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Tampa hospital to establish dedicated Covid unit

AdventHealth is planning to modernize an existing patient care unit in its Carrollwood campus to provide the highest level of care for future Covid patients. The 10,680-square-foot unit conversion is part of an $11.9 million investment funded by AdventHealth and Hillsborough County. “We are deeply committed to providing a higher standard of care to our patients no matter the circumstances. We’ve adapted robust care models to be adequately prepared for patients with Covid throughout the various surges we’ve endured,” Erika Skula, President and CEO at AdventHealth Carrollwood, said in a release. The 25 converted rooms will be located on an existing unit in the hospital and will be equipped with technological and structural advancements to assist staff in providing elevated care for Covid patients.

Fox 13’s Kelly Ring announces retirement from broadcasting after 37 years

Longtime Tampa Bay area broadcaster Kelly Ring announced her retirement from television Tuesday after a 37-year career, all with FOX 13. Ring made the announcement during the 6 p.m. news on Tuesday, Feb. 15. She began her career with the station in 1985 after graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and was promoted to her current role as a main anchor in 1990. Ring has received three Emmys; her last day on air will be May 25.

Seminole High library book returned 47 years later

Sergeant Barry Colbath, coincidentally a member of the Pinellas County Schools Police Department, recently returned a library book he checked out from the Seminole High School library in March of 1975. Colbath said he borrowed the book titled “130 Feet Down: Handbook for Hydronauts” for a scuba diving course. Colbath graduated in 1976 and forgot about the book until his son recently uncovered it while organizing a closet. The school no longer carries the book and will not charge Colbath any overdue fees.

Cross-Bay Ferry receives large grant to increase operations

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will receive $4,863,280 of funds it requested from the federal government last October, U.S. Rep Kathy Castor announced Monday. "It will grow a popular transit option between Tampa and St. Pete, reduce congestion, create local jobs, support small businesses and increase connectivity in the Tampa Bay region. In fact, over 90% of the CBF passengers patronize restaurants, shops, museums and sporting events in these two urban areas. This investment is a win-win-win for our community and all of our neighbors," Castor wrote. The money may be used to purchase a new ferry as well.  

SPPD adds robot featured in Super Bowl to the force

There is a new crime dog in town, and it goes by the name of Spot. Spot is actually a robot that resembles a dog, and just one day after spot was featured in a Sam Adams beer commercial during the Super Bowl, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway introduced it as the newest member of the department’s SWAT team. Designed by Boston Dynamics, Spot is outfitted with several cameras and an intercom system. The robot can open doors and survey a dangerous area while officers are at a safe distance, and the intercom allows officers to communicate with any perpetrators or victims. Spot is sturdy and can run up to four miles an hour, and officers control the robot through what looks like a video game controller. Funding for Spot was donated by local residents, and St. Pete is one of only three agencies in the country to have the robot on its force.

LA-based digital fitness platform acquires Peerfit

 Tampa-based Peerfit, an exercise technology company, was bought by Los Angeles-based FitOn. FitOn, which describes itself as the No. 1 fitness app and digital fitness platform, announced the acquisition Tuesday and that the firm has also raised $40 million in new funding. "Combining Peerfit with the innovative digital platform we have built at FitOn, will create a first-of-its-kind virtual and in-person wellness experience to engage people both at home and in their communities," Lindsay Cook, co-founder and CEO of FitOn, said in a news release. The company launched in 2019 and has over 10 million members by offering premium fitness workouts with its expert trainers and celebrities. Peerfit's founder, Ed Buckley, will continue his role as CEO. "Bringing FitOn and Peerfit together will make these services available to a broader population, reduce barriers to getting active and healthy, and allow people to more fully engage in their health," said Buckley. "Through Peerfit, benefit and HR coordinators, as well as program managers, can benefit from account management and marketing support through an easy-to-use digital solution, drastically reducing the resources required to run their corporate wellness programs."

Crime Stoppers offers reward for arrest in the first St. Petersburg homicide of 2022

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the first homicide of 2022. The homicide is in regards to the murder of Demond Lamar Perry, 26, who was shot several times before crashing on Tyrone Boulevard on Saturday. Firefighters pulled Perry out of the burning wreckage after the car flipped. He died later from severe burns after being transported to Tampa General Hospital, according to reports. You can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477 or online at Crime Stoppers of Pinellas County.

St. Pete Beach announces election information

The City of St. Pete Beach announced Monday information regarding its upcoming municipal election. The election takes place on March 15, and residents can vote for either Terri Finnerty or Christopher Graus as Commissioner of District 1. Voters can cast their ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 15 at the Community Center Gymnasium at 7701 Boca Ciega Drive in St. Pete Beach.

Al Lang to host Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

For the first time since 2019, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup soccer tournament returns to Al Lang Stadium. The Tampa Bay Rowdies will host the winner of the Open Cup match between the Villages SC and Orlando FC Wolves. Those teams play on March 22, at the Villages home field. The historic tournament began in 1914 and is open to all U.S. Soccer affiliated professional and amateur teams. The winner receives $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League and its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy. ESPN + will broadcast the Open Cup, and ESPN will announce the streaming schedule at a later date.

St. Pete’s Miles Fetherston-Resch named a ‘Top 20 Kid’

St. Petersburg's Miles Fetherston-Resch, age 9, has been named to Time Magazine's Top 20 Kid of the Year list for his organization, “Kids Saving Oceans,” which sells merchandise (hats, shirts, and stickers) made from plastic that was reclaimed from the ocean and recycled. His online shop has generated over $23,000 in donations to ocean conservation organizations. Each year, Time and Nickelodeon launch a nationwide search across social media and school districts to find children age 8 to 16 who embody five key attributes: determination, passion, kindness, bravery and innovation.

Tampa Bay leads nation in inflation

Cities around the country continue to experience high inflation rates, and the Tampa metro area is pacing the pack. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS), Tampa led the nation with a 9.6% inflation rate last month. This means prices in the area were 9.6% higher in January 2022 than they were in January 2021. For comparison, the national rate is up 7.5% - the highest increase in 40 years. Riverside, California had the second-worst inflation rate at 8.6%, followed by San Diego with 8.2%. The USBLS also reported that wages fell by over 3% last year.

After four years, AirFest flies back into MacDill

After a four-year hiatus, Tampa Bay AirFest returns to MacDill Air Force Base on March 26-27. Due to budget cuts, the Department of Defense limited the once annual event to every other year. Officials canceled AirFest in 2020 due to Covid. Admission and parking are free, and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will again entertain the crowds with their aerial stunts. Over 150,000 attended the last AirFest, held in 2018. This year’s event occurs just six months before the 75th anniversary of the Air Force, and in honor of the occasion, Gen. Mike Minihan will make an appearance. Minihan is a four-star general and oversees the Air Mobility Command. AirFest will also showcase the new KC-46A Pegasus refueling aircraft, along with demonstrations from the F-22 Raptor. The Raptor is the Air Force’s latest stealth tactical fighter and one of the most advanced and powerful fighters in the world.

The St. Pete Catalyst

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