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.
The City of Clearwater along with Pinellas County and Southport Financial Services dedicated the Garden Trail Apartments this week. The 76-unit affordable rental complex is located on Seminole Street. The county provided Penny for Pinellas sales tax funds to purchase the land, and the city contributed $350,000 in grant funds for infrastructure. The gated community will provides housing to residents who earn no more than 60% of the area median income. There is a playground and splash pad for children, a community room, and other amenities for residents.
Recently the Tampa Bay Rowdies launched a campaign to garner local support for the team to join Major League Soccer (MLS) during the league’s next round of expansion. At that press conference, Rowdies Chairman and CEO Bill Edwards also explained his plans to privately fund the renovation and expansion of Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg. Sports and recreational tourism play an important role in Pinellas County and throughout the Tampa Bay area. Like Clearwater’s sugar sand beaches which are recognized internationally, I am confident that the Rowdies pitch at Al Lang Field will rank among the league’s best. Let’s support the Rowdies’ bid to join the MLS!
On Friday, December 30th, the Outback Bowl will have its annual “Beach Day” on Clearwater’s sugar sand beach near the Hilton Hotel and Pier 60. The Florida Gators and Iowa Hawkeyes will play in Raymond James Stadium on Monday, January 2, 2017, in the Outback Bowl, and the annual “Beach Day” is one the bowl’s most favorite pre-game event. There will be pep rallies for both teams, visits by both head coaches, a pie-eating contest, a cheerleaders tug-of-war, and other activities, all of which will begin at 11:00am. Outback Steakhouse became the title sponsor of the game in 1995 and is now the longest continuous title sponsor of any bowl game. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the City of Clearwater, the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Hilton Hotel on Clearwater Beach coordinate the “Beach Day” which is free and open to the public.