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HART board members deny that collaboration with PSTA is a backdoor attempt to merge agencies

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A Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) committee approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) on Monday for further collaboration between the two Bay area transit agencies, but not before some members had to tamp down the notion that the agreement could ultimately lead to a merger — and perhaps a tax increase for transit. “This would be adopting an agreement to codify some opportunities to work more closely together,” said HART CEO Katharine Eagan in presenting the…

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David Jolly presents flag at Ray Neri’s memorial service

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Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly on Wednesday presented an American flag to Laura Neri, the widow of community activist Ray Neri, who died Jan. 3. The flag was one that U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis had had flown over the Capitol especially for Mrs. Neri. “Ray Neri was a special person,” Jolly said. “Ray touched peoples’ lives.” Jolly was only one of many of Pinellas’ political leaders who came to Neri’s memorial service. Others included Pinellas County commissioners  Pat Gerard, Karen…

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PSTA, HART take steps to formal working partnership

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The two agencies responsible for bus service in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties already collaborate, but in the future, they plan to have a tighter working partnership. On Wednesday, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s legislative committee got its first look at a proposed agreement that could result in the merger of some departments. The general goal is to streamline services to save money and provide better service for transit riders, PSTA CEO Brad Miller said. The agreement sets out areas in…

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‘Mr. Lealman’ Ray Neri dies

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Ray Neri, the man who put the unincorporated Lealman area on the map, died Tuesday at Northside Hospital. Neri was taken to Northside on Monday. He had fallen earlier in the day. Neri was a well-known community activist whose persistent lobbying brought attention to the problems in his community. With the light he shone on Lealman came help. His activism resulted in, among other things, a renovated park, a new park, and Pinellas County’s first community redevelopment area designed to…

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John Morroni to chair Forward Pinellas board next year

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Forward Pinellas, the transportation and land use planning agency for Pinellas County, has new board leadership and several new members going into 2017. Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni will serve as the board’s chair; Clearwater Commissioner Doreen Caudell, vice chair; Indian Rocks Beach Commissioner Cookie Kennedy, treasurer; and Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, secretary. All votes were unanimous. Forward Pinellas is the organization formed by the merger of the Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Pinellas Planning Council. Forward Pinellas is…

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Board member takes strong exception to potential interlocal agreement between HART and PSTA

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In late October, Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long – in her role with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Agency (PSTA) – came before her counterparts with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) to talk up the benefits of the two transit agencies collaborating on a more formal basis, which she said could be used as way to leverage the power of the region when trying to procure more federal and state funding. However at Monday’s HART meeting of its Legislative and Strategic Planning Committee, board member…

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PSTA climbs on board Janet Long’s ‘regional council of governments’ idea

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Members of the governing board of Pinellas’ bus transportation authority voted unanimously Wednesday to develop an agreement to coordinate with the Hillsborough transit authority. The agreement, which would be forwarded to the State Legislature, is a step to creating a regional council of governments that’s been proposed by Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long. Long said the proposal is a “framework” for merging several governmental agencies into one regional organization that can provide regional solutions to transit, land and economic development,…

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