CLEARWATER - “We dodged a bullet,” said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, three days following the landfall of Hurricane Irma, a massive storm that arrived Sunday in Florida as a Category 4 and settled into Tampa Bay as a Category 1 early Monday morning.
And there’s no doubt about that. Irma, which was predicted on Sunday to potentially hit the area as a Category 3 hurricane, could have left a far more damaging mark on the area. As it is, millions - including a majority of Clearwater residents - have been left without power, with gas in high demand and frustrations bubbling over.
According to Cretekos, initial inspections show Clearwater came out of the storm relatively unscathed from a structural standpoint.
CLEARWATER -- The city of Clearwater is working to get back on its feet following Hurricane Irma’s landfall on Marco Island on Sept. 10.
All city offices reopened today (Sept. 12), although some facilities remained closed. Clearwater Main Library and North Greenwood library branches are open and operating at normal capacity. Countryside Library is open but does not currently have internet or phone service. The East and Beach branches remain closed today and it is unknown when they will reopen.
CLEARWATER - While Clearwater’s residential trash and recycling collection is being collected on time, yard waste and hurricane debris are taking much longer.
Due to Hurricane Irma, the collection of yard waste/hurricane debris collection will take longer than normal. It is estimated that it will take four to six weeks to complete one pass of yard waste clean-up in Clearwater’s service area.
Clearwater Solid Waste/Recycling crews are working 12-hour shifts to clear yard waste as quickly as they can. Crews have started collecting debris in the northern-most area of Clearwater around Curlew Road and are working their way south.
CLEARWATER - Council members were given a bit of insight into how their constituents view the city they call home courtesy of a recently released community survey that measures the livability of cities.
And for the most part, residents are happy to hang their hat in Clearwater.
Public Communications Director Joelle Castelli presented city leaders with the results of the National Citizens Survey during a workshop on Sept. 5 at city hall.
CLEARWATER - The city of Clearwater was set to celebrate its diverse cultural demographic during the second annual Diversity Day.
The event, themed “Celebrating and Embracing the Diversity of the World,” was slated to take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Station Square Park and along Cleveland Street in the city’s downtown corridor.
However, due to Hurricane Irma, the event has been canceled. City officials say if possible the event will be rescheduled.
CLEARWATER - For many, Tim Tebow isn’t just a former college and pro football player or a current Minor League baseball player. He is a phenomenon, a singular personality idolized by millions of fans of all ages and a role model to men, women and children across the world.
Last week, the spectacle known as Tebowmania enveloped Spectrum Field in Clearwater, as the former University of Florida and NFL quarterback continued his quest to play Major League Baseball when his Single-A team, the St. Lucie Mets, took on the Clearwater Threshers for a four-game series beginning Monday, Aug. 14 through Thursday, Aug. 17.
CLEARWATER - City leaders last week moved forward with a number of improvements planned for facilities all across the Clearwater area that will benefit both residents and tourists alike.
Clearwater City Council members approved grant agreements with the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council for renovations of three facilities and approved a contract for architectural services for a fourth during its regular meeting Aug. 16 at city hall.
The TDC, which is responsible for making recommendations to the county about future uses of the tourist development tax, coordinates with local municipalities on how to best spend those funds on capital improvements that will benefit and promote tourism in Pinellas County.
CLEARWATER - Republican Representative Larry Ahern got an earful from Clearwater council members last week as they voiced their frustrations with a Legislature that has championed a higher homestead exemption for the coming year and a proposal that would restrict home rule.
Ahern appeared before city leaders on Aug. 16 at city hall to give an “end of session report,” which is ostensibly a recap of the Legislature’s efforts while in session.
Unfortunately for the representative, council members were less than impressed and were vocal in their dissatisfaction.
CLEARWATER - The year 1917 was an auspicious one - The U.S. declared war on Germany and entered into the fray of World War I; Albert Einstein wrote his first paper outlining the theory of relativity in relation to the cosmos; and the modern zipper as we know it today was created.
And four very special women came into this world.
And now, 100 years later, those same four women are a testament to a century’s worth of good living. They’ve lived through two world wars, the Great Depression and the Great Recession. They’ve seen man step foot on the moon and the Berlin Wall go up and come down.
CLEARWATER - The Clearwater Threshers and their fans got a taste of the phenomenon known as Tebowmania on Monday night, as former Florida Gators quarterback and current St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow came to town for a four-game series at Spectrum Field.
The 30-year-old Jacksonville native is attempting to make it to the Major Leagues following the conclusion of his professional football career, and his promotion to high Single-A St. Lucie has led to record-setting attendance numbers and fan frenzies at every stop.
CLEARWATER - Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter told city council members about the deaths of three area teenagers when a stolen vehicle they were traveling in crashed in Palm Harbor is reflective of a growing trend in the county that will continue to see deadly results.
During a workshop of the Clearwater City Council on Aug. 14, Councilman Bill Jonson asked Slaughter to update city leaders about the incident, as well as efforts to combat the trend of juvenile auto theft offenders in the future.
According to Slaughter, local law enforcement saw an uptick in auto theft during the summer of 2015. Within one month, auto theft increased more than 100 percent.
CLEARWATER - As part of their commitment to fight hunger in Florida, local leaders from Walmart and The Walmart Foundation recently presented a $75,000 check to the Homeless Empowerment Program in Clearwater.
HEP is an award-wining social services agency, housing nearly 400 men, women and children each day. Last year, HEP provided more than 100,000 nutritious meals to homeless and very low-income families and individuals, including veterans.
“Having a partner like Walmart allows HEP to continue serving three meals a day, 365 days per year to those who need it most,” said Ashley Lowery, HEP president and CEO, in a press release. “Over the years, local Walmart stores and the Walmart Foundation have shown their commitment to serving our community by donating more than $87,000 to HEP, along with serving as volunteers and providing much-needed in-kind items.”
CLEARWATER - Entertainment industry trade publication “Venues Today” recently announced that Ruth Eckerd Hall is ranked No. 10 nationally of venues with 2,001 to 5,000 seats during the magazine’s 15-year period from July 2002 to June 2017.
In addition, entertainment industry trade publication “Pollstar” announced the results of its half year report earlier this month and Ruth Eckerd Hall was ranked No. 19 in the world of theater venues for the period from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2017. Within that same ranking, Ruth Eckerd Hall is No. 3 in the United States and in the world of theater venues with 2,500 seats or less. Ruth Eckerd Hall ranked higher than such prestigious venues as Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and the Beacon Theatre in New York.
It was also announced in this same report that the Capitol Theatre was ranked No. 56 in the world of club venues and in that same ranking the Capitol Theatre is No. 12 in the world with 800 seats or less and ranked the No. 1 Florida venue in this category. The Capitol Theatre ranked higher than such prestigious venues as the Brighton Music Hall in Boston and Hard Rock Live in Orlando.
CLEARWATER - Maple Family Centers completed the next phase of its rebranding campaign with the renaming of its Clearwater bowling venue to Maple Lanes Countryside.
Maple Family Centers, the parent company to a chain of bowling centers across Long Island, Queens and Florida began rolling out its rebranding efforts earlier this year with the name change of its Rockville Centre, New York location to Maple Lanes RVC. With five venues under the Maple Family Centers umbrella, the company plans to complete its rebranding crusade by year-end.
The renaming of Maple Lanes Countryside took place this summer and was celebrated with the installment of a new exterior sign reflecting the Maple Lanes name.
CLEARWATER - For more than two decades, children from all across Tampa Bay have gathered to cast their rods and reels into local waters as they laugh and play and enjoy the camaraderie of a shared rite of childhood.
But these particular kids are more than the sum of their parts.
They are extraordinary - a distinction that sets them apart and brings them together.
Founded 22 years ago, the Make A Difference Fishing Tournament serves local children with disabilities through four tournaments a year - all in the effort to facilitate an involvement in marine education and recreation.