Jul 28

Clearwater Civil Air Patrol Celebrates

Last year under a torrential downpour, the Clearwater Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron dedicated its new headquarters at the Clearwater Air Park.  Last week, under a cloudless, but steamy July sky, the squadron celebrated its one year anniversary, as its commander, Captain Yvonne Rodriguez was promoted to the rank of Major by Florida Wing Commander Colonel Henry Irizzary.  The Civil Air Patrol was created by an Act of Congress in 1941, and its mission is to provide emergency services, cadet instruction, and aerospace education.  Colonel Irizzary and I joined the Squadron for this group photo after the program concluded.

Jul 25

Breaking Ground for GE Expansion in Clearwater


$50 million investment builds on GE Energy Management’s manufacturing leadership

CLEARWATER, FL (July 24, 2014) – Florida Governor Rick Scott, Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos and GE Energy Management CEO Mark Begor (NYSE: GE) today broke ground on a new 190,000 square feet manufacturing Center of Excellence (COE) in Clearwater, Florida.  The COE will encompass GE’s existing manufacturing facility for instrument transformers, as well as new manufacturing operations for capacitors.  GE plans to create 250 new jobs as part of this investment.

“Thanks to the support from Governor Scott,  Commissioner Roche and Mayor Cretekos we are well positioned to more quickly deliver improved outcomes for our customers and solve some of the world’s toughest energy problems,” said GE Energy Management CEO Mark Begor.  “From this facility, we’ll serve customers as close as Duke Energy right here in Florida, and as far away as Southeast Asia and South America.”

The new COE is part of GE Energy Management’s continued commitment to advanced manufacturing which is about building leading edge technology using better and faster methods. It encompasses new digital fabrication technology, lean methods and rapid-prototyping, advanced materials sciences, supply chain efficiency and open innovation. Advanced manufacturing is enabling GE Energy Management to more quickly and efficiently invent and build things that matter. The manufacturing COE is expected to be fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2015.

“We’re so pleased to welcome these new jobs and to celebrate GE Energy Management’s expansion and newest manufacturing ‘Center for Excellence’ in Pinellas County,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche.  “Manufacturing in Pinellas is a point of pride, and GE’s innovators here in Clearwater are an important part of over 30,000 experienced manufacturing professionals in our county.”

“The City of Clearwater is committed to expanding job opportunities, and this investment by GE in our community will provide economic benefits to the entire Tampa Bay area,” said City of Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

The $50 million manufacturing COE represents a reinvestment in Clearwater, where GE and its 430 employees have had a presence for almost 40 years.  The investment also demonstrates GE’s continuing commitment to expand its operations in Florida and broaden its existing employee base of 4,400 employees across the state.

This project was made possible with the help of close partnerships between Enterprise Florida, the City of Clearwater, Pinellas County, Duke Energy, Pinellas County Economic Development and the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“We value our partnership with The City of Clearwater and commend their leadership and shared focus on economic development,” said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy state president – Florida. “They acted quickly to assemble the right partners to win the GE expansion, and we appreciate being a part of the team from the beginning. The GE expansion is a win for the City, the County and the Tampa Bay region resulting in new high-wage jobs and significant capital investment.”

“The expansion of GE Energy Management in Clearwater is a great boost for Florida’s cleantech and manufacturing industries,” said president and CEO of Enterprise Florida Gray Swoope. “Florida’s position in both industries is rising as more and more companies in those sectors look to locate and expand here. World leaders like GE have been leading the energy industry from Florida for decades and we look forward to their continued growth.”

Jul 24

Reading at the Countryside Library

Clearwater’s libraries host summertime reading programs for children, and today I participated in “Storybook Time at the Countryside Library. Approximately 45 people with the parents or grandparents attended, and a special guest was a representative of the Supervisor of Elections office who helped me stress the importance of citizenship and voting.  The books I read were “Book, Book, Book” and “If I Were a Grown-up.”

Jul 08

Citizen Academy Applications Available

The City of Clearwater sponsors a “Citizens Academy” for residents and for those who have businesses in Clearwater.  The10-week program, which meets on Tuesday evenings, provide class members an opportunity to meet with city officials and department heads to learn what it takes to run a city and provide services to the community.  Classes will begin in September, and the application must be submitted by early August.  The following is the link to more information on the program and to the application — http://www.myclearwater.com/gov/depts/public_comm/city_acad/index.asp

Jul 05

Clearwater’s Fourth of July

Despite a brief shower and intermittent thunder and lightning, the City of Clearwater’s Independence Day program, “Clearwater Celebrates America,” was held yesterday at Coachman Park.  There were food vendors and activities for young and old alike prior to the evening festivities that were shortened because of the weather.  The Mostly Pops Orchestra conducted by Robert Romanski was featured along with John and Mary Kay Wilson and their son Paul. After the concert, the Tampa Bay area’s largest fireworks display was launched from the west side of the Memorial Causeway Bridge.  Thanks to all the sponsors, volunteers and support staff for another successful Fourth of July event.  Happy 238th Birthday, America!

Jul 01

Clearwater Celebrates America

The City of Clearwater’s annual Fourth of July “Clearwater Celebrates America” concert featuring the Mostly Pops Orchestra will include John and Mary Kay Wilson performing at Coachman Park.  Following the patriotic concert, the city’s fireworks display sponsored by Clearwater Gas will light up the skies off the Memorial Causeway Bridge.  There will be food vendors and activities for all during the afternoon before the concert begins at 7:30pm.  Come celebrate America’s Independence with the best music and fireworks in the Tampa Bay area!

Jun 28

Island Estates Cleans Up Memorial Causeway

This morning I joined members of the Island Estates Civic Association to pick up litter along both sides of the Memorial Causeway. This association does the clean-up quarterly and is part of the many volunteer groups who adopt a roadway or park to help keep Clearwater sparkling.  Mary Lau is president of the association which holds regular meetings and socials for members “to promote the safety, welfare, spirit and the unique lifestyle of the Island Estates community.”