Sunday, December 31, 2006

Kit the Cat

For the last few weeks, on our walks, Ella has been playing with a new friend. Kit. A cat. It apparently was a loose cat that showed up at Nelson's house at 9th and Ellicott and he began feeding it while it lived in his backyard. It was a playful little cat, not afraid of dogs. I always enjoyed walking Ella by there, looking forward to a little cat play. It was a fun time.

A few days ago, I was walking Ella by Nelson's house, looking for Kit. Nelson was in his kitchen and through his open kitchen window which overlooked the yards where we and apparently many others played with Kit, he gave me the bad news.

One night, after coming home from running up to the store, two men came up and told him they had found Kit and that a dog killed it. He was heartbroken. Although not a cat person, he had decided earlier that day he was going to get the cat fixed and bring him/her indoors. He always enjoyed watching from his windows, seeing people walking their dogs playing with Kit.

Susan and I were always afraid something like this would happen, that a stray dog would hamr the cat. However, as I spread the news to several neighbors both close and far, a darker theory emerged.

There is a neighbor nearby who has two dogs. One day the son was walking those dogs by Ashley Warner's house. Somehow. . . somehow... somehow those dogs got loose and ran into Ashley's yard, killing her cat, while the son just stood there, taking no action. The father was advised of the cat murder and he became incensed at the cat parents and refused to take responsibility for the killing. Fortunately Ashley's mother is a lawyer and she showed him the light.

Later apparently the dogs got loose and ran into a closer neighbor's yard and killed one of his cats. Again the owner of the dogs became incensed at the cat parent intread of taking responsibility for the death. He said no way could his dogs have gotten loose, that someone must have opened the gate. Police were called and he was taken to court and fined.

Suspicion now falls that his dogs were involved in Kit's death and that perhaps, . . . perhaps, it was deliberate.

If so, there is a special place in Hell waiting. Outer Ring of the 7th Circle of Hell standing deep in the Phlegethon (Dante's Inferno)

Missing Italian Greyhound

7 yr old, male Italian Greyhound (looks like a
mini-greyhound), 12 pounds
Color: Grey with white face, and white tip on tail
Name: Coda

Coda is very skittish and may be hiding. He is an out
of town visitor, and therefore does not know this
neighborhood, so he is probably very lost. He was
last seen on Dec 30th at 5 PM at 1200 E McBerry St.
He does not have a collar on but is microchipped.

Please call 813-631-7712, 678-522-1594, or
813-469-6967 if you have seen Coda.
 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lake Roberta Images

From Alan S. of Bike Stories. A gift for the readers. A few photos of Lake Roberta.

 Posted by Picasa

Invasion of the Farmers

Most people are not aware that the Gasparilla pirate invasion is not the only invasion that occurs in Tampa. Twice a year we have two other invasions. Thousands of farmers come from east Hillsborough County to invade Tampa. They come to protect us by scaring off the millions of birds we have infesting our urban gardens and fields. If this were not done we would not have any fruit or vegetables for our kitchens and would starve to death. Yes, every January 1 and July 4 we can thank those farmers for their sacrifice and kindness.

That can be the only explanation I have for all of these fireworks going off.

1/1/07 Update: In response to the comment, here, here and here is why I am not happy about fireworks

Fire at 17th and Diana

From Randy Baron:

Last night a fire destroyed a house on 17th & Diana (1519 E. Diana). The house is owned by Paulette Green and she lives there with her fiancée Michael Reed and his two sons. Luckily, no one was injured. However, the house, and most of the items within, are a total loss. I drove by this afternoon to make sure that this was not one of the recent scams that were going around. I spoke to the victims and their neighbors and inspected the site. There are bags on the front lawn containing the salvaged belongings. BayNews9 ran a story about the fire.

The Red Cross offered some relief and is putting the family up in a motel through Tuesday. However, I would like to spread the word for additional donations to help the family. Also, I want to see if the Board would like to make a donation in the form of a gift card to Walmart. Debbie and I will also be personally donating a $100 gift card. This will allow them to start replenishing the items that were lost in the fire.

If you know of anyone that wants to contribute, they can reach Michael Reed directly at 380-4507.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Hillsborough County Library System Endangers Children

Updated:12/2906 (see below)
The Seminole Heights Branch Library was recently advised

by the Fire Marshall that the maximum occupancy is 49.

The problem has been is that the kids from the middle school across the street and to a lesser extent Hillsborough High school come over and flood the library, as a place to hang out until their parents pick them up or until it is time for them to walk home. At times there have been up to 90 people in the library. (Twice the allowed limit) Fights have erupted outside. The library has HCSO Deputy on duty at certain times. If the schools had some place for the kids to hang out it would help. Perhaps a computer lab open late. They don't.

What we have is a problem created by the school system, that was being handled by the library system inadequately. The staff at Seminole Heights branch library have long time tried to deal with the issue. They try to control the kids who sometimes get unruly and hog up the computers. One of the prior librarians had to be the person to contact the fire marshall to find out what the occupancy limit is. Why did it take a branch librarian to find the occupancy limit? The management of the library system should have long time ago determined that. (This makes me wonder if other libraries don't have occupancy limits and so are there other ones also overcrowded placing children at risk?)

The solution is to build a bigger library and add programs.

Below is a satellite view of area.

The yellow building is the library. To the south is their parking. Below that and stretching out in a T is the middle school parking. Below that is the City pool. To the right is the school system school bus transfer center.

Move the transfer center somewhere else. Expand the library building (yellow) expand the library parking (green grey), expand the middle school parking (grey), add more park are north of the library and next to the pool. Make the remaining transfer center area into a road/entrance/exit for the complex.

Perhaps the City Parks and Recreation can include a rec center component in the library building.

Seminole Heights has three (and if we are lucky 4) people who could swing this. School Board member April Griffin, County Commissioners Rose Ferlita and Kevin White, and if things go well, future City Council member Randy Baron.

12/29/06 Update:

Where should the transfer center go? The NW corner (highlighted in blue) of the large parking lot off Bird Street, next to the Sulphur Springs pool.

Posted by Picasa
This moves a high traffic/polluting operation out of the middle of a residential neighborhood into an unused area.

Here is a different idea for the library complex. Build a new library/rec center complex next to the City pool so you have a combined pool rec center area with a park in-between. Move the parking in the area outlined in black. This means increased parking for the middle school and the library rec/pool complex. Make the NE corner more of a park area so the ugly asphalt obscured by the park and library complex.

Grumpy's commentary

We have a lot of blogs in Seminole Heights, covering various topics. Several of them are very good. Ranking in the top is Dont You Hate It When by Grumpy. He has recently moved up in the blogging world, because he was referenced yesterday by Wayne Garcia in the Blurbex blog of the Weekly Planet(oops Creative Loafing). I always enjoy Grumpy's take on the world. Yesterday, I especially enjoyed his commentary about my proposed changes on the blog. Bookmark his blog. It ought to be a regular reader.

On thing I felt has happened is that the negative comments have driven away some of the writers. Stone path writes a good post about Martha's restaurant and gets jumped on. That the her only post. I have developed a thick skin and let most things run off my back. (I like mixing metaphors). However many of the other writers are not used to getting bashed. Treat them gently and give them a chance to develop blogging callouses.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Randy Baron to switch races?

According to Wayne Garcia at Blurbex, Randy Baron is considering switching City Council Races from City Wide to District 6 because of the crowded field.

No. Really?

Is this an archeological dig? The site of an alien UFO crashlanding? No. It is actual work being done on the long forgotten fountain at Giddens Park. The pumps, water storage tank and pipes are being emplaced. Amazing. I thought it was a figment of my imagination that there was going to be a fountain there.

 Posted by Picasa

Christmas Houses

From Alan B.:

"I thought I’d throw you a photo of our 1914 Craftsman Bungalow from this Christmas. You can post it if you want. Maybe start a thread on Christmas house photos. I’d like to see others…

We’re at 5405 N. Branch Ave."

I agree with Alan. Send me you photos and I will post them
 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Trees

We always get our Christmas tree, the weekend after Halloween (ooops Thanksgiving), usually on Friday. We generally take it down right after Christmas. This time we had it down on Dec 26.

So that means it is time to recycle the Christmas tree.
It used to be that that City had a crew at the K-Mart shopping plaza at Bird and Florida. Last year, or maybe the year before, the moved the crew to the Sulphur Springs Tower.

What are my choices?
Per the City website:

"December 27, 2006 - Residents may take trees to the Manhattan Brush Site or to the McKay Bay Transfer Station for recycling. Residents with separate, curbside collection of yard waste may place trees at the curb with yard waste for recycling. Residents also have the option of taking trees to the University of South Florida's Recycling Center located off of North 50th on Sycamore Drive on either 12/30/06 or 1/6/07 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Directions to USF's Recycling Center: From North 50th, make a left on Elm Drive and then a right on Sycamore Drive."

Hmm those of us in SE Sem Hts do not yet have yard waste recycling so that cuts out one option.

I thought I'd check the County's website to see what they are doing but forget that. No mention anywhere.

I guess on Saturday I will trek up to USF.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

More on Blog Changes

In a week (Next Tuesday), I am going to change how people comment. I will be trying this out for two weeks and then decide if I want to make this permanent.

Only people who are registered with blogger will be able to comment.
Note: When you register you do not have create a blog of your own.

From the Blogger web site: (

How do I create a Blogger account?
In order to get started with Blogger, you'll first need to create an account. On the Blogger homepage, click the "Create Your Blog Now" button:

On the following page you'll be prompted to create a Google Account. You can use your Google Account on other Google services. If you already have a Google Account perhaps from Gmail, Google Groups, or Orkut, please sign in first. After you've done that, you'll need to enter a display name and accept Blogger's Terms of Service.

Once you're done with this, you'll be prompted to Create a Blog and get started!

Frequently asked questions about Blogger Profiles
What about my privacy?

You can share as much or as little as you prefer on your Blogger Proflile and of course you can choose not to share your Profile at all. Additionally, there are settings that allow you to show or hide various parts of your Profile and of course you can always just leave some fields blank.

What if I don't want to share my profile?

That's fine. Just uncheck the "Share Profile" box.

Do I have to show my real name?

Not if you don't want to. Again, uncheck that box.

I don't want to show my email address!

That's cool. Uncheck the "Show My Email Address" box.

How do I leave comments on a blog?

How do I change the name that appears at the end of my posts?

I am waiting a week so people who are having problems getting registered can post their questions.

Hillsborough House of Hope

In Seminole Heights on west Curtis Street is a residential program called Hillsborough House of Hope, helping formerly incarcerated women turn their lives around. House of Hope was founded 4 years ago by then 77 year old Margaret Palmer. (Never too late to realize a dream) The Times had a write up in 2003 and the Trib had one today. Assistant Chief Jane Castor is on the board of directors.

"Palmer wanted something better for the women and began planning for it in 1998. She formulated the idea of having a big house with about 10 women, but Cal Henderson, then Hillsborough County sheriff, advised her differently.

He told her to take three women at a time and "pour everything you have in them," Palmer recalled."

. . . ."The nonprofit program will celebrate its four-year anniversary Jan. 7. Nearly 40 women have been through the program; about 25 have successfully finished, a high number, Palmer said, for a rehabilitative program."

. . ."A house manager lives with the three women in the bluish-gray house, which was purchased for $112,000. Each woman gets her own room and computer and is responsible for buying groceries and cooking her own meals.

Most women stay at the house about six months. The majority who enter Hillsborough House of Hope have been arrested for drug possession, drug paraphernalia or petty theft, said Linda Walker, the program's manager, who has successfully fought a crack addiction."

. . ."The program partners with about a dozen organizations, so the women can get substance abuse treatment five days a week, obtain health care and find work, among other things.

After they get a job, the women contribute 30 percent of their paychecks toward rent. Usually, Walker said, it's not much - $30 to $60 - but it helps teach the women responsibility and how to budget.

Ten percent of the check goes into a savings account. The program has a partnership with two credit unions. In six months, the women can save $600 to $1,000, Walker said.

The women also are required to have a sponsor and attend either Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous regularly.

It isn't all work, though. They go to the movies, make arts and crafts, and have a weekly roommate dinner."

If you want to help out call 813 231-5122 or donate online.

If only Clifford Hills had operated in such a fashion.


Tonight we went into Carrollwood and got off at the Fletcher exit of the Interstate. At the corner was a couple panhandling. She was in a wheelchair and he was standing behind her. There was a crutch leaning on the wheelchair. She had a sign that said "disabled, need help." I was not sure if both were disabled or just her. He was able to walk over to get some change from someone.

I thought back to how at the MLK northbound exit there used to be people in a wheelchair with signs asking for help. Later I and others in the neighborhood learned that the wheelchair was a prop used by residents from a nearby boarding house (Northbay and Nebraska). One person would panhandle for a while and when his shift was over, he would go back to the boarding house and someone else would use the wheelchair.

I thought, what if a social services agency had a mobile van, (sort of like the I-275 Road Rangers) that would hit these intersections. Talk to the people at the corners and assess their needs. Provide them referrals, vouchers, or transportation to housing or etc. That way the homeless in need of services could get them. (Assuming there is funding). A database could be created, the scammers could get weeded out. Maybe the scammers could get reported to the police.

How do you separate the scammers from the needy? My neighbors took in this couple who were homeless. They lived in their garage for a while and helped them get moved into a place of their own and helped them get furniture. Months and months later I read about them in the Tribune. They were homeless again. Were they scamming or simply unable to keep it together due to drugs, alcohol, mental health, trapped in circumstances, or simply never taught the skills to keep it together. Often times at gas stations and McDonald's people come up to me asking for money, giving me some story of need. I need gas money to get to ......, my car broke down and I need taxi fare......, I need some money for food to eat and etc. Some people look down on their luck, others don't. Are they scamming or are they just in a momentary bad situation.

Once when I was a teenager (18?) I was at a church conference in downtown Birmingham. I rode up my my pastor and his wife but was taking the bus back. I get to the bus station and buy my ticket. I stuck it in my back pocket. At some point I discovered my ticket missing. I either dropped it or it was stolen from me. I knew no one in Birmingham. I did not have the extra cash for a new ticket. I had just enough for a meal. What do I do? I called some friends back at home and they arranged to wire me some cash. The problem was the Western Union was located in some hotel some place else. I can't remember how many blocks away it was. I walked over there and they did not have it. I walk around and come back. Still nothing. Again I walk around in this strange city and go back. At some point hours later I realize they money was wired to me as Scott and I was telling them I was David. The money had arrive hours earlier. However, the Western Union did not have the cash on hand. The Bus station would not cash a two party money order. Nor would the A and P. Finally the Western Union had the money and I was able to buy my ticket and go home. What if things had not worked out?Would I have had to panhandle and rely on the kindness of strangers to get home?

Monday, December 25, 2006


In SESH for several years we had a tradition of having luminaries (luminarios). It looked very nice driving the the streets on Christmas Eve after they were lit. Old Carrollwood has had a long lasting tradition of luminaries.

However the luminary tradition in the neighborhood that former Seminole Heights residents Sondra and Heidi just moved to in Billings Montana is very touching.

From the Billings Gazette
"Tonight, as neighbors have done for 44 years, homeowners on Mariposa Lane will light luminarias, candles in paper bags filled with sand. The candles burn through the night, symbolically lighting the way for the Christ child. But they also flicker in remembrance of a young boy killed in a bicycle accident in December 1962, a boy most of the neighbors now living on the street never knew."
. . .
On Dec. 5, he (Bobby Switzer) and his friend, who also lived on the street, were biking home about dinnertime, after a basketball game at school. The weather was good. Both boys had lights on their bikes. But, while they were at school, someone had flipped on the lights of all the bicycles in the bike rack, leaving them on until the batteries died.Switzer was hit by a car as he crossed 17th Street West, just south of Mariposa Lane. He died from head injuries.
. . .
The Switzers had moved from Albuquerque, N.M., to Billings in February 1960, when Frank Switzer transferred to a position as manager of the J.C. Penney store. The first Christmas in their new home, Bobby decorated their yard with luminarias, a tradition in the Southwest. He used a child's toy wagon to haul sand from the irrigation ditch to fill the brown paper lunch bags.

"I think we kind of introduced the tradition to Billings," said his mother, Marge McFarlane. "As I remember, it was a nice evening, and people came by walking to see what it was."In the aftermath of the accident the next December, neighborhood families set out the luminarias on Christmas Eve as a memorial to Switzer. That first year, they lighted not just the Switzer's house, but five houses on each side of the street. The tiny glow of candles through the 300 brown paper sacks seemed to warm the night's chill.

The child's mother, no longer lives in the neighborhood but allways come to see the luminaries. Only one neighbor is left who knew the family yet the tradition continues.

. . .
"On Christmas Eve, many Billings families take their children on car tours of spectacular Christmas lights displays. The exuberant amperage gets children and adults hyped about the holiday. But the luminarias produce a calm, reflective aura, said Eva Van Arsdale, who moved into the neighborhood in 1967.It's amazing, she said, to see the candles still flickering at daybreak. She views it as a reminder of God's everlasting presence".

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hampton Terrace Santa Float makes the paper

Seminole Heights

Neighborhood keeps tradition afloat

Published December 22, 2006

Some holiday traditions trail seamlessly over decades, lighting the spark of sentiment from one generation to the next.

In my family, we still search the tree for a delicate old German ornament bedecked with angels and glitter that opens to reveal a message or gift.

I got to thinking about such rituals a few weeks ago after the annual lighting of the holiday tree in my neighborhood. I imagine the tradition is as old as my little community. Even the towering yet kind-looking Santa is an old-fashioned behemoth, a prop that looks like it might have lumbered off the set of Miracle on 34th Street.

In the Hampton Terrace neighborhood of Old Seminole Heights, there's a tradition that dates well back to the Truman era. It was recently revived by a younger generation of residents who didn't want to lose something the neighborhood has long held dear.

The Santa float.

If you grew up in the Tampa Bay area, you probably remember him - a jolly old guy who floated with a lighted tree, sleigh and reindeer on Lake Roberta, the small, spring-fed lake that makes this architecturally diverse neighborhood even more unique.

Resident Greg Barnhill, a commercial banker who is working on a master's degree in architecture from the University of South Florida, said that long ago, the little lake was once a cattle watering hole for cowboys on the way to the Port of Tampa.

Now the lake is an attraction in this historic neighborhood, a place that draws runners, dog walkers and families out for an after-work stroll.

Five years ago, younger neighborhood residents got to talking about the Santa float tradition. The display had lived on through the 1950s and 1960s, but died sometime in the 1970s.

What happened to him, they wondered? Could the tradition be revived?

"The neighborhood was transitioning from older buyers to younger buyers," recalls Barnhill, who lives in a 1926 yellow-brick bungalow on Clifton Street.

"We had many people tell us that when they were kids that their parents brought them to see the lights around the lake, look at Santa on his float and listen to the Christmas music that was played by the homes on the lake. Traffic used to back up on Nebraska Avenue as drivers waited to turn in to see the decorations."

About five years ago, a group of neighbors decided to revive and rebuild the floating, lighted display. Santa, sleigh and reindeer now ride again atop six 55-gallon drums topped with sheets of plywood that serve as the base.

After New Year's Day, Hampton Terrace residents store the float and props in their garages, rafters and sheds.

Just like the old days.

It's a tradition in a neighborhood loaded with tradition, Barnhill says.

Last week local carolers made their annual appearance in an event that draws hundreds of people to the neighborhood.

As for the Santa float, he muses, it's creating new memories for a generation of children in Old Seminole Heights and stirring sweet emotions for legions of Tampa's grown-up children.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at

[Last modified December 21, 2006, 08:17:05]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Update on Dis and Dat Building at 4028 Nebraska

According to the City of Tampa Website:

They applied for permits to demo the inside only after being cited by the City. They also applied for permits on 12/15 to put a new roof on and to stucco the exterior. However all work is being put on hold by the City because the owner has not filed a notice of commencement and neither have any plans been submitted.

Interestingly enough the person listed as the Contractor/Agent: GOBERDHAN JENNIFER
has a Contractor/Agent Phone #: with 718 area code which is from Brooklyn

Where have all the people gone?

Well a recent check of the FDLE Sex offender site reveals that only two sex offenders live at 1303 New Orleans. 2 live at the Solid Rock Church 2746 N. Florida Ave. None live at 1304 New Orleans. I don't know how many non-sex offenders live at either locations, but I can tell the difference as far as the New Orleans addresses because I seen have fewer people on the premises or hanging around. The foot traffic is better. Although we did not close down the problem facility, at least we got it it reduced to a more managable group. I have forgotten the address they opened up in North Sulphur Springs to see how many people they put up there.

Good work everyone

Silver Linings

Well fortunately, Susan and I were able to do some Christmas shopping in the neighborhood. We dropped by Silver Linings and found all sorts of neat things. Prices were good. Polish pottery. Buttons by Porphry. Christmas decorations. All sorts of interesting items made here or in other countries.

Silver Linings is in the shops at Hanna and Central. Somewhere I have her hours and will post them. On 12/21 she is having an open house from 4 to 8p to celebrate one year of being in business.

Posted by Picasa


2 adorable kittens need loving home. Found abandoned under vacant home in Seminole Heights. Both kittens are very personable & sweet and use the litter box! Their first veterinarian appointment is this week and will get their first shots and checked out for any other problems. Please call Diana or Mike Massimini at 781-2363 if you're interested in giving these two precious cuties a new home.

 Posted by Picasa

Jackets for the Homeless

My wife Rebekah and I live in Seminole Heights and read your blog regularly…can you review this and post it accordingly?

The two of us work with the Tampa homeless regularly through Hyde Park Methodist Church. The "Open Arms" ministry which we are part of serves breakfast to about 120-150 people every week. For Christmas, we'd also like to have a supply of used jackets to give to the guys and gals. Most of the shelters don't open unless the nighttime temp gets well below 40, so many of these people literally sleep on the sidewalk in some pretty cold temps.

Any warm coats in men's/women's sizes that people no longer use would be appreciated. Email me at and I'll make arrangements to get them before Sunday.

We all know that Christmas is a time for giving…with that in mind, GIVE US YOUR OLD JACKETS!

Thanks for any help you can give!! Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and all that jazz!

Darren and Rebekah Doughty
E Jean St

Advance notice

An email on SESHCA email

I awoke this morning to the sound of a construction crew using a circular
saw to slice through the granite curb in my front yard. I looked out to see
that they had already dug a sizeable hole in the ground between the sidewalk
and the street, and had torn up the fledgling landscaping I had planted.
When I walked out to question them, they told me that they were installing a
new "water system", and acted like they were doing me a favor by digging
their huge hole! I told them that I had JUST had an irrigation system
installed-- which thankfully they had not torn through (yet)-- and informed
them where the irrigation pipes ran, so that they could avoid them. I also
asked why I was not given any advance notice prior to my yard being torn up,
and was told "well, we've been working on this street all week." As if it
was MY burden to watch what they had been doing, to inform myself!! When I
asked them who I could call to find out more details (and who I WILL take to
task if my irrigation system is ruined), they kind of shrugged and said
"maybe the city? Or Dallas Construction? This is a city job." He was then
rude by saying that my landscaping (which is just starting to grow) "looked
dead", as if that gave him any right to tear it up.

It is my understanding that the city has an easement on this part of the
property close to the street, but it is unacceptable that I am given no
notice, and no recourse if my property is harmed. While an easement gives
the city the right to access this strip, it would seem to me that since it
is the property owner's responsibility to maintain it (mow the grass, etc.),
when the city destroys that maintenance, they should give notice and pay for
the damage! With the amount we pay in property taxes, it seems ridiculous to
me that we can be treated this way. Does the city come through and do this
to Hyde Park residents when work is being done? I doubt it. I'm about to
start making phone calls to the city and the mayor's office if necessary,
but I wanted to see if anyone else in SESHCA had any ideas or comments on
this matter before I do so. Thanks in advance for your input!

Vanishing Act - Air Masters

In a classic example of now you see it, now you don't -- Air Masters at 4824 N. Florida Ave. is not only gone -- the building has been gutted! I could have sworn it was there only a week ago. This is building just south of Cappy's, next to the Truly Nolen shop.

Another thing I noticed is that the key shop across from Cappy's and adjacent to SouthPrint on Florida Ave. is getting a coat of paint (the same color as the adjacent building -- dark brown).

(Sorry for having no pictures, but I'm hoping Santa will bring me a new camera this Monday.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

NEW! - BGoSH Message Forum

The Board of Directors is excited and pleased to announce a new resource for both the Seminole Heights business and residential community. Introducing the Business Guild Message Board Forum.

You are cordially invited to join us in our new virtual community. Members, residents and anyone who is interested in Seminole Heights is welcome to read messages, post messages, and join in discussions. This message board is open to anyone, and we encourage you to let others know about it. Along with information for Business Guild members and all Seminole Heights businesses, we have established a community section. Here residents will find areas devoted to the neighborhood, events, resources, the Neighborhood Watch, and a classified section. It is our vision that this message board will become a valuable resource for both business owners and the residents of Seminole Heights. If you are interested in helping, please contact the forum administrator (username Admin) to volunteer.

We are looking for moderators for the community section. Also, suggestions are welcome! If you have ideas for improvement, new forums, etc. we would like to hear from you.

The Business Guild of Seminole Heights. Improving the neighborhood through better business.

Panel To Review 1-Way Streets

In case you didn't see the story:

TAMPA - A request to make Florida and Highland avenues and Tampa Street two-way roads will be reviewed by the Metropolitan Planning Commission's policy committee.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blog Changes

Due to the number of inane mean spirited comments, I am thinking of changing the commenting system to require commenters to be registered with blogger before they can comment.

Feedback please.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Merino's Deli Update


If you where wondering what ever happen to the opening of Merinos Seminole Heights Deli, this update should satisfy your curiosity.

After three submittals to the City of Tampa building department and threesubsequent denials, I was forced to seek the assistance of our president of theOld Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association, Mr. Randy Baron.He was extremely instrumental in going above and beyond to convince the “higher ups” in thecity to hear my plight. By the way, Randy is running for City Council, “City Wide”.He certainly has my vote and if your smart, he should have yours also!
Well, it was a success and Merinos Deli will be ready to open during the earlypart of January.

If you have had a chance to drive by the deli location at 6430 Florida Ave. youwill have seen allot of progress in the last month.

I am now finishing up all the minor details in order to open successfully andwith as few start up problems as we can possibly avert.

Being that this is my fifth restaurant in thirty years, I certainly know themany problems that can occur once you open the doors for business.
It is our absolute "number one" mission to be ready to serve you, the great folksof Seminole Heights, the best soup, salad and sandwiches at the best price andwith super service!Incidentally, I have brought on Chef Mike Maikowski, a 47 year veteran ofthe food industry to handle the food side of Merinos. Chef Mike is quite an interesting fellow and one heck of a chef.

Speaking of service and overall business, the hours will be 10 AM till 7 PMMonday through Saturday.

Merinos will have seating available in three different areas.1. An outdoor deck with cute little yellow umbrellas to keep you out of the sunand is also animal friendly and I`ll supply the water bowls for your favorite pet.2. A covered patio where you can smoke, if you wish, or just meet with yourfriends or perhaps do a little business while enjoying a great meal.3. Inside, you can sit at our 6 seat bar or have a cosy lunch or dinner in ourfour two seat tables.

AS FOR PARKING, you may have wondered about this when driving by!Well, this is your answer, at the corner of lambright and Florida which is the northern part of thelot that houses Larry’s automotive and Merinos, there will be approximately15 marked parking spaces available for you to use during the lunch hours. After 4PM, Larry’s Automotive is closed and the entire lot is wide open for you to park whereyou wish.

So, good citizens of Seminole Heights , get ready for a place that I want you tocall your second home. We will always welcome your comments as well as your patronage.I personally look forward to serving each and every one of you for manyyears to come.

If you wish to contact me with questions, I am available all day everyday atthe deli or just call my cell @ 813-431-5730 or the deli number which is813-236-DELI (3354)You can also e-mail me with any questions or requests:

My Best Wishes for a Wonderful Christmas!Michael L MerinoPresidentMerinos Italian Restaurant, Inc.DBA, Merinos Seminole Heights Deli

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Best Christmas Lights in Tampa

Since we lived in our first house, near Miles Elementary in outer Forest Hills, we have gone to two locations for Christmas lights. Hyaleah Street and Art Pepin's House.

Hyaleah Street started off as one block where neighbors on both sides decorated and had the lights cross the road. In the years that passed, a second block of the street had joined the fun and a whole other street also is well decorated (Oklawaha) To get to Hyaleah go Busch to 40th Street to Linebaugh to Hyaleah.

Art Pepin is for tommorrow.

It's All About The FEEL GOOD!!

So much grumbling goes on here, but this is all feel good! Scott has a real handle on this kind of stuff, but a story came my way that I felt I had to share.

For all of you who insist it has to do only with SH, the connection is that the man in question is a very best and dear friend of mine, and the story was told to me by a mutual friend. I live in SH. Hope that works for you!

.............Scene is yesterday. A very full, no seat available plane from Phoenix to Philly. My friend who travels on business every week, is always a first class passenger. He goes to sit in his seat and notices that there is a young marine,( looking about 15!) sitting near the middle of the plane. My friend, instead of taking his seat, goes to where the Marine is sitting and says,
"Sir, you are in the wrong seat. Get up!" The startled marine gets up but does not understand.

My friend says as he points to first class. "Your seat is up there" and tells him to go take his seat.
Everyone in the plane was in shock. My friend sat in the Marine’s seat and the Marine, who was going home for Christmas, enjoyed the benefits of first class!

The spirit of the gesture spread around the plane. Everyone clapped, everyone was smiling and happy. The flight crew was touched. Even the pilot came back to thank my friend. It was astounding!

During the flight, my friend sent word to the Marine that when the plane landed, he would get the Marine’s bag, rather than have him battle against the full plane of people trying to get of the plane, just to retrieve it. He told him just to get off and he would bring the bag when he got off.

The whole experience so moved everyone that when the flight landed, instead of rushing to get off the plane as is customary with travelers, every person in the standard class, which unloads after first class, stayed in their seat until my friend retrieved the bag and walked down the isle and left the plane!

When he entered the terminal, bag in hand and found the Marine, he looked around to and noticed a gathering of people, who must have heard the story from the crew and the first class passengers, and were all standing around, beaming, just to see the man who would do such a cool thing!

WOW! I am still moved. I am lucky enough to be a friend of this person. It would seem to be a wonderful, warm your heart, Christmas story. But I have to tell you, he would, and probably has, done this in July or September. It has little to do with the holiday but rather with the goodness in people.

Love a feel good story anytime, but particularly during the holiday season!!

Atta Boy Officer Gabriel!

By VALERIE KALFRIN The Tampa Tribune
Published: Dec 15, 2006

The relevance here is that the officer mentioned in this article is SESH's own, Wayne Gabriel! Recently Gabriel was tasked to work in conjunction with Code Officer Kristin McRae on the tough cases in SESH.

Great work Gabriel!

TAMPA - Clothing-store manager LouAnn Eldredge remembers an armed man hopping out of a black Nissan Altima on Wednesday and demanding the bank-deposit bag in her hands.
"Gimme the money or you're gonna die today," she said he told her.

"I just threw the bag at him," Eldredge said Thursday.

Thanks in part to Eldredge's description of the car and the gunman, Tampa police charged three teenagers Thursday with felony armed robbery.

Devin Letaeveon Smith, 19; Devin Antionne Kelly, 18; and Andrew Harris, 17, all of Tampa, are accused of robbing Eldredge outside Simply Fashions at 2525 E. Hillsborough Ave., police said.
Smith also is charged in the Sunday felony armed robbery of a Family Dollar at 6310 S. Dale Mabry Highway, police said.

Police are investigating possible links to at least four other heists in Tampa since July in which robbers took bank-deposit bags from store employees.

Detectives arrested the teenagers shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday.

An officer patrolling near Hillsborough and Nebraska avenues spotted an Altima listed on the police department's "hot sheet" of stolen cars and began following it, police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said.

The car headed into a residential area and crashed into a pickup truck at 3108 E. Knollwood St., Davis said. The driver and two others, later identified as the teenagers, ran and hid in a shed at 3101 E. Elm St., where a police dog found them.

The teenagers also are charged with felony grand-theft auto of the Altima and felony burglary of the shed, she said.

NewsChannel 8 reporter Lynn Carson contributed to this report. Reporter Valerie Kalfrin can be reached at (813) 259-7800.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Forclosure Bog Down

From Tribune - Kathy Steele Site Search Tribune archive from 1990
TAMPA - The fine meter for Cycle Masters and its owner, Scott Bitman, runs at $80 a day. At three years and counting, the meter is approaching $93,000.

Residents are counting on the city to send Bitman's code enforcement case to criminal court, foreclose on the property they call an eyesore, or both.

"They're trying to run me off," said Bitman, who has been selling motorcycles, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles at 7601 Nebraska Ave. since 1998. He said he's reorganizing after a bankruptcy.
His shop is under the scrutiny of the city's code enforcement division. The fines started running in 2003 when the code enforcement board found him guilty of illegal street parking and not demolishing an add-on to his shop that is too close to the street.

"It could very well happen soon," code inspector Bill Davidson said of a criminal court case against Bitman.

But a foreclosure? Not so fast.
Nearly two years ago, Mayor Pam Iorio issued an order authorizing foreclosures on non-homesteaded properties with liens and outstanding fines of 90 days or longer. City attorneys anticipated as many as 15 foreclosures a month.

As of last week, the city had not foreclosed on a single property. The city attorney's office reported five pending foreclosures filed at the Hillsborough County courthouse.

Since November 2005, city records show, code enforcement has referred about 80 cases for possible foreclosure, including Cycle Masters. The referrals are reviewed by the real estate department before the legal department decides whether to seek foreclosure.

"It's a little disappointing," City Attorney David Smith said, expressing surprise at the lack of foreclosures.

Office Changes Affect Pace

The slow pace partly can be traced to personnel changes and a reorganization, Smith said. The assistant city attorney who handled code enforcement cases shifted to the real estate department and his replacement started in June.

In 2005, the city council approved increasing maximum daily fines from $250 for first offenders and $500 for repeat offenders to $500 and $1,000, respectively.

The city collected about $1.3 million in code enforcement fines in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up from about $821,000 in 2005 and $614,000 in 2004.

Smith said there also have been challenges in coordinating foreclosure efforts among code enforcement, real estate and his office.

"It's a typical city situation where you have multiple departments," he said.
Bill Doherty, code enforcement deputy director, said he screens cases from a list of about 1,500 with active liens, eliminating those with homestead exemptions and sending remaining candidates to the real estate department.

He said it is frustrating when the city "can't take the final step we have. We want foreclosures."
In August, Doherty received an e-mail from Smith's office outlining guidelines for identifying 20 cases a month for possible foreclosure: properties should be non-homesteaded, have five or more code enforcement cases within three years and more than $200,000 in fines.

Under those guidelines, Doherty said, some cases could drag on for years.
Smith said the guidelines are not hard-and-fast rules.

Residents Seek Action
At a recent code enforcement workshop in Seminole Heights, residents said the city's legal department ignores cases filed by code inspectors.

Residents living near Cycle Masters point to years of repeated violations for open storage, junk vehicles, debris, illegal parking and an add-on structure built without permits and too close to the street.

Court records show the city fined Bitman about $43,000 in a 1999 code case involving inoperable vehicles and open storage but never collected.

"It just doesn't quit," said Susan Long, chairwoman of Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association's code enforcement committee.

The city is telling offenders "you can get fined and get away with it," association President Randy Baron said.

Smith said the city does not want to be in the business of acquiring properties, particularly those that might drain city coffers because of environmental problems, liens and other issues.
"It's not as simple as it looks," he said.

The five pending foreclosures are in Seminole Heights, Ybor City, and West and East Tampa. Among those cases, the oldest violations date nearly 10 years to a vacant lot at 1306 North Bay St., which has fines totaling about $107,000.

The case with the largest total fines, $263,700, involves the former Coarsey Groves Gift Shop property, 6703 N. Armenia Ave.

Bitman, whose property is not among the pending foreclosures, also has a code case dating to August. The case, which involves citations for debris accumulation and illegal open storage, is set for a code enforcement board hearing Jan. 10.

Bitman said he plans to build a storage facility to replace trailers that code enforcement says are illegal. Within the past weeks, he said, he complied with an inspector's request to clear debris from atop a trailer. He also said an illegally parked vehicle has been moved.
Bitman said he is a small businessman who brings jobs to the neighborhood.
"We keep our area nice," he said. "We have a nice business here."

Reporter Kathy Steele can be reached at (813) 835-2103 or

....guidelines are not hard-and-fast rules! Duh! None of it is hard and fast, and that is why violators play fast and loose! Nothing will ever be done about any of it until people know what the rules are and that they mean something. We have years of letting it slide. Forgiving and looking the other way. We now have what we ordered up! No one worries about the rules at all! Only people who abide by them are the people who don't need them.

...........multiple departments
is that supposed to be a good excuse? It is one of the most serious issues with the city. There are many excellent people in many excellent departments. But none of them have the facility or ability to interact effeciently. Why is this so obvious to an outsider and not to someone in city?

...............the oldest violations date nearly 10 years to a vacant lot at 1306 North Bay St., which has fines totaling about $107,000.
This is a real lot in a real neighborhood and could probably find a buyer. It has been a trash can for years. Somethng we battled and battled. And now it lingers.....why?

....................The slow pace partly can be traced to personnel changes and a reorganization
have we been reorganizing for ten years?

Correction: Tampa - Street Market

I spoke directly to the owner, Amy Haynie, yesterday and walked around the new place. She is HOPING to open by this Sat., Dec. 16. Info about her store can be found at She is located adjacent to Cappy's garden eating section in the old art gallery building. (4906 N. Florida Ave.)

My understanding is that Amy is not only going to sell antiques and custom furniture, but they will customize the furniture that you buy or already own, too. They also accept donations of cans of latex paint, in an effort help Seminole Heights be/stay green.

Amy is already a Seminole Heights resident and said she is very happy that she was able to find a location in her neighborhood to open the business. I'm sure many of us will be happy she did as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lost Cat

An email:

I live just to the east of 275 on Miami Av. I am just north of Hair Performance. I had an indoor/outdoor male cat I absolutely love. On Thanksgiving day he disappeared and I am afraid someone thought he was a stray and took him. He is a neutered male black and gray tiger stripe who is declawed in the front. We never could keep a collar on him but he always came home when I called him. At most he spent 4 hours outside a day. I am heartbroken and miss him terribly. I am hoping that, if someone took him, they will see the signs I have put up or maybe read this in your blog. Thanks for any help you can give. Sincerely, Kris Lenz
p.s. I can be reached at this email address or at 813.234.8898.

Morning Colors

Seen this morning as I walked Ella

 Posted by Picasa

Barbie Oosting Going Away Exhibit

From the Para Gallery website:

"...Barbie Oosting is leaving Tampa for North

Please join us in celebrating Barbie's photographic
work and wishing her great success in N.C. Saturday
December 16th at Para Gallery 2929 N. 15th St. Tampa,

This is most likely the last opportunity to see works
by Barbie Oosting in Tampa. Barbie's work is in the
permanent collection of the Gulf Coast Museum of Art,
Tampa Museum of Art and Polk Museum of Art. She has
had recent exhibitions at the Appleton Museum of Art,
The Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Fl. and for the
Tampa Museum of Art's young members group " Les Fauves
". Barbie received the Tampa Bay Treasure award in
2005 and is in numerous private collections.

Please join us in a fond farewell! Para Gallery- 2929
N. 15th St. Tampa, Fl. Dec. 16th from 7pm- 11pm. Works
will be available for purchase!"

Tampa Street Market - coming soon

Running in S.H. today, I noticed that the empty Covivant Art Gallery is getting a new tenant. A sign in the window says the oddly named "Tampa Street Market" is coming soon. I say "oddly" since it's technically located at 4906 N. Florida Ave.

Anyway -- they do have old road maps hanging in their window, too. Which gave me the feeling that they'll be something like a cool, retro general store -- in the spirit of it's neighbor, Cappy's. That, of course, is specualtion and tbd. I have heard nothing about this place and was surprised when I ran by it today.

PS -- As for the Copa Cabana Cafe, aka old Coffee Bean Cafe, that place actually looks good despite the hasty opening.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What's Going in There?

Across from Blue Sea Seafood restaurant, there is a store front where it looks like they put plywood over the windows and then cut roundish holes in them. What's going in there?

The showroom building for Warner's Plumbing had been up for rent, and now looks like it is being moved into. What's going in there?

The THAP old bank building at Hillsborough and 13th is having some of its false front removed. What going in there?

Seminole Heights House for Rent

Lovely 1946 Craftsman Bungalow available beginning
February 1, 2007 in convenient and desirable Evelyn
City/Seminole Heights. Prefer a short term lease 4-6
months, but open to other options. $1400 a month +
utilities. First paid month and last month's rent
deposit. Non-smoker. No pets please. Homeowner will
pay ADT security monitoring and would like to leave
the house partially furnished. 2 nice size bedrooms
with a bonus room that can be used for an office.
Loaded kitchen with all new stainless steal appliances
and dishwasher. Separate laundry room includes washer
and dryer. Very large bathroom with 2 pedestal sinks.
Wood burning fireplace, built-ins, huge front porch,
off street parking and fenced back yard. Hardwood
floors and tile throughout . Great location and close
to everything! Call 813-679-2631 or email:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bombing Tampa

I came across this visual tool at the Federation of American Scientists site that shows how much of a city would get destroyed by as nuclear bomb. If MacDill AFB were the site of an terrorist driven automobile carried nuclear bomb, how large a damage area would it cause? How much of Tampa would get destroyed? A 800 kiloton bomb would destroy all of the Tampa peninsula below I-275. Hiroshima was a 13 kiloton bomb. Most suitcase bombs are likely to be anywhere from 1 to 5 kilotons.

Gentlemen's Club

An email:

I emailed the city in regards to a gentleman's club opening up in the area and their response is below in green. From this email, it clearly states that Seminole Heights is safe from a strip club opening. I still think we need to be active but it appears the city codes are on our side for now.

Good Morning,

I am a resident of Seminole Heights and it's rumored that a building
currently under construction is going to be zoned for a gentleman's
club. The address of the parcel in question is 4034 N Nebraska Ave.

According to the property appraiser page, it's currently zone 211 MIXED
USE RETAIL from what I have researched it doesn't look like that zoning
allows adult use.

Where can I research if a property owner has applied
for a variance or zoning change? Who can I contact to find out what
process an adult business owner has to go through to get approved by the
city to open? Do you know what business license class an adult business
owner falls under and whether there is a state license which needs to be
applied for?

......Adult Uses are processed through the Special Use process - and
they only come through me for review and approval. I have no requests on
file at this time for any propoerty within the City limits......

There is another parcel of land at 8101 N Nebraska which is a
gentleman's club and it's zoned 2503 SERV SHOP C is that the typical
zoning for strip clubs?

.....This location is under investigation - it is not a legal adult use
- and we are in the process of verifying the actual use inside. Please
keep in mind that we cannot regulate the content of signage - if a
business chooses to advertise as a "gentlemen's club" we cannot prohibit
that action - however, we can inspect the actual use of the property and
if they found out of compliacne we can begin the process that brings
them into compliance.....furthermomre, I want to be clear that 2503 SERV
SHOP is not a zoning classification - it is a use classification
assigned by the property appraiser in order to asses the proporty value
for taxing uses are only considered conforming, once
approved through a special use petition, in the CI (Commercial
Intensive), IG (Industrial General), and IH (Industrial Heavy)
classifications.....there are very limited sites within the City that
adult uses can be opened, and in Seminole Heights there are no viable
locations, due to the proximity of residential uses.....

....I hope this helps - and feel free to contact me again with any more

Thank you for any assistance you can provide in how to research this
topic or whom to contact.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Candid Camera comes to Tampa

In today's Baylife section of the Tribune , there is a nice story on page 12 about Lazarra's Courtesy Market located at Louisiana and Nebraska (now the building is the storage shed for Phil Alessi's lemonheads.) The story relates how Allan Funt of Candid Camera came and filmed an episode at their store. Unfortunately there is no online version.

Vivant House

There is a new antique store in the area called Vivant House. Owned by a Seminole Heights resident, it is just outside Seminole Heights, on Hillsborough just west of Lee Place.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Starbucks Lights


Starbucks really did a nice job on their Christmas lights. Thanks. I hope they inspire others. Posted by Picasa

Baker and Co. General Store Antiques Emporium

We went to a very cool place today, thanks to Ginny.
Baker and Co. General Store Antiques Emporium.
2502 N. Howard Avenue

It is hard to describe. Except to say it is very cool. Rooms and rooms of things.

You can buy antiques, retro items, toys, candy, soaps, and all sorts of things. Want a leg lamp from "A Christmas Story"? They have a night lite version.

I took more photos but they did not come out. There is a lot more to this store than you can see in the few photos.

The flyer describes it as a general store featuring Sundries, Retro-Rama, Apothocary, A Secret Garden (on the second floor roof), Morgan's Dog Deli, Aunt Ruth Country Gourmet Cupboards, Victoria's Parlor, Furniture Showcase, Pinocchio's Toyland, Gentlemen's Quarters.

There is a space that can be rented out for events. There is space for antique dealers to bring in their own items. The second floor has office space.

Posted by Picasa
The owner is Barbara Baker. The hours are Tues - Sat 10 to 5 and Sun 11- 5.