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Sunday, February 12th, 2017


John Chapin, Former Dean at St. Petersburg College

John C. Chapin | St. Petersburg College | Deaths

Dr. John Chapin died last week after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

PINELLAS COUNTY – Dr. John Chapin, who retired in September as dean of natural sciences at St. Petersburg College, died Feb. 9 after a short battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Dr. Chapin, a Pensacola native, “worked as a science faculty member and administrator at SPC until 1995, when he moved on to take a position as Associate Dean of Science, Health and Wellness at Montgomery College. He then became Dean of Math, Science and Allied Health at Polk State College. He later moved into a position as Vice President of Instruction at Guilford Technical Community College, then served as Vice President of Workforce Development at Tallahassee Community College before returning to St. Petersburg College in 2012 as Dean of Natural Sciences,” according to an obituary in the college’s faculty and staff news, the Blue and White.

The articles adds that Dr. Chapin’s “biggest legacy at St. Petersburg College will be the Bay Pines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Learning Center, a hands-on science learning complex adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in Pinellas County.”

For the complete obituary, go to

Photo of Dr. Chapin courtesy of St. Petersburg College.

St. Petersburg College | Dr. John Chapin | Deaths | Obituaries | TB Reporter

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Looking Ahead: Bird and Photo Fest Coming April 26-30

By TB Reporter

The event at Ponte Vedra Beach features workshops, seminars, outdoors experiences, speakers and more.

The 15th annual Florida Bird and Photo Fest is open to neophytes and seasoned birders and photographers alike April 26-30 at Ponte Vedra Beach in northeast Florida. Registration fee is $25. Classes and field workshops are priced individually. Details are at AuthenticFlorida readers will have the registration fee waived; for information, visit

Outroos activities include strolls through the Washington Oaks Garden State Park, the River to Sea Preserve and the Guano Tolomato Matanzas for birding and nature walks; kayak eco tours through area rivers, lakes, marshes and tidal creeks; motorized boat excursions at sunrise or sunset; or visits to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park to view nesting birds in a busy rookery.

Keynote speaker and photographer Lewis Kemper will present a multimedia adventure through the images he has captured while photographing the Sacramento River. Kemper brings to life the river and some of its inhabitants including river otters, great blue herons, green herons and much more. International photographer and opening reception speaker Bobbi Lane also shares her tips for lighting, angles and lenses from her travels abroad to Ethiopia, Myanmar, Venice, Turkey, and Hong Kong.

Birdwatching | Photography | Florida Birding and Photo Fest | TB Reporter

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Ghovaee Seeks Full Term on Madeira Beach Commission

Housh Ghovaee | Madeira Beach City Commission | Politics


Housh Ghovaee was appointed last year to fill out the term of Pat Shontz, who resigned. He is seeking to retain that seat in the March 14 election.

MADEIRA BEACH – Business owner Housh Ghovaee says he wants to serve on the Madeira Beach City Commission because he has a sense of duty to a city he loves.

“My love for America is greater than my love for self-preservation. That is why I want to do this,” Ghovaee said. “My love for America translates into my love for my city. Public service is something I strongly believe in.”

Ghovaee is seeking election to Seat 4 on the Madeira Beach City Commission, a position he was appointed to last year after Pat Shontz resigned amid a battle over two proposed developments. The battle has sparked several lawsuits and ethics complaints against elected and appointed city officials. His appointment provoked another suit that claimed the commission had violated the Sunshine Law when it appointed him.

Most recently, Ghovaee became the latest Madeira Beach official to have an ethics complaint filed against him. Ghovaee declined to disclose the gist of the complaint, saying only that it had to do with disclosure at the time he filled out the paperwork to apply for the commission. Paperwork, he said, that he filled out according to directions from the city clerk.

“There’s really no issue,” Ghovaee said. “There are many ethics complaints. They’re all being thrown out one at a time. This is just another sound bite … from people who really have no interest in the city.”

If elected, Ghovaee said, he wants to try to unite Madeira Beach through workshops, and public comment. He promises to meet with members of the public once every quarter. Ghovaee said he also wants to implement street beautification, extend a walking and jogging trail from Archibald Park to War Veteran’s Memorial Park, reduce the speed limit on 150th Ave to 30 mph from 40 mph, fix the medians on 150th Avenue so they are safer for traffic, work with the Florida Department of Transportation to replace old, discolored signs, improve drainage and work with city staff to improve zoning requirements for future developments.

Ghovaee, owner of Northside Engineering in Clearwater, is well known around Pinellas County.

He has lived in Pinellas for 38 years and in Madeira Beach for the past 13 years. Ghovaee has worked in civil engineering for 37 years and, 28 years ago, founded Northside Engineering in Clearwater. Northside Engineering has designed and permitted more than 5,000 projects including five in Madeira Beach:

— Marriott Courtyard, American Legion Drive
— Snug Harbour Condominiums, 150th Avenue
— Beach Club of Madeira, Gulf Boulevard
— Bellarte Condominiums, Gulf Boulevard
— Surf Style Shop, John’s Pass

Ghovaee has also served on more than 20 boards during the past 30 years. Among them are the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the Southwest Florida Water Management District Anclote basin board, the Florida Holocaust Museum board, the Pinellas Park Chamber of Commerce Board (chairman), the Pinellas Pace Center for Girls board (including a stint as board chairman), the Juvenile Welfare mid-county board, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg College of Business board and the St. Petersburg College Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art board.

Ghovaee said that experience, leadership and knowledge make him the most effective commission candidate.

“I am not the new kid on the block,” Ghovaee said. “There is no learning curve.”

Ghovaee is being challenged by John E. Douthirt and David Allen Hitterman. The election is March 14. The last day to register to vote in the election is Monday (Feb. 13).

For information about Madeira Beach, go to

For voting information, go to

Housh Ghovaee | Madeira Beach City Commission | Election | March 14 Election | TB Reporter

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The Sassy Sandpiper: Lovelier the Nth Time Around

By M.R. Wilson, TB Reporter

Valentine’s Day proclaims that the willingness to love endures.

Valentine’s Day is Tuesday! Are you ready? Cards, hearts, flowers, CHOCOLATE in stock? Dinner reservations made in some dark, cozy, uber-romantic restaurant? Renewing your wedding vows? Church and clergy appointed? Presenting a ring and asking The Question? Planning a quiet evening with your ferret and special gift of organic food that costs more than I spend for a month’s groceries?

Valentine’s Day is big business. Last year Americans laid out almost $20 BILLION for their beloved significant others, human and otherwise.

Quite amazing, says I, for a holiday that arose from the ancient Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia. Somewhere around 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius I put an end to all that pagan debauchery and declared February 14 a Christian feast day—St. Valentine’s Day. As long as I’m bemoaning history, let’s not forget this “feast day” commemorates the beheading of martyrs, the most beloved being

St. Valentine of Rome. He was convicted for marrying and ministering to Christian couples, who were persecuted at the time. As one legend goes, he cured his jailer’s daughter. Before his execution, St. Valentine wrote her a loving farewell note, signing it “Your Valentine.”

Aren’t we humans just the most curious creatures? But such is the way our Day of Hearts began.

What I really want to celebrate this Valentine’s Day is how the willingness to love endures, even if our hearts are broken repeatedly. I tell my single friends still-in-the-market, but teetering near the Jaded Forever list to keep their hearts open. The last time I offered this solace, my friend Sarah responded, “Bleack,” or “bleeech.” It was during an online chat, but I could envision her tongue lolling out in disgust. Okay.

Still I continue saying, “Keep your heart open.” I remain steadfastly confident giving this counsel. Couples reaching their Golden Anniversaries are a vanishing breed and divorce statistics are just plain sad. But many Second-Time-Arounders are happy together until death parts them. It almost seems like the majority of Americans have a “Starter Marriage” or “Marriage Training Wheels.” I don’t mean to trivialize the pain suffered along the way to a healthy, productive relationship. We are human, after all, flawed and blessed and bumbling our way through lives that have grown increasingly complex.

After a marriage or two, or a soul-shredding relationship or three or five, you might decide you’re just not companion “material,” hating everyone and trusting no one. Well, don’t.

I know a couple who didn’t meet until their fifties, each hurt and resigned to bleak futures devoid of joy. One afternoon they just happened to spy each other across the street. Eddy was home recovering from surgery. Meg was walking her dog. He just happened to be checking his mail at just the right time. Almost 30 years in the same neighborhood, they’d never laid eyes on each other. That was seven years ago. I heard they rode off in the sunset together and lived happily ever after.

Columns | The Sassy Sandpiper | Valentine’s Day | Tampa Bay Reporter

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Police Investigate Shooting in Tampa

Police | Crime | Investigation

A teen died as the result of his injuries, Tampa police said.

TAMPA – A teenager has died from injuries he received when shot Saturday (Feb. 11) night, Tampa police said.

Tee’on Milledge, 17, died after being struck by gunfire. Police said they are still investigating the incident, so information is limited. But, officers said the shooting happened about 9:50 p.m. at 1015 Lilly White Court, which is near N 7th Avenue and Nuccio Parkway. Police said homicide detectives are continuing to conduct interviews and pursue leads in the investigation.

For information about Tampa police, go to

Tampa Police | Tee’on Milledge | Shooting Death | Homicide | Crime | TB Reporter

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Pasco Tax Collector Announces Middle School Essay Contest

Essay | Education | Children and Families

The winner will receive a $300 gift card to Best Buy.

PASCO COUNTY – Tax Collector Mike Fasano’s office is accepting entries in a month-long essay contest for middle school students.

The competition, which begins March 1 and runs through March 31, is part of Pasco Clerk of Court and Comptroller Paula O’ Neill’s constitutional officers essay contest. The essay contest is geared for Pasco County’s middle school students (Grades 6-8). Students of Pasco’s public/ charter, private, non-public and home schools are all welcome to participate.

In 500 words or less students will answer the question: “How do you, as a middle school student, benefit from taxes your family, friends and neighbors pay?” Entries will be judged by a panel of directors from the Pasco County Tax Collector’s Office. Entries will be reviewed on how well the student communicates his/ her response to the question as well as overall essay structure, appearance and readability.

Mike Fasano | Pasco Tax Collector | Government“Last year we had an overwhelming response to the contest,” Fasano said. “I have no doubt that we will receive some excellent essays again this year. Pasco County has some of the state’s best and brightest students. The student who writes the winning entry will receive a $300 gift card to Best Buy as their prize. I am looking forward to the day when I am able to hand this wonderful prize to the student who prepares the best essay.”

Students in public/charter schools are asked to submit their essays to their principal, who will forward them to the tax collector’s office. Students in private, non-public or home schools may send their essays directly to Greg Giordano, assistant tax collector, Pasco County Tax Collector’s Office, 8731 Citizens Drive, Room 120, New Port Richey, FL 34654 or by e-mail at For information, call Giordano at (727) 847-8179.

Entries will be accepted until 5 p.m. March 31. Each entry should include the student’s name, school, grade and contact information. The winner of the essay contest will be notified by telephone no later than April 17.

For information about the Pasco Tax Collector, go to

Pasco Tax Collector | Mike Fasano | Essay Contest | Middle School | Students | TB Reporter

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Lady Gaga World Tour to Stop in Tampa

LADY GAGA | Amalie Arena | Events Near Me

She is scheduled to appear at AMALIE® Arena on Dec. 1.Tickets go on sale Feb. 20.

TAMPA – Lady Gaga will be traveling the globe with the Joanne World Tour including a trip to Tampa’s AMALIE® Arena on Dec. 1.

GRAMMY® and Golden Globe winner and Academy Award-nominated Lady Gaga is a one-of-a kind artist and performer. She has amassed an outstanding 30 million global album sales and 150 million single sales, making her one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Gaga is also one of the biggest living forces in social media with more than 61 million likes on Facebook, more than 65.1 million followers on Twitter and more than 21.3 million followers on Instagram. Her fifth studio album Joanne was recently released and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, marking her fourth consecutive No. 1 album – the first woman to do so in the 2010s.

TICKETS: Tickets for the event go on sale at 10 a.m. Feb. 20 at the McDonald’s® Ticket Office at AMALIE Arena, Ticketmaster outlets and at Order tickets by phone by calling (800) 745-3000. Ticket prices are forthcoming, and will be listed on when available. Prices do not include facility fee or service charges. Advanced parking passes are available at or the ticket office. Go to or call (813) 301-2500 for information.

Citi® cardmembers can take advantage of a special pre-sale opportunity beginning 9 a.m. Wednesday (Feb. 15) through 5 p.m. Feb. 19. For complete pre-sale details, go to There is an eight ticket limit per transaction.

Photo courtesy of AMALIE Arena.

Lady Gaga | AMALIE Arena | Tampa | Events | Things to Do | TB Reporter

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Castor: Fear, Emotion Alone Should Not Drive Decision-Making

Kathy Castor | U.S. House | District 14

Castor made her comments after a federal appeals court refused to lift a stay on President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on travelers from seven majority Muslim nations.

TAMPA – U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, released the statement below after the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ unanimous ruling refusing to lift the stay on President Donald Trump’s recent executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven majority Muslim countries”

“The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that President Trump’s executive order targeting and banning legal permanent residents, Muslims, and refugees from war-torn areas is unlikely to stand. The court noted that it appears that the ban is not grounded in actual national security considerations, and demonstrates religious discrimination and serious due process problems. The court also batted down the President’s claim that the ban should not be reviewed: ‘There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs counter to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy‎.’

“America has learned difficult lessons in the past that fear and emotion alone should not drive policy. To do so is reckless and dangerous. Instead, facts and evidence should drive decision-making, consistent with the U.S. Constitution. America’s national security deserves no less.”

Castor represents Florida’s 14th Congressional District, which covers a portion of Hillsborough county.

To read the court’s order, click here.

For information about Castor, go to

Kathy Castor | Travel Ban | Court Decision | Muslims | Donald Trump | TB Reporter

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Pedestrian in Serious Condition after Pinellas Crash

Police | Crime | Investigation

He was in a crosswalk, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

PINELLAS COUNTY – A Hudson man is in serious condition after he was hit while crossing a Pinellas road Saturday (Feb. 11), according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Michael John Kopas, 69, of Hudson, was taken to Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg in serious condition.

The crash happened about 6:18 a.m. at the intersection of State Road 580 and Summerdale Drive. Troopers said Debra Fay La Clair, 56, of Clearwater, was driving a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle west on 580 when she struck Kopas, who was in a crosswalk.

For information about the Florida Highway Patrol, go to

Florida Highway Patrol | Pedestrian Injured | Traffic Crash | Traffic Accident | TB Reporter

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FHP Warns of Poor Road Conditions on U.S. 19 in Hernando

Fog | Foggy Road | Weather

The expected poor visibility along U.S. 19 is a combination of a controlled burn and expected fog.

HERNANDO COUNTY – The Florida Highway Patrol has issued a warning about road conditions along U.S. 19 in Hernando County:

“Following a controlled burn begun on Friday, February 10, 2017, and with weather conditions designed to produce fog, motorists traveling along U.S. 19 in Hernando County are cautioned as they may encounter low-visibility conditions. The area of most concern is U.S. 19 and Atlanta Avenue. The Forestry Service, the FDOT and the FHP are coordinating efforts and have placed warning signs in the affected areas and will monitor the area for the remainder of the day [Feb 11] and tomorrow [Feb 12]. Should drivers encounter low-visibility roadway conditions they are reminded to reduce speed, use low-beam headlights and avoid distractions while driving. If visibility requires a motorist to stop they should do so off the roadway and NOT in the travel lanes.”

For information about the Florida Highway Patrol, go to

Florida Highway Patrol | Hernando County | U.S. 19 | Fog | TB Reporter

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