General Electric Company has opened the largest and most advanced capacitor and instrument transformer facility in the industry in the Hercules Industrial Park area of Clearwater. The 190,000 building is an expansion of GE’s 40-year old instrument transformer plant. The capacitors and transformers manufactured in the building will be shipped all across the globe. The factory opening will create 250 new jobs in the region and will provide training for its employees to operate the latest technologies and digital platforms.
On Saturday, April 23rd, the City of Clearwater celebrated its neighborhoods with block parties throughout the community that were attended by city officials and staff. Rescheduled because of rain on April 2nd, this weekend’s parties were well received by the neighbors and the city. While some neighborhoods opted to have their events prior to April 23rd because of scheduling commitments, 20 different parties were held on Saturday. Fire, Police, and Solid Waste staffs brought equipment to be seen up close by those attending, and each neighborhood had food, games, music, and other activities for children and adults. Some of the parties were in parks, but most were held as street parties. They began with a pancake breakfast in one neighborhood, while several others ended the day with early evening picnics. Neighborhoods’ Day reinforces the city’s new logo — Clearwater is “Bright and Beautiful from the Bay to the Beach.”
The Clearwater Threshers play in the Florida State League, and on Opening Day for the 2016 season, the 2-millionth fan to attend a Threshers game at Bright House Field was welcomed to the stadium. Phinley, the best mascot in Minor League Baseball, was there to greet Maura Bresnahan who was attending her first Threshers game. She received various gifts and prizes from the team.
Spring Training began in the city when the Clearwater City Council approved a $22,000 expenditure for a ball field and grandstand for the Brooklyn Dodgers. While the Dodgers have since moved not only from Brooklyn, but also from Clearwater, the Philadelphia Phillies have been coming to Clearwater since 1947. Now playing at one of the finest Spring Training venues in Major League Baseball — Bright House Field — the Phillies and Clearwater Threshers economic impact to Clearwater has grown to over $120-million. The relationship between the Phillies and Clearwater continues to grow, and today a historical marker was unveiled by the city and the Phillies to commemorate Clearwater Athletic Field, the very first Spring Training site in Clearwater.
Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. He was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He attended Dartmouth College and Oxford University in England. After returning to the United States, he began a career in cartooning and doing illustrations for magazines. In 1957, he wrote “The Cat in the Hat” which was then followed by several more books which made him a most successful children’s book writer. Eisenhower Elementary School in Clearwater celebrates his birthday as part of “Read Across America Day” each year, and I visited with several classes there this morning to read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”
On Saturday, Clearwater for Youth held its 43rd annual Celebrity Banquet that featured special presentations to Leonard Johnson, Dawn Daugherty, and Phil Esposito. Also honored were 10 students who received scholarship awards of $5,000 each. These awards are presented each year to students who have shown the “highest qualities of good sportsmanship, teamwork, and moral standards.” Police Chief Dan Slaughter and I recognized 11 young athletes from various athletic teams in Clearwater by presenting each of them the city’s “Excellence in Youth Sportsmanship” award. Clearwater for Youth supports a variety of youth sports programs, and since 2008, over $1-million in scholarships and program grants have been awarded. Clearwater for Youth’s office is at the Long Center. Hank Webb is the executive director. For additional information on the organization or to make a contribution, please contact Hank Webb, the executive director, at 727-793-2696.
Today marked the start of the 2016 Little League Season across Pinellas County. Countryside Little League plays at the Countryside Recreation Complex is home of the 1996 Little League Majors Softball Champions. That team was honored during the league’s Opening Ceremony. The Clearwater Little League’s home is at the Sid Lickton Complex. There former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Doug Waechter was joined by the Rays’ mascot Raymond, the Clearwater Threshers’ Phinley, and Dunedin Blue Jays’ DJ. It was a special privilege for me to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at both programs. Thank you to both leagues, volunteers, and sponsors for promoting America’s National Pastime in Clearwater!