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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: (813) 435-7306

Email: bowen@tampabay.com

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  1. Pasco sheriff: Mentally ill man kills one over imaginary girlfriend, dies after shootout with deputies

    Crime

    PORT RICHEY — Two lay dead after a firefight broke out between a mentally ill man and deputies near Gulf Highlands Elementary School on Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

    It started when Brian DiSario, 30, fatally shot 56-year-old David Armstrong, whom he believed was making advances on his girlfriend, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

    But DiSario did not have a girlfriend....

    The area where deputies exchanged gunfire with an unidentified suspect is seen in this WTSP News Channel 10 aerial photo Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 in Hudson. An armed suspect is dead after exchanging gunfire with Pasco deputies and barricading themselves in a home Thursday afternoon in the Gulf Highlands neighborhood, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. [Photo WTSP.com]
  2. Pasco commission braces for relief program traffic woes

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners fear that a Hurricane Irma emergency nutrition program could overrun the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center and the surrounding road network in central Pasco.

    On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Children and Families asked commissioners for permission to use the recreation center off Collier Parkway to sign up residents for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Commissioners, leery of a repeat of the crowds that snarled traffic at a baseball stadium in Plant City on Monday, suggested an alternative site — the vacant retail property that formerly housed a Super Target store at State Road 54 and the Suncoast Parkway in Lutz. ...

    Pasco County commissioners fear a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Monday when the Food for Florida program comes to Land O’Lakes Oct. 18-27. Commissioners suggested the  Hurricane Irma food assistance program be moved to the vacant center that formerly housed a Super Target store near the intersection of State Road 54 and the Suncoast Parkway in Lutz.
  3. Holiday Tower coming down? Current owner says 'no'

    Real Estate

    HOLIDAY — The Holiday Tower, a highly visible but aging six-story office building with a distinctive pagoda-style decorative roof, could be demolished to make way for three new businesses, according to documents filed with Pasco County.

    Except the current owner of the building said he knows nothing about it.

    "We, the current owners, have zero plans to tear the building down, and the building is not under contract,'' said David Spezza of Trinity, the manager of EPRE Plantation Plaza LLC, the building's owner....

    A Clearwater-based development company has filed preliminary plans with Pasco County to demolish the six-story Holiday Tower at U.S. 19 and Darlington Road in Holiday and possibly replace it with a bank and  two restaurants.
  4. After uncertainty, chamber affirms holiday parade in New Port Richey

    Human Interest

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Santa Claus' route through downtown New Port Richey won't be detoured this year.

    Last week, the fate of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce's Holiday Street Parade appeared in doubt after it lost its previous presenting sponsor, Bright House Networks. Charter Communications acquired Bright House and Time Warner Cable last year, rebranded them as Spectrum, but did not renew its parade sponsorship for 2017. The company instead focused its charitable work on a housing assistance program....

    After some uncertainty, the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce said it would continue its annual Holiday Street Parade through downtown New Port Richey this year. The parade is scheduled for Dec. 9.
  5. Bowen: Pasco's new tourism boss seeks to change county outlook

    Tourism

    Adam Thomas is an experienced traveler.

    His first career lasted 11 years and took him from Boise, Idaho, to Las Vegas, Nev.; Long Beach, Calif.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Mexico; Venezuela; the Dominican Republic, and a dozen other work locations. That is the itinerary for a baseball player whose professional employment was spent on pitching mounds in the minor leagues, foreign countries and independent leagues....

    Adam Thomas, director of Visit Pasco.
  6. Optics manufacturer moving to Pasco from Long Island

    Economic Development

    TRINITY — Meopta U.S.A., which manufactures optical lenses for aerospace, defense and sports, is moving operations from Long Island, N.Y., to Trinity.

    Next week, Pasco County commissioners will consider a $141,000 job-creation incentive for the Czech Republic company. It purchased the former VLOC plant for $1.7 million in March.

    The company proposes to create 47 full-time jobs paying an average annual salary of just less than $49,000 or 125 percent of county's average wage, according to an Oct. 1 memorandum to county commissioners....

  7. Pasco ordinance will expedite slum demolition

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners focused on home improvements Tuesday.

    In the morning, the County Commission ordered two dilapidated homes demolished, but spared two others to let their owners do needed repairs. In the afternoon, the board amended an ordinance to expedite future demolitions and relinquish authority to hear owner appeals to its volunteer construction board.

    The amended ordinance, approved unanimously, will halve the time owners have to appeal a condemnation order, from 60 to 30 days. The 10-member board hearing those appeals consists of seven licensed contractors and three community residents....

    Pasco commissioners approved a new ordinance Tuesday to expedite demolition of condemned homes.
  8. Storm debris pickup from Hurricane Irma delayed in Pasco

    Hurricanes

    Pasco County is confronting the same dilemma in removing storm debris as the rest of the Tampa Bay region: subcontractors heading to South Florida for a bigger payday. It's meant uncollected tree limbs and other debris still sitting curbside nearly two weeks after Hurricane Irma.

    "I've gotten a lot of complaints up and down. Nothing's getting picked up,'' Commissioner Jack Mariano during Tuesday's County Commission meeting....

    Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano says he has heard lots of complaints from people about debris not being picked up after Hurricane Irma.
  9. Pasco budget includes Ridge Road spending

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's 2017-18 budget shows the commission's confidence in obtaining a federal permit to build the Ridge Road Extension.

    On Tuesday night, county commissioners unanimously approved a $1.379 billion budget for the new fiscal year, with just a few tweaks, including the addition of $2.5 million to buy right of way for the highway and $1 million to design the planned interchange with the Suncoast Parkway. Originally, the county hadn't planned to buy right of way until 2021....

    Pasco commissioners approved a 2018 budget that included $3.5 million to buy right of way and to design of the Ridge Road Extension where it would link with the Suncoast Parkway.
  10. Pasco parks director departs as public outreach begins

    Local Government

    Pasco County, embarking on a campaign to try to expand its parks and recreation system, will be doing so with a new public face heading up the department.

    Kelley Boree, 51, resigned last week as director of the county's Department of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources. Her resignation letter, dated Sept. 16, contained no reason for her departure. The resignation is effective Dec. 8, but Boree will act only as an off-site consultant on an as-needed basis for the next 11 weeks, said her immediate supervisor, Cathy Pearson, assistant county administrator....

    Kelley Boree, far right, resigned last week as director of Pasco County’s director of parks, recreation and natural resources. 
  11. Bowen: Humanitarian Roy Hardy raised hope, diminished hunger

    Obituaries

    The lines on Roy Hardy's resume are simple: retailer, rancher, amateur barbecue chef, recreational fisherman.

    His career, however, goes from pedestrian to extraordinary when the personal traits of dedication and benevolence are considered. Roy Hardy didn't sell dry goods and raise cattle. He sold hope and raised aspirations.

    He was a humanitarian known to almost everyone in east Pasco....

    Roy Hardy, pictured here in 1999, raised money for people in need through the Kiwanis’ Roy Hardy Benevolent Trust Fund. He died Sept. 19 at the age of 93.
  12. Even a weakened Irma leaves its mark on Pasco

    Hurricanes

    It was a Category 5, a Category 3, a tropical storm. It was Hurricane Irma, and she turned out to be a little fickle by the time she touched Pasco County.

    But she had strong breath.

    The eye of Irma passed over Dade City early Monday morning, and the majestic oak trees around town couldn't withstand the fierce gusts, even though the wind didn't reach the velocity levels originally predicted....

    At left, Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof.
  13. Irma slows curbside trash service in Pasco

    Hurricanes

    Hurricane Irma brought a hiccup to twice-weekly curbside trash service in Pasco County.

    At midday Wednesday, some neighborhoods hadn't had garbage collected since Friday, Sept. 8.

    "It's frustrating,'' said Tom Kline, 72, who lives in the Lake Heron community in Lutz.

    Just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, however, the trash truck arrived on his street to end the 13-day service gap.

    The problem, according to the largest hauler in the county, is the sheer volume of household waste left at the curb after Irma. It means trucks fill faster and require more frequent trips to the waste-burning plant in Shady Hills....

    s
Pasco officials are asking for patience about the slow pace of residential trash service from private haulers. In some areas, trash hasn't been collected since Friday, Sept. 8, because of the volume of waste left after Hurricane Irma.
  14. Bowen: Water's rising? I must be in Worthington Gardens

    News

    Take a drive up Old Cypress Creek Road from State Road 54 and you'll see where Old Florida is about to be encroached upon by the new.

    On the west side of the narrow road sit low-lying homes abutting a swamp. Signs proclaiming "Private property,'' "No trespassing'' and ''Beware of dog'' are common driveway decorations.

    Across the road to the east, and at a higher elevation, are mountains of dirt, heavy construction equipment and oversize concrete tubes that will become underground culverts for water and sewer service. It's the site of Brightwork Crossing, a planned 32-acre development mixing apartments and a hotel with fast-food, convenience and tire stores and other retailers....

    CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times Flood warnings like the recent one in Elfers usually also include a place called Worthington Gardens in central Pasco.
  15. Pasco OKs higher fee for drainage work

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Trying to keep neighborhoods drier is going to cost Pasco County property owners some extra dollars.

    On Tuesday, just eight days after Hurricane Irma blew through the county, Pasco commissioners gave final approval to a 67 percent increase in the annual drainage assessment.

    The vote was 4-0, with Commissioner Kathryn Starkey absent from the morning public hearing. Commissioner Mike Wells Jr., who voted against setting the higher storm-water fee in February, supported the increase this time....

    CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times  Hurricane Irma brought flooding along the Anclote River, including along Riverrun Road off State Road 54 in New Port Richey. Pasco residents used 606,800 sandbags in attempt to hold back floodwaters.