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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 mines for answers on controversial limerock plan

    Local Government

    Pasco commissioners are about to be asked their definition of rural-agricultural lifestyle.

    Is it a cluster of homes on a multi-acre lots owned and occupied by gentlemen farmers and horse enthusiasts where the former serenity might be interrupted by an occasional mooing cow?

    Or is it blasts from subterranean explosions, the mechanical racket of crushing limestone and the rumble of dump trucks barreling down a two-lane road in the name of capitalism?...

    Pasco County approval of the Lago Verde mine remains mired in litigation, but on Nov. 28, commissioners will be asked to approve a second nearby mine off U.S. 41 in north-central Pasco.
  2. New incubator seeks to aid west Pasco businesses

    Business

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Sara Melucci is a bit of a nomad.

    In the less than two years she and her husband have owned Gulf Coast Heating & Cooling, she has worked from a former city-owned business incubator in New Port Richey, her home in Spring Hill, the Pasco Economic Development Council's SMARTstart incubator in Dade City and now from the PEDC's new entrepreneur center on U.S. 19 in west Pasco....

    Flanked by bales of insulation and testing equipment, Sara Melucci, 38, co-owner of Gulf Coast Heating & Cooling, left, takes an impromptu business meeting with advertising representatives Brittany Thompson, foreground, and Wendy Longley, right, at the company's office on Monday (11/13/17) at the West Pasco Entrepreneur Center in New Port Richey. The Pasco Economic Development Council's new west side business incubator resides within the former Bank of America building on U.S. 19 just outside New Port Richey.
  3. Nation's first Crystal Lagoon to open in spring 2018 in Wesley Chapel

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL – Spring break could mean a new state-of-the-art water amenity for swimmers, paddle boarders and sunbathers in central Pasco County.

    The nation's first Crystal Lagoon is scheduled to open in early spring 2018 in the Epperson development in Wesley Chapel, Metro Development Group announced Tuesday morning.

    The revelation came as Metro officials provided journalists with a tour of the 7.5-acre man-made lagoon that already contained the initial pockets of what eventually will be 16 million gallons of purified water....

    Greg Singleton, President of Metro Development Group, stands on what will become the Crystal Lagoon as the lagoon is being filled Tuesday at the Epperson Community being developed in Wesley Chapel. The company said it would take 45 to 60 days to fill the lagoon with 15 million gallons of water.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Digital signs to replace traditional billboards in Pasco

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco's 18-year ban on new billboards officially is over, with Clear Channel Outdoors planning to install four digital advertising boards across the county.

    In an agreement approved unanimously Tuesday by county commissioners, the company will take down 28 static billboards in exchange for the four high-tech digital light-emitting diode billboards, which rotate advertising messages....

    Clear Channel Outdoors can sell up to eight advertisements for each digital billboard.
  5. Pasco economic message: Curtailing incentives is shortsighted

    Economic Development

    WESLEY CHAPEL — It is a sign Viggo Nielsen has been anxious to see for more than a year. First came the fresh coat of paint on the building's exterior, then the blue lettering on the white banner facing motorists on the Suncoast Parkway: "Now hiring.''

    Nielsen, general manager of Mettler Toledo Safeline, said the company, which manufactures food safety equipment, plans to hire 120 people for its new manufacturing plant near the parkway and State Road 54 in Lutz. That is in addition to the hundreds of positions relocating from Hillsborough County and 50 more coming from Ithaca, N.Y., where Mettler Toledo is closing its operations and consolidating into the new 250,000-square-foot building in Pasco County....

    Mettler Toledo Safeline general manager Viggo Nielsen, shown here shaking hands with county Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, said the company is now hiring and plans to open its new plant in Pasco County in February.
  6. Bowen: Pasco anti-corruption movement kicks off in Dade City

    Local Government

    An anti-corruption movement is starting in Dade City, but its proponents don't envision an ending until governments for all six cities and Pasco County are on board.

    "We can all stand against corruption,'' said Elise Mysles of Land O'Lakes, the leader of the recently organized Represent Pasco citizens group. "It doesn't matter which side of the fence you are on. Anti-corruption is an American value we can all stand behind.''...

    Pasco Circuit Court Judge Lynn Tepper is a member of the Dade City Charter Review and Revision Committee that is recommending new ethics and campaing finance standards for Dade City. "It's not like somebody was a bully or was doing somebody's bidding,'' she said of the group's collaborative effort.
Times Staff (2014)
  7. Pasco sinkhole debate: How much? Who pays?

    Local Government

    LAND O'LAKES — They came armed with questions, but left without answers to the biggest unknowns.

    How much will this cost?

    And who's going to pay?

    More than 145 people filled a Land O'Lakes Community Center meeting room Saturday afternoon to try to find out how Pasco County might repair a massive sinkhole in the Lake Padgett Estates neighborhood. The cavity, originally estimated at 230 feet wide and 50 feet deep, swallowed two homes and left seven more uninhabitable after it opened July 14 on Ocean Pines Drive....

    Residents of the Lake Padgett Estates community weighed in on how to repair the massive sinkhole that opened over the summer in their neighborhood.
  8. New DOT work plan includes $32 million for U.S. 41/SR 54 interchange

    Roads

    LAND O'LAKES — Twenty-one months ago, the Florida Department of Transportation said it was hitting the brakes on planning improvements at a traffic-clogged intersection in central Pasco.

    Instead, the DOT said it would await recommendations from Pasco County and a citizens task force before advancing a proposed fix for the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54. The DOT pause, at the county's request, came after public objections to a planned flyover elevating SR 54 above north-south traffic on U.S. 41....

     The Department of Transportation is going ahead with plans to improve the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54.
  9. Bowen: A history lesson that's not too taxing

    Local Government

    Pasco County's parks need a new historical marker.

    It could serve as an appropriate reminder of the not-so-distant past as the county embarks on a public information campaign for a presumed 2018 voter referendum on paying for parks and recreation.

    The marker's message could be clear and concise: Don't do this again.

    There will be people with long memories who will be asked to support the idea of a new tax district for parks and recreation spending, and perhaps separate taxes for libraries and public safety, too. Some of those people will reside in Pasco's six cities, and some of them, undoubtedly, will not look favorably on the county's request....

    Pasco County built the Hercules Aquatic Center in Zephyrhills after voters agreed to tax themselves in 1986 for new parks and libraries. The county shut down the pool in 2011 amid prolonged budget constraints. Commissioners now are considering new tax districts for parks, libraries and public safety.
Times staff (2010)
  10. Pasco commissioners seek broader dredging of west Pasco canals

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A plan to dredge a dozen west Pasco canals at an estimated cost of up to $13.5 million drew a near unanimous response Tuesday from three west-side county commissioners: Why isn't the plan bigger?

    Commissioner Kathryn Starkey wondered why the project list, devised by Dewberry Consultants LLC, excluded residential canals near Gulf Harbors and the Bailee's Bluff neighborhood in Holiday, as well as the Anclote River....

     A consultant recommended that Pasco County consider a dozen canal dredging projects in west Pasco's coastal communities at a cost that could reach nearly $13.5 million. Commissioners, however, said the project list should be broadened. [WILL VRAGOVIC, Times 2011]
  11. Food flight: Traffic concerns push Irma nutrition aid to Pasco fairgrounds

    News

    DADE CITY — The Pasco County Fair Association is used to being a food source. But the typical corn dogs and sugar-coated funnel cakes will be replaced next month with debit cards allowing people to make their own culinary selections at retail stores.

    The fairgrounds, on State Road 52 outside Dade City, is the site of a planned Food for Florida distribution program Nov. 5 to 8 for people affected by Hurricane Irma....

    Pasco County's Food for Florida distribution will be Nov. 5-8 at the county fairgrounds outside Dade City. The county pulled the plud on the initial location, the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway, fearing a repeat of the scene in Plant City where long lines of traffic appeared on Oct. 9. The nutrition program is for people affected by Hurricane Irma. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  12. Pasco considers new tax districts for parks, libraries, public safety

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Faced with growing costs amid an expected voter-endorsed tax cut, Pasco County is considering changing the way it pays for parks, libraries and public safety.

    It could result in 2018 voter referendums to create three new countywide tax districts, in addition to the existing tax unit that finances the Pasco fire department.

    If voters agree, the new districts, with separate tax rates, would absorb costs now paid out of the county's general fund, freeing up money for future law enforcement and other government operational expenses. The referendums are not required by law, but a commission majority said they wanted voters to have their say....

    Pasco County is considering a new municipal taxing district to finance emergency services operations.
  13. Report: West Pasco channel dredges could cost up to $13.5 million

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The cost of dredging a dozen coastal canals serving seven west Pasco communities could reach nearly $13.5 million, according to a consultant's report.

    The study from Dewberry in Tampa recommends the county complete 12 individual projects in Sea Pines, Hudson, Sea Ranch, Pleasure Isles, Gulf Harbors, Westport and Driftwood to increase canal depths to 5 feet.

    Spread among the benefiting property owners, the plan could mean new municipal service units charging an annual assessment of $177 for the next 15 years. The seven neighborhoods include nearly 4,900 individual parcels, ranging from the 1,334 homes in Gulf Harbors to just 126 lots in Driftwood....

    WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
 A consultant recommends that Pasco County consider a dozen canal dredging projects in west Pasco’s coastal communities at a cost that could reach nearly $13.5 million.
  14. Bowen: Park land deal raises Penny for Pasco questions

    Environment

    The Penny for Pasco is unambiguous.

    At least it is supposed to be.

    There was no equivocating in 2004 when Penny for Pasco supporters detailed how the sales tax proceeds would be spent: schools, transportation, public safety and environmental lands. No money for parks. No money for recreation.

    Commissioners added a new category, economic development, eight years later when voters overwhelmingly renewed the tax for another decade....

    Pasco County is considering a loan from its Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program to buy land for a park in the Villages of Pasadena Hills in east-central Pasco. Shown here is the Jumping Gully Preserve in Spring Hill, acquired by ELAMP in 2009 and 2011.

  15. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Instead, the county and the Florida Department of Children and Families searched Tuesday for an alternative site and date and eventually settled on Nov. 5-8 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds, on State Road 52, outside Dade City....

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]