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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. Bowen: Humanitarian Roy Hardy raised hope, diminished hunger

    Obituaries

    The lines on Roy Hardy's resume are simple: retailer, rancher, amateur barbecue chef, recreational fisherman.

    His career, however, goes from pedestrian to extraordinary when the personal traits of dedication and benevolence are considered. Roy Hardy didn't sell dry goods and raise cattle. He sold hope and raised aspirations.

    He was a humanitarian known to almost everyone in east Pasco....

     Philanthropist Roy Hardy, shown here in 2007, stirs up the baked beans at a Kiwanis club charity fish fry. Mr. Hardy died Sept. 19 at the age of 93.



  2. Even a weakened Irma leaves its mark on Pasco

    Hurricanes

    It was a Category 5, a Category 3, a tropical storm. It was Hurricane Irma, and she turned out to be a little fickle by the time she touched Pasco County.

    But she had strong breath.

    The eye of Irma passed over Dade City early Monday morning, and the majestic oak trees around town couldn't withstand the fierce gusts, even though the wind didn't reach the velocity levels originally predicted....

    At left, Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof.
  3. Irma slows curbside trash service in Pasco

    Hurricanes

    Hurricane Irma brought a hiccup to twice-weekly curbside trash service in Pasco County.

    At midday Wednesday, some neighborhoods hadn't had garbage collected since Friday, Sept. 8.

    "It's frustrating,'' said Tom Kline, 72, who lives in the Lake Heron community in Lutz.

    Just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, however, the trash truck arrived on his street to end the 13-day service gap.

    The problem, according to the largest hauler in the county, is the sheer volume of household waste left at the curb after Irma. It means trucks fill faster and require more frequent trips to the waste-burning plant in Shady Hills....

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Pasco officials are asking for patience about the slow pace of residential trash service from private haulers. In some areas, trash hasn't been collected since Friday, Sept. 8, because of the volume of waste left after Hurricane Irma.
  4. Bowen: Water's rising? I must be in Worthington Gardens

    News

    Take a drive up Old Cypress Creek Road from State Road 54 and you'll see where Old Florida is about to be encroached upon by the new.

    On the west side of the narrow road sit low-lying homes abutting a swamp. Signs proclaiming "Private property,'' "No trespassing'' and ''Beware of dog'' are common driveway decorations.

    Across the road to the east, and at a higher elevation, are mountains of dirt, heavy construction equipment and oversize concrete tubes that will become underground culverts for water and sewer service. It's the site of Brightwork Crossing, a planned 32-acre development mixing apartments and a hotel with fast-food, convenience and tire stores and other retailers....

    CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times Flood warnings like the recent one in Elfers usually also include a place called Worthington Gardens in central Pasco.
  5. Pasco OKs higher fee for drainage work

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Trying to keep neighborhoods drier is going to cost Pasco County property owners some extra dollars.

    On Tuesday, just eight days after Hurricane Irma blew through the county, Pasco commissioners gave final approval to a 67 percent increase in the annual drainage assessment.

    The vote was 4-0, with Commissioner Kathryn Starkey absent from the morning public hearing. Commissioner Mike Wells Jr., who voted against setting the higher storm-water fee in February, supported the increase this time....

    CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times  After Hurricane Irma damaged power lines, State Road 52 was closed between Land O'Lakes Boulevard and Shady Hills Road as workers from Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative repaired the damage. This was one of 532 roads either closed or with limited access after Irma.
  6. Pasco: Flood advisory brings shoulder shrug on county's west side

    Hurricanes

    Pasco County advised residents of three flood-prone neighborhoods in west Pasco to seek shelter elsewhere, but residents responded Friday with a shrug.

    On Thursday night, the county recommended that residents near Bass Lake, Lake Worrell and in Crane's Roost evacuate for higher ground because the forecast for rainfall could exacerbate the already high water left behind by Hurricane Irma.

    There are approximately 470 homes in the three neighborhoods that are north and east of the intersection of Ridge and Little roads. The area flooded each of the past two years, and on Friday morning water covered Brookwood Drive in Bass Lake Estates, and orange and white barricades marked the high water elsewhere....

    Duke Energy said the last two schools in Pasco with electrical outages — Pineview Elementary and Pineview Middle in Land O’Lakes — would be ready to reopen Monday. 
  7. Hurricane Irma: What we learned

    Hurricanes

    Now that Hurricane Irma has staggered through Florida like a drunken tourist, it is telling that the early lessons from the storm's impact around Tampa Bay are less about life-and-death and more about quality of life.

    We learned the value of having generators on stand-by. Of knowing the rules of the road at intersections without signals. Of knowing your neighbors. And of pre-brewing some good coffee for the morning after the storm....

    As evacuees showed up at shelters with their pets, local officials learned a lesson about the importance of  planning for pets as part of hurricane preparation. Here Samantha Belk says goodbye to her maltese, Gardolf, until after the hurricane in a locker room at John Hopkins Middle School, a St. Petersburg shelter that welcomed pets and people with special needs, on Sunday. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  8. Bass Lake neighbors shrug at Pasco flood advisory

    Hurricanes

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Bass Lake spilled over Brookwood Drive on Friday morning while a lighted sign at the neighborhood's entrance warned of a "flood advisory'' and orange and white barricades marked the high water along the streets.

    Residents, however, just shrugged.

    "It does it every year. We're used to it,'' said Debbie Centella, 46, of Wicker Drive.

    The advisory came from Pasco County. On Thursday evening, emergency management officials recommended residents near Bass Lake, Lake Worrell and in Crane's Roost evacuate their homes because the forecast for rainfall could exacerbate the already high water left behind by Hurricane Irma....

     This was the scene a year ago when Suzanne Hamilton surveyed flooding in Bass Lake Estates. Thursday night, Pasco County issued an advisory for residents there and in two adjoining neighborhoods to evacuate because of the potential for more flooding. Friday morning, several expressed reluctance to leave.
  9. Pasco: Irma claims three homes, one business

    Hurricanes

    Damage Assessment: Hurricane Irma destroyed three homes and one business and damaged 162 other houses and buildings during the storm's trek across Pasco County early Monday morning.

    The county's preliminary damage estimate also said 108 homes and a dozen businesses were affected, but habitable. No dollar estimate on the damages was available Thursday.

    For comparison's sake, preliminary numbers for Hurricane Hermine in September 2016 estimated damage to residential structures in Pasco at more than $100 million, including destruction of two dozen homes and major damage to nearly 300 more....

    In the aftermath of Irma, the Withlacoochee River causes flooding in eastern Hernando and Pasco counties. This was the scene Thursday afternoon on Tarzan Street south of Ridge Manor.
  10. Shuttered Target attracts new inventory of storm donations

    Hurricanes

    ODESSA – Commerce returned to a shuttered department store at State Road 54 near the Suncoast Parkway Thursday when a former Super Target became home to an inventory of bottled water, non-perishable food, clothing and toiletries donated by the public.

    "They just showed up. It's amazing,'' said Erik Breitenbach, assistant county administrator.

    The shopping center owner donated the space to be used as a staging area for the Florida National Guard, out-of-state ambulance crews and utility workers sent to Pasco for Hurricane Irma. After social media posts about a need for donated items, the public responded. Thursday afternoon, a convoy of 10 vehicles from Wesley Chapel Nissan delivered food and clothing collected by the car dealer and the Wesley Chapel Rotary Club....

  11. Pasco: FEMA reverses course on aid eligibility for residents

    Hurricanes

    Some Pasco County residents might have thought they got the cold shoulder from the federal government in advance of Hurricane Irma.

    The federal disaster declaration for Florida, signed before Irma made landfall, excluded Pasco property owners from automatically seeking reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Authority for repairs to their houses or businesses. The designation is based primarily on the hurricane's forecast path. ...

    A mailbox sits just above the waterline in front of a home on Elfers Parkway near Rochelle Avenue in New Port Richey. The Anclote River, behind the home, had begun to fall by Wednesday.
  12. Plan would turn former Elfers grove into residential, commercial development

    Business

    ELFERS — Pasco County officials are hoping a onetime grove near the Anclote River is about to be fruitful again.

    The 216 acres at the corner of State Road 54 and Madison Street near New Port Richey — land that continued to produce citrus even after the area surrounding it urbanized decades earlier — is considered a key in-fill development site in western Pasco. Last week, commissioners approved plans to turn the former grove into a neighborhood of 425 single-family homes, plus commercial and office space and 46 acres of preserve along the edge of the river....

    Commissioner Kathryn Starkey hopes the county can acquire land on the south river bank.
  13. Pasco: The latest on the recovery from Irma

    Hurricanes

    Shelters: Nearly 200 Pasco County residents remained in shelters Tuesday morning as emergency officials worked to get them home or to another location.

    To allow schools to prepare for students' return Monday, the county wound down operations at Fivay High School in Hudson, where 27 evacuees still stayed, and at Wiregrass Ranch High in Wesley Chapel, which still had 168 storm evacuees....

    Jim and Crystal Kraft of New Port Richey meet Tuesday at the intersection of Celtic Road and Elfers Parkway after Crystal moved items out of their mobile home on the Anclote River. They met halfway to take the bags to their truck parked on dry land.
  14. Anclote River floods southwest Pasco neighborhoods

    Hurricanes

    ELFERS – Hurricane Irma's rainfall turned to stormwater surge Tuesday, pushing the Anclote River into neighborhood streets in southwest Pasco County.

    The river, measuring more than four feet above flood stages late Tuesday morning, covered streets within Anclote River Estates and neighboring Anclote River Acres, communities with a combined 224 homes just south of State Road 54.

    The river was projected to crest at 25 feet during Tuesday evening's high tide. That is 5 feet above flood stage, but nearly 2 feet lower than what had been predicted earlier as Irma approached Florida....

     Lydia Scaggs, 35, takes a few photos of the flooding from the Anclote River  before evacuating her home in Elfers with her daughter,  Sadie, 13. She moved to her home in Elfers in July.
  15. Pasco: The remnants of Hurricane Irma

    Hurricanes

    Schools

    Hurricane Irma means six days off from classes for Pasco public school students.

    Twenty-one schools were converted to shelters and housed 18,842 evacuees, many bringing along pets. On Monday, five high schools remained open as temporary shelters to aid people who may have returned to homes without electricity.

    Superintendent Kurt Browning, who toured schools in east Pasco, said he decided to let parents know early that classes won't resume until Monday, Sept. 18. That will give the staff a chance to clean up the schools used as shelters....

    A group of neighbors worked to saw a tree that had fallen during Hurricane Irma, blocking the entrance to the Park Lake Estates community in west Pasco. [Photo by Michele Miller]