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Transit: Use It or Lose It

in news/town square

PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) has a long history of servicing Safety Harbor with regular and reliable transit. Over the years, low ridership has moved those routes to the top of the list for elimination during consolidation and budget cuts.

There was a time buses ran north and south on McMullen-Booth Road, those days are long gone. In the past, the useful Route 62 – directly connecting from Tyrone Mall in the south to Countryside Mall and up to Boot Ranch in the north – rode right down our main street zagging back on Enterprise Road. Back then, Safety Harbor residents could step out and ride nearly anywhere in the county without the hassle of a transfer. But because they didn’t, Route 62 now runs directly up Belcher Road passing our town by.

The Jolly Trolley

PSTA organized funding for a “Jolly Trolley” week-end service between our downtown and Dunedin. Residents or visitors in either town could visit the other, enjoy a dinner and refreshments, and not worry about parking or having “one too many.” The trolley ran especially on festive holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Cinco de Mayo, but it was also underutilized.

The Jolly Trolley’s Safety Harbor route began on February 1, 2014 and ended on February 4, 2017.

North County Connector

Today PSTA supports north Pinellas County with a network of three North County “Connector” buses, from a hub at Countryside Mall. One runs north through Dunedin and Palm Harbor up to Tarpon Springs. One runs east through Countryside and Oldsmar to the Tampa transfer hub. The “Safety Harbor Connector,” Route 814, runs right down Safety Harbor’s Main Street, then up to its turnaround point at Philippe Park. These Connectors feed riders to the main hub for north county at Countryside Mall. There, connecting buses take riders south to St. Petersburg, to east/west arterials, north to Pasco’s PCPT (Pasco County Public Transportation) network, and west to Clearwater and the beaches.

Low usage equals fewer routes

“Connector” buses use a hybrid route, defaulting to fixed roads and times. However, you can call PSTA in advance (two hours to three days) and a connector will veer up to three-quarters of a mile to pick you up or drop you off at any location. Sadly, the Safety Harbor Connector has the lowest ridership of any route in the PSTA system. It was recently scheduled for elimination and saved only at the last minute. The similarly underutilized connector between Dunedin and Tarpon, as a cost savings, has just been rebranded for only fixed route; no more door-to-door north of the mall. The “East Lake” Connector was discontinued long ago because most residents own cars and can afford to operate them.

Low ridership in Safety Harbor also resulted in a shorter schedule, with our connector now only operating between 7 am and 6 pm Monday through Saturday. To return home from St. Petersburg or Pasco might require leaving as early as 3 pm to catch the last departure from Countryside. See the PSTA website for exact schedules and routes, and how to ride the Safety Harbor / North County Connector.

If we want more service, more frequency, to more convenient locations there is only one requirement: Get out of your car and ride the Connector. With public transit, we use it or lose it.

Spanish Needle

in news/town square

Chances are you’ve seen this amazing plant, hiding in plain sight along roadsides, in parks, at the beach, or in your own yard. Those small, cheerful, daisy-like flowers that give way to annoying barbed seeds that stick stronger than Velcro to socks, paws, and anything that may brush by. What we refer to around here as Spanish Needles, bidens pilosa (or alba) spring up in dense clumps practically overnight, happily thriving no matter how poor the soil or conditions. In fact, bidens has a notorious reputation as an invasive and troublesome weed in more than 40 countries.1 But take heed: this botanical problem child has many redeeming qualities, not the least of which is that it just may save your life.

Also known as beggar’s ticks, farmer’s friend, pitchfork weed, or tickseed sunflowers, bidens reportedly originated in South America and has spread around the globe, even thriving in the desert. Today there are some 230 known bidens species (in the aster family of plants), many of which are well documented as an important source of both food and medicine among indigenous peoples.2  Frankly, I’m fascinated with bidens and the emerging research which supports its use for everything from killing MRSA to controlling toxic algae blooms.

Yep. I said MRSA, a drug resistant staph bacteria that has — and continues to– claim thousands of American lives. But MRSA appears to have met its match. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine found that bidens kicks the pants off MRSA.4 I’ll say it again: a little weed that people hate more than love kills a bacteria that has decimated families and frustrated medical science for decades. Bidens offers potent, pharmacologically active antibacterial properties, clinically studied and often quite remarkable in practical use.  But that’s just the beginning.3

Not only is it proving a powerful antibacterial/antimicrobial, studies show bidens effectively treats viruses, microbes, protozoans, wounds, gout, gastrointestinal diseases, fever, fungal infection, liver disorders, diabetes, edema, abscess, inflammation, malaria, snake bite, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases.4  One study even points to its value as an anti-cancer treatment.5 And that’s the short list. In my research I was pleasantly surprised to learn that bidens extract was found to control toxic algae blooms.6    

If you’d like to use bidens for home health, a few words of advice.  The available science points to a fresh plant, alcohol-based tincture as the most effective for antibacterial purposes. However, I’ve successfully used a simple infusion for mouth ulcer’s, wounds, and a few minor infections. I purposefully grow bidens and harvest it from my yard. Avoid picking itfrom along roadways or where pesticides or chemicals are used because of the risk of contamination. Identifying bidens when it’s not in bloom or gone to seed could be tricky, so make certain you’re harvesting the right plant. Always, always, do your own research, and work with a professional if you have a serious or chronic medical condition. 

Personally, I find bidens an enormously promising plant. It’s a prolific producer, doesn’t need controlled conditions for growing and is –pretty much everywhere anyway.  In fact, I think it’s so abundant because Nature wants to make certain we notice her marvelous medicines for the common man.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any illness or disease. It should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the expert care of a qualified medical practitioner.

If you want to know more about infusions, decoctions, or how to make your own tincture visit: 

1   Journal of Basic and Environmental Sciences, 6 (2019) 33-44

2 , 4   Bartolome AP, Villaseñor IM, Yang WC. Bidens pilosa L. (Asteraceae): Botanical Properties, Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Pharmacology. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:340215. doi:10.1155/2013/340215 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712223/

3  Kourtis AP, Hatfield K, Baggs J, et al. Vital Signs: Epidemiology and Recent Trends in Methicillin-Resistant and in Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus Bloodstream Infections — United States. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:214–219. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6809e1External.

5   Department of Pharmacy, Annamalai University, Annamalainagar – 608002, India. Studies of anticancer and antipyretic activity of Bidens pilosa whole plant. imalakrishnan Sundararajan, Akalanka Dey, Anton Smith, Arul Gana Doss, Manavalan Rajappan, and Sridhar Natarajan Afr Health Sci. 2006 Mar; 6(1): 27–30.

6  Inhibitory Effects of Bidens pilosa Plant Extracts on the Growth of the Bloom-Forming Alga Microcystis aeruginosa  Van Nguyen, Q., Tran, T.H., Pham, T.N. et al. Water Air Soil Pollut (2019) 230: 24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-019-4077-1

Glimpses of Fourth of July fun

in news/town square
Fourth of July 2019 in Safety Harbor, Florida. (Photo/Jarine Dotson)

Safety Harbor had a full day of festivities for the Fourth of July. The day started with American Legion Post 238’s annual Fourth of July Parade on Main Street. A ceremony in John Wilson Park followed the parade. In the early evening, people flocked to the Marina Park parking lot for music and food trucks. And, of course, a fireworks celebration capped of the day’s events. (Photos/Jarine Dotson and Kathryn Malaxos)

History, People, and Places Series: Alice Anderson

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Used with artist's permission: Alice Anderson

Alice Anderson loves historic buildings.  Even more, she loves drawing them. I contacted her after seeing her print of a pen and ink etching of the Tucker mansion.

“I drew it because it’s such a beautiful building,” she says.

Alice Anderson holding her drawing of the Tucker mansion. Photo credit: Laura Kepner

Alice supported her two kids through the 1970s and ‘80s. She worked in advertising, apartment management, and senior housing management. She was called upon to incorporate her drawings into specific projects in Vermont and became known for her illustrations of the interiors and exteriors of homes, many before they were built.  

After a successful career, Alice was tired of the brittle winters. She moved to Florida to be near family and to focus on what she has always loved. She spends mornings in her home studio, with natural light filtering through big picture windows.  It’s easy for her to work for several hours straight, drawing, painting, or sitting in front of her computer, marketing her work.

“Annabelle” by Alice Anderson. Published with artist’s permission.

Some of her income is earned from her pet portraits but she doesn’t stick with one subject matter. There are many old homes and buildings in Safety Harbor and Alice says she would like to find a project that allows her to depict them through her pen and ink drawings. She uses a ruler for hard edges but the rest she does freehand. As with her pet portraits, her drawings of homes and structures begin with a photograph.

A little over a year ago, Alice started painting landscapes with pastels. It was her first since moving to Florida.  “It’s been very fortunate for me to have found landscapes,” she says.  She entered a plein air painting contest and won, even though it was her first attempt. “I had to use my background knowledge. When you are an artist, you have a different view of the world.”

Depicted through her vibrant pastels, Alice’s artful views of Florida are gaining popularity throughout the Bay Area. They and can be seen at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, Stirling Studios & Gallery, and Tampa Bay Interiors. Six of her paintings are in the Clearwater Main Library through July 31.

She is a member of TESA and was awarded Best of Show on June 18. She also teaches classes and teaches private students individually.

Alice’s drawings and paintings range from $125 on up to $300 for her landscapes. Look for her work on July 19 during Third Friday at the Safety Harbor Museum & Cultural Center’s Love of Safety Harbor event. Her work will stay at the museum through August.

“After all these years, I’m final able to be Alice Artist,” she says.

Look for more about Alice Artist on Facebook, or send her an email.

Pride celebration in Safety Harbor

in news/town square

In what may be the first Pride celebration in Safety Harbor’s history, participants gathered at the Gazebo on Sunday morning to make art, paint faces and participate in a Rainbow Stroll hosted by the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center.

LGBTQ Pride Month began as a way to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City (Library of Congress) and over decades has grown into an event celebrated in many communities across the country, most notably locally, St. Pete Pride, which has been touted as having the largest Pride Parade in Florida.

Safety Harbor is proud to have residents organize and participate in a walk to help celebrate Pride Month. We support our LGBTQ community and and the diversity it represents in our town.

Joe Ayoub, Safety Harbor Mayor

Safety Harbor Rainbow Stroll participants were enthusiastic and Rainbow Stroll organizer Heather Richardson said she expects future Safety Harbor Rainbow Strolls will be “bigger and better!”

Celebrating Anthony Bourdain

in news/town square

Volumes have been written by and about Anthony Bourdain, especially since his death in June 2018. Anyone who has an interest in cooking, food, or travel is familiar with him. We all envied his dream job; eating and drinking his way around the globe. Along the way he introduced us to cultures and foods that many people will never get to experience. By doing so in a curious and considerate way, he tried to expand people’s hearts and minds to the details of food, history, culture, and how they’re interwoven. He celebrated the commonality of a shared meal and that resonated with millions around the world. CNN states that their obituary and tribute to him was the number one read digital story of 2018. Bourdain could be passionate, profane, irreverent and tender all in the context of one interview or TV show. His unapologetic approach to life included drinking, smoking and early drug use, which was documented in his books. He loved to skewer what he called “Food Porn” and mock the preciousness of some foodies. After writing two crime novels, he rose to fame as an author, with Kitchen Confidential rocketing onto bestseller lists. What many don’t know is that he wrote thirteen books that included novels, short stories, history, and graphic novels.

World famous chefs Eric Ripert and Jose Andres, friends of Bourdain, have proposed his birthday, June 25, be celebrated as Bourdain Day. Many restaurants around the world are planning food or drink specials in commemoration. We reached out to Safety Harbor chefs to get their thoughts on Bourdain and his contributions.

Acqua Alta:  Paolo Polo

Polo admired Bourdain for his anti-establishment views and for always championing local cuisine and local ingredients. Bourdain introduced different cuisines to the world. Polo also like that he talked about the politics and culture of each area and how food can influence people’s lives. Acqua Alta will feature a half-price wine special on Le Rive Venetia wine on June 25.

The Fountain Grille; Safety Harbor Spa: Jeremy Rogers

Rogers has been at the Fountain Grille for nine years, three as Head Chef.  Rogers respected Bourdain’s knowledge and passion for food. In particular he liked how Bourdain was an advocate for the average cook laboring behind the scenes, doing the hard work, sometimes at “hole in the wall” locations. Bourdain’s demeanor was always respectful, supportive, and friendly.

The Kitchen & Bar:  Jason Rodis

Rodis is an alumni of the Culinary Institute of America, as was Bourdain, and he briefly worked with Bourdain in New York. Although not a fan of food shows in general, he believes Bourdain was an advocate for kitchen workers and that he tried to highlight the hard work and dedication of the average cook. The Kitchen Bar will run a drink special for the day.

Marker 39:  Justin Murphy

Murphy worked for Jose Andres in Miami at Cafe Atlantico right after completing culinary school. Murphy said he grew up in the generation of Kitchen Confidential chefs and has read all of Bourdain’s books. He felt Bourdain really opened people’s minds about the possibilities of cooking in general and fusion cuisine in particular. Murphy felt Bourdain was an amazing cook who introduced many people to food culture through travel. Bourdain was also a social activist and unapologetic about his views.  Murphy feels Bourdain’s self-deprecating nature was admirable, given his fame.

Marker 39 is closed on Tuesday 6/25, but Murphy set a memorial table dedicated to Bourdain after his death last year.

Parts of Paris:  Eben Chriss

Parts of Paris chef Eben Chriss is a fan of Bourdain’s and has read A Cook’s Tour. He admires Bourdain’s style, his contributions and general knowledge; the way he promoted different styles of cooking. He was “real and unfiltered” – not trying to dress things up or impress anyone, but always thinking outside the box. 

On June 25, raise a toast and share your thoughts to remember Bourdain on his birthday.

If you are in need of support, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. @800273talk

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