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Darden Rice: Express bus route to beaches worth a compromise

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Everyone knows Pinellas County is home to incredible beaches, world-class entertainment, and unmatched quality of life. Because of this, Pinellas has emerged one of the nation’s top vacation destinations. This tourism boom is driving new business to local shops, restaurants and museums, and providing crucial revenue to city and regional government. But as more people discover everything Pinellas has to offer, traffic congestion — and the pollution that comes with it — will only continue to grow. That’s especially true…

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Pinellas sewer task force turns to the technical experts

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There were no new revelations or big ideas during the first meeting of the newly formed wastewater/stormwater task force Monday. Instead, Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, who created the board, tossed the ball to the technical staff with directions to come back to the committee with an initial plan within 90 days. The steering committee is made up of elected officials and community leaders. Justice called for the task force to be formed after the county, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, St. Pete…

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Pinellas Commission approves foreclosure registry

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In an effort to minimize the impact of foreclosed properties that may not be properly maintained, the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance requiring the registration, inspection and maintenance of foreclosed homes. “It’s long overdue. Some of the houses in our neighborhoods are horrible,” Commissioner Dave Eggers said. “I’m tired of these banks not taking care of these houses and ruining neighborhoods.” The ordinance, which goes into effect Jan. 1, applies to properties in unincorporated Pinellas that…

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Pinellas County, cities provide help for victims of Hurricane Matthew

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Two dozen fire and emergency medical services personnel left Pinellas for the east coast Thursday to prepare for the aftermath response of Hurricane Matthew. Pinellas County Emergency Medical Services and Fire Administration coordinated the departure of the Fire Engine Strike Team and Technical Rescue Unit from Clearwater to the final staging area in Lakeland. The effort was made possible by the strong partnerships among the county and municipalities. The Fire Engine Strike Team is made up of firefighters from the…

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St. Pete closes emergency operations center; Pinellas EOC remains open

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St. Petersburg closed its emergency operations center, opened to handle issues related to Hurricane Matthew, at 9 a.m. Friday. No significant damage was reported, St. Petersburg officials said, although one downed tree branch briefly blocked traffic on 4th Street South at 59th Avenue. Wind speeds stayed between 18 mph and 26 mph overnight, with gusts reaching 33 mph, they said. Seven people spent the night at the shelter at Northside Baptist Church, 6000 38th Ave. N. St. Petersburg officials said…

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Pinellas County prepares to lend hurricane aid to east coast

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As preparations continue ahead of a Category 4 hurricane forecast to move along or over the east coast of Florida tonight and tomorrow, Pinellas County is making its own plans to lend a hand. “The current weather forecast puts Pinellas County in a more favorable position to be able to support other agencies and counties that are expected to see far greater impacts,” Pinellas County Commission Chairman Charlie Justice said in a press release. “Both in times of calm and…

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Rick Scott orders DEP investigation in St. Petersburg sewage discharges

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Gov. Rick Scott has ordered the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to investigate sewage discharges in St. Petersburg. The Governor’s Office made the announcement Wednesday, just one day after Scott called on the state Department of Health to begin additional testing at the discharge site. While the city is responsible for testing in the immediate area, the Department of Health will monitor the water quality and do sampling at 14 beaches — including nine in Pinellas County and five in…

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