Tampa Bay briefs
By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times,
Job fatality leads to inquiry
TAMPA -- The federal agency in charge of worker safety is investigating the death of a 27-year-old laborer who fell off scaffolding at the International Plaza construction site.
Christopher Gene Price of Treasure Island died July 29 at St. Joseph's Hospital after five days in a coma, said his mother, Patricia Lee Downs. He was working alone on a 12-foot scaffold that morning, his mother said. Two co-workers found him unconscious on the concrete foundation.
Doctors told Downs that Price had broken bones in his face and head.
He died of a heart attack without regaining consciousness, she said.
2 in drug ring each get 21 years
TAMPA -- Two crewmen aboard the Colombian trawler Layneyd were each sentenced to 21 years in prison Thursday for their role in a drug ring accused of trying to smuggle thousands of pounds of cocaine into the United States.
U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. said he based his decision on the amount of cocaine seized. The April 4, 2000, bust in international waters several hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador yielded 7,260 pounds of cocaine.
Like their shipmates, Fernando Tenorio and Cesar Dominguez Tenorio told Moody they thought they had joined a legitimate fishing expedition and did not know drugs were aboard.
But a jury decided otherwise.
Last month, the ship's captain was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Clearwater manager sworn in
CLEARWATER -- A new regime officially took over City Hall Thursday night, although its members have been entrenched there for the past year.
City Manager Bill Horne was sworn in by City Clerk Cyndie Goudeau at a City Commission meeting, after commissioners approved a contract that entitles him to a $120,000 annual salary. Other perks include a $10,000 bonus for serving as interim manager for the past year.
Horne told commissioners he was appointing Ralph Stone, the city's planning director, to be the assistant city manager of economic and community development, a new position. Stone will receive a $10,000 raise and make $95,000 annually. He will oversee the city's planning department, building inspections and permitting division, code enforcement, housing division and economic development team.
Horne also appointed Cyndi Tarapani, Stone's assistant director, as the city's new planning director.
Aungst will seek re-election
CLEARWATER -- Mayor Brian Aungst, who as a political newcomer toppled longtime incumbent Rita Garvey from the job in 1999, announced Thursday evening that he will seek re-election in March.
Aungst, a resident of the Countryside area who is Time Warner Communication's regional director of public relations for Pinellas and a cable television sportscaster, made the announcement about 5:20 p.m., just before a City Commission meeting.
"I'm running again because I feel we've got the city on the right track," Aungst, 47, said.
Aungst said he expects to hold a campaign kickoff party Sept. 13.
Man gets 32 years in slaying
LARGO -- After Ronald Noe stabbed a man in the abdomen with a fillet knife in 1999, he calmly walked across the street, sat down and watched police and paramedics who raced to the scene.
I hope he dies, he told police.
Indeed, Timothy J. March, 39, who had tried to evict Noe from a friend's home, bled to death.
On Thursday, a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge sentenced Noe, 48, to 32 years in state prison for the April 1999 Clearwater killing. A jury convicted Noe of second-degree murder on June 28, rejecting the first-degree murder conviction sought by prosecutors.
Noe was a homeless man who had been taken in by Gilbert Donner, a friend of March's who lived at 1257 Drew St.
March, who worked on ships supplying oil rigs in the gulf, was away from his own Clearwater home for months at a time. Noe had been living in Donner's apartment for about a week when March returned from a work trip in the gulf.
Fans flock to visit renovation guru Vila
TAMPA -- Woodrow McCormack figures home improvement guru Bob Vila has saved him thousands of dollars in repairs over the years and has given him hours of entertainment in the bargain.
"We've seen hundreds of his programs," said McCormack, holding an autographed copy of Vila's photograph. "I've done all kinds of remodeling, even redid the kitchen and shelves for $1,100 that would have cost me $10,000."
Hundreds of other fans just like McCormack came Thursday to Sears in Citrus Park Town Center, eager to get a glimpse of the popular home improvement personality and spokesman for Craftsman tools.
"He's the best tool man in the world," said Ann Meck, visiting from Pennsylvania. "A lot of our house was done through the tips on his program."
But possibly the youngest fan was 8-year-old Alex Sclavakis, who has his own set of tools, watches Vila on television and keeps his dad, Nick Sclavakis, on the renovation straight and narrow.
"I'm amazed at all the stuff he knows," Nick Sclavakis said. "I was putting up a sliding glass door and he told me what I was doing wrong."
It's that kind of feedback, Vila said, that has kept him going through 22 years of television.
Thursday's autograph session at Sears was just one stop on Vila's Florida tour, which coincided with the opening of Tool Territory, an expanded hardware department opening in Florida Sears stores.
He made time, though, for a ride through Ybor City Thursday morning and a quick cup of Cuban coffee.
"Signing autographs like this is a very special treat," Vila said. "This allows me to interact with the people on the other side of the lens."
Last year's losers win St. Petersburg grants
ST. PETERSBURG -- Community groups that missed out in the city's handout of federal grant dollars last year were first in line to receive money for social programs this year.
The city agreed to give $3-million to organizations, many with projects in the inner city that were left out last year because they lacked experienced grant writers or an advocate on the city committee that reviewed the applications.
The City Council earlier this year refused to accept any more applications for the money until everyone who applied last year got something. The move, sponsored by council Chairwoman Rene Flowers, helped alleviate some of the resentment that has developed among residents who believe money has habitually gone for pet projects outside the inner city.
"Finally, after all these years sitting here, I can see things changing," said Tee Lassiter, a community activist who has criticized the city in the past for not devoting enough money to inner city neighborhoods.
Money will go to organizations helping inner city children, the homeless, people seeking jobs and businesses along 22nd Street S and Central Avenue.
Judgeship applications available
TAMPA -- The Judicial Nominating Commission is encouraging lawyers to apply for openings on the circuit and county benches in Hillsborough County.
Applicants must live in Hillsborough County, be registered voters, and be a member of the Florida Bar for the past five years.
To apply, lawyers must fill out an application, make nine copies, and deliver the papers to Jeanne Tate, chairwoman of the nominating commission, by Aug. 22. For information, call Tate's law office at (813) 258-3355.
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