2454 McMullen Booth Rd. #720 Clearwater, FL 33759
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Seminole County residents eligbility period for financial and direct services from FEMA's Individuals and Households Program (IHP) and Transitional Shelter Assistance Program (TSA) has ended. If you have questions about your existing claim, a denial, or status:FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:The Seminole County Office of Emergency Management is accepting project proposals for the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program. This is a competitive program through FEMA. Individual homeowners who have been impacted by Hurricane...
Seminole County residents eligbility period for financial and direct services from FEMA's Individuals and Households Program (IHP) and Transitional Shelter Assistance Program (TSA) has ended. If you have questions about your existing claim, a denial, or status:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
The Seminole County Office of Emergency Management is accepting project proposals for the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program. This is a competitive program through FEMA. Individual homeowners who have been impacted by Hurricane Ian or prior flooding may submit a home mitigation project proposal and apply for this federal grant funding.
Types of Mitigation Projects Residents may consider rebuilding in a way that mitigates, or prevents damage from, future flooding. Projects include:
Flood Mitigation Assistance Program Process
How to Submit a Project Proposal Interested homeowners may contact the Office of Emergency Management at EM@seminolecountyfl.gov or (407) 665-5102 to notify them of intention to submit a project proposal. County representatives will work with residents on a case-by-case basis.
Seminole County is seeking to repair homes that have sustained hurricane damage caused by Hurricane Ian. Applicants may be eligible for an insurance deductible grant for up to $20,000. The Hurricane Disaster Recovery program is designed to provide funds in the form of grants to qualified applicants whose homes have sustained damage from a storm event or other natural disaster. Grant assistance that homeowners are eligible for, include, but are not limited to:
Learn more by caling 407-665-2300.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster declaration covers Seminole County. Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations may be eligible to apply for SBA's low-interest disaster loan program to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.
SBA loans are not only for businesses. Homeowners and renters who suffered loss from a disaster can apply for SBA loans.
To learn more about eligibility criteria and apply:
Free private well tests are available for Seminole County residents. To schedule a free well test, call the Seminole County Citizens Information Line at 407-665-0000.
Seminole County residents with private wells that were submerged in floodwaters from Hurricane Ian should have their well water tested for contaminants and water quality. If wells are affected by floodwaters, there may be disease-causing organisms in the water. At a minimum, residents should check their well if it was submerged to make certain there are no mechanical problems. If your well was not flooded but you suspect other contaminants, you should test for those as well.
If you suspect your water has been contaminated, follow these safety tips:
If you must disinfect your well after a disaster, use a contractor with experience. If completing a FEMA or insurance application, this information should be provided as part of the application process.
For more information, call the Seminole County Citizens Information Line at (407) 665-0000.
Last Updated: November 9, 2022 9:46am
An unmet need is a gap between verified disaster-caused damages and obtainable aid (such as insurance assistance, Federal and State assistance, and personal resources). Non-government agencies and volunteers can assist those incapable of making homes livable or passible with muck out, dry wall repair/replace, tarp roof, debris removal, fence repair, wheelchair ramp repair, basic other home repairs, minor roof repair, and similar projects. Seminole County and Seminole HEART, the County's interfaith and non-profit coalition, continues to work on unmet needs from the hurricanes of 2022.
Eligible individuals who may receive assistance with these types of projects include residents of Seminole County with special needs, disabilities, seniors, and low- to fixed-income households.
Call the Office of Emergency Management at 407-665-5102 or the Citizens Information Hotline at 407-665-0000 to register the unmet need.
Last Updated: February 6, 2023 12:48pm
SEMINOLE — There’s now a fifth Clear Sky, the successful local restaurant group boasting diverse food-and-beverage menus.Clear Sky on Park recently opened in a space once occupied by Spoto’s and before that 3 Olives. Early patrons seemed pleased.“We’ve been waiting for a place we can hang out after work,” said Diane Bartulis, a hair stylist at nearby Salon 131.Located in the Portabello Square Shopping Center, 13079 Park Blvd., Clear Sky on Park was created by owner and veteran restaura...
SEMINOLE — There’s now a fifth Clear Sky, the successful local restaurant group boasting diverse food-and-beverage menus.
Clear Sky on Park recently opened in a space once occupied by Spoto’s and before that 3 Olives. Early patrons seemed pleased.
“We’ve been waiting for a place we can hang out after work,” said Diane Bartulis, a hair stylist at nearby Salon 131.
Located in the Portabello Square Shopping Center, 13079 Park Blvd., Clear Sky on Park was created by owner and veteran restaurateur Dan Shouvlin. Clear Sky restaurants are known for craft beers, imaginative cocktails and eclectic menus.
“We’re excited about our newest locations, another chef-driven restaurant that will serve coastal fusion foods with an Asian/Latin flair,” said its director of operations, Greg Lore, in between checking in on server training and work on interior flourishes. “We’ve had a lot of success and awards for our cuisine. Clear Sky Beachside Café opened 15 years ago, followed by Dunedin’s Clear Sky Draught Haus, then Clear Sky on Cleveland (downtown Clearwater), and most recently Palm Harbor’s Clear Sky Club Haus.”
The nautical-themed restaurant is 6,000 square feet with a 200-person occupancy. There is a dining room that doubles as a private party space that can seat 45, a main dining room that can seat 70 and a bar with 20-plus taps and TVs.
The bar area features a glass wine room and a teal-and-blue top on the large square bar. It’s all illuminated by natural light from the windows, set in blue roll-up garage doors that open to an alfresco patio. There are blue-upholstered chairs and booths, an oyster chandelier and fish murals.
Clear Sky on Park’s chef is Tarpon Springs native Alex Ulgenalp, who returns home to Pinellas County after running his own restaurant in Nantucket.
“I’ve been working in the Dunedin restaurant, training and testing out dishes,” said Ulgenalp, who is excited to whip up menu items featuring Clear Sky favorites and his recipes as well.
Offerings include empanadas, chicken tamales, street corn, Baja fried grouper and carnitas tacos (or bowls), Peruvian style roasted chicken and a Picanha entrée (charbroiled sirloin cap, Mexican hash and mixed veggies).
Asian-inspired fare includes dumplings, tuna and crispy rice with eel sauces, chicken Yakitori, Korean pork belly tacos, bahn mi sliders and Thai mango salad.
In addition to sharable appetizers, sushi, burgers, tacos and bowls, handhelds, pastas, salads, flatbreads, pizza, soups and entrees, there are many veggie options (guacamole bites, margherita flatbread four cheese and portabella pizza, curry, bruschetta, veggie tacos, black bean burger) and a gluten free bun for burgers.
Clear Sky’s wine, beer and cocktail menu features imports, domestics and crafts in bottles, cans and drafts including local favorites TBBC, Cigar City, 3 Daughters and 7venth Sun.
Opening initially 4-10 p.m. for dinner Sunday-through-Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the restaurant eventually plans to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Happy hour is Monday through Friday 2-6 p.m., with discounts on selected beers, wine and cocktails.
For more information, visit clearskyonpark.com or call 727-290-9030.
SEMINOLE — Seminole has scheduled a second public meeting to gather residents’ input on the city’s proposed Recreation Master Plan.
The session is set for Wednesday, Aug. 23, at Seminole Rec Center, 9100 113th St.
The meeting will feature a discussion of public comments from the first public session and how the city Recreation Department has responded.
SEMINOLE — Joshua Connell is no stranger to the restaurant and bar business. With four bars under his belt, he has now turned his eyes to Seminole.Owner of Five Bucks Drinkery, Banana Hammock and The Garden, all on Central Avenue in St. Pete, Connell has branched out to open two new bar and eateries — one in Pinellas Park, which opened recently, and the other in Seminole, which is set to open in a few months.Connell began his career in the restaurant business when he was 16 while working at Fourth Street Shrimp Stor...
SEMINOLE — Joshua Connell is no stranger to the restaurant and bar business. With four bars under his belt, he has now turned his eyes to Seminole.
Owner of Five Bucks Drinkery, Banana Hammock and The Garden, all on Central Avenue in St. Pete, Connell has branched out to open two new bar and eateries — one in Pinellas Park, which opened recently, and the other in Seminole, which is set to open in a few months.
Connell began his career in the restaurant business when he was 16 while working at Fourth Street Shrimp Store, managed at the time by his older brother.
“I joke around that I didn’t have to go to college because I learned through osmosis with him,” Connell said. “I was just expecting to get some minimum wage job in the back of house. But he wanted me to wait tables, learn the front of the house. That’s where it all started.”
Connell attended Pinellas Technical College while in high school to train as a barber. He would open his own barber shop in 2006, but the siren call of the restaurant business was too loud to ignore.
“It became clearer and clearer that I really enjoyed being around restaurants and bars a lot more than I did cutting hair,” Connell said. “So, I sold my barber shop.”
In 2010, Connell open his first bar, Five Bucks Drinkery, in 2010 on Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg.
Featuring low-priced beer, served in 16-ounce cans, reasonably priced liquor offerings and what Connell calls “an adult kid’s menu,” Five Bucks Drinkery became an overnight success.
“I wanted to bring dive bar prices to a nice place,” he said.
Ten years later, Five Bucks Drinkery, like other businesses, was forced to close temporarily due to the pandemic.
While other restaurateurs saw the shut down as body blow, Connell said he saw it as an opportunity.
“During COVID, when we were all closed down, I made the crazy leap of faith and bought my neighbor out on Central and converted it into the Garden and Banana Hammock,” he said.
Not only did he open two additional bars once pandemic restrictions ended, Connell did what not many business owners could do — he lowered his prices.
“After the closures, I lowered my prices,” Connell said. “It’s time to go all out and risk everything and lower our prices, with our fingers crossed that people will keep coming through our doors. And it worked.”
When the chance to branch out and open a second location in Pinellas Park came, Connell jumped.
“I’d always had my eye on Pinellas Park,” he said. “I feel like it was our perfect demographic.”
Connell signed a lease to rent a property on Park Boulevard, which is the former home to Pete and Shorty’s, in November. Eight months, and a whole lot of work later, the Pinellas Park location of Five Bucks Drinkery opened earlier this month.
Never one to sit idle, Connell turned his sights to a third location in Seminole. He is currently renovating the former Seminole Smokehouse & Brewery restaurant at the corner of Park and Seminole boulevards.
“I used to come here as a kid,” Connell said. “My mom would pick me up after school and we would meet my dad here when he got off of work. I remember being in this place. So when I saw a picture of it online, I was like ‘I know that restaurant.’”
“This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” he continued. “My wife tells me I am a serial entrepreneur. Even if it sounds crazy, I can’t say no. If I have a vision, I can’t stop myself.”
Once he got the chance to take a look inside, he knew he was all-in.
“I didn’t have to think for more than 30 seconds,” Connell said. “Seminole is perfect.”
Connell said he hopes to open the Seminole location by mid-September.
“The biggest thing I’m doing in here is changing the aesthetics,” Connell said of the ongoing renovations to the property. When complete, the restaurant will feature two bar areas, 50 mounted televisions and a large outdoor bar and patio.
Unlike his bars in downtown St. Pete, which lean toward a younger, rowdier demographic, Connell said the Pinellas Park and Seminole locations of Five Bucks Drinkery will be much more family-friendly.
“When I opened the first Five Bucks, I was 26,” he said. “It reflects me at 26 years old. Food was not important. What was important was loud music and cheap drinks and that was it.”
But, as he grew older, his business model aged with him, Connell said.
“These Five Bucks (in Pinellas Park and Seminole) literally reflect a more mature version of Five Bucks,” he said. “It’s nice, it’s clean, it’s family-friendly. It’s the perfect Five Bucks for people who went to Five Bucks 10 years ago when they were single, but now they’re married and have kids.”
For more information about Five Bucks Drinkery, visit www. fivebucksdrinkery.com.
SEMINOLE — The City Council has finalized a well-chewed development agreement for the local Chick-fil-A that officials hope will quell restaurant traffic-flow problems, but it will be months before the improvements are completed.
“Revised building plans will be submitted in July to accommodate a single exit lane, as opposed to two lanes,” Wesley Wright, the city’s community development director, told Tampa Bay Newspapers.
Chick-fil-A officials hope to “possibly break ground by August,” Wright said.
But a required fire marshal’s review could push the issuing of construction permits into September, he added. Wright declined to estimate a timeline for construction, but he said it would take more than a month.
On June 27, council members voted 7-0 to approve on second reading the planned building and parking lot improvements for the Chick-fil-A, which is at 10790 Park Blvd., just west of a busy intersection with Seminole Boulevard. Negotiations over the development agreement date back more than a year, with long-simmering tensions over customer congestion prompting talks between city and restaurant officials.
But negotiations took an on-again, off-again rhythm, amid turnover of key city staff and some conflicting corporate priorities at Chick-fil-A.
At one point, frustrated council members considered asking Sheriff’s Office deputies to patrol the site and wave customer cars past the entrance to Chick-fil-A rather than idling on busy Park Boulevard.
Finally, a development agreement was hammered out, and under the now-finalized plans, the parking lot for the Chick-fil-A and adjacent Dairy Queen and AutoZone businesses will be reconfigured to add parking and other site improvements.
A Chick-fil-A representative said at a prior meeting that it should help considerably when workers replace the site’s drive-thru window with glass doors, allowing staff to take and deliver orders to waiting customers. City staff said the planned addition of a second drive-thru lane also would be key.
The second drive-thru lane still is planned for the side of the building where customers place orders. But the latest tweak to the plans means those lanes will converge into a single exit lane when picking up orders and exiting the parking lot.
A total 22 parking slots will be added, but the loss of some existing spaces will produce a net gain of 11 parking spots. The agreement also calls for an expanded kitchen area in the restaurant.
Three bike racks recently were added to the property, as suggested during a council discussion of the development agreement, Wright noted.
The Chick-fil-A property is owned by John-Mary Enterprises of Tampa.
After the regular meeting ended, council members held a workshop to hear details of a proposal to redevelop a shopping center at 7590 Starkey Road.
Park Starkey Plaza, at the northeast intersection of Starkey Road and Park Boulevard, is proposing a partial demolition of the southern portion of the plaza to construct a Circle K gas station and convenience store.
Built in 1980 and anchored by a Big Lots store, the center also has restaurants, retail stores and a nail salon, along with some vacant units. A city staff review indicated a development agreement would be required to redevelop the property as proposed, and at the end of the workshop there was council consensus to move ahead with those negotiations.
The center is owned by Stanbery Development Group of Bexley, Ohio. Tampa-based Bohler is serving as the project’s engineering consultant.
In other action at the night’s regular meeting, the council voted 7-0 to make Seminole resident Matthew Goodner a full member of the Development Review Board for the balance of his two-year term, ended March 31. Goodner had been an alternate member.
By coincidence, state Rep. Berny Jacques, R-59th District — a Seminole resident and former member of the Development Review Board — attended the council meeting to make a brief presentation on his work during his first legislative term.
“My main goal is to preserve the freedoms and opportunities here in the Sunshine State,” he said.
Jacques also listed several funding bills he helped shepherd through the state House to support projects of interest locally.
Council members also voted unanimously to finalize voluntary annexations of two residential properties — 11108 69th Ave. and 10898 Village Green Ave., both single-family homes.
And by consensus, the council decided to hold a workshop immediately following the conclusion of its 6 p.m. regular bimonthly meeting on Tuesday, July 11, to hash out a list of city priorities to send to Suncoast League of Cities. The league lobbies state legislators on issues of importance to municipalities in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.
Just prior to the regular meeting, council members held a workshop session to introduce a candidate for an opening on the Development Review Board — Thomas Gajentan — and two candidates for the Recreation Advisory Board — Kadi Hendricks Tubbs and Elenna Morris.
All Seminole residents, Gajentan and Tubbs attended the workshop, while Morris will be interviewed at the next council meeting.
After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the the District of Columbia recently overturned a lower court ruling, sports betting is now technically legal in Florida.Once the court’s June 30 ruling is put into effect, the Seminole Tribe, which has a monopoly on gam...
Once the court’s June 30 ruling is put into effect, the Seminole Tribe, which has a monopoly on gaming in the state, would have the right to open retail sportsbooks at any of its tribal casinos, launch its Hard Rock Digital platform, and establish partnerships with parimutuels that could potentially bring other operators into the state.
The looming question is when all of this will commence.
The Seminoles won’t answer that question at this juncture, standing by their Friday statement that they are “reviewing the decision to determine next steps.” But from a procedural standpoint, the launch can’t legally happen before the end of August — and potentially much later.
According to Rule 35 of the circuit court, the judgment won’t become a mandate until 45 days after it was issued. And since there is also a seven-day clerks’ order on the case, the soonest the mandate would be in effect would be 52 days from last Friday, or Aug. 21, which is two-and-a-half weeks ahead of the first NFL game of the regular season between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, Sept. 7. The first full Sunday of games is set for Sept. 10.
That scenario assumes that West Flagler and Associates, which brought the case against U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb A. Haaland, chooses not to appeal. If West Flagler does appeal, the timeline could stretch out by months, if not years.
Should the Seminoles have the opportunity to launch in August, Florida (22.2 million people) would become the biggest state by population to offer digital wagering for the 2023 NFL season.
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New York, which has 19.7 million residents, launched four major operators on Jan. 8, 2022, and there are currently nine platforms available (the maximum allowed by state law), including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and WynnBET.
Floridians won’t have the range of choice that New Yorkers currently have. The 2020 Seminole-Florida compact gives the Seminoles a monopoly but leaves the door open for commercial operators that want to partner with parimutuels for access. In October 2021, the Seminoles announced deals with five parimutuels.
The setup would be costly for commercial operators, however, and would require the DraftKings and FanDuels of the world to put their proprietary technology on a Seminole or Hard Rock server, as all bets must flow through servers on tribal land. Under the 2020 compact, any parimutuel-commercial operator partnership must provide the Seminoles 40% of gross revenue.
Per the compact, the Seminoles are able to offer sports betting, daily fantasy, and table games, including craps and roulette. The legal sports betting age is 21, and wagering is permitted on professional, collegiate, and Olympic sports. The compact does not allow for online casino games.
The Hard Rock digital platform was live for 34 days in November and December of 2021 before both the district and appellate courts ordered the Seminoles to take it down. The tribe launched the platform days before oral arguments began in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in November 2021.
If the first go-live is any indication, the Seminoles won’t give much warning before they launch.
There is a lot of nuance in terms of what could happen next. West Flagler’s lead counsel did not reply to inquiries from Sports Handle, but the company has multiple appeal options. West Flagler could appeal to the appellate court to have the case re-heard, either by the original three-judge panel or en banc, which would be before all 11 active judges on the court. Should West Flagler go this route, the current stay issued by the appellate court in December 2021 would remain in effect and the Seminoles would not be able to launch as long as the case is still being decided.
Another option would be to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to legal experts. But in that case, because West Flagler would then not be asking for a new hearing in the appellate court, the existing stay would expire. Legal experts say that should West Flagler opt to appeal to the Supreme Court, it would likely also file for an injunction to keep the Seminoles from launching.
Florida’s agreement with the Seminole Tribe to allow sports betting throughout the state on online apps is legal, a federal appeals court ruled.The opinion from Judge Robert Wilkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., overturned a lower court ruling ...
Florida’s agreement with the Seminole Tribe to allow sports betting throughout the state on online apps is legal, a federal appeals court ruled.
The opinion from Judge Robert Wilkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., overturned a lower court ruling throwing out the Gaming Compact on the grounds it approved gambling outside of tribal lands in violation of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). But the IGRA doesn’t ban gambling outside of tribal grounds, Wilkins ruled, it merely authorizes gambling on their grounds.
“IGRA does not prohibit a gaming compact — which is, at bottom, an agreement between a tribe and a state — from discussing other topics, including those governing activities outside Indian lands,” Wilkins wrote. “The District Court erred by reading into the Compact a legal effect it does not (and cannot) have, namely, independently authorizing betting by patrons located outside of the Tribe’s lands.”
The ruling means sports betting on the Tribe’s app is legal again in Florida and the Tribe can restart its payments to the state, unless West Flagler Associates, the company that owns Magic City Casino, a parimutuel in Miami that challenged the law, appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Barry Richard, counsel for the Tribe, noted that the U.S. Supreme Court takes few cases. He said the ruling clears the way for sports betting in Florida, as well as the parimutuels that inked deals with the Tribe to promote sports betting on their app in their casinos.
“If it takes effect then everything is back on the table for the state and the Tribe and for all of the other parimutuels that entered into agreements with the Tribe,” Richard said.
The Gaming Compact was negotiated between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Tribe, was approved by the Legislature in May 2021. It received federal approval later that year. The Tribe had set up its Sportsbook betting app and was making payments to the state as part of its $2.5 billion payout over five years per the Compact when a federal judge threw out the agreement in November 2021.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled it violated the IGRA because it authorized sports betting on non-Tribal lands. But that holding was overturned by Friday’s appellate court opinion.
Still, Wilkins’ ruling leaves open the possibility for a challenge based on Florida law.
“Whether it is otherwise lawful for a patron to place bets from non-tribal land within Florida may be a question for that State’s courts, but it is not the subject of this litigation and not for us to decide,” Wilkins wrote.