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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 plans industrial site on utility property

    Economic Development

    DADE CITY – Commissioner Jack Mariano remembers the message from economist William Fruth.

    Just seven months after Mariano joined the commission in 2004, Fruth, of Palm City, told the county's elected and appointed officials that Pasco should explore developing its own industrial park to ensure all the desirable locations weren't swallowed up by the residential construction boom.

    Mariano relayed the notion to Bill Cronin when he assumed the job of president/CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council two years ago. Mariano even had a location in mind – a former spray field along Interstate 75, owned by Pasco County Utilities....

  2. Road planners to study underpass at central Pasco bottleneck

    Roads

    DADE CITY – Pasco County's transportation board wants to find out if a big dig will work at the congested intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54.

    County commissioners and elected officials from Pasco's cities, sitting as the Metropolitan Planning Organization, agreed Thursday to find out how much it could cost to build an underpass taking traffic beneath the existing highways.

    The push for the cost study came as the organization was about to hear recommendations from its citizens task force, which spent two years studying potential improvements to the intersection and the entire State Road 54/56 corridor. The group had winnowed 18 alternatives to four recommendations, including building elevated lanes above the intersection, at-grade improvements, and its top choice – a network of frontage roads known as a parallel-flow intersection. It did not study building new highway lanes below the intersection. ...

  3. Bowen: Dumping brings sloppy start to the new year

    Environment

    We're slobs.

    That is a logical conclusion after a recent mile-long walk along the road right of way fronting the western edge of the Cypress Creek Preserve in Land O' Lakes.

    I've catalogued the trash on this trek in the past, but this was the first time I've made the walk since the county extended Collier Parkway northward and altered the route of Parkway Boulevard more than a half-dozen years ago. The new road left a triangle of land, the eastern side of which is owned by the county, sitting between Collier and the preserve....

  4. Holiday remains Holiday after backlash to name change

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Holiday won't be going away from Pasco County.

    Tuesday, Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey announced the county was retreating from the idea of renaming the community in southwest Pasco.

    "That whole idea went in the wrong direction,'' Starkey told commissioners.

    In late November, the county announced it was considering changing the name of the community as part of a rebranding of the economically depressed area....

  5. Pasco considers easing digital sign controls

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County, which prohibits digital signs for commercial uses, is poised to ease that restriction.

    Kind of. Sort of.

    If you own 200 acres or have a 35,000-square-foot building with 2,000 seats or 450 parking spots, you can have a digital sign.

    So far, that would be the Pasco County Fairgrounds outside Dade City and the Florida Hospital Center Ice complex in Wesley Chapel....

  6. Mega Millions' non-winners lament: Too bad it wasn't me

    News

    PORT RICHEY – Seven signs, all carrying the same message, hung in the windows and interior walls of the 7-Eleven store at the corner of Ridge Road and Regency Park Boulevard.

    "$450 million Mega Millions winner sold here.''

    Late Monday morning, three days after the drawing, some customers were unaware that a newly minted multimillionaire could be in the neighborhood. Others, however, didn't mind sharing their envy....

  7. More stores, restaurants heading to Pasco retail hub

    Retail

    The new year will begin much like the old one ended at the Cypress Creek Town Center retail hub, with shoppers and diners sharing space with construction crews building more stores and restaurants.

    In late December, Parkway Construction of Dallas filed for a Pasco County building permit to construct a 109,500-square-foot At Home home decor superstore on Grand Cypress Drive on the south of State Road 56, near the Tampa Premium Outlets mall and Costco. The stores have Lutz addresses, but routinely market themselves as being in Wesley Chapel....

  8. Pasco again ponders fate of unkempt SunWest park

    Local Government

    HUDSON – The pristine white sand has gone missing. Instead, grass blades are poking through the surface. The landscaping is unkempt, and a decorative palm tree is dead. Orange construction fencing provides an unsightly facade. The fixtures in the bathroom are rusting, and the place could use some paint.

    It is the scene at county-owned, but privately operated SunWest Park, the much ballyhooed beach park in northwest Pasco. It was supposed to lure local sunbathers, competitive athletes, concerts and commerce to a site that offers people a Gulf of Mexico view and a 70-acre freshwater lake in which to splash, wakeboard and bounce on water toys....

  9. New Pasco employee drops commission bid after one day

    Politics

    First-term Pasco Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. had a Republican primary opponent – for a little longer than 24 hours.

    Ryan P. Boney, 45, who joined county government in November as safety and training officer for Pasco County Public Transportation, filed preliminary paperwork Wednesday afternoon for the District 4 county commission seat held by Wells, the commission chairman.

    Boney's documents were stamped by the Supervisor of Elections Office at 1:27 p.m. He did a telephone interview with the Tampa Bay Times at noon Thursday and talked excitedly about his candidacy....

  10. New Pasco County employee files for commission seat

    Politics

    First-term Pasco Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. has drawn a Republican primary opponent – a recently hired county employee.

    Ryan P. Boney, 45, who joined county government in November as safety and training officer for Pasco County Public Transportation, filed preliminary paperwork Wednesday for the District 4 county commission seat held by Wells, the commission chairman.

    Boney, who retired from the U.S. Navy in 2016 after a 26-year career, recently moved to the Starkey Ranch development in Odessa....

  11. Pasco predictions for 2018 look kind of familiar

    Local Government

    The better-late-than-never, just-for-fun predictions for 2018:

    • The Pasco County government idea of changing the name of Holiday will be short-lived.

    For proof, it should be noted that Commissioner Jack Mariano already signaled his desire to wrap up the debate quickly.

    • Jack Mariano's memory is working just fine.

    The commissioner's push to cut-off a prolonged debate over Holiday shows Mariano enters 2018 with still-lingering memories of the years-long dispute over exactly where the boundary for Land O'Lakes ends and where the imaginary starting line for Wesley Chapel begins....

  12. Residents challenge Pasco approval of 7 Diamonds limerock mine

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A mining operation in north-central Pasco defies the county's own land-planning rules by failing to protect nearby agricultural, residential and environmentally-sensitive property, two residents charge in a pair of newly filed lawsuits against Pasco County.

    "A limerock mine using heavy explosives up to three times per month for 25 years is not a condition that can coexist in relative proximity to residential uses'' without negatively affecting the residents, states a lawsuit challenging Pasco County's Nov. 28 approval for the Seven Diamonds mine located on the west side of U.S. 41, three miles south of the Hernando County line....

  13. Ed Collins, former Pasco commissioner, dies at 75

    Politics

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Ed Collins' first political race in Pasco County came three decades ago and pitted him against a field of five other candidates for the right to represent Precinct 66 in the Pasco Republican Executive Committee.

    The size of the precinct around the Forest Hills neighborhood meant the top two vote-getters would earn committee seats. Mr. Collins, who had moved to Pasco two years earlier from New York, finished second. He was never ashamed of finishing nine votes behind another neophyte in the race – 23-year-old Richard Corcoran....

  14. Year in review: New ice complex helps Pasco sets tourism record in 2017

    Tourism

    WESLEY CHAPEL — It was a record year for tourism with Pasco County collecting $1.15 million in bed tax revenue during the 2017 fiscal year.

    And it is a number that likely will never be that small again. Even if the number of visitors remains steady in 2018, the county's revenue will be twice as much.

    The mathematics comes courtesy of Pasco commissioners who agreed to double the tourist tax rate beginning Oct. 1., the first increase since voters approved the tax on overnight accommodations in 1990....

  15. Year in review: Pasco boom turned pastures into neighborhoods

    Local Government

    Pasco County's past gave way to its future in 2017.

    Tracts that at one time had been farmed as Starkey, Behnke, Bexley, and Epperson ranches blossomed into residential neighborhoods with high-end amenities ranging from bicycle trails to parks and the nation's first Crystal Lagoon.

    The Asturia development, formerly the Behnke ranch in Odessa, will be the site of 200,000 square feet of Class A spec space for office/industrial use thanks to a $7 million county loan. Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel continued to fill with the opening of an Audi dealership, the ongoing construction of a hotel and other commercial and residential expansions. ...