As the State of Florida mourned the one year anniversary of the horrific attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, hundreds of Floridians came out in various ways to remember those whose lives were tragically ended. Memorials were held, and OneBlood organized blood drives throughout the state. Tampa’s Mayor Bob Buckhorn and I joined in support of those efforts and, just as we had done last year, donated blood on Monday morning at the OneBlood Donor Center on Kennedy Boulevard. While thousands came out to donate after the Pulse Nightclub attack, few have returned to donate; but, the need for blood products is still there. If you are able to donate, please consider being a blood donor at least once a year and let each of us vow to join together to bring to an end these types of attacks of discrimination and hatred across the country.
The City of Clearwater paused on Sunday to have an early Memorial Day program at the Florida Veterans Plaza located at Crest Lake Park. People gathered for a few speeches, a testimonial from Gold Star Mother families, and a demonstration on the significance of the folding of the flag. There followed an old-fashioned bar-b-que picnic and music. In addition, while there were thousands enjoying the sugar sands of Clearwater’s world famous beach, the American Athletic Conference crowned its 2017 Baseball Tournament Champions at Spectrum Field — congratulations to the Houston Cougars! On Saturday night, the city also extended its congratulations to the Calvary Christian Warriors–Florida State Class 4A baseball champions! With all these events, it may be hard to remember the true reason today is a holiday, but it is hoped that each resident and visitor will pause to give thanks, to remember, and to commemorate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms–is we do not, who will?
The City of Clearwater has been named a “Tree City” by the Arbor Day Foundation for 35 consecutive years. Today the city received its “Tree City” flag, and residents were given the opportunity to obtain 2 free trees per person at the city’s Public Works Complex. The Parks and Recreation Department’s Urban Forestry Division and public works staff worked to distribute over 1500 trees conveniently and efficiently.
On March 24th, a large crowd of Habitat for Humanity volunteers, supporters, and staff joined with the Piantadosi Family to dedicate the 400th home built by Habitat for Humanity in PInellas County. The home is part of the Steven’s Creek neighborhood in Clearwater. The financing for the home is provided by a program supported by the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners and the City of Clearwater. It was an honor for me to have been able to present the keys to their new home to the family during the ceremony. To obtain more information on the Habitat for Humanity program in Pinellas County or to volunteer to help build a home, please call 727-536-4755.
Dr. John Keeler, the Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, came to Clearwater this evening to honor me with the school’s 2017 “Distinguished Alumnus” award. As a 1970 graduate of the GSPIA’s Master of Public Administration program, I was selected for a career of public service that fulfills the school’s mission of having graduates that make public institutions better, create a higher quality of government, and promote social responsibility.
The Pinellas County Education Foundation is holding “signing day” programs this week as students take the pledge to earn a 4 year college or technical school training tuition. Currently, there are more than 1200 students that are now attending college or technical school through the program. Many civic clubs, businesses, and individuals contribute to the program to help provide these scholarships. Donor contributions are matched by the Florida Prepaid Foundation. Today, County Commissioner Karen Williams Seel and I participated in the ceremony at the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College for the 125 students who committed to the program’s requirements.
Paradise Ventures, Inc. partnered with the City of Clearwater to build a 700+ public parking garage on Poinsettia Avenue on Clearwater Beach, and today the city and chamber officials joined in a ribbon-cutting for the new garage. Parking will cost $2 per hour, and monthly passes are available for businesses and employees. The garage is directly behind the Pelican Walk Shopping Plaza and is opened 24-hours a day. Retail space is also available for lease, and Another Broken Egg is the first business scheduled to open shortly.