Man, 78, whose car sank in pond dies

Published December 14, 2006


The 78-year-old man who accidentally drove his car last week into a pond at the Carlton Arms apartment complex died Tuesday afternoon at Hernando-Pasco Hospice.

The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office ruled Leonard J. Stefaniak's death accidental due to complications from drowning. Stefaniak, who took medication for epilepsy, veered into the pond Dec. 6.

His sedan sank to the bottom, the doors locked. Rescuers had to break the car window to pull him out.

School Board says no to drug-testing grant

There was at least $183,289 in federal funding on the table Tuesday night, and perhaps much more.

But the Hernando County School Board decided that the price of taking that money - asking teenagers to submit to random urine tests for illegal drugs - was too high.

The board rejected a grant it won in October from the Department of Education's Safe and Drug Free Schools program.

Eleven other districts across the nation were awarded similar grants this year.

City again puts off hefty sewer rate hike

City leaders still aren't ready to raise sewer rates even though their staff says a big rate hike is needed to shore up the sewer system's finances.

The city's staff has proposed rate increases that would generate 22 percent more sewer revenue. Staffers originally proposed rate hikes that would produce a 16 percent revenue increase.

New causeway closes for concrete pour

The new Treasure Island Causeway Bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today for a continuous concrete pour.

Westbound traffic on the Treasure Island Causeway will be turned back at 79th Street to Causeway Boulevard N or S. Eastbound causeway traffic will detour at 104th Avenue, except for local traffic to the Treasure Island Yacht Club and Paradise Boulevard.

The Treasure Island Causeway Bridge will be operational for boats and opens on demand 24 hours a day.

For Treasure Island bridge closing bulletins delivered directly to your e-mail go to www.mytreasureisland.org and click on e*ti.


Whooping cranes delayed by weather

The whooping crane migration of 2006 has been in a holding pattern in Terrell County, Ga., pushing back the arrival time in Central Florida to possibly early next week.

Officials with Operation Migration, which leads the young birds from Wisconsin to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, had hoped to be here already.

This will be the longest trip and the latest arrival by the rare birds. On Wednesday, the Operation Migration workers tried to find an interim stopping site about 30 miles from Terrell County. The next regular stop is 60 miles away, and the crew is worried about trying to fly that far in the current weather pattern of warm, humid air.


Beach boat slips may get a vote today

City residents will have a chance in March to vote on the much-discussed downtown boat slips project.

But tonight, the City Council will have a chance to vote on a Clearwater Beach boat slips project that some residents say hasn't been discussed enough.

The council will talk about a lease agreement with developer JMC Communities that would let the company build up to 54 slips off Mandalay Avenue.

The docks and slips would be built in the small city-owned basin directly behind the Belle Harbor condominium complex. The plan lets the developer keep 33 of the slips, and the city gets 21. The city's public slips would be free, first-come, first-served only during the day.

Pinellas education officials are still hoping to hear what families think about the future of the school choice plan even though the deadline for responding has passed.

As of Wednesday, the district had received about 6,500 responses to a questionnaire mailed two weeks ago to 33,000 parents and guardians. Officials had been hoping to hear from at least 8,000 families.

Gareth Whitehurst, chairman of a 47-member task force working on recommendations for the School Board, said he was disappointed.

"I had hoped there would have been more interest since we were dealing with what you would expect is a motivated population," Whitehurst said. "This was one of the great pillars of information we were hoping to tap."

Among more than 20 questions the survey asked was whether families think the district should put more emphasis on placing children at schools close to home or on transporting some students farther away to aid racial diversity.

District officials said they feel confident the task force will have a statistically representative sample from which to draw in making its recommendations to the board.

Parents or guardians who haven't returned the survey are still encouraged to do so, said Steve Iachini, the district's director of research and accountability.



62/76 (0.0)

60/72 (tr)

63/77 (0.12)

64/79 (tr)

62/81 (tr)

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64/83 (tr)

64/74 (0.05)

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63/77 (0.10)

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Complete weather forecast, 2A

Beverly Hills

61 75 0.14
Brooksville 61 77 tr
Crystal River 63 75 0.00
Dunedin 65 77 tr
Floral City 64 76 0.00
Hernando Beach 62 82 0.00
Indian Rocks Bch 62 79 0.00
Inverness 63 78 tr
Pinellas Park 66 76 0.00
South Pasadena 65 80 0.05
Spring Hill 63 74 0.00
St. Pete Beach 65 75 tr
Tyrone 65 79 tr