Gulfport’s first corporate sponsor for the Senior Center Food Pantry was honored Tuesday, July 5 with a proclamation plaque from city council, and it was announced that four palm trees marked for removal as part of the beach trail project have been saved.
Thanks to a partnership idea by Vice Mayor Michael Fridovich in November 2015, on June 5, Glen Blickenstaff, manager of the South Pasadena Winn Dixie, began donating the store’s scratch-and-dent canned goods along with fresh items such as bagged salads and milk.
“It’s all about people,” said Blickenstaff. After moving to Florida, Blickenstaff “wanted to get engaged in the local community,” he said. “Right now, we can meet 100 percent of [the pantry’s] needs and it’s scalable as it grows.”
The Food Pantry is open to Gulfport residents who are 50 years of age or older and whose income is at the poverty level according to federal guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, said Rachel Cataldo, supervisor for the Gulfport Senior Center. For the 2016 HHS poverty guidelines, consult hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines.
For registered seniors, the pantry is open each Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
“Each time they come in, we give them two bags of food” in addition fresh items to supplement their personal pantry, said Cataldo.
Though the pantry now has a corporate sponsor, donations from residents and local organizations are still needed, she said.
“This is the first time we’ve had a major sponsorship and it’s definitely making it much better, but I don’t want to take away from them” now that Winn Dixie is giving. “It takes a village,” said Cataldo.
Approximately 80 seniors are registered and about 50 use the pantry on a monthly basis. Registration hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call the center’s event line for more information: 727-893-5657.
Palm trees get saved
Four palm trees near the volleyball beach courts marked for removal as part of the $100,000 Shore Boulevard Recreation Trail project will be saved, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
The county has “allowed us to bring down the size of the trail, so all of those palm trees will stay,” he said.
The project has begun, O’Reilly reported, and the “goal in 90 days is to be substantially completed.”
Gecko Fest parking issues get temporary solution
The 16th annual Gecko Fest will be Saturday, September 3 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. along Beach and Shore Boulevards.
“We anticipate we’ll have some parking issues,” said O’Reilly.
The council approved a city staff solution that will create temporary parallel parking on the east side of 58th Street S. between Shore Blvd. S. and 28th Ave. S.
“We’ll cover the no parking” signs, he said.
“That’s a good solution,” said Ward 2 Councilmember Christine Brown.
“We may need to do that for August 13 and 14 also,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Dan Liedtke, referring to two events the city is hosting that weekend: the GeckoCrawl on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and a beach volleyball tournament all day on Saturday and Sunday.
“These would be the only two times we would do” the temporary parking area “out of respect for the residents,” said O’Reilly.
Three funded projects move forward
• On July 11, the Clam Bayou dock replacement will begin, O’Reilly said.
• City staff reports they have been notified by the state of Florida that the skateboard park project at the existing basketball court is number 19 on a list of 19 grant requests they are submitting to the federal government.
“All we have done is say we want to move forward to keep the process alive,” O’Reilly said. “I know the council wants further discussion. We haven’t accepted any funds.”
• The multi-year alley maintenance and grading project will take place in July 2016 and will begin in areas near Stetson University College of Law as those are the most challenging, said Don Sopak, director of public works. Additional portions of the city will be done in 2017. A total of $47,000 is budgeted for this year and next for alley restoration.
A celebration of life for Sarah Linde
Fridovich read a condolence announcement for Sarah Linde, 48, wife of Gulfport Merchant Association President Scott Linde, who died on May 25 after a short illness. “Her spirit was contagious and will live in all of our hearts,” he read.
On July 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., a celebration of life will be held in the Gulfport Casino Ballroom. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to an animal shelter. Suggestions include Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, or the Sunshine State Westie Rescue, P.O. Box 19415, Sarasota, Florida 34276.