot about construction planned for Pinellas’ future. It’s all part of an education campaign that the county and municipal governments will undertake as they try to persuade Pinellas voters to renew the Penny for Pinellas sales tax for the fourth time. If…

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Pinellas Commission to form sewer, wastewater task force

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Pinellas County commissioners agreed Wednesday to form a countywide task force to work together on sewer and stormwater management issues. The panel would be comprised of Pinellas County, 13 municipalities that have their own sewer systems, and three private systems. “I believe the coming together of our partners can lay the groundwork for better reaction to emergencies, improving our infrastructure, and ultimately providing better services for our citizens,” Commissioner Charlie Justice wrote in a memo proposing the task force. It…

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Norm Roche asks judge to overturn her decision in ‘un-hiring’ lawsuit

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Former Pinellas Commissioner Norm Roche has asked a judge to reconsider her decision that the county did not violate the state public records law. Roche contended Pinellas officials had failed to give him documents and other records concerning his termination from county employment before his first day of work. Earlier this month, Circuit Judge Cynthia Newton disagreed, saying Roche had “failed to meet the burden of establishing evidence that there were un-produced responsive documents within [the county’s] control.” In his…

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Pinellas County chooses new assistant county administrator

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Pinellas County has hired a new assistant county administrator, Bill Breckinridge, a U.S. Navy veteran and engineering professional with 20 years of experience, ranging from public works to environmental management. Breckinridge, who started work Monday, will oversee the following county departments: the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport, public works, and solid waste and utilities. He replaces Pick Talley, who held the position on an interim basis since last year and previously served Pinellas County for nearly two decades leading up to retirement.…

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Property tax rate expected to hold steady in Pinellas for the coming year

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Pinellas County commissioners agreed Thursday to hold property tax rates steady for the upcoming 2016-17 fiscal year. The agreement, made during a workshop, is not official. Commissioners will have to vote twice to finalize the tax rate for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. However, once they give the tax rate preliminary approval, it cannot be increased before the final vote. Commissioners could decrease the rate, but not increase it. Under the agreement, the property tax rate would remain…

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