Window on Pasco

The Suncoast News Provisional ballots decide NPR election NEW PORT RICHEY A tight City Council election that appeared headed for a recount was decided after the supervisor of elections office opened three provisional ballots that helped swing the outcome. As a result, Chopper Davis edged out Rose Mohr by 10 votes — 296 to 286 — in the Tuesday New Port Richey City Council race.
“Provisionals do matter,” said Brian Corley, Pasco’s supervisor of elections. Voters were choosing two City Council members from a ballot with seven candidates. Jeff Starkey easily took one seat, garnering 415 votes. After the provisional ballots were counted, Davis increased his lead to 10 votes and a .51 percent margin that was just beyond the .50 difference that triggers the automatic recount. School employees won’t get raises LAND O’ LAKES With just two months left in the school year, Pasco County school employees have overwhelmingly voted to ratify proposed contracts with the school board, United School Employees of Pasco announced. Before the contracts become official, though, they must be approved by the school board, which meets Tuesday. The contracts, which cover the current academic year, don’t include raises, nor do they include two unpaid furlough days that the school district originally proposed in a budget-trimming effort. Teachers and other school employees, such as bus drivers and custodians, voted on the contracts April 4 and union officials counted the results Tuesday evening. The union reported that 84 percent of the teachers and 89 percent of school-related personnel who cast ballots voted in favor of the contracts. Motorcyclist dies in Pasco collision NEW PORT RICHEY A 20-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a collision Wednesday afternoon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Joshua Formieri, 20, of New Port Richey, was heading westbound on Decubellis Road approaching the intersection of Tanglewood Drive when he passed a vehicle in the westbound lane and moved back into the lane. Meanwhile, Gaines Blankenship, 79, of New Port Richey, was driving eastbound on Decubellis in a 2013 Hyundai Sontata and was preparing to turn left onto Tanglewood Drive. When the Hyundai turned left, it entered the motorcycle’s path, and Formieri hit the brakes, causing the bike to overturn to the right and strike the right side of the Hyundai, FHP said. The Hyundai spun, striking a stop sign. Formieri, who was wearing a helmet, died at the scene, FHP said. Charges are pending and the collision remains under investigation, FHP said. Baby left in hot car leads to mom’s arrest NEW PORT RICHEY A New Port Richey mother was arrested and charged with child neglect after leaving her 2-month-old child unattended in a car Sunday, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Sarah Nicole Lacy, 27, of 6614 Trichel Lane, drove to a New Port Richey Walmart on Sunday around 4:30 p.m. Lacy’s 2 1/2-month-old daughter was left in her car seat inside the Ford Taurus with the windows rolled up and the engine turned off, according to the arrest report. The windows of the car are not tinted, according to deputies, and the outside temperature was 81 degrees. Lacy went to her car about 4:41 p.m. to retrieve her debit card and was seen re-entering the store two minutes later, the report said. The child was seen in the car by a witness, who told deputies a message went out on the store’s public address system about a child being left in the car, deputies said. Lacy did not exit the store until 4:58 p.m., the report said, after members of the Pasco County Fire Rescue and the sheriff’s office had arrived. Fire rescue members broke the car’s window to get to the child. They report the baby was hot to the touch and her dress was wet with sweat. During Lacy’s time inside Walmart, five calls were made on her cellphone to her boyfriend, deputies said. One of the calls lasted more than 10 minutes. Deputies said Lacy changed her story several times. Lacy was arrested and charged with child neglect. She remains in the Land O’ Lakes Jail with a $5,000 bond. Bank robbery suspect sought in holdup HUDSON Authorities are investigating a bank robbery that occurred Tuesday afternoon at the Suntrust Bank, 14207 Fivay Road. Deputies received the call at 3:39 p.m., according to a bulletin from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information indicates a white male entered the bank and requested and received an undisclosed amount of money. No weapon was seen and no one was injured. He is described as an older man, about 50-55 years old, balding with white hair, wearing a cream-colored Hawaiian shirt. He was last seen leaving eastbound on Fivay Road in an older model blue Jeep, with a specialty license tag with a turtle on it. Anyone who may have seen the suspect is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at (727) 844-7711. Pasco inmate charged with attacking deputy LAND O’ LAKES An inmate at the Land O’ Lakes Jail attacked a detention deputy Tuesday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. About 1 p.m. Tuesday, the deputy, who was not identified by authorities, was standing near Christopher Michael Casler, 31, an inmate in the jail, when Casler attacked, deputies said. Casler, of 5049 Gulf Drive in New Port Richey, used his handcuffs to hit the deputy in the upper torso, deputies said. Investigators said no reason for the attack was given. The deputy was treated and released at a local hospital. Casler, originally jailed in December for a charge of criminal mischief, which violated two previous misdemeanor probations, is now charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. A bond of $50,000 has been set on that charge. Gallagher’s retirement delayed to June 1 DADE CITY Commissioners this week set a timetable for hiring the replacement for retiring County Administrator John Gallagher. After 30 years at the helm, Gallagher had expected to leave by the end of April, but his final day was pushed back to June 1. Commissioners will spend the month of May narrowing down and interviewing candidates to succeed him. They hope to interview candidates May 23 and 24 and make a decision May 28. Suncoast News and Tampa Tribune reports
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