Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday January 18, 2015 Getting Around in Pinellas County

The US Highway 19 improvements while not done are open for traffic. 
Once you are on US 19 at Gandy Boulevard, you can now get from Pinellas Park to Countryside mall  with only three stop lights and an average speed of about 45 miles per hour. Chances are you will catch at least one of the lights so it is a really quick trip.

Go over the fly over at Countryside mall; take the 580 exit, turn  right and you are at a mall entrance.

If you live in south St. Pete, you can make the same trip once you're on I 275 with only two additional stoplights and your average speed should be about 55 miles per hour. You can probably be at the Countryside mall quicker than you can get to the Tyrone mall in west St. Pete.

 If you need fuel there is convenient WAWA right on the way.

Work continues on several of the flyovers, and some exits are a bit complicated due to the construction, but for those who remember the old US19 this is a really fun ride.

Off rush hour is the best time to go, be even at rush hour the traffic flow is pretty good.

Once this whole project is complete, moving around Pinellas County will be significantly easier. There should be ample lane space to accommodate express buses and bus rapid transit (BRT).

For those of you who have avoided US 19 for years, check it out, and when you get to Countryside mall, take a look at the new Whole Foods Market. It's right there at the end of the mall.

It just may be you can go to Whole Foods at Countryside and find a place to park quicker than you can fight 4th street for a trip to Trader Joes.

The price tag for this effort was really high, exceeding $150 Million, but the results, so far, seem pretty spectacular.

E-mail Doc at: or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Twitter@DOCONTHEBAY. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Arts or the arts business - Which should the City support?

Last week a mini arts crisis developed as Deborah Kelly past Chairwoman of the Arts Advisory Council and Angela Bond a board member chose to resign in very public way during City Council meeting.

Taking issue with Mayor Kriseman's decision to fire Elizabeth Brincklow and replacing her with former Morean Arts Center Director Wayne
Wayne Atherholt, both resigned in what could be called a bit of a huff. 

To call it a crisis might be a bit of a stretch, but with all of the hype the Mayor seems to give the “Art Destination” moniker, you would think he would be a bit more concerned. Perhaps the Mayor is starting to realize that “Arts Destination” is something a lot of Cities toss around in their promotion, for example Tampa to our North and Sarasota to our South.

Tiffs among artists and their supporters are not that uncommon, but the arts in St. Pete have been teetering on the edge of a major blow up for some time. As the City cut funding during the lean years, the struggle to keep the arts going has been difficult to say the least.

The constant stream of people from the arts community coming to City Council for a handout has started to wear thin. It is easy to start an artist colony and a new a bevy of starving artists, just toss a few bucks up in the air and magically an artist colony appears and a new “Arts Destination” is created.

“Arts Destination is a form of political speak the arts folks have created to convince politicians that throwing money at the arts is a good idea. Being against your community becoming an “Arts Destination” is a bit like being against motherhood, apple pie….you know.

It looks like the Mayor may be moving to a less altruistic approach for the arts community and more toward supporting the business of the arts. Time will tell.

For now it is time to get the City budget for arts support on a sound footing. There needs to be a significantly large line item in the Budget to support both the arts from a practical standpoint and the arts business with promotion.

To think or try to prove that Arts Warehouse will be anything close to self sustaining is fool hardy, and asking them to come up with self sustaining scenarios is essentially asking them to fabricate a lie. The Arts Warehouse will need City support as long as it exists, even if it should be so fortunate as to acquire an endowment.

The Arts Council or some other artist oriented organization that represents artists and the art business in St. Pete should put together a real budget with real facts, and the City should fund some significant portion of that budget. When the City funds it, the arts community should stick to the budget and not keep coming back with their hand out.

The City should also assist in finding other forms of art support revenue from the community. After all if being an “Arts Destination” is really that important and brings in all that tourist money some of the really big players in the community should step up in a big way.

E-mail Doc at: or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Twitter@DOCONTHEBAY. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday January 11, 2015 The impact of faith based experiences

This past week a group of 36 adults and students, including my daughter and her husband, from Johnson Ferry Christian Academy in Atlanta is on a mission trip to Nicaragua. The group travels to various barrios to visit with local residents, former friends, pastors and acquaintances.

The impact of these trips on the mission team members is amazing. Here are some thoughts of 18 year old Tyler Gragg from the mission field.

 The truth in a name - by Tyler Gragg:
A name is one word, but it's probably the most important word in the English language. Let's broaden that, it's the most important word in any language. However, sometimes that's all we have. Like today, all I remember are names. Bonito, Lupita, and a whole host others that I could never hope to spell. These are all names of kids that the only thing I knew about them was their name...and that's all I needed. I didn't need to know who was their favorite superhero to spin them around in my arms. It didn't matter whether they are allergic to peanuts or not if I was chasing them around pretending to be a sea monster. I became a human jungle gym today, and loved every single second of it. I will remember those kids names and faces forever, and that's something I thank God for.

The little thought that could- Tyler Gragg
Today was much of the same as yesterday, we went door to door, played with kids and made some great memories. However, as the day moved on, thoughts crept into my head. Thoughts upon thoughts rose up seemingly from nowhere. Most were saying how little impact one kid from Georgia could have on a group of kids in another country that didn't even speak the same language. These thoughts swarmed around my head and mind the entire day putting me down time and time again. There was one thought that decided to be different. He believed that there was joy to be had from us being there. He was willing to be different that all the rest. He wasn't the strongest or the loudest, but he was the only one that was telling the truth. That little thoughts name was The Holy Spirit. He was pretty cool.

For more information on this Mission trip you can visit Johnson Ferry Christian Academy and click on 2015 Nicaragua Mission Trip.

If you or your children have a opportunity to go on one of these mission trips from your church, be sure to go. It is an experience you or children will never forget.

E-mail Doc at: Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Twitter@DOCONTHEBAY. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.