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Motorcycle deputies to use cars till questions settled
By Times Staff Writer
Published January 16, 2008
NEW PORT RICHEY
Pasco County's motorcycle cops could be without a ride in the coming week.
The leases on the seven Sheriff's Office Harley-Davidson bikes - used primarily for traffic enforcement - are set to expire at the end of the month, and the bikes have to be returned to the dealer. Sheriff's officials are still deciding whether to lease new motorcycles or buy them, whichever is more cost-effective, spokesman Doug Tobin said.
Sheriff Bob White asked last summer that Penny for Pasco sales tax proceeds be used for motorcycles, but that issue also remains unresolved. In the runup to the Penny for Pasco referendum in 2004, voters were told Penny funds would be used to buy "marked patrol vehicles." Using those funds for motorcycles would mean a change in policy that must be approved by the County Commission, Pasco budget director Mike Nurrenbrock said.
Also, he said, Penny money could only go toward purchases - not leases. In the meantime, the motorcycle deputies will use regular patrol cars, Tobin said.
The County Commission is set to consider the issue at its meeting Tuesday.
Restaurant reopens under new managers
Catches Waterfront Grille re-opened Tuesday with a new management team nearly five months after the owner abruptly closed the restaurant with a prime location on the banks of the Cotee River.
Terry Perdue, director of sales and marketing, said he and two other managers were recruited by owner Michael Lowe to re-open the restaurant. It now has some minor interior renovations and a slightly reworked menu, but Perdue says the biggest change is the new attitude. "We guarantee 100 percent satisfaction," he said. After it closed in August, Catches was put up for sale.
Perdue, who has worked for cruiselines and country clubs, said the building is now off the market. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. For information, call (727) 849-2121.
Insurance activist to run for county office
An insurance activist filed papers Monday to challenge County Commissioner Ann Hildebrand in the Republican primary this year.
Wilbert "Wil" Nickerson, 62, of Holiday is a member of the insurance reform group, Having Affordable Coverage. Nickerson couldn't be reached Tuesday for comment, but he has been a prolific letter writer and public speaker on insurance issues, calling on county commissioners and state legislators to fix runaway living costs.
"Those who can afford to pay the high premiums cannot feel the plight of the less fortunate who are on fixed incomes, low wages or just having a hard time making ends meet," he wrote in a letter to the Pasco Times in September. Nickerson is also a real estate broker and classic car enthusiast.
Board member misses first meeting of year
Pasco School Board member Cathi Martin was supposed to be back to work this month, after more than a month of doctor-enforced bed rest.
But Martin, who missed about half the board meetings between her 2006 re-election and the early spring because of other health concerns, was a no-show Tuesday at the board's first meeting of 2008, a workshop to discuss school concurrency.
Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey opened the session by announcing that Martin had called to say she would arrive late, but when the workshop ended more than two hours later, Martin had not shown up.
Superintendent Heather Fiorentino suggested there might have been a "mixup on the time" for the meeting, which the rest of the board, several administrators and invited experts attended. Starkey said she hoped that Martin will make it to the board's Jan. 22 meeting.
"I'll be calling to see if she'll be attending," Starkey said.
Girl, 12, brought knife to school, deputies say
A 12-year-old girl was arrested Monday after Pasco sheriff's deputies say she brought a 12-inch butcher knife to Dr. John Long Middle School.
The girl had the knife concealed in her handbag. She planned to stab a female student and leave the girl's body in the bathroom, deputies said she told them. The 12-year-old was arrested and charged with bringing a weapon on school grounds. She was transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center at the Land O'Lakes jail.
Police chief search narrowed to 4 finalists
Four applicants have been selected as finalists for the position of Dade City police chief.
They are Lawrence Cavallaro, the public safety director for Mulberry; Charles Clifton, a 30-year veteran of the Lee County Sheriff's Office; Ron Friedman, who retired in 2006 after approximately 26 years with North Miami Beach Police Department; and Raymond Velboom, who retired in 2007 after 27 years with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Jim Class, interim city manager, said he hopes to hire one of the finalists, but may select a chief from the pool of approximately 30 original applicants. An advisory committee helped Class in the selection process.
Interviews with the finalists have not been set yet, but Class hopes to begin the process next week.
Developer seeks code change on alcohol
A Zephyrhills developer wants to change a city development code that prohibits the sale of beer and wine within 300 feet of a school, church or other religious institution.
The developer, JCT Development, says it is having trouble attracting restaurants to the plaza that it's renovating because of the code and the plaza's proximity to Zephyrhills High School. JCT made a presentation at Monday's council meeting, but the council was unclear as to how specifically the developer is proposing the code be changed. So, the issue will be further discussed at the next council meeting on Jan. 28.