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The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners named Mark S. Woodard the interim county administrator.
Woodard has been with the county since June, 1988, beginning his employment as a senior financial management analyst. He went on to serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget and then as assistant county administrator/chief of staff.
“I am gratified by the confidence shown to me by the Board of Commissioners,” said Woodard. “I have always been proud to serve the citizens of this county, and I look forward to working with the commissioners, staff and citizens as we continue to strengthen our community and enhance the quality of life we enjoy here in Pinellas County.”
Once overgrown and cluttered with debris, 38 acres of land in Lealman is now a greenway park. And the efforts to make the Joe’s Creek Greenway Park a reality have led to honors for Pinellas County staff involved in the project.
Pinellas County citizens can safely discard unused or expired prescription drugs, no questions asked, this Saturday, as part of Operation Medicine Cabinet. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement agencies across the county are partnering for the 11th edition of the semi-annual event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 26.
Operation Medicine Cabinet is for citizens of Pinellas County only and is not for commercial use. No biohazards or needles will be accepted. Saturday’s event is held in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
After announcing the start of a collaborative data initiative 18 months ago, Pinellas County Animal Services, SPCA Tampa Bay, Humane Society of Pinellas and Pet Pal Animal Shelter presented the first community update during a press conference on Monday, April 21, at Pinellas County Animal Services.
The report highlighted trends that have emerged in participating shelters throughout the county such as an overall reduction in owner surrender of pets as well as a decrease in the number of stray animal admissions.
“As we continue to look at ways to improve animal welfare, it is important to let data drive our strategies,” said Maureen “Moe” Freaney, director of Pinellas County Animal Services. “Every dog and cat in Pinellas County should be thrilled with the current animal agency collaboration. We can get more done for more animals and the people who love them if we work together. Of course, the most important partner will always be the community. The best shelter is a caring community.”
The data is being compiled using the same reporting matrix, so information from several shelters is comparative. Combined reporting reveals patterns in homeless animal numbers and more accurately reflects animal welfare conditions throughout the county. In the past, separate collection systems used by the different shelters made a comprehensive study across the county inaccurate.
“These reports allow the partners to look for trends of pet homelessness in Pinellas County and give direction as agencies create programs to address pet overpopulation, humane care education and animal cruelty intervention, “ said Sarah Brown, executive director of Humane Society of Pinellas. “Data collection and analysis within animal shelters are critical to developing effective programs that reduce the number of dogs and cats euthanized each year.”
“Documented patterns in animal welfare allow us to expand our focus beyond the typical cycle of admission and adoption to more lasting solutions like spaying and neutering,” said Martha Boden, SPCA Tampa Bay CEO. “When we understand that animal intake is decreasing throughout our county, we can zero in on areas where animal intake is still high, especially for puppies and kittens. Those areas may need more accessible spay-neuter services along with education as to why pet health can benefit from the surgery.”
The 2012 and 2013 data reported today is the first community update provided by the Pinellas Pet Partners. The group’s intention is to provide annual updates to the community to share findings that are data driven along with new initiatives to decrease Pinellas County pet overpopulation. The data reports are reflected on the respective agencies’ websites.
While the mission of all four Pinellas agencies is to shelter and care for the county’s unwanted animal population, there are some differences in service capability.
Pinellas County Animal Services is a countywide facility that accepts all dogs and cats, shelters them and seeks to provide good homes to all adoptable shelter animals. In addition to the operation of a very busy adoption center, it provides services to protect public health, safety and welfare. It is firmly committed to public education that promotes responsible pet ownership. Animal Services runs spay and neuter programs, provides rabies control and vaccination of dogs and cats. As the administrator of county pet licenses and a tracking system, the county helps to reunite pets and owners by providing a free microchip upon reclaim. It also provides code enforcement and assistance to citizens with animal-related issues. It encourages responsible pet ownership and provides many opportunities for the community to adopt, donate and volunteer.
The Humane Society of Pinellas, Inc. (HSP)is Pinellas County’s largest no-kill animal shelter, rescuing over 3,000 animals each year. Located in Clearwater, HSP is a 501(c)3 organization that has been caring for homeless pets in the community for 65 years. HSP is committed to helping keep pets and people together through a variety of programs including an affordable wellness and spay/neuter clinic, a mobile spay/neuter clinic targeting at-risk zip codes and a Pet Food Pantry, including a mobile food pantry, delivering food to needy seniors and disabled individuals. When pet surrender is the only option, HSP’s No Time Limit policy offers the opportunity for every adoptable pet to have its own second chance success story. One hundred percent of contributions are retained by the organization.
Pet Pal Animal Shelter, formerly known as Pet Pal Rescue, built a low cost spay/neuter clinic and, in 2009 expanded its services and changed the clinic’s name to Pet Pal Veterinary Clinic. The clinic offers affordable rates. Under the direction of Executive Director Scott Daly, Pet Pal has stayed true to its mission and the number of animals that it saves increases each year. The shelter continues in its quest to educate the public about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and to promote responsible pet ownership.
A long-awaited water fountain sculpture will be formally dedicated at Florida Botanical Gardens during the annual Diggin’ the Arts on Sunday, May 4.
At that time, the piece will remain nameless, but it will not be “untitled.” A contest is being held to name the sculpture, with the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation offering prizes of a one-night stay at the DoubleTree Beach Resort in North Redington Beach and a one-year Garden Family membership to the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation to the person whose title is chosen.
Suggestions must be submitted by Friday, May 9. Recommended names should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions must include the proposed title of the piece, and the full name, phone number and e-mail address of the entrant.
The sculpture was borne of a love for the gardens and a vision of elevating the gardens’ experience with artwork. Former Foundation president Chuck Scaffidi conceived the idea of showcasing a stunning piece of art in the small pond outside of the Wedding Garden.
More than two years ago, he started working with the Foundation’s Art-in-the-Garden committee chair Melinda Vargas and board member Erhan Ozey. He and Vargas went on a quest to find the appropriate artist and design and a call-to-artists resulted in the appointment of local artists Owen Pach and Jonathan Schork.
The artists will be present as the sculpture is dedicated to Scaffidi at the Foundation’s Diggin’ the Arts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 4. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Florida Botanical Gardens and is free to the public. This event brings a wide variety of museums and cultural organizations to the gardens for a fun day of art projects, Plein air competition and an instrument petting zoo.
The Florida Botanical Gardens is located at 12520 Ulmerton Road in Largo, with an alternate entrance at 12211 Walsingham Road. The gardens remain open from 7 a.m. until dusk every day, with free admission during daylight hours. For more information, visit www.flbg.org or call (727) 582-2100.
The Botanical Bounty gift store, located in the Parks and Conservation Resources building, is volunteer staffed. Hours are generally Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Registration is under way for the 11th Annual Fair Housing Symposium, presented by the Tampa Bay Fair Housing Consortium. The event is scheduled for Friday, April 25, from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Pinellas Realtors Organization auditorium, 4590 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater.
Registration is now open for one-week summer camp programs at Brooker Creek and Weedon Island preserves.
Brooker Creek Preserve
Brooker Creek Preserve will offer a Herpetology Camp for children ages 7 to 11.
Herpetology Camp participants will explore the fascinating world of amphibians and reptiles through close encounters with a variety of animals, including tortoises, frogs, lizards and snakes. The camp will be led by wildlife biologist and environmental educator George L. Heinrich.
The Herpetology Camp runs Friday, Aug. 11 through Friday, Aug. 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is limited to 30 participants, and costs $150 to register.
For more information or to register, contact Heinrich Ecological Services, (727) 865-6255, or email email@example.com.
Brooker Creek Preserve protects more than 8,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The preserve, the horse trails and the Friends Trail are open daily and holidays.
The Pinellas County summer schedule includes a Herpetology Camp, Wildlife Ecology Camp and Archaeology Camp for children ages 7 to 11 at Weedon Island Preserve.
Herpetology Camp participants will explore the fascinating world of amphibians and reptiles through close encounters with a variety of animals, including tortoises, frogs, lizards and snakes. Wildlife Ecology Camp participants will learn about the ecology of Florida’s wildlife and natural habitats through hands-on activities, classroom sessions and guest presentations. The camps will be led by wildlife biologist and environmental educator George L. Heinrich.
The Wildlife Ecology Camp runs from Monday, July 7 to Friday, July 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Herpetology Camp runs from Monday, July 14 to Monday, July 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are limited to 30 participants each, and each costs $150 to register.
For more information or to register your child, please contact Heinrich Ecological Services, (727) 865-6255, or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Two hands on Weedon Archaeology Summer Camps sessions are offered for campers ages 7 to 11.
These camps are designed for children with a strong interest in prehistory and history as well as learning how early people interacted with their environment. Campers will learn about the importance of archaeology and will gain understanding about early natural resources that were necessary for life in the Tampa Bay region.
Highlights of the camps include guest experts, tour of an archaeological site, hands-on archaeology, lab analysis, pottery making and earning the certificate of Tommy the Tortoise, Junior Archaeologist.
The Archeology Summer Camp sessions run from Monday, July 21 to Monday, July 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and July 28 to Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The cost is $150 for each camp session, and sessions are limited to 25 participants.
For more information, contact the Florida Public Archaeology Network at (813) 396-2325, or email email@example.com.
Learn more online about 2014 Pinellas County summer camps.
Hop on over to Pinellas County Animal Services to take advantage of spring specials through the end of April.
As part of the spring specials, the adoption fee will be $25 for large dogs and cats and $75 for puppies and small breeds during normal shelter adoption hours. The fee includes a medical checkup, spaying/neutering, vaccinations, internal and external parasite control and microchipping. The required Pinellas County license is also provided.
Rabies vaccines will also be offered at a reduced fee of $5 with the purchase of a Pinellas County license fee of $20.
Pinellas County Animal Services is located at 12450 Ulmerton Road in Largo. Normal hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the adoption center closing at 5:30 p.m. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and services include adoptions. Rabies vaccinations are administered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 3 p.m. through the end of April and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. The facility is closed on all Pinellas County holidays.
For information on how to adopt, donate or volunteer, visit Pinellas County Animal Services online or call (727) 582-2600. The lost or found pets hotline is (727) 582-2604.
Visitors to Pinellas County government facilities will now be able to stay connected even better than before. Wi-Fi access is now live in approximately 800 access points across 99 Pinellas County government buildings.
Guests at the Pinellas County facilities will be able to log in by choosing to connect to the Pinellas_Guest network and agreeing to the Pinellas County Acceptable Use Policy that will open in a browser.
The Pinellas County wireless network supports both 802.11g and 802.11n wireless devices.
Internet access for guests requires no personal information but is temporary and requires authentication every eight hours.
Buildings with Wi-Fi access include:
Visit the WiFi website for a full list of access points and more information on connecting to the networks.
Pinellas County reminds pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to take measures for everyone’s safety. Some basic tips:
If on a bike:
Drivers are reminded to:
For more information on the Planning and Development Department, visit the website or call (727) 464-8200.
It is still a few months until the start of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, and now is the prime time for residents to review their survival plans. Activities such as outdoor improvements and adding additional bracing to an attic are easier to accomplish before the summer heat sets in.
Some key actions that can be taken now include:
While these preparations are essential for hurricane season, they can also help residents get ready for other hazards, including the summer thunderstorms.
For more information about how to prepare yourself and your family for hurricanes, visit the Emergency Management website to find your evacuation level, learn about storm dangers and discover how to create your own disaster plan.
Pinellas County reclaimed water seasonal restrictions will begin Tuesday, April 1. These restrictions limit reclaimed water irrigation during authorized hours to three days per week based on house number.
Pinellas County Utilities customers are encouraged to follow these restrictions throughout the year to promote a healthy, drought-tolerant lawn with deep roots. These restrictions are mandatory during Florida’s traditional dry seasons from April through June and October through November.
Violations of these restrictions may result in a $193 fine. For more information on reclaimed water, visit the website or call (727) 464-4000.
If you are not a Pinellas County Utilities customer, please check with your water supplier to verify your watering days.
Customers are also reminded that Pinellas County is under a Southwest Florida Water Management District Phase II Water Shortage Order allowing irrigation using potable, well, lake or pond water two days per week on assigned days based on house address. Verify your watering days online.
A new electric cart donated by Pinellas Trails Inc. helped volunteer Auxiliary Rangers log nearly 350 miles maintaining the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail since November.
Volunteers use the vehicle to monitor the approximately 38-mile trail, picking up trash and other debris to keep the trail clean and clear.
“It is a safe, quality cart that has earned rave reviews from volunteers who use it to maintain the trail,” said Bert Valery, president of Pinellas Trails Inc.
The cart is equipped with a bed that acts similar to a dump truck, making it easier for operators to dispose of debris. Because the cart is electric, there are no fuel costs, and the vehicle is exhaust-free.
“This is a great new cart,” said Phyllis Romanski of Largo, a volunteer Auxiliary Ranger. “The lack of exhaust fumes coming from the cart makes working on the trail for an extended period much easier.”
A video story on the Trails electric cart can be found on YouTube.
Pinellas Trails Inc. partners with Pinellas County to provide amenities and maintenance for the trail. The purchase of the cart was funded through donations from citizens.
The Office of Ken Burke, Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, launched a new website that allows users to view financial transactions undertaken by the Clerk of the Circuit Court and the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners. The Spending in the Sunshine website is the latest offering by Pinellas County to provide citizens an electronically accessed, transparent view of government activities.
The Spending in the Sunshine website allows users to view detailed financial transactions down to the invoice level, and if applicable, the check number and funding source across both departments. The site offers multiple methods of searching for information under various categories including by vendor, department and spending.
The site also provides records of salary expenditures for employees under both entities. Tutorial videos are placed on each tab of the site to help users navigate the different functions associated with each type of search. Users are also able to export data into multiple programs.
Clerk of the Circuit Court Ken Burke requested the in-house project be developed to offer citizens an easy-to-use, convenient way to view government spending.
“I am very pleased that all Pinellas County citizens will now be able to open the books, so to speak, and view government spending on their behalf,” Burke said. “I wanted to eliminate any barrier to being absolutely transparent. With Spending in the Sunshine, I believe we have accomplished just that—a companion piece to the state’s sunshine laws regarding open record keeping.”
The project was led by Clerk of the Circuit Court internet technology staff and developed by staff in Pinellas County’s Business Technology Services division, leveraging the county’s recent investment in the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise business planning and financial application.
To view the Spending in the Sunshine website visit the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website and click on the Spending in the Sunshine tab at the top of the page.
Property appraiser relocates office
The Tangible Personal Property Division of the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s office has relocated from the Supervisor of Elections building in the Starkey Lakes Corporate Center, to their main branch office, which is on the second floor of the Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St, Clearwater.
Non-Tangible Personal Property personnel (real estate only) will remain co-located in the Tax Collector’s Starkey Lakes location at 13025 Starkey Road, Largo.
Many Property Appraiser services are available online. Customers may also call the office at (727) 464-3207 for assistance.
The two additional Property Appraiser’s branch offices are:
Starting on Sunday, Jan. 16, residents will have another location to have their lawn and garden questions answered. The University of Florida/IFAS Master Gardeners of Pinellas County will hold a Plant Clinic on the first and third Thursday of each month starting on Jan. 16 (excluding holidays).
Volunteers will be available to answer questions and look at plant samples between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on those days. The plant clinic will be located in the lobby of the education center.
Other UF/IFAS Extension, Pinellas County Plant Clinic locations:
Nutrients from landscape debris are major contributors to water pollution in Pinellas County. Education of landscape industry personnel is key to improving water quality and certification of these professionals is a requirement in Pinellas County.
Anyone providing landscape services in Pinellas County must complete a Best Management Practices (BMP) training and obtain a vehicle decal for landscape maintenance per Pinellas County fertilizer and landscaping ordinance #10-06. This requirement includes all employees who use mowers, edgers, leaf blowers or other landscaping equipment. This also includes tree service employees.
The Pinellas County Extension offers Landscape BMP certification classes monthly. Classes are offered in English and in Spanish. The class cost is $15.
See a class schedule and register for a class session. For more information about the countywide fertilizer & landscape maintenance ordinance, visit the fertilizer website or call (727) 464-4425. Spanish speakers needing assistance with registration may call (727) 464-4605.
Pinellas County Extension is a partnership between Pinellas County government and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences as part of a nationwide network of land grant universities. The University of Florida is an equal-access/equal-opportunity institution.
Pinellas County Extension offers a variety of programming focusing on sustainable living, lawn and garden, families and consumers, and 4-H youth development. Many of these programs are offered at the Extension office, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, (727) 582-2100. The Largo office is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in an event or class you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. At least seven days prior to the event or class, please contact the Office of Human Rights, 400 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Suite 500, Clearwater, FL 33756, (727) 464-4062 (Voice/TDD).
The new Recycle Today: 2014 Pinellas County Recycling Directory has just been released. The directory is packed with the latest information about how to recycle in Pinellas County including local options for recycling cans, glass bottles, plastics #1-7, paper, yard waste, cardboard, electronics, chemicals and motor oil.
Find out the new recycling options that are now available in Pinellas County. Many municipal recycling programs have been improved and citizens are encouraged to check for the changes in their municipality.
Free copies of the new directory are available in local newspapers. The directory will be distributed with the inserts in the Sunday, Jan. 19, edition of the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) and the St. Petersburg Tribune (formerly the Tampa Tribune - Pinellas County edition). Copies will also be distributed in the Thursday, Jan. 23, edition of The Weekly Challenger newspaper. Citizens can also pick up the copies in the Friday, Jan. 24 edition of the tbt* Newspaper, Tampa Bay’s free daily newspaper.
After Jan. 21, citizens can pick up a free copy at local libraries, Nature’s Food Patch or Pinellas County drop-off recycling centers.
Recycle Today is published by the Solid Waste Division of Pinellas County’s Department of Environment and Infrastructure each year to make recycling easier by providing detailed and updated information on local programs, including:
To learn more about recycling, visit the recycling website or call (727) 464-7500.
Pinellas County has been designated as a 2013-15 Citizen-Engaged Community by the Public Technology Institute. The PTI created this designation program to recognize excellence in the use of web technology and citizen engagement tools in local government.
Want to follow along with a meeting of the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners while you’re on the go? If you have a smart phone or tablet computer, you’re in luck. Pinellas County is now live streaming board meetings right to you.
Mobile Internet users can visit the Pinellas County mobile website and click on the Live Streaming Video link which provides a video stream optimized for portable smart devices including iPad, iPhone, tablet computers and Android phones.