HOLIDAY — Scores of people attended the first town hall meeting of its type in Holiday as Commissioner Kathryn Starkey assembled a team of experts from county agencies to field questions. Flood insurance changes, housing repair help, paving assessments, crime prevention and code enforcement were among many topics at the event Monday night at Metropolitan Ministries. Plus some speakers announced special projects in the pipeline. Everyone can use a helping hand from time to time, Rev. Dan Campbell of Metropolitan Ministries remarked. So the nonprofit charity, housed in a former United Methodist church, could start building soon at the site at 3214 U.S. 19. Within a few weeks, crews could begin constructing the large kitchen addition to serve thousands of hot meals for the needy.
The county could concentrate soon on fixing up a few neighborhoods along Trouble Creek Road with very high numbers of abandoned homes, George Romagnoli pointed out as community development manager. Updates about the national flood insurance program came from Cindy Jolly, project manager for the Pasco stormwater management division. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., continues to work toward delaying flood insurance rate changes for the next year, Summer Robertson said as a legislative aide to Bilirakis. However, a deal this week did not appear imminent about delaying implementation of the Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform Act. State Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, is coordinating with Bilirakis about delaying the large jump in flood insurance premiums, Simpson aide Judy Parker said. Capt. James Mallo from Pasco County Sheriff's Office spoke about crime prevention efforts. A Pasco resident since 1970, Mallo said crime in the county has gone down about 10 percent a year the past two years. Mallo attributed results to the intelligence-led policing methods championed by Sheriff Chris Nocco. Deputies share tips and observations among themselves. Investigators also leverage many of the hundreds of tips each month from the public. The Sheriff's Office website and Facebook page allow tipsters to remain anonymous if they prefer. Auto burglaries continue to rank high among most common crimes, Mallo said. About two-thirds of auto break-ins involved unlocked vehicles, Mallo emphasized. Mallo also talked about criminals who go door to door to prey upon the good nature of residents. “Do not let those people in” your homes, Mallo commented. “We have good hearts” and try to help out people who claim to be down on their luck and looking for a little extra money from yard work or some other chores. In one case, a criminal distracted a resident as they chatted at the front door while a criminal partner enter the back of the house to steal items, Mallo recalled. firstname.lastname@example.org (727) 815-1068