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.
The Philadelphia Phillies baseball team has held its spring training in Clearwater since 1947. This morning the Phillies’ van arrived at Spectrum Field, and I was there to help unload the items on the truck. Among other things, there were bats and balls, uniforms, personal family items, and the Phillie Phanatic’s “hot dog launcher.” Pitchers and catchers start training on February 14th, and the first game will be on Saturday, February 25th. All home games for the Phillies are at Spectrum Field, previously known as BrightHouse Field. Tickets are available for all games at the stadium or at http://m.mlb.com/phillies/tickets/spring
The Clearwater Fire and Rescue Department held its annual employee recogniton ceremony at the Capitol Theatre on Tuesday night. In addition to announcing Driver Operator Alan Ryan as “Firefighter of the Year” and Jason Haynor as “Paramedic of the Year,” various promotions, retirements, and city service award honorees were recognized. Chief Scott Ehlers also presented citation and exceptional service awards to various units and individuals.
As January commemorated National Blood Donor month, February is known as National Heart Month. Healthy choices and raising the awareness of heart disease is vital to good health. Mayor Bob Buckhorn of Tampa and I visited OneBlood this afternoon to encourage everyone to manage health conditions and to consider giving blood at least once a year because if everyone who could donate blood would, there would be no blood shortages. Mayor Buckhorn and I recognize the importance of donating the “gift of life” and ask you to join us in giving “just one more” this year.
Florida celebrates Literacy Week from January 23-27, and I visited the Sandy Lane Elementary School and the pre-school program sponsored by the United Methodist Cooperative Ministries at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to read to the students. This year’s theme is “Literacy Changes Our World,” and I stressed the importance of reading no matter what one’s age is.