Times staffers win awards
By TIMES STAFF
Published May 10, 2007
The St. Petersburg Times won six awards, including three first-places, in the annual Green Eyeshade competition for journalistic excellence in the Southeastern United States.
Ron Matus, 38, won first-place for non-deadline news for "Ninth or Never, " which followed four at-risk students through their first year at St. Petersburg's Northeast High School.
Kelly Benham, 32, won first place for feature writing for "Kennel Trash, " which chronicled the fate of fighting dogs confiscated by authorities.
Josh Korr, 27, won first place for online blogs or commentary for "Video Games as Art, " part of his video game blog on www.tampabay.com.
Tim Nickens, 48, won second place for editorial writing for editorials about the Florida Legislature.
Third place awards went to Gary Shelton, 54, for sports commentary, and to Craig Pittman, 46, and Matt Waite, 32, for investigative reporting, for "When Dry is Wet, " an expose of Florida's flawed mitigation banks.
Green Eyeshade awards are given by the Society of Professional Journalists, covering 11 southeastern states.
Hernando denies Wal-Mart a fourth supercenter
Defying the recommendation of its planners, the County Commission on Wednesday voted unanimously to deny Wal-Mart's plan to build its fourth supercenter in Hernando County on Barclay Avenue near Spring Hill Drive.
The vote drew loud applause from opponents who had packed the commission chamber.
Before their decision, commissioners said they had the power to deny the project, even though county planners - and the county Planning and Zoning Commission - found that Wal-Mart had a clear right to build on the 22-acre parcel.
Commissioners sided not only with the residents who attended the meeting but also with 2, 100 who signed a petition opposing the store.
They said their vote was not to satisfy potential voters, nor was it directed against Wal-Mart.
"It doesn't have anything to do with the W-word, " Commissioner Diane Rowden said. "It has to do with the health, safety and welfare of our residents."
Officials hope to replace Stanton from existing staff
Nearly two months after making national news for firing its gender-changing city manager, the Largo City Commission is expected to hire his replacement from in house.
The recent internal turmoil - combined with concern Florida's Legislature might slash local government's property tax collections in a June special session - prompted the majority of the commission Tuesday night to push for picking Steve Stanton's permanent replacement from two in-house candidates.
Acting City Manager Norton "Mac" Craig and Assistant City Manger Henry P. Schubert have both expressed interest in becoming Largo's next manager.
But Mayor Pat Gerard expressed a need to conduct a national search. Gerard said by the time a manager would be hired, the Legislature will have acted and the city's budget process for the 2007-08 year, which begins in October, will be complete.
"The blood will have already been shed and we will have what we have, " Gerard said.