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Connecting Clearwater

Published:   |   Updated: April 18, 2014 at 05:19 AM
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Pedestrian-friendly U.S. 19 coming

CLEARWATER — Getting in and out of shopping centers and strip malls along U.S. 19 near busy spots like Drew Street can be nerve-wracking for motorists.

For those traveling by foot, it can seem death-defying.

“The most frightening thing for me is when I see people trying to cross in the middle where there's no intersection,” Clearwater city planner Gina Clayton said.

This commercial corridor running through Clearwater wasn't exactly designed for walking, but a set of code changes being drafted by planners would make this heavily-trafficked thoroughfare a bit friendlier for bus riders and other foot-powered residents.

The Clearwater City Council recently got a primer on what's likely to be a complex overhaul of development regulations on an eight-mile stretch of the road from Belleair Road to Curlew Road.

The presentation by a consultant with HDR Inc. drew a picture of a tidier U.S. 19 with sections that promote neighborhood shops and restaurants separated from big regional shopping destinations like Countryside Mall or the massive car dealerships in between.

Narrow sidewalks on the highway's frontage roads would be doubled in width and linked to stores by adjoining walkways, landscaped with grass, trees and shrubbery.

Alex Sink will not run for Congress in 2014

TAMPA — The St. Petersburg Tribune reported this week that Alex Sink has announced she won't run again for Pinellas County's District 13 congressional seat in November, after losing in a special election to Republican David Jolly on March 11.

In an emailed statement, Sink didn't say what made her decide not to run, but has said in the past that she had family issues to consider.

“I am so honored and humbled by the outpouring of support our campaign received, but after reflection with my family I have made a personal decision not to run for the 13th Congressional District seat in the 2014 election,” her statement said.

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Shop offering taste of Cincinnati to close

CLEARWATER — For the past 13 months, Cincinnati transplants from across the state have traveled to an obscure storefront in Clearwater to get a fresh taste of home.

But Cincy's Finest Market, which stocks more than 100 Buckeye food fixes, announced this week it is closing at the end of this month – or until supplies last.

“It's going to be a shocker to a whole lot of people because we've got such a huge following on the weekend,” Cincy's co-owner Billy Stirnkorb said.

The future of the store, if any, won't be clear for quite some time. “We've got all kinds of logistical issues,” he said. “Everything's up in the air.”

Stirnkorb relocated his family to the Tampa Bay area in 2010 knowing they would miss their family and friends. What they didn't count on was missing so many of the food products they grew up on in the Cincinnati area.

But the store requires Stirnkorb to head north to his hometown every three to five weeks, a U-Haul hooked to the back of his Suburban, to restock the shelves. It's an unavoidable necessity – even during winter storms. The products his customers crave simply aren't sold this far south.

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Pinellas commissioners fire administrator LaSala

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County commissioners decided Tuesday to fire County Administrator Bob LaSala, who received mediocre evaluations from several of the seven-member commission.

Commissioners critical of the county's top administrator wrote that LaSala's combative leadership style led to disputes with other local governments and nonprofit groups. They also panned his communication and interpersonal skills.

The latest criticism came from Commission Chairwoman Karen Seel, who filed a scathing evaluation of LaSala on Monday, awarding him the lowest possible score on 18 of the appraisal's 24 categories. Areas where she marked him down included personal and professional integrity, leadership and citizen service.

Commissioners were scheduled to discuss LaSala's future in light of mostly lukewarm and scathing annual evaluations from most of the seven-member commission. But as agreed with LaSala's attorney, Commission Chairwoman Karen Seel instead called for a motion to terminate LaSala without cause and said there would be no discussion of his performance.

After the vote, LaSala read from a prepared statement before leaving the dais and, soon after, the building.

“It is with mixed emotions I leave my position as Pinellas County administrator,” LaSala said. “It has been an honor to serve this community.”

– Tampa Tribune and Clearwater Gazette news reports

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