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COVID-19 Threat Doesn’t Stop Marriage Proposal

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Romance will find a way, even when a pandemic threatens. 

Ask Jonathan Mossey, a psychologist and personal trainer.  He recently surprised his girlfriend with an elaborate marriage proposal at the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center. 

It was a proposal that involved a scavenger hunt, a private musical performance, a lot of roses and a spoof of the TV show, “The Bachelor”. 

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PRESS RELEASE: Safety Harbor Library Home Delivery Service Updates

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Home delivery of library materials is available for Safety Harbor residents of all ages unable to physically visit the library due to illness, disability, or injury. This service is free, available on a long-term or temporary basis.

    Due to the current COVID-19 conditions, the Library is offering delivery service to residents aged 65 and older who are not comfortable visiting the Library. Items are left in bags at your front door for return and pick up without social interaction.

    Home delivery patrons can call for advice on what to read or request specific materials. Items are checked out to your library card, delivered to your door, and picked-up for return by a library ambassador on a bi-monthly basis. If you need a library card, we can assist.  

For more information or to register for home delivery service, visit the Outreach page on our website for an application,www.SafetyHarborLibrary.com, emailoutreach@cityofsafetyharbor.com, or call 727-724-1525 x 4107. The library is located 101 2nd Street N., Safety Harbor, FL 34695.

PRESS RELEASE: Safety Harbor Public Library announces winners of National Poetry Month Contest

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April was National Poetry Month and every year the Safety Harbor Public Library hosts an open mic poetry celebration. This year, however, the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the library managed to celebrate the community’s love of poetry a different way during this time of social distancing. The community was asked to express how they were feeling, processing, and dealing with the pandemic through poetry. The community really took that to heart and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards) because the library received 226 responses!

The contest was judged by Safety Harbor Poet Laureate Steve Kistulentz, Former Safety Harbor Poet Laureate Barbara Finkelstein, local author and poet Laura Kepner, and local writer Darla Chesnet. Each judge selected a winning poem from each of the four age categories and the library published the poems on their website. Winners also received a Safety Harbor Strong t-shirt, courtesy of the Friends of the Safety Harbor Library.

The Safety Harbor Public Library congratulates the winners and hopes that by expressing their thoughts and feelings through poetry, all contestants were able to get a little relief from the stress and worry brought on by the pandemic.

The Boss and Don of Cheesecakes Coming to the Harbor

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A sign on the front of the building signals the location of a new Safety Harbor business, Bassano Cheesecake. (Photo/Walt Belcher)

While many restaurants were closing or slowing down in March and April due to the COVID-19 virus, Tommy and Cindy Bassano were making plans to open a dessert cafe in Safety Harbor.

The couple, childhood friends from upstate New York, had opened their Bassano Cheesecakes as a mail-order business last spring.

Operating out of a catering kitchen in Oldsmar, the business quickly took off. They were looking to expand long before the pandemic slowed everything down.

Now, with Florida cautiously reopening businesses, they hope to get the Safety Harbor location up and running in June.

“There is always a worry when opening a new business,” says Cindy Bassano. “When we started the process the economy was thriving and social distancing was unheard of. Because of what is going on, we have no idea what the ‘new norm’ will be once everything opens back up fully.”

The Bassanos have made renovations to the small building here at the corner of Main Street and 5th Avenue North. For years, it was an antique shop. The building has been painted. A banner outside says “Coming Soon. Bassano Cheesecakes.”

Tommy Bassano. Photo courtesy of Bassano Cheescake.

Tommy Bassano said the new venture is exciting because they will be able see how people react when tasting the cheesecakes made from an old family recipe. That’s something you don’t get from a mail-order business.

“We take pride in making the second best authentic cheesecakes in the world,” he said.

Why second best? “Because you don’t disrespect your mother’s cheesecake. Capisce,” he explained, using the Bassano motto.

Cindy said the goal is to open with inside and outside tables, but that may depend on what will be allowed by then. 

“All we can hope is that all the positive feedback and warm welcomes we are receiving now will continue to grow,” she said. “We will be following all the new rules and training new employees to maintain a clean and safe environment for our new customers to feel safe and comfortable.”

Cindy said the goal is to open with inside and outside tables, but that may depend on what will be allowed by then. 

Cindy Bassano. Photo courtesy of Bassano Cheesecake.

“All we can hope is that all the positive feedback and warm welcomes we are receiving now will continue to grow,” she said. “We will be following all the new rules and training new employees to maintain a clean and safe environment for our new customers to feel safe and comfortable.”

Currently, places in Florida that serve food have health restrictions on capacity and social distancing due to the threat of the COVID-19 virus. 

The Bassanos said they will continue to run their Oldsmar location for baking and shipping. “We ship all over the country,” said Cindy. “For Mother’s Day I shipped out 55 cakes.”

At the Safety Harbor location, they will have whole cheesecakes, as well as cheesecake by the slice, along with coffee, cannolis, biscottis, and hard rolls. 

Tommy said they started making cheesecakes because it was difficult to find a good, authentic New York cheesecake – not even by mail order from New York. 

Cooking runs in the Bassano family. Tommy’s great grandfather, Pasquale Bassano, was an immigrant who settled in Yonkers, NY, in the early 1900s. Pasquale held a variety of jobs before opening Bassano Bakery. It was in business into the 1930s.   

Tommy said that out of Pasquale’s 16 children, his Aunt Clara became the “the greatest cook in the family.”  Tommy recalls Aunt Clara’s Thanksgiving meals where tables loaded with food were lined up and down the hallways. 

 And it is Aunt Clara’s recipes that inspired Tommy and Cindy to start their business.  

Tommy’s parents had lived in Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park before moving to Florida. Last year, he and Cindy went back to visit the old homestead in Yonkers.

While in New York, they sampled cheesecake from the famous Junior’s cheesecake bakery.   “We were disappointed,” said Cindy.  

Using Aunt Clara’s recipe, the couple made their own cheesecake. Cindy said that “on a whim” she joked that they could sell this kind of cheesecake themselves.  And so, they did. Cindy became “The Boss” and Tommy became “The Don” of cheesecakes. 

“It amazes me now that 22 percent of our business is shipping cheesecakes to New York,” said Tommy. 

He said Bassano cheesecakes are like snowflakes in that no two are alike because each is handmade. “Cheesecakes that are mass-produced just aren’t as good,” he said. 

Along with the classic New York cheesecake, they make more than 20 flavors including raspberry, tiramisu, strawberry, blueberry, fudge, salted caramel, Key lime and apple-crumb.

For more information visit https://bassanocheesecake.com 

Pinellas Sheriff Says Success For First Open Beach Day

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Sheriff Bob Gaultieri discussing Pinellas County beaches opening on May 4, 2020. Yahoo News https://news.yahoo.com/sheriff-gualtieri-people-compliant-183654352.html (Screenshot/Kathryn Malaxos)

Hundreds flocked to Pinellas County beaches Monday and all went well, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gaultieri.

Gaultieri told the Pinellas County Commissioners this morning that 300 officers were stationed along the 35 miles of beachfront from Tarpon Springs down to Fort DeSoto as well as along the Gandy Blvd and Courtney Campbell Causeway waterfronts.

This includes 250 county deputies, officers from nearby municipalities, and officers from the Florida Highway Patrol. He said they were stationed at every beach access point and beach area parking lots.

“Yesterday was a very successful day,” he said, “It was a very busy day for early May but everybody abided by the distancing requirements and followed the rules.”

For an opening after people had not been able to go to the beach in a long time, it was a “very successful day,” he said.

He said the greatest challenge will come on the weekend when more people are expected to head to the beaches but the county will be prepared.

He said Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs and the Dunedin Causeway were at about 85 to 90 percent capacity while Honey Moon Island (a state park) was at about 50 percent capacity (which is all that is allowed now).

The Sheriff said he will ask state park officials if the capacity at Honeymoon Island could be increased. He said there were about 2,500 people in the park which was just about the allowed 50 percent capacity of 3,000.

“I’d like to see that number up to 4,000 because if they don’t, it will just create a bottleneck of traffic along the Causeway,” he said.

Another area of concern was at Pass-A-Grille where a public parking lot with 700 spaces filled up by noon. Visitors started parking on city streets which are for city residents with parking permits. “We had to limit access to Pass-A-Grille to control it,” he said.

Gaultieri presented a slide show of beach photographs taken from a helicopter that demonstrated how beach goers were keeping safe social distance. He said photographs taken from ground level could be misleading because it can look like the area is more crowded.

NEWS RELEASE: Pinellas County residents can get COVID-19 test at no cost

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Pinellas County COVID-19 cases from Bing's COVID-19 tracker, May 4, 2020, https://www.bing.com/covid/local/pinellas_florida_unitedstates (Screenshot/Kathryn Malaxos)

Pinellas County residents can get a COVID-19 test at no cost to them. The program started Monday, May 4.

Community Health Centers of Pinellas (CHC) is offering the COVID-19 tests without restrictions at three testing sites. Residents do not need to have symptoms or be a CHC patient.

Testing sites will provide same day walk-ups and drive ups, but appointments are recommended to decrease wait times. Make an appointment by calling 727-824-8181 and selecting option 0.

The following testing sites will be open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

  • 707 East Druid Road, Clearwater, FL 33756
  • 7550 43rd Street North, Pinellas Park, FL 33781
  • 1344 22nd Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712 (Johnnie Ruth Clarke Center)

A condensed electronic registration will be required at testing sites. Residents are asked to bring a valid ID.

Pinellas County will continue to share updates and outreach regarding these and upcoming events as test efforts continue to ramp up in Pinellas.

For more information about the county’s response to COVID-19, including comprehensive resources for finding other types of local assistance, visit www.PinellasCounty.org/Covid19.

Source: Pinellas County Government https://go.activecalendar.com/pinellascounty/site/pressrelease/event/pinellas-county-residents-can-get-covid-19-test-at-no-cost/

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