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Pinellas County water restrictions will change for Pinellas County Utilities customers effective Friday, Aug. 1. Recent rainfall has improved water resource conditions for the county, prompting the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board to end the Phase II Severe Water Shortage Order on Thursday, July 31.
Pinellas County Utilities customers using potable, well, lake, or pond water may continue to irrigate their lawns on two authorized watering days per week according to the schedule below:
Previously restricted water-use activities such as using sprinkler-like devices, wading pools, water slides, etc. for recreational purposes are no longer restricted.
New lawns and landscaping must follow a 60-day establishment period irrigation schedule. Visit Pinellas County Utilities website for schedule details at www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/water-restrict.htm.
As a reminder, Pinellas County Utilities reclaimed water customers north of Curlew Road are still experiencing reduced reclaimed water availability with the system shut down on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. North county reclaimed water customers are authorized to irrigate two days per week according to the schedule below:
This schedule is in effect until storage levels recover and the system can return to full capacity. For more information, visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/reclaim-irrigation.htm.
Pinellas County Utilities reminds residents that water restrictions can change at any time. Customers are responsible for staying up to date on restrictions and watering schedules. Violations of such restrictions or schedules may result in a $193 fine.
As a courtesy, Pinellas County Utilities sends out email notifications when schedules change for potable, well, lake, and pond water. Customers are encouraged to sign up for email updates to register their email address to receive notifications. For more details, please call Customer Service at (727) 464-4000, or visit Pinellas County Utilities online.
Pinellas County Animal Services is seeking volunteers to join the foster care team, as part of an effortto save pets that need time away from the shelter.
The program requires a foster application and approval. All foster care parents are required to complete the volunteer orientation class and foster training held on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at the Pinellas County Animal Services shelter. Volunteer orientation begins at 10:30 a.m., and foster training immediately follows at 12:30 p.m.
Some of the animals that will benefit from the program include puppies and kittens too young for adoption, those recovering from surgery or illness, senior pets that need to be out of a shelter environment, dogs that have been on the adoption list for an extended period, and adoptable pets requiring socialization skills that can only be learned in a home environment.
Volunteers interested in becoming a foster parent will work directly with the adoption coordinator and medical staff.
In 2013, Pinellas County Animal Services fostered 1,096 animals that needed additional time and care.
For information on how to adopt, donate or volunteer, join Pinellas County Animal Services on Facebook. To learn more about the shelter, visit, or call (727) 582-2600. The lost or found pet hotline is (727) 582-2604.
Pinellas County Mosquito Control received results confirming positive results for St. Louis encephalitis in two sentinel chickens. One was at Walsingham Park in Seminole and one in Cross Bayou in unincorporated Seminole area.
Sentinel chickens serve as an early-warning detection system for some mosquito-borne arboviral diseases and can signal the fact that mosquitoes carrying the diseases are present in the area. There are eight locations in the county where chickens are kept and tested weekly.
St. Louis encephalitis differs from chikungunya, which is not detected in sentinel chickens but which is also transmitted by mosquitoes. There have been three confirmed cases of chikungunya in Pinellas County this year, none of which were locally acquired, but which were imported from the Caribbean.
The public is urged to be diligent in ridding their properties of standing water to prevent mosquitoes breeding. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one quarter inch of standing water, so residents are advised to take the following precautions:
In addition, the Florida Department of Health advises residents to follow preventive measures consisting of the 3 Ds:
More information on controlling mosquitoes and a mosquito control request form can be found on the Pinellas County Mosquito Control website. Residents can also call Pinellas County Mosquito Control at (727) 464-7503.
Just where will storm surge affect during a major hurricane and how high can it get? Pinellas County residents can get the answer to these questions simply by driving past certain Pinellas County schools.
A series of storm surge awareness signs has been installed at 38 locations around Pinellas County schools and school-related facilities, showing not only that the areas are vulnerable to this deadly effect of hurricanes, but how much surge the areas could see in a major hurricane. These locations include:
This project, the result of an 18-month grant program, was rolled out to coincide with the release of the National Hurricane Center’s experimental storm surge product, first used last week in North Carolina during the approach of Hurricane Arthur.
Work is nearly complete on a storm surge illustration application to show residents what storm surge will look like at their address during different evacuation levels.
An empty lot in Lealman was covered with weeds and debris. That is, until citizens led by the Lealman Community Association identified a need to improve the land. The result was the Joe’s Creek Greenway Park, a multi-year project completed in November 2013.
Pinellas County has been designated as a 2014 Tech Savvy County by the Public Technology Institute. The Local Government Tech Savvy Award Program recognizes the efforts of counties and cities throughout the U.S. that create technology programs to serve constituents both internally and externally.
Pinellas County is one of four jurisdictions to receive the recognition. The county will be presented with a certificate of distinction at an awards ceremony in Nashville, Tenn. this September.
“It is very exciting to be recognized by the Public Technology Institute as a Tech Savvy County,” said Martin Rose, chief information officer of Pinellas County’s Business Technology Services. “This award encompasses a holistic view of the progressive use of technology, and associated business processes and governance across county government to better serve our community. As a true partner to all county departments, and with the support from the BTS Board and Board of County Commissioners, Business Technology Services is proud to play a key role in driving technology leadership and in delivering value added services across a wide range of Pinellas County government solutions.”
According to the Public Technology Institute’s Deputy Executive Director Dale Brown, the panel of judges found Pinellas County’s application to be “compelling.” Brown further stated that the Public Technology Institute would like to utilize illustrations that were included in the application and “turn them into demonstration webinars.”
A list of the winners of the 2014 Tech Savvy Award and a summary of what it means to be tech savvy is available at www.pti.org.
In the midst of hurricane season, the July edition of Aging on the Suncoast spotlights disaster preparedness for seniors.
This month’s program features two emergency management professionals as guests, Debbie Peck, emergency management coordinator with Pinellas County Emergency Management and Jason Martino, emergency coordinating officer for the Area Agency on Aging. Peck and Martino discuss areas of particular interest to seniors, such as making evacuation plans, registering for a special needs shelter, finding transportation to a shelter and how to obtain an emergency supply of medication.
Aging on the Suncoast is a half-hour monthly show featuring subjects of interest to those ages 60 and older. It is produced by Pinellas County Communications and the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, Inc.
Watch this episode on Pinellas County Connection TV (Bright House 622, WOW! 18 and Verizon 44) or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/pcctv1, where past shows are archived as well. Pasco County residents can watch on Pasco County Government Access (Bright House 622 and Verizon 42). For the current broadcast schedule and past programs, visit www.agingcarefl.org/aging-on-the-suncoast.
Pinellas County is currently accepting public input for project ideas to restore the local environment and economy using anticipated federal funds allocated to Pinellas County related to the 2010 BP oil spill.
Projects must be within the county or benefit the county and/or its adjacent bay, coastal and Gulf waters and the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Submitted ideas may be developed into project proposals by county staff. The county also plans to accept project proposals for funding later this year.
The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities, and Revived Economy Act of 2012, better known as the RESTORE Act, requires that penalties collected as a result of the civil lawsuit over the BP oil spill be allocated to the five Gulf States. The exact amount of funding coming to Pinellas County is not yet known, but could be in the range of $1.5 to $2 million per year for 10 or more years.
Citizens can submit ideas, review county-held public meeting information and read a summary of the RESTORE Act provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection online. Project ideas can also be mailed to:
Attention: RESTORE Act Program Director
Pinellas County beaches are great places to relax and to swim in the Gulf of Mexico. But before taking a dip, Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources reminds beachgoers to be aware of rip currents.
According to the United States Lifesaving Association, rip currents are the leading surf hazard for beachgoers and can occur at any beach with breaking waves.
The association says swimmers should avoid areas that show signs of rip currents, which include a channel of churning, choppy water, an area with a notable water color difference, a break in the wave pattern and a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily out to sea.
“Swimming at a lifeguard-monitored beach is the best way to stay safe,” said Katherine Cleary, aquatics supervisor with Pinellas County. “When conditions indicate rip currents may occur, we put up warning flags or in some cases close beaches to swimming altogether.”
County lifeguards are on duty 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (unless otherwise posted) daily from March to September at the county’s Fort De Soto, Fred Howard and Sand Key parks.
If a swimmer is at a beach with no lifeguard on duty and gets caught in a rip current, the Association has a few tips to keep in mind.
Pinellas County’s Small Quantity Generator (SQG) Program has been honored as the 2014 SQG Program of the Year by the Florida chapter of the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association.
The SQG Program of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding or most improved Small Quantity Generator program in Florida over the past year. The Pinellas County program focuses on education and outreach, visiting businesses to inform them of their hazardous waste management regulatory requirements and verifying that they comply.
Team members also develop and provide tools and resources to assist businesses in meeting and maintaining compliance. Pinellas County’s program is the youngest of the 50 state programs. It is only in its sixth year of existence, compared to the typical 15 to 20 years that the others have been in place.
Presentation of the SQG Program of the Year Award will take place at the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association’s national workshop in Orlando next month. For more information about the association, visit www.nahmma.org. For more information about the Pinellas County Small Quantity Generator Program, visit www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/sqg.htm.
Pinellas County Commissioner Chair Karen Williams Seel and Vice Chair Susan Latvala were honored by the Florida Association of Counties at its 2014 Annual Conference and Exposition held in Orange County this June. Both commissioners received awards for their individual outstanding efforts as leaders in the community.
Seel received the Presidential Advocacy Award which is given annually to county commissioners from around the state who have shown exceptional leadership in partnering with the Florida Association of Counties to advance the counties’ legislative agenda. She was an invaluable asset to the Association this year as it launched its new federal advocacy program.
As a result of Seel’s advocacy, Florida’s flood insurance story was told and Congress ultimately passed legislation that will help many Floridians who were financially impacted by the old law. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 21, 2014.
“I am honored to be chosen as a recipient of the Presidential Advocacy Award,” said Seel. “As a voice for the citizens of Pinellas County, it is a top priority to maintain affordable and accessible flood insurance for homeowners. I am proud to have been a part of the efforts to express to Congress why flood insurance reform was desperately needed and am pleased with the successful outcome.”
“It is public servants like Commissioner Seel that ensure our local communities have the authority to respond to the demands of their citizens,” said Florida Association of Counties Executive Director Chris Holley. “Commissioner Seel’s willingness to advocate for counties on every level was essential to passing this important legislation.”
Latvala was awarded the Marlene Young Presidential Advocacy Award for her commitment throughout her career to protect home rule and serve Florida’s counties as a leader and an advocate. This prestigious award, named after the late Marlene Young who served as a commissioner for Polk County, is presented to the county elected official who has shown extraordinary leadership and commitment to the mission of the Association.
“I am truly humbled by this award and recognition,” said Latvala. “It has been incredibly rewarding to work with commissioners from across our state on important issues that affect the daily lives of our citizens.”
“Florida Association of Counties and Pinellas County are privileged to have such a dedicated public servant that recognizes many decisions affecting citizens are made in Tallahassee,” said Holley. “Commissioner Latvala has been someone we could call on no matter the issue, no matter the time of year, she has always been willing to step up and help not just her own county but all of Florida’s 67 counties.”
Throughout her 14-year career on the Board of County Commissioners, Latvala has been a leader in the Association, serving as president from 2006 through 2007 while also chairing various policy committees. She has been committed to serving Florida’s counties in any capacity where she was needed.
Florida Association of Counties has represented the diverse interests of Florida’s counties for 85 years emphasizing the importance of protecting home rule, the concept that communities and their local leaders should make the decisions that impact their community. The Association helps counties effectively serve and represent Floridians by strengthening and preserving county home rule through advocacy, education and collaboration.
Projects from Pinellas County Business and Technology Services were honored in five categories of the Public Technology Institute’s 2013-2014 Technology Solutions Awards.
The county’s Enterprise Wi-Fi was a winner in the IT and Telecommunications category. Wi-Fi access is available in approximately 800 access points across 99 Pinellas County government buildings.
The county’s eGIS Maps and Apps and its hurricane preparedness Know Your Zone evacuation level lookup were honored as significant achievements in the Geospatial Information Systems and Public Safety Technology categories.
Receiving honorable mention were the Spending in the Sunshine government transparency dashboard in the Data and Performance Metrics category and the Pinellas Mobile App, a new mobile reporting tool for nonemergency issues, in the Web Management and E-Government category.
Recipients of Technology Solutions Awards are chosen by an independent panel of judges, with local government submissions separated by population categories.
Residents have been busy the past few months finding their evacuation level, stocking survival kits and preparing important papers. But have all of the finer points in those survival plans been considered? With potential Tropical Storm Arthur developing off the east coast of Florida, now is the perfect time for a reminder to tie up the loose ends for hurricane plans. Some items frequently overlooked include:
For more information on hurricane preparedness, call Emergency Management at (727) 464-3800 or visit and join Pinellas County Emergency Management on Twitter. Pinellas County government is also on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
News release issued on July 2, 2014 by the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County:
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County (DOH-Pinellas) has received confirmation of its first chikungunya case in a Pinellas resident who traveled to the Caribbean in June. The mosquito-borne viral infection is characterized by a high fever, severe chronic joint pain and fatigue. There have been 52 cases in Florida in 2014, including three in Hillsborough and one in Pasco.
None of the cases were acquired locally and there have been no reports of anyone acquiring the disease within the United States.
Infected persons are advised to avoid mosquito bites while they’re ill to prevent transmission to someone else. Chikungunya is carried by mosquitoes and not by person-to-person contact. There is no vaccine to prevent, or medicine to treat, chikungunya virus infection.
Persons traveling to areas in the Caribbean can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Steps would include using insect repellent and staying in places with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.
Infants, older adults and those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease are at risk for more severe forms of the disease. The incubation period can range from one to 12 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes, follow the Drain and Cover formula:
For information about chikungunya, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s information page at http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/.
For information about DOH-Pinellas, go to www.PinellasHealth.com.
With summer rains right around the corner, mosquitoes are again on the wing in Pinellas County. Pinellas County Mosquito Control technicians are aggressively treating known breeding areas by ground and by air, as well as responding to calls from citizens.
Technicians have noted that many homes they’ve inspected have items or areas that contain standing water – the ideal breeding condition for mosquitoes – and are contributing to the mosquito problem.
This month, Pinellas County marks National Mosquito Control Awareness Month with a strong message to residents: Break the mosquito cycle. It starts in your own backyard.
Pinellas County Mosquito Control asks all citizens to do their part to reduce the mosquito population. Remember that mosquitoes only need ¼ to ½ inch of standing water for the larvae to survive. Some simple suggestions are to:
Protect your skin from mosquito bites when outdoors; wear mosquito repellent (products containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus) or long-sleeves and pants. The threat of virus, although minimal, is present throughout the year, and precautions should be taken during outdoor activities.
By taking these simple preventative measures, citizens can help reduce the number of mosquitoes in our county and minimize mosquito-borne diseases.
Due to reduced availability of reclaimed water, Pinellas County reclaimed water will continue to be unavailable on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays while the system is shut down for maintenance and storage level recovery.
Customers are asked to continue limiting their reclaimed water use and to follow the reduced reclaimed water availability irrigation schedule to help with this resource recovery initiative.
During the past several months, storage levels of reclaimed water declined to the point of exhausting the water in storage and potentially damaging pump equipment. As the return of seasonal rainfall helps stabilize reclaimed water supplies, the reclaimed water system’s capacity will be re-evaluated.
This schedule is anticipated to remain in effect until storage levels recover, at which time the reclaimed water system will be returned to full operation.
For more details, please call Customer Service regarding reclaimed water at (727) 464-4000, or visit Pinellas County Utilities online.
Pinellas County’s commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle to its employees earned the county Well Deserved and Golden Apple awards from UnitedHealthcare. The annual Well Deserved award is presented to a select group of employers across the country that demonstrate effective worksite wellness programs. Winners receive a trophy and $1,000. Thirteen organizations received a Well Deserved award this year with four multiyear recipients, including Pinellas County, also honored with a Golden Apple award.
“For the second consecutive year, we are proud to be recognized by UnitedHealthcare,” said Peggy Rowe, director of Human Resources. “A healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. As public servants, we are obligated to not only serve our residents effectively, but also responsibly by setting the right examples. I’m proud of how our employees have responded.”
The county promotes a healthy lifestyle to employees through wellness education and activities. Employees have access to a wellness center, receive a monthly wellness newsletter and can earn incentives for meeting health goals and completing approved health and wellness activities. Additionally, each department has a designated employee wellness champion who advocates a healthy and active lifestyle to their coworkers.
Pinellas County’s Department of Environment and Infrastructure recently partnered with utility services from cities in Pinellas County to showcase the variety of careers that can be involved with utilities.
The Utilities Career Expo took place on May 20 at the St. Petersburg College Digitorium in Seminole. Students with an interest in utility careers were able to hear from the professionals currently working in the field and see the diversity of jobs available.
The night began with a video presentation showcasing utility workers in different fields and phases of their career commenting on their experiences working in their profession.
Go online to see the video presentation shown at the expo.
The partners of the Be Floridian fertilizer education campaign remind Pinellas County residents that they can’t apply nitrogen or phosphorous to lawn and landscape plants from June through September. But that doesn’t mean your grass will turn brown, shrivel up and die!
Go online for Fertilizer and Landscaping information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more online about 2014 Pinellas County summer camps.