CLEARWATER - Pretty much everyone has dreams of flying when they’re young, as we know kids are often awed by the sight of birds in flight or airplanes cruising high in the sky above them. The problem nowadays is not nearly as many of those adventurous kids are migrating into the aviation industry like they were before, as the number of certified pilots across the country has been in steep decline over the last several decades, according to numerous reports. But thanks to organizations such as the Experimental Aircraft Association and its Young Eagles Flight Rally program, kids have an opportunity at an early age to find out if they have the right stuff to become a pilot.
“We’re trying to address the pilot shortage and light a spark about aviation in the kids,” Dave Harvey, EEA Chapter 282’s coordinator for the event, said during the latest Young Eagles rally at the Clearwater Airpark on Saturday, March 18. “Our mission is to take kids and make them into future pilots. We’re trying to hook them and light a spark inside them.”
According to Harvey, the EEA has flown over 2 million kids for free since the Young Eagles program was launched in 1992. The experience, which includes a pilot’s briefing prior to taking a short flight around the greater Clearwater area as well as a tour of the chapter’s hangar, tends to have a profound effect on the kids, in more ways than one, according to one pilot.
CLEARWATER - A contingent of residents attended last week’s city council meeting to voice their concerns over a perceived lack of transparency following a series of individual meetings between Clearwater City Council members and Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
The meetings were held March 14 and, according to council members, outlined Miscavige’s plans for a revitalized downtown Cleveland Street that is focused on developing retail businesses and the creation of a downtown entertainment center.
The meetings, held in the ballroom of the church-owned Fort Harrison Hotel, were done on a one-on-one basis with council members and Miscavige, with consultants and Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne in attendance.
CLEARWATER - Spectrum Field in Clearwater is typically tinged in red, from the color of the seats to the uniforms of the ballpark’s home teams, the Philadelphia Phillies in the spring and the Clearwater Threshers in the summer.
But for one day every March, the field on Old Coachman Road is awash in a sea of green, as the Phillies’ annual St. Patrick’s Day spring training game has become a must-attend event for fans of baseball, beer and those who simply enjoy having a great time in traditionally ideal weather on one of the biggest party holidays of the year.
CLEARWATER - Murphy Business & Financial Corporation, a full-service business brokerage firm based in Clearwater, recently announced the appointment of Tom Coba as its new CEO.
In this role, Coba, who has 30-plus years of franchise industry experience with the majority of them in top executive roles, leads MB&FC’s strategic growth, franchisee support, marketing programs and development of brokerage services.
The move comes three months following the passing of Roger Murphy, founder, president and CEO of MB&FC, and a pioneering force in the business brokerage industry. Coba is carrying on the company’s rich tradition in the brokerage field.
CLEARWATER - It was back in 1951, Tom Cooney was 15 years old at the time, watching a baseball game on television with his older brother, Patrick, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower threw out the ceremonial first pitch at an opening day game.
After watching this customary first pitch, Cooney told his brother he had the idea to start getting the president’s signatures on a baseball with each new administration.
“Patrick was excited about the idea and encouraged me to go to the library and get the addresses of past presidents and go for my dream,” Cooney said.
CLEARWATER - City leaders have delayed the purchase of property in downtown Clearwater identified in the Imagine Clearwater Master Plan as vital to the successful activation and redevelopment of downtown.
The delay comes prior to meetings with Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, who presented council members during individual meetings with his plans for a revitalized downtown Cleveland Street that is focused on developing retail businesses and the creation of an entertainment center, backed in part by actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise.
In rare talks with city leaders, Miscavige met with four council members, Mayor George Cretekos, Vice-Mayor Bill Jonson, and councilmen Bob Cundiff and Hoyt Hamilton, March 14 in the ballroom of the church-owned Fort Harrison Hotel to detail his plans for the future of Cleveland Street and downtown Clearwater. Councilwoman Doreen Caudell declined Miscavige’s invitation to meet.
CLEARWATER - There’s a reason why baseball teams refer to the return of former players as Alumni Day instead of Old Timers Day, because many of these former greats often look like they could still play.
That was certainly the case last week at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, when the Philadelphia Phillies hosted their annual spring training Alumni Day game, with appearances by “older” legends like Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Don Carman and Dave Cash and recent retirees such as Jason Michaels, John Kruk and Pedro Feliz.
CLEARWATER - Big Storm Brewing Co. continues to be recognized for its quality-handcrafted beers, winning two more medals at this year’s annual Best Florida Beer Championships.
This is the fifth consecutive year Big Storm has won medals in this competition and been recognized for creating several of the best beers in Florida. Big Storm’s Kumquat Radler was honored with a bronze medal in the Light Hybrid Beer category and their Arcus IPA won a bronze medal in the Euro and International Beer category.
CLEARWATER - The following road and lane closures will occur in the city of Clearwater:
- The intersection of Mango Street at Lantana Avenue is closed through April 10. This closure is due to stormwater improvements, and local and emergency traffic only will be allowed through these areas. Detour route for both: Verbena Street.
- Bay Avenue from Druid Road to Jeffords Street is currently closed to through traffic now through April 18, due to sanitary sewer and stormwater outfall improvements. Local and emergency traffic only will be allowed through. Detour route: Druid Road.
CLEARWATER - Just a strong corner kick away from the Philadelphia Phillies spring training home, Spectrum Field, another professional team from the City of Brotherly Love is making Clearwater its home base for preseason practice and games.
For the past three seasons, Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union has been training at the refurbished Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex, located at the northwest corner of Drew Street and Old Coachman Road, and the club just finished participating in the Rowdies Suncoast Invitational Tournament in advance of the start of the MLS regular season on March 1.
CLEARWATER - As spring break kicked off into high gear this week, Clearwater officials are taking steps to make sure beachgoers stay safe during the peak tourist season.
Lt. Anthony Monte, district commander with Clearwater Police Department, beach division, said the department has implemented its annual spring break deployment plan that includes increased resources and educational outreach to residents and tourists alike.
“Each year as we approach spring break, we always have a plan in place for the larger crowds,” Monte said, adding that department officials research spring breaks for local and state schools in an effort to make appropriate plans accordingly.
CLEARWATER - In continued efforts to make every game a baseball fan’s best experience, a number of new amenities have recently debuted at Spectrum Field as Phillies’ spring training is fully under way.
Ballpark food can make or break a ball game experience, so Spectrum Field has pulled out all the stops to make its concourse a must-see for hungry fans.
New this year is a Top Your Hotdog cart, which features a variety of hotdogs, including a quarter-pound dog, that fans can fully customize.
CLEARWATER - During the regular meeting of the Clearwater City Council on March 2, city leaders took care of some housekeeping items during the 90-minute session.
- The Clearwater City Council approved a loan to Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County in an amount not to exceed $600,000 for the construction of 13 three-bedroom single-family homes within the 600 block of North Garden Avenue.
Funding for the loan includes $450,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnership Program and $150,000 from the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program.
ST. PETERSBURG - Following more than two hours of discussion where more than two dozen Pinellas County residents voiced their support, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board of directors went against its own staff recommendation when it unanimously voted to extend its contract with the Jolley Trolley to provide transportation services in Clearwater and Dunedin.
The Jolley Trolley, a Clearwater-based nonprofit, was at risk of losing its contract with the PSTA - which accounts for approximately 75 percent of its business - when the transit organization’s staff recommended a Cincinnati-based firm, First Transit, following a proposal process that saw both organizations neck and neck with one another, with First Transit eking out a small numerical lead.
That lead was based in part due to the Jolley Trolley’s failure to list a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise partner, an error that almost cost the nonprofit the contract.
CLEARWATER - The Clearwater City Council approved a loan to Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County in an amount not to exceed $600,000 for the construction of 13 three-bedroom single-family homes within the 600 block of North Garden Avenue.
The approval came during a workshop on Feb. 27 at City Hall.
The loan covers the purchase of five properties along a 1.6-acre parcel of land within the block bordered by North Garden Avenue, Eldridge Street, Maple Street and the Pinellas Trail.
CLEARWATER - For almost a quarter of a century, Clearwater has been asking residents to Paint Your Heart Out and this year is no exception.
More than 400 volunteers with a love of community and the need to give back will pick up paint and brushes as they take part in the 25th annual Paint Your Heart Out outreach program to help low-income and disadvantaged homeowners make their homes bright and beautiful.
Samantha Almaraz, board president for Paint Your Heart Out, said the program is so popular each year because it brings the community together for a common good.
CLEARWATER - The American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys recently recognized the performance of Lawrence Disparti, a Clearwater-based personal injury attorney, as Two Years 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys for Client Satisfaction.
AIOPIA is a third-party attorney rating organization that publishes an annual list of the Top 10 Personal Injury attorneys in each state. Attorneys who are selected to the “10 Best” list must pass AIOPIA’s rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer nominations, thorough research, and AIOPIA’s independent evaluation. AIOPIA’s annual list was created to be used as a resource for clients during the attorney selection process.
One of the most significant aspects of the selection process involves attorneys’ relationships and reputation among his or her clients. As clients should be an attorney’s top priority, AIOPIA places the utmost emphasis on selecting lawyers who have achieved significant success in the field of personal injury law without sacrificing the service and support they provide. Selection criteria therefore focus on attorneys who demonstrate the highest standards of client satisfaction.
CLEARWATER - Home Helpers, Clearwater announced it has received the Certified - Trusted Provider distinction from Home Care Pulse.
This distinction illustrates Home Helper’s commitment to client satisfaction.
Certified - Trusted Providers have contracted with Home Care Pulse to gather and report feedback from their clients by conducting live random phone interviews with a percentage of their clients each month. Because Home Care Pulse is an independent third-party company, they are able to collect honest and unbiased feedback without outside influence. Clients rate their provider’s services in areas such as timeliness of caregivers, services being provided as promised, compassion of caregivers and overall quality of care. Clients are also given the opportunity to provide feedback for their provider.
CLEARWATER - It was a picture-perfect day for baseball, the sun shining high in the cloudless Clearwater sky, as the Philadelphia Phillies kicked off the home portion of their 2017 Grapefruit League schedule with a game against the New York Yankees at Spectrum Field on Feb. 25.
Thousands of shorts-and-T-shirt clad baseball fans packed the stadium, formerly known as Bright House Field, for the start of another spring training season, the Phillies’ 71st in the city of Clearwater.