TARPON SPRINGS - Why pay the county, Tarpon Springs officials are starting to ponder, when they can build a system that supplies better quality water at a lower cost, and sell the surplus?
City Manager Ellen Posivach unveiled a proposal to construct an alternative water supply system on Tuesday, and it's getting a serious look.
The project calls for gradual reduction of the city's use of water from Tampa Bay Water by bringing on line about a half-dozen existing water wells on Disston, Tarpon and Highland avenues.
Tampa Bay Water may lose Tarpon Springs as a customer but it would gain a new supplier. The plan's cost-effectiveness is one reason Tampa Bay Water is likely to approve the plan, said Tampa Bay Water finance director Koni Cassini.
Tampa Bay Water expects the region's demand for water will increase by 8-million gallons a day by 2013, so it is searching for new sources and suppliers of water.
"Our board members are very interested in any alternative that we might be able to do in terms of increasing water supplies," Cassini said.
Students, officials try to rise above flag fray
Reaction to the Confederate flag continued to ripple, with students holding a heart-to-heart meeting and some school board members putting the issue off for now.
Controversy over the Confederate flag erupted about two weeks ago after a Tarpon Springs High School student was suspended for circulating an unapproved petition calling for a ban of student displays of the flag.
A week later, Pasco County Schools officials suspended four students for raising a Confederate flag over Hudson High School. The students are accused of replacing the U.S. flag with a Confederate flag with the words "I ain't coming down" printed across it.
School officials then put out the order that Confederate flags, clothes and symbols were off limits, at least until the controversy died down.
Rebecca Doolen, a 14-year-old Hudson High School freshman who arrived at class Monday in a T-shirt depicting the Confederate battle flag, was the only student among 1,592 who was suspended for donning such garb Monday, principal Greg Wright said.
"It was so quiet, it was uncanny," Wright said of the day.
The next day 115 teenagers - more than six times the usual turnout - showed up for Tuesday's Unity Club meeting. The student group is concerned with promoting tolerance on campus. Students who wanted to attend were excused from their classes.
Meanwhile in Pinellas County, the seven-member School Board discussed the flag for nearly an hour Tuesday, but took no action.
Mary Brown, the first African-American to be elected to the School Board, said the district's dress code policy "needs strengthening" and should be more specific about what symbols should be allowed in school.
Clearwater sports facilities land city on magazine's map
CLEARWATER - Eight horseshoe pitching pits, 36 softball and 17 football fields, 62 shuffleboard courts, eight beach volleyball pits and two bocce ball courts are only the beginning.
Add to that a multimillion-dollar spring training stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Suncoast's only 50-meter, Olympic-size pool and one begins to understand why Sports Illustrated magazine deems Clearwater a certifiable, undeniable Sportstown.
So much so that the magazine's 3.5-million readers will learn all about Clearwater's - and Florida's - sports opportunities through a six- to eight-page color spread in the edition that will go on sale next week.
"The application asked them to present their case for how they facilitated and worked to enhance the quality of their community sports programming, and Clearwater really demonstrated that effort," said Allison Keane, an SI spokeswoman.
SI, with the help of the National Recreation and Park Association, is selecting 50 Sportstowns to commemorate the magazine's 50th anniversary. One town per state is a winner.
Builders may have to pay "fair share' for U.S. 19
NEW PORT RICHEY - You can build along U.S. 19. You can add more traffic to the hectic highway. You just have to pay up.
At least that's the theory behind the latest chapter of the U.S. 19 concurrency ordinance.
A county-hired consultant has drafted a proposal to charge developers a special fee for any new construction near U.S. 19. The money, called a "fair share fee," would help pay for improving the highway.
But one of the loudest critics of the plan is the county commissioner who spearheaded the original ordinance. Commission Chairman Peter Altman said he is disappointed in the latest proposal because it simply allows developers to pay their way out of worsening the traffic on U.S. 19.
Altman's original proposal last May was to temporarily halt major construction along U.S. 19, identify necessary highway fixes and come up with a plan to pay for them. The developers would contribute to the solution.
With $94-million in needed fixes, the proposed "fair share fee" for new developers would raise about $200,000 a year.
"Here's a clear example of an impact fee that isn't even going to begin to compensate for the effect it has," Altman said.
Crystal River may annex land to get a Wal-Mart
INVERNESS - When county officials raised concerns over wetlands on a site that Wal-Mart had its eye on, the developers walked away.
They then turned up at Crystal River's door, asking the city to annex the property and maybe take a more favorable view of development.
In a 4-1 vote last week, the City Council approved the annexation ordinance on first reading. A final vote is set for Feb. 23.
Meanwhile Citrus County commissioners say they don't know if they'll fight Crystal River's move to annex more than 500 acres of unincorporated land south of the city, but they decided to enter the fray anyway, letting the city know that they just might.
The commissioners decided to send attorneys to speak on the county's behalf at Crystal River's final annexation hearing.
Last year, developers approached the county to build on the same area but walked away after the county raised questions about building in wetlands.
In short . . .
BROOKSVILLE - With School Board members raising questions about the district's exclusive beverage deal with Coca-Cola, the deal may be put off another six months for research. Board members have been concerned about the district providing sugary sodas, especially with so many children facing health problems such as obesity and diabetes.
ST. PETERSBURG - The Rev. Henry Lyons, released from prison less than three months ago, has applied for his old job as pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church, one of the city's most prominent black congregations. The church has been without a permanent pastor for a year. Bethel Metropolitan is searching for a minister to replace the Rev. Joaquin Marvin, hired to take over months after Lyons was imprisoned for racketeering and grand theft.
Coming up this week
The Largo City Commission on Tuesday honor Dionte Hall, 14, a Largo High student for the restraint he showed after having a noose placed around his neck in a Jan. 14 incident at a Wendy's restaurant. "Because of his behavior," Mayor Bob Jackson said, "he defused what could have been a serious situation. We should give credit to young people who do that."
The Sant'Yago Knight Parade on Sunday returns to its original stop in front of the Columbia Restaurant. The route was changed last year to curb congestion and ensure a family-friendly atmosphere.
- Compiled by Times staff writer Sharon Kennedy Wynne