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C.T. Bowen, Pasco Times Columnist

C.T. Bowen

C.T. Bowen has been reporting and writing about the people and politics of Pasco County since moving to Florida in 1987. A native of upstate New York, he lives in Land O' Lakes with his wife, Mary Beth, a public school teacher. They have two sons.

Phone: (727) 869-6239


  1. Energy company plans solar farm in northeast Pasco


    DADE CITY – An alternative energy company is proposing to build and operate a 90-acre, 15-megawatt solar panel farm in rural Pasco County.

    ESA Renewables, headquartered in Castellon, Spain, is targeting property — purchased in 2016 by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and his wife, Kathy — for a solar photovoltaic production facility.

    The land with a Ramsey Road address, but abutting Blanton Road, previously had been owned by a subsidiary of Wells Fargo. It had been the proposed site of a controversial housing development called College Hill because of its close proximity to the Pasco Hernando State College Campus outside Dade City. That proposal never came to fruition after running into stiff opposition from local residents advocating for rural protections for the undeveloped northeast portion of the county....

    ESA Renewables is proposing a 90-acre 15-megawatt solar panel farm in rural northeast Pasco. TIMES files (2016]
  2. Pasco panel resumes job of tackling SR 54 traffic congestion


    LAND O'LAKES — A group talked transportation in a college classroom (study) amid a crowd of onlookers who filled every seat (capacity) and looked for additional space (congestion).

    But, not all of the messages were that subliminal.

    The group, a reconvened citizens task force trying to figure out how to best move vehicles along the State Road 54/56 corridor, also heard a blunt assessment or two during its meeting last week at Rasmussen College....

    A Pasco County task force is studying long-term plans to relieve traffic congestion at the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54 and elsewhere along the 54/56 corridor.
  3. Pasco golf course battle heads to next round


    NEW PORT RICHEY — The court battle over the former Gulf Harbors golf course is heading to its second round.

    Circuit Judge Declan Mansfield has denied Pasco County's motion to dismiss a lawsuit from Gulf Harbors residents Susan Levine and Diane Theriault Kobernick, who are challenging the validity of the purchase.

    "Fabulous,'' Levine said when she learned of the ruling. "We'll have to see what (Pasco's) answer is to our complaint.''...

    The Gulf Harbors Golf Course opened in 1971 and has been closed more than a decade. Pictured are players from a women’s tournament at the course in 1975.
  4. Pasco utility rates to dip temporarily as commission plans for future

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Typical Pasco County water customers will get a break on their bills in the coming year, but the financial reprieve could be short-lived.

    "Smoke and mirrors,'' County Commission Chairman Mike Moore said after learning that a planned rate reduction could be offset after a single year by price indexing that would increase the utility rates beyond their current level.

    Consultant Stantec Financial Services Group reviewed the proposed rate schedule for commissioners during a Monday workshop. The plan calls for slight reductions in the combined water and sewer bills for 64 percent of the county's residential customers. Those customers, using between 3,000 and 12,000 gallons of water monthly, would see their bills drop between 19 cents and $3.50....

    Mike Moore called the savings “smoke and mirrors.”
  5. Pasco to test weekly curbside recycling


    DADE CITY — An overwhelming number of Pasco residents want weekly curbside recycling, according to a county survey, but nearly half don't want to give up their twice-a-week trash pickups as a trade-off.

    The recycling numbers, previewed for county commissioners Monday, just 48 hours after Earth Day, led the board to authorize a pilot program to increase residential recycling.

    That effort will offer twice-a-week trash pickups and weekly recycling in a 10,000-home area, the location of which has not been determined. The cost will be $3 a month, and the county will provide the recycling containers. No timetable has been set to begin the program....

    Newspapers and mixed papers float to the ground to be bailed for recycling at Progressive Waste Solutions, St. Petersburg, where Pasco County sends its materials for recycling. [Times files, 2014]
  6. New connection for Pasco to Tampa remains elusive


    WESLEY CHAPEL — George Neuendorf brought a prop.

    At 74, he looked more like a student carrying a tri-fold poster board suitable for a science project than a homeowner worried about transportation. Unfolding the display, Neuendorf revealed 15 color snapshots of potholes and crumbling asphalt on Mansfield Boulevard.

    "This is just from normal traffic,'' Neuendorf said. "How are you going maintain it if they open it up to more traffic? They can't maintain it now. That's what gets me.''...

    Tampa City Council member Luis Viera said his constituents view the missing link between Kinnan Street in Tampa and Mansfield Boulevard in Wesley Chapel  “as government at its worst.’’  

  7. Flying lead: Couple, Dade City gun range battle over contamination cleanup



    Step onto the homestead of Paul and Juanita Vasko, and the sights and sounds of rural eastern Pasco County are unmistakable: dirt road, crowing roosters, parked tractor, a fledgling blueberry patch, plenty of outdoor clutter and gun fire.

    Lots of gun fire.

    Everything except for the blasting firearms belongs to the Vaskos. The gunshots come from the abutting property owner, the Dade City Rod and Gun Club. It's not a new phenomenon. The club dates back to 1956. The Vaskos bought their land 21 years later, and coexistence hadn't been troublesome in the past....

    Paul Vasko, 71, holds spent lead slug fragments he found on the ground on his property in Dade City, Fla., on Thursday, April 13, 2017. The Vaskos first engaged in court proceedings with the Dade City Rod and Gun Club in 2012, after they said the club removed noise-muffling carpet that reduced noise pollution on the Vaskos’ property. Since then, the two parties have litigated over a berm the Vaskos say the Rod and Gun Club built on their property.
  8. Bowen: With re-election, mayor wants to continue progress in New Port Richey


    Tip O'Neill was right.

    O'Neill, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who played Democratic foil to the Reagan revolution, is credited with coining the phrase "all politics is local'' during his first run for public office in the 1930s.

    To affirm O'Neill's sentiment, check the recently concluded New Port Richey mayoral race won by incumbent Rob Marlowe over former Pasco sheriff's Maj. Ed Beckman....

    New Port Richey Mayor Rob Marlowe, who was re-elected last week, becomes only the second mayor to serve a second term in the city 2000.

  9. Pasco County, residents argue golf course purchase terms


    NEW PORT RICHEY — The fate of an abandoned golf course in the Gulf Harbors subdivision is headed for a playoff.

    But a quick, sudden-death finish appears unlikely.

    During a 90-minute hearing Monday afternoon, Pasco County asked a circuit judge to toss a lawsuit filed by two Gulf Harbors residents. They contend the county acted illegally when commissioners voted in September to acquire the course for $1.2 million and to split the cost with the neighborhood property owners, with plans to convert the property into a preserve....

  10. Pasco gives initial okay to sports tourism project, higher bed tax


    DADE CITY — Pasco County's $44 million plan for a sports tourism and hotel complex at Wiregrass Ranch earned its first victory Wednesday when a unanimous County Commission blessed the project and a plan to double the hotel bed tax to help finance it.

    After a nearly two-hour discussion, the board agreed with the concept of increasing the tourist tax to 4 percent to offset the public's $25 million commitment to the multipurpose gymnasium, public park and amphitheater. The sports facilities, to be operated by Sarasota-based RADD Sports, and a privately financed 120-room Residence Inn by Marriott are planned on land, previously donated by the Porter family, northeast of the Shops at Wiregrass....

    Prior to Wednesday's discussion, Commissioner Jack Mariano had panned the idea of increasing the tourist tax because it provided no money for beachesn. He eventually made the motion to approve the multipurpose complex in Wiregrass Ranch.TIMES files (2012)
  11. Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore seeks re-election


    Pasco Commission Chairman Mike Moore filed for re-election Tuesday, to seek a second term for the District 2 seat based in central Pasco.

    Moore, 46, released the following statement in announcing his re-election bid:

    ‘‘To build a small business or achieve other success in any area of life, you must set goals and then work tirelessly to deliver results,” said Commissioner Moore. “Over the past two years, our community has set goals and we’ve worked together to accomplish them....

  12. Bowen: Tax idea will have little impact on school fee debate


    On the first Wednesday in March, Pasco's residential development community boasted about the changing demographics of the county's recent new-home buyers.

    Here's what they told a Pasco Economic Development Committee gathering: In Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel, new homes averaged $450,000; in Starkey Ranch in Odessa, $425,000; in Bexley by Newland Communities in Land O'Lakes, about $350,000....

    An advisory committee is considering a Pasco School Board request to increase the education impact fee on new single-family home construction to $9,028. TIMES files. (2017) 

  13. Nelson seeks Senate OK of VA clinic for New Port Richey


    NEW PORT RICHEY – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is seeking Senate approval for a new Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in New Port Richey.

     The Democrat sent a letter Friday to the leaders of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works committee urging them to approve a new lease for the clinic.

    “Florida’s veterans on the Suncoast have been waiting three years for a new Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Outpatient Clinic in New Port Richey,” Nelson wrote in a letter to Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wy., and Tom Carper, D-De. “The approval of this lease and others is now before your committee. I ask that you approve it as soon as possible so that our Florida veterans can access the high quality care they need and deserve.”...

  14. Pasco considers increase in bed tax for sports complex


    WESLEY CHAPEL — Pasco County's plan for a sports-tourism and hotel complex at Wiregrass Ranch is projected to cost $44 million and is accompanied by a proposal to double the hotel bed tax to help finance it.

    Next week, Pasco commissioners will be asked to bless the concept of increasing the tourist tax to 4 percent to offset the public's $25 million commitment to the multipurpose gymnasium, public park and amphitheater. The sports facilities and a privately financed 120-room Marriott Hotel would be constructed on land previously donated by the Porter family, northeast of the Shops at Wiregrass mall....

    Pasco County is proposing to double its tourist tax to 4 percent to finance a 98,000-square-foot multipurpose sports complex that would include eight basketball courts and dedicated space for gymnastics, cheerleading and a fitness center. Shown here is the four-court fieldhouse with 50,000-square-feet of space for competitions at  Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.   TIMES files (2007)

  15. Friendly Kia buys closed Kmart for expansion in west Pasco


    NEW PORT RICHEY — A shuttered Kmart store on U.S. 19 is poised to become the new home of Friendly Kia.

    The dealership's owner, Gilliss & Gilliss Inc., purchased the nearly 11.5-acre site at 5743 U.S. 19 for $3.125 million. The transaction closed in late March.

    Kmart announced in 2014 that it was closing the store, which was built in 1972. A Tampa-based company, 19 & Cross Bayou LLC, acquired the site 10 months ago for $3 million....

    Friendly Kia is the automaker’s No. 6 seller in the nation. Here, an Optima is shown at the 2015 New York International Auto Show.