Each year the Clearwater Police Department works with the O’Neal Larkin and the Community Golfers of Clearwater in coordinating a special event at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This afternoon Santa Claus was brought to the North Greenwood community on a Clearwater Fire Department engine. He had toys for everyone, and each family had a picture taken with Santa Claus and an opportunity to win a bicycle. A special thank you to Wal-Mart and employees who joined in supporting this year’s event by bringing gifts and making a special contribution to the police efforts to make sure that every child had a toy.
Today I reached the 50 gallon milestone when I donated platelets at the OneBlood Center in Clearwater. I had given blood once during college at Davidson, but did not become a regular donor until the husband of a Largo City Commissioner needed blood donations before his heart surgery. Please consider donating at least once a year if you are able.
The Steinbrenner Family Foundation and the New York Yankees have hosted a special holiday concert for school children of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The 26th annual event in Clearwater was held today in a packed Ruth Eckerd Hall. It featured the Florida Orchestra with Robert Romanski as the guest conductor and John and Mary K. Wilson. In addition, there were perforamances by the Ballet Theatre International. New York Yankee reliever Adam Warren read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” before Santa Claus and Tampa Yankee mascot Blue took the stage to join in the singing of various Christmas carols.
Paul Lokey of Lokey Automotive Group presented the keys to a new home the company sponsored for the Terry McCammon family this morning. The home is located in the Steven’s Creek neighborhood that Habitat for Humanity–Pinellas is developing. This is this 318th home that the local chapter has built in Pinellas County. During today’s ceremony, many of the others who support the mission of Habitat-Pinellas and contributed to the construction of the house were recognized–they included Valpak, Duke Energy, Anona United Methodist Church, and the family and friends of Terry McCammon. Mike Sutton is the CEO of Habitat-Pinellas and after the ceremony, he and I thanked Paul Lokey for their continuing sponsorship of homes for qualifying families.
Malwarebytes, a company recognized across the globe as an industry leader in producing anti-malware and internet security products, opened an office in Clearwater yesterday. It is only the second office the company has in the United States. CEO and founder Marcin Kleczynski and his team chose Clearwater because of its growing high tech industry and business climate. He looks forward to expanding the company’s presence as it continues to focus on providing consumers and businesses protects to protect them from online threats that many anti-virus programs do not detect.
The Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition held its annual holiday party on Wednesday evening at the Greek Town Grille. The coalition is led by Carl Schrader and is composed of representatives from various resident associations in the City of Clearwater. The monthly meetings address issues of importance to the membership and provide information to enable the membership to understand and advocate on local, county, and state issues. Additional information on the coalition is available through its website — www.clearwatercoalition.org.
The police department recently received a grant of more than $94,000 from the Florida Department of Transportation. The grant will enable teams of off-duty officers to patrol city streets for more than 45 hours each week through the end of May.
It’s the second such grant the city has received from FDOT. The earlier effort, which ran from March 2014 to July 2014, produced 1,410 warnings and 680 citations for pedestrians alone.
“By the end of the first grant, you definitely saw a change in people’s behavior,” said Sgt. Michael Walek, in charge of the police department’s traffic homicide unit. “Hopefully we can save people’s lives.”
The campaign begins with six weeks of education. Officers will be handing out brochures offering safety tips for pedestrians and bicyclists they see not following the law.
Officers also will attempt to educate motorists to make sure they yield to pedestrians who are in crosswalks. Drivers sometimes block the crosswalks with their car at red lights. Motorists also sometimes don’t watch for pedestrians when they turn right on red.
After the six-week educational stint, the effort then will segue into a warning phase, followed by an enforcement phase.
Three officers will work per detail, five hours at a time and three times a week. The details will be at varied times and days of the week.
Some of the locations for the effort include the beach roundabout, Mandalay Avenue, Missouri Avenue, Fort Harrison Avenue, Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and U.S. 19.
In many of those locations, pedestrians often don’t take the extra time to walk to a traffic signal at an intersection and use the crosswalk there to safely cross the street. They cross whenever and wherever they want to, putting their lives at risk.
“Taking that extra couple of minutes to cross at an intersection with a traffic signal and a designated crosswalk is time well spent,” Sgt. Walek said. “We’re just trying to make the streets of Clearwater safer – for pedestrians and the drivers who encounter them.”