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Incumbent, newcomer take office in Kenneth City

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The two open seats on the Kenneth City Town Council were filled without an election when only two residents qualified for office.

Incumbent Joanne DeSimone will take one seat. Newcomer Robert J. Howell will take the other.

DeSimone formerly served on the Redington Beach council. She was first elected to the Kenneth City council in 2010, but lost a 2012 bid to become mayor. She was again elected to the council in 2013.

Howell is a retired businessman who is a native of Indianapolis, Ind. He moved to Pinellas County in 1970 at the age of 19. He moved to Kenneth City eight years ago.

He is married and has three children. His wife, Fran, and son, Ryan, have taken over the family business, American Dream Carpet Cleaning and Janitorial Services.

“I see Kenneth City getting better and better and better,” Howell said. “I want to be part of it.”

Howell said the town has “vastly changed” since the form of government changed from council as manager to a council-manager format in which an appointed professional manager oversees daily activities while the council passes a budget and sets policy.

“The new way is perfect,” Howell said. “I just want to be a part of it.”

There’s a lot to be a part of in the coming year.

Town Manager Matt Campbell said renovations to the community hall and police station are underway and expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2017. Solar lighting is being installed to highlight the new palm trees along 54th Avenue N.

The town is about to award a bid for the renovation and updating of James Ernst Park. Improvements include an enlarged basketball court, poured surfacing and upgraded play equipment. That project is expected to take about nine months.

Plans for 2017 include renovating the town’s public works building, Campbell said.

Kenneth City has a five-member council. The mayor is elected for a three-year term. Council members serve for two years.

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