Year in Review: Seminole

SEMINOLE — Contract negotiations between the city of Seminole and Seminole Professional Firefighters Local 2896 dominated headlines in 2019.

After more than a year of impasse, the Seminole City Council unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement between the city and Local 2896 for fiscal years 2020-2022 at its Oct. 8 meeting.

During collective bargaining, Local 2896 officials declared an impasse May 30, 2018, bringing negotiations to a standstill. Earlier this year, a special magistrate released two decisions siding with the firefighters on all areas of contention, but the city’s negotiating team rejected his decisions.

The council acted as a third party at a July 15 impasse hearing, making final decisions on the contract for this past fiscal year. Among the temporary decisions they made, councilors approved a 5% increase on base wages effective that evening and capped the firefighters’ pension contribution at 12.5% of their pay, down from 15%. Councilors passed a temporary one-year collective bargaining agreement for fiscal year 2018-2019 at their Sept. 11 meeting. That agreement expired Sept. 30.

The new three-year contract “includes the items that were tentatively agreed upon by both the city’s and the union’s negotiating teams,” according to the Oct. 8 council agenda packet.

The most significant changes include the reinstatement of Article 2 regarding management rights and the addition of the language “just cause” to Article 21 regarding grievance procedure.

There were also significant updates to Article 14 regarding wages. The contract introduces new pay ranges that are higher than the existing pay ranges for all four positions — firefighter EMTs, fire medics, lieutenant EMTs and lieutenant medics.

Annual merit increases, based on receiving satisfactory annual appraisals on the employee’s anniversary date, will be awarded each year. These merit increases will amount to 2% in fiscal year 2019-2020, and 4% in fiscal years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

Quinns retires from council

At the Seminole City Council’s June 29 budget workshop, Jim Quinn announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in the Nov. 5 municipal elections.

Quinn, who turned 80 in March, has sat on council since March 2010, serving as vice mayor from March 2011 through March 2012 and November 2015 through November 2016.

“I’m 80 years old now. So, that only gives me 20 years left to complete my bucket list, which I intend to do,” Quinn said.

He said he plans to remain involved with the community, including volunteering with the Interfaith Food Pantry, and organizing his annual shoes and socks drive for the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch.

Barnhorn, Olliver, Waters win seats on council

Incumbents Leslie Waters and Thomas Barnhorn were re-elected to Seminole City Council, while first-time candidate Jim Olliver also won a council seat Nov. 5.

In the mayoral race, Waters took home 67 percent of the vote (2,201 votes) to defeat her opponent, Darren Clark. Clark received 33 percent of the vote (1,098 votes).

Meanwhile, Olliver and Barnhorn were the top two vote-getters, winning two at-large council seats. Olliver received 37 percent of the vote (1,886 votes), while Barnhorn received 33 percent (1,675 votes).

Candidate Kelly Wissing received 30 percent of the vote (1,544 votes).

Chamber, SPC unveil new civic building

The Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce and St. Petersburg College hosted a ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony for the new civic building at SPC’s Seminole campus Sept. 10.

The joint-use building, a partnership between the chamber and the college, is a permanent home for the chamber, and also provides space to the city’s civic organizations and community groups. The college also has access to the space and plans to use it as a classroom.

The prefabricated building was built offsite and installed at the SPC campus in August. The project was primarily funded by a $500,000 grant from the Edward J. and Vivian E. Lurie Charitable Foundation, and more than $100,000 raised by the chamber.

Seminole plans 50th anniversary celebration

As the city of Seminole gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary of incorporation next year, a 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee has organized a full slate of events that will take place throughout 2020.

Each month will have a different theme, former Seminole Mayor Dottie Reeder, chair of the committee, told Seminole City Council at its July 9 meeting.

“Many (of these activities) will be serving and enhancing annual events that already do exist in the city every year,” she said. “The main focus of each event will be the city’s 50 years of serving residents in the city and the community as a whole.”

A kick-off party of the year-long celebration will be presented by the Seminole Historical Society Wednesday, Jan. 22, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Parkview Room and SHS Museum located in Seminole City Park.

A full schedule of events can be found at

Millage rate remains the same

For the 13th consecutive year, the millage rate will remain at 2.4793 mills for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

“We are extremely proud. I know the council prides itself, as do your city staff, on our stability and fiscal conservativism,” said Allison Broihier, finance director, at the Sept. 11 Seminole City Council meeting. “We weathered the recession with this millage rate (and have) maintained the rebound since at the same tax rate.”

Mike McQuilkin named 2019 Mr. Seminole, others honored at awards banquet

Mike McQuilkin, owner of Oak Manor Senior Living Community, was honored as the 2019 Mr. Seminole at the Seminole Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet Feb. 16.

That same evening, Dennis DeLoach of the law firm DeLoach, Hofstra and Cavonis, and Seminole Title, was named Boss of the Year. Flooring America was awarded Business of the Year and Mark Strickland, the St. Petersburg College Seminole campus provost and chamber Board of Directors president-/chair-elect, won the Merit Award.

McQuilkin has been active in the city of Seminole since joining Oak Manor. He served as the chamber president in 2011 and also won the Merit Award in 2015. He’s also treasurer of the Rotary Club of Seminole.

Chamber introduces new executive director

Though Tara Nichols joined the Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce as executive director at the end of 2018, replacing Roger Edelman, who retired as president of the chamber Dec. 31, she introduced herself to the community at the Jan. 8 Board of Directors installation.

With experience as grand administrator at the Southeast Tennessee Development District and as vice president of business development and expansion for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, Nichols, who now lives in St. Petersburg, most recently worked as office administrator for the CPA firm Dwight Darby & Company.

City purchases Repetto property

In a 5-1 vote at its Jan. 22 meeting, Seminole City Council decided to spend $1.5 million on the purchase of 5.24 acres owned by the family of citrus king Al Repetto.

The property, located at 11877 74th Ave., is located just off Ridge Road and adjacent to Seminole City Park. The land has been divided into two parcels “for estate planning purposes,” said City Manager Ann Toney-Deal. One of these parcels includes a large, single-family home.

In recent years, the city has used the land for overflow parking during the park’s annual six-week Music in the Park series. The Repetto family allowed the city to use the land for this purpose even when they still lived on the property.

Council Roger Edelman spoke out against the purchase, saying “I don’t really view this property as fiscally responsible spending.”

He added, “I think we can accommodate Music in the Park in another way or other ways instead of spending $1.5 million, at this point in time, for overflow parking.”

Mayor Leslie Waters said the purchase of the Repetto property has been on the council’s “wish list” for a long time, though.

“We do not go out willy nilly, buy this, buy that, develop whatever,” she said. “We have the money in the bank before we start purchases.”

State awards $400K for Seminole park projects

In May, the Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program awarded two grants totaling $400,000 to the city of Seminole for ADA playground and lighting projects at Waterfront Park and Blossom Lake Park.

Because the Seminole City Council allocated funds for park projects, both are matching grants, said City Manager Ann Toney-Deal.

The city will receive $250,000 toward building an “all-access, all-abilities playground” and lighting at Waterfront Park, 10400 Park Blvd., said Toney-Deal.

The city also received $150,000 for Blossom Lake Park.

Seminole City Center wins regional award

In April, Seminole City Center, located at the intersection of 113th Street and Park Boulevard, was recognized by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council at its 27th annual Future of the Region Awards in the “Built environment” category. The awards honored 20 public and private sector winners for their achievements in resource planning and management throughout the region.

North American Development Group purchased the former home of the Seminole Mall at the end of 2012. Two years later, NADG and its partner on the project, Primerica Group One, presented their vision for the property to the Seminole City Council.

Today, the 424,000-square-foot mixed-use outdoor center is home to dozens of shops, sit-down restaurants, quick-service eateries, Studio Movie Grill, upscale grocer Earth Fare, L.A. Fitness and more.