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C.T. Bowen, Pasco Times Columnist

C.T. Bowen

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

Phone: (727) 869-6239

Email: bowen@tampabay.com

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  1. Bowen: Pasco administrator sets out to do the impossible — for fun

    Local Government

    Dan Biles draws inspiration from Walt Disney.

    ''It's kind of fun to do the impossible.''

    The quotation is on a placard sitting on a shelf in Biles' office. It was a gift from colleagues during his time as public works director in Corpus Christi, Texas.

    "I love that quote,'' Biles said, "and it is fun to do something that nobody thinks you can do.''

    Disney isn't his only motivation. Biles' Twitter account shows frequent posts about leadership and performance....

    Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles, right, speaks with his predecessor Michele Baker during a May 2 budget workshop.
  2. New central Pasco bus service to debut next week

    Mass Transit

    LAND O'LAKES — Christie Zimmer likes to ride the bus for fun.

    Getting from her home in Lake Padgett Estates to the bus stop at Collier Parkway and State Road 54 can be the hardest part. But from there, it's smooth riding — on what Pasco County calls its cross county route between Trinity and Zephyrhills — to the Shops at Wiregrass or the 16-screen movie theater at the Groves in Wesley Chapel. ...

    Pasco County will begin a new bus route serving Land O’Lakes on Monday, May 22. Rides are free until May 27.
  3. Pasco County seeks to expedite U.S. 41/SR 54 intersection plan

    Roads

    DADE CITY — Pasco County commissioners want to expedite improvements planned for the traffic-choked intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54 in central Pasco.

    Last week, commissioners, sitting with elected municipal officials as the Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization, formally asked the state Department of Transportation to transfer a little more than $1 million from a right of way acquisition account to a construction fund for the state's 2019 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2018....

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
Members of the Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization weren’t happy that construction money for planned improvements to the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54 in Lutz and Lando O’Lakes won’t be available until the 2019 state budget.

  4. Owner of proposed Pasco mine uninterested in preservation pitch

    Environment

    Neighbors are interested, but the owner isn't. So Pasco County will not be preserving the site of a proposed mine as ecologically sensitive land.

    The owner's response came last week during a meeting between Lew Friedland of Seven Diamonds LLC and Keith Wiley, Pasco County's natural resources manager. Nearby resident Bob Howell had nominated the 143 acres, targeted by Seven Diamonds as a lime-rock mine, to become a candidate for preservation under the county's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program....

    Neighbors of a proposed mine near the Lago Verde mine shown here had hoped the county could preserve the property as ecologically sensitive.
  5. Bowen: Baker no longer pitching Pasco; now she'll watch from the stands

    Local Government

    If you're watching the Tampa Bay Rays on TV next season and spot a couple in the stands wearing Rays gear, even though the game is in Arlington, Texas, Seattle or some other far-flung location, take a close look at the fans.

    You could be getting a glimpse of retiring Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker and her husband, Bill.

    Out are the worries about drainage, budgets and public safety. Now the concerns focus on driving, baseball and national parks....

    Outgoing Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker concludes her 24-year career in Pasco government today. Here, she listens to budget presentations during a May 2 workshop.
  6. Pasco's haul is substantial in state budget

    Legislature

    Florida will earmark $15 million toward a new interchange at Interstate 75 and Overpass Road in Pasco County under the proposed state budget plan.

    That funding highlights the Pasco-specific appropriations in the $82.4 billion budget plan agreed to by legislative leaders and approved Monday by the House and Senate. It now goes to Gov. Rick Scott, who could veto all or portions of it.

    "I can't see why anyone would not want to see this go through," said Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore. ''The interchange is a regional project. It's definitely an economic driver, and it will alleviate traffic backups and congestion for our residents."...

    The state budget to be voted on Monday by the Legislature includes $962,000 to two stromwater projects in Pasco County. The county had requested more than $19 million for 10 seperate projects. Times Files (2016)
  7. Pasco County Commission to consider full school impact fee increase, not half measure

    Blog

    After a nearly two-hour work session Tuesday, Pasco County commissioners agreed to proceed with the School Board's full request to nearly double the amount charged on new home construction, with the revenue going to new schools made necessary by the growth.

    The commission killed the idea from their school impact fee advisory committee of tying the fee amount to a future sales tax referendum....

    The Pasco County Commission killed a proposal by its school impact fee advisory committee (shown), and is progressing with the school district plan instead.
  8. Pasco commission refuses to link impact fee increase to tax referendum

    Education

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A proposal from home builders that would tie greater school impact fees in Pasco County to a voter referendum on a higher sales tax has some significant detractors — county commissioners and the home-building industry itself.

    In a May 1 letter to the County Commission, the president of the Tampa Bay Builders Association said the trade group supported increasing the education impact fee by $2,300 per newly constructed single-family home, an increase of 47 percent....

    The Tampa Bay Builders Association supported increasing the school impact fee on new single-family homes by a flat $2,300 or 47 percent. But the county opted to pursue a tiered approach.
  9. Budget wish list in Pasco topped by public safety

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners want to put more ambulances on the road, keep libraries open longer and perhaps take less money out of your pocket if you go to a county park.

    What they haven't figured out is how to pay for it all, particularly against the backdrop of rising law enforcement costs and the prospect of a $12.5 million cut in property tax revenue in 2019.

    "We have to be very thoughtful in the process with anything that's reoccurring,'' County Commission Chairman Mike Moore said after commissioners spent Tuesday morning listening to budget pitches from their own staff....

    Among the spending proposals to be considered by Pasco commissioners is a plan to add ambulance service in northeast Pasco and along the U.S. 19 corridor in west Pasco.
  10. Residents say Summertree water quality worse than ever

    Water

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A $1 million state grant and a connection to Pasco County Utilities was supposed to curb the tap water troubles for the Summertree neighborhood.

    It hasn't.

    "Our water quality has actually gotten worse and now threatens our health and safety," Ann Marie Ryan said in an April 21 letter to state House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Wilton Simpson.

    Ryan is the leader of the Summertree Water Alliance, which has worked for years to improve the quality of water for 1,200 customers in the neighborhood south of State Road 52 in west Pasco. The residents, clad in red T-shirts, had become frequent visitors to the Pasco Commission chambers, complaining about expensive, dark-colored, sulfur-odored water they said was unfit for drinking, bathing or cooking....

  11. Army Corps okays Pasco's Ridge Road route, but more studies required

    Environment

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Federal environmental regulators have given initial approval to the planned route for the Ridge Road Extension, a proposed 8-mile, four-lane highway linking west Pasco to U.S. 41 in Land O'Lakes.

    The Army Corps of Engineers notified Pasco officials last week that the county's preferred route, a nearly $102 million highway elevated through portions of the Serenova Preserve, is considered the "least environmentally damaging practical alternative.''...

  12. Energy company plans solar farm in northeast Pasco

    Energy

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

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

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

    ESA Renewables is proposing a 90-acre, 15-megawatt solar panel farm in rural northeast Pasco County.
  13. Pasco panel resumes job of tackling SR 54 traffic congestion

    Roads

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

    But, not all of the messages were that subliminal.

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

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

    Civil

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

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

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

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

    Local Government

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

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

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

    Pasco County is considering new water and sewer rates that would reduce the bills for 64 percent of its residential customers in the coming year. [TIMES 2007]