During Literacy Week, George Cretekos, the mayor of Clearwater, visited St. Paul’s to remind students about the importance of reading by reading aloud to several classes. Pause to watch and listen to Mr. Cretekos explain the importance of literacy and what programs like UMCM at St. Paul’s mean to the good of the community.
Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union will be returning to Clearwater in February for its second season of “spring training.” Last year was the Union’s first trip to Clearwater, and team officials worked through the year to bring other teams to the area. At a press conference today at Al Lang Stadium, Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards was joined Mayor Rick Kriseman, County Commission Chairman Charlie Justice, and me to announce the first annual Rowdies Suncoast Invitational. This series of soccer matches will be held at St. Petersburg’s Al Lang Field and the Joe DiMaggio Complex in Clearwater from February 17-27. The Union and DC United will be training in Clearwater. The Montreal Impact club will be based in St. Petersburg. The New York Red Bulls, New York FC, and Toronto FC will make trips into Pinellas for the matches. With the assistance of the Pinellas Sports Commission and building on Clearwater’s relationships with sports officials in Philadelphia, it is hoped that Pinellas County will soon become the spring home of several other teams next year.
The west end of the Memorial Causeway Bridge and Glen Oaks Park in Clearwater now have bicycle “fix-it” stations. The two locations have various tools and an air pump that could be useful for minor bike repairs. The two stations were made possible through the cooperation of the Pinellas County Health Department and the City of Clearwater. Dr. Ulyee Choe explained to me that his office was hoping to add several more “fix-it” stations throughout the county, and I encouraged him to consider the Courtney Campbell bicycle trail, too.
The City of Clearwater along with the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council and the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Beach Day” for Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee. The two teams will compete on New Year’s Day in the 30th annual Outback Bowl in Raymond James Stadium. Coaches Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern and the Volunteers coach Butch Davis attended the pep rally along with members of their teams and the two school’s marching bands.
On December 12th, six Cub Scouts of Pack 484 became Boy Scouts at a special “Crossover Ceremony” held at Camp Soule. I was honored to have been asked to speak to these six Cub Scouts prior to their becoming official members of various Clearwater area Boy Scout troops. The afternoon ceremony was followed by a special reception honoring the Scouts, their parents, and leaders. Recalling many camping trips as a member of Tarpon Springs Boy Scout Troop 23, I always enjoy being able to return to Camp Soule and reminiscing over how the area seemed to be miles from anywhere when I was in scouting.
Taylor Park in Largo was the site of today’s 25th anniversary celebration of the Pinellas Trail. Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners supported administrator Fred Marquis’ recommendation that a trail be built from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs on abandoned rail track lines. This urban park has become a recreation destination that has favorably impacted downtown areas along the route and has help created various economic benefits. The county is working on completing a loop, and there are many other trails that cross the trail at various locations to provide opportunities to get from the bay-to-the beach and around the county. US Representative David Jolly and Rails to Trails Conservancy President Keith Laughlin were in attendance to congratulate the county and especially former County Administrator Fred Marquis for his dream of having a trail system in the county. Scott Daniels, president of Pinellas Trails, Inc. was the master of ceremonies.
St. Petersburg Junior College opened its Clearwater campus in 1965. Just over 500 students enrolled that first year, and today, as part of the St. Petersburg College system, the Clearwater campus continues its tradition of excellence. On Tuesday, November 17th, the campus celebrated its 50th year with a reception and program. It follows with a birthday party in the Quad during the day on Wednesday. During the program Tuesday, the first campus provost Dr. Vilma Zalupski joined SPC President Bill Law, and current provost Dr. Stan Vittetoe in speaking about the advancements and programs of the college and campus. City Manager Bill Horne and I thanked the college for its many contributions to the community. I also presented Dr. Vittetoe with the city’s centennial coin to include in the new time capsule that is to be opened in 2065. Happy birthday SPC-Clearwater and here’s to the next 50 years!