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Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer

Charlie Frago

Charlie Frago covers St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, Frago covered Clearwater for the newspaper. He has also worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and the City News Bureau of Chicago. In 2011-12, Frago was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He joined the Times in May 2013.

Phone: (727) 893-8459

E-mail: cfrago@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CharlieFrago

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  1. After half a century, World Liquors sign may finally come down

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — The demise of the distinctive sign has been rumored many times.

    This time, it's no rumor. It looks very likely that by the end of spring the corner of 16th Street and Central Avenue will no longer be graced by World Liquors and its iconic overhead sign for the first time since 1961.

    Where the establishment's famous sign ends up is anybody's guess. At this point, it appears headed to an auction to be awarded to the highest bidder....

  2. New St. Pete City Council gets to work, starting with 2018 budget

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The new City Council will get its first chance to weigh in on the 2018 budget on Thursday morning — and they're likely to bring a long list of priorities to the table.

    In recent years, rising property values have kept city coffers flush, but spending has also risen. The current $540 million budget didn't require a tax hike and passed easily last year without much of a fuss....

  3. Pumping sewage underground is illegal. St. Pete wants it legal.

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city wants the state to change its environmental rules to make legal an illegal maneuver it has relied on a lot lately: flushing wastewater down into the aquifer.

    The idea was proposed by a consulting firm the city is paying $4 million to create a master plan to guide revamping the sewage system and other water utilities.

    Jacobs Engineering project manager Leisha Pica told the City Council on Jan. 4 that this could help improve St. Petersburg's image after its mishandling of 1 billion gallons of sewage spilled during the 2015-16 sewage crisis....

  4. Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater mayors strike back at Tallahassee

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — There's a reason why it's so easy for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos to maintain a united front these days. They face a common foe: Tallahassee.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran's push to require cities and local law enforcement to comply with federal immigration enforcement requests earned the scorn of all three mayors....

  5. Gene Smith, St. Pete's '9th council member,' dies at 68

    Obituaries

    ST. PETERSBURG— They called him the "ninth council member" around city hall. He leaves behind colorful memories that do not face any term limits.

    Gene Smith, 68, was found dead in his Fifth Street N apartment on Monday morning, according to St. Petersburg police. His death is still under investigation. However, police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said there was no appearance of foul play....

  6. A decade later, Nurse and Kennedy depart St. Pete City Council

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Karl Nurse and Jim Kennedy first met when they roomed together at a St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce leadership retreat. That was back in 1991.

    Now, Kennedy, 60, and Nurse, 63, are leaving the City Council after serving a decade together.

    They have been linked together from the start: Nurse lobbied Kennedy to accept an appointment to the council in October 2007 to take over for John Bryan, who committed suicide after allegations of child abuse surfaced....

  7. Whatever happens next with Jack Latvala's district, this much is clear: The voters lose

    Legislature

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jack Latvala's decision to resign Wednesday makes one thing certain: A state Senate district represented by arguably the most powerful man in the Senate is now going to be without any representation at all for the upcoming legislative session.

    "Not just North Pinellas, but the entire Tampa Bay area, has lost an effective and influential voice," said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, a fellow Republican....

  8. City Council sinks deal to alter ownership of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

    Health

    ST. PETERSBURG — After months of tense negotiations and weeks of political impasse, the City Council on Thursday derailed a proposal that would have changed the ownership structure of the city's largest hospital, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

    The 5-3 vote scuttled a deal that would have allowed the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, a nonprofit that owns 20 percent of the hospital, to sell its share, separate from Bayfront and expand its charitable mission. The hospital's majority owner, Nashville-based Community Health Systems, would have paid the foundation $26.5 million....

  9. St. Pete will pay developer to build and run Edge District garage

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — The booming Edge District has received the initial green light for a parking garage that will be built with public dollars and then be turned over to a private owner.

    The St. Petersburg City Council gave unanimous approval Thursday to a preliminary plan that calls for the city to pay up to $6.4 million to Tribridge Residential LLC to build a garage with 243 public parking spaces on a site at 13th Street and Central Avenue....

  10. Meant for short hops, some St. Pete cyclists pedal longer than marathons on Coast bikes

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — When the Coast bikes first started popping up in St. Petersburg last year, the idea was for residents to use them for short hops around town.

    But some users had more ambitious plans.

    At the request of the Tampa Bay Times, CycleHop, which partners with the city to provide the bike share service, did some data-mining to come up with the five longest rides taken so far around the Sunshine City....

  11. After Irma sinks boat at St. Pete marina, city floats insurance requirement

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Most could breathe a lot easier after Hurricane Irma blew past the region in September, leaving relatively little damage behind in the bay area.

    Not Daniel Harrell.

    The storm left the boating aficionado homeless after his 62-foot wooden vessel, Camelot, sank while moored in its slip in the city's municipal marina.

    Harrell had spent nearly $100,000 on the boat, which was built in 1957. He lived on it as he made repairs....

  12. St. Pete takes small steps on the way to sustainability

    Environment

    BY CHARLIE FRAGO

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a big promise made by Mayor Rick Kriseman more than two years ago: Get the Sunshine City to eventually run on 100 percent renewable energy.

    In a few months, the city will take small but tangible steps in that direction thanks to a $780,000 program designed to make city buildings more energy efficient....

  13. After reclaimed water rate hike, St. Pete council could ease pain

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — The message sent to the city's 11,500 reclaimed water users by the City Council on Thursday: Give us a year to figure this out.

    The council voted 5-2 to approve a 25.5 percent increase in reclaimed rates starting Jan. 1. It is just the first in a series of rate hikes that could double reclaimed water prices in the next five years.

    But in approving the first increase, council members left the door open to softening the blow in the coming years....

  14. Rick vs. Rick Coda: No concession call, just a text

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — When he lost the 1968 presidential election, Hubert Humphrey called President-elect Richard Nixon the next morning to concede the race. "I know how it feels to lose a close one," Nixon told him.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Rick vs. Rick: St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman completes comeback...

    Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker (left) sent re-elected Mayor Rick Kriseman (right) this concession text (middle) after Kriseman defeated him in the November mayoral election.
  15. Game of Rates: Will St. Pete raise reclaimed water bills?

    Wetlands

    ST. PETERSBURG— Whether or not the city should charge residents more for reclaimed water rates is breaking down along two narratives:

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: No criminal charges in St. Pete's 1 billion gallon sewage crisis (Oct. 27, 2017)...

    A pipe carrying reclaimed water at the Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Tampa. Reclaimed water rates for St. Petersburg residents could climb steeply if approved by City Council this week. But some neighborhoods are not happy. [CHRIS URSO  |   Times]