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CLEARWATER - Four industry leaders gave their predictions for 2015 to the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce, based in Largo, during the chamber’s annual breakfast, A Tampa Bay Economic Forecast Jan. 21.

Jenn Holloway, community affairs director of Great 38 TV, moderated the breakfast, at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater.

Beginning the predictions was Susannah Costello, Visit Florida’s vice president of Global Brand, speaking on the tourism outlook for the state.

“I feel like I should have been obligated to bring a crystal ball or at least a Magic 8 Ball, but instead all I have is some numbers,” she began.

The numbers, however, predicted record growth in Florida over the next five years, she said.

“We have a lot of momentum going into 2015 - record visitor numbers for the past three consecutive years leading up to 2014,” Costello said.

Among the positive indicators were nearly 70 percent hotel occupancy statewide and a 2 percent gain in the national share of domestic vacations.

“That is an economic engine, and it’s the secret to a momentum that we’re seeing now,” Costello said.

State economists are predicting that within the next five years, the state will bring in 123 million visitors, amounting to a jump from 1.7 million visitors in the state on any given day to 2.2 million visitors. With the rapid escalation, the key will be “destination management not just destination marketing,” Costello said. The focus had to be in moving tourists around the state, instead of accepting that they would stay in Miami and Orlando.
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Largo Leader News
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LARGO - The Largo Public Library invites the entire community to read a book together.

The library bought more than 75 copies of the chosen selection, “Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy” by Carlos Eire. As of Jan. 27, all but five were checked out as the Largo community prepares to join the library in a series of discussions, activities, dancing, culinary demonstrations and a bit of personal writing - all centered on the themes and topics brought up in the book.
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Clearwater Beacon News
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CLEARWATER - She’s vibrant and thriving and always on the go - and she certainly doesn’t look her age.

With much pomp and much circumstance, the City of Clearwater will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2015 with a packed schedule of events planned to honor the centennial milestone.

“The centennial is a once in a generation,” Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos said. “The city wants to make sure our residents are in a mood to celebrate and that they are glad to be members of the Clearwater community.
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Seminole Beacon News
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SEMINOLE - Though her performance wasn’t televised during the audition rounds of “American Idol,” Seminole High School’s Angela Rodriguez received a coveted golden ticket to move on to the show’s Hollywood round.

The 15-year-old was one of around 200 performers - as well as the youngest - to make it to the next level. Episodes from this portion of the competition will air on Fox during the first week of February.
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Outdoors & Recreation
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ST. PETE BEACH - For most seniors, finding something to fill their idle time can be a challenge. But for a group of 40 to 50 shuffleboard enthusiasts, that’s not a problem.

Three times a week they meet at Pass-A-Grille Park, a quaint location at 10th Avenue and Pass-A-Grille Way, for camaraderie, socializing and, oh yes some pretty good games of shuffleboard.

According to president Jim Barber, the Pass-A-Grille Shuffleboard Club dates back to the 1950s and Barber, 82, has been a member for the last 32 years.
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Pinellas County
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DUNEDIN - Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers sent out a message Monday afternoon that he was recovering at home after being treated for a heart blockage over the weekend.

Eggers experienced unusual discomfort in his shoulder and neck the morning of Jan. 23. He received medical care at Dunedin Mease Hospital’s emergency room and was then transported to Morton Plant Hospital for additional care.
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Dunedin Beacon News
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DUNEDIN - City officials are paying more than just lip service to the claim they promote and celebrate diversity in the community.

They are partnering with a local company to hold a wedding celebration on Valentine’s Day that will be open LGBT couples who want to get married or exchange vows as well as heterosexual couples.

Dunedin Commissioners agreed unanimously Jan. 22 to waive the $460 rental fee for the use of the park.
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Dunedin Beacon
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Clearwater Beacon
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Belleair Bee
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Largo Leader
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Beach Beacon
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Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
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