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Cleo's Corner About St Pete Beach Today

Cleo's Corner About St Pete Beach Today

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Cleo's Corner About St Pete Beach Today.
Cleo's Corner About St Pete Beach Today.

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Published by: stpetebeachtoday on Nov 25, 2009
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11/24/2009

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Cleo's Corner - About St Pete BeachToday
Hello. My name is Cleo Robertson and I grew upin Pass-a-Grille from 1941 to 1956. At that time Ileft home to earn my fame and fortune and didn’treturn to live here until 1994. For a number of years I wrote for local papers but with the adventof the new website, St. Pete Beach Today, I amvery excited to be able to share with you insights,information, news, travel tales, nature up datesand other things of interest through Cleo’s Corner. This first issue is about the St. Pete Beach Today website. When I first envisioned the St.Pete Beach Today website over six years ago, my hope was to be able to bring a feelingof community and fun to our residents, guests and visitors. Back then my son, Randy,helped me develop the format and we included a discussion section because the city wasgoing through some pretty big decision-making issues, in particular, should the BaywayBridge be 60’ high or remain a drawbridge. The bridge was put up as an Issue on thesite, and about twenty people wrote intheir pros and cons and one hit the mark for me. A person wrote “Vina and SPBresidents, do you realize that with adrawbridge there are cars, trucks, busesand motorcycles waiting for it to openthree times per hour and that all the pollution is drifting right into your homes?” Bingo. Okay, some argued that it drifted up too, but no one could really say that a low bridge was best for any reason. I drove to visit a friend in Apalachicola and saw the high bridge they built there in an estuary and loved it--it looked like a Frank Lloyd Wright art project! I came home convinced and then the whole bridge project was put on hold by thestate. I started traveling and forgot all about the website. 
 
However, sometime around last November, I kept hearingmy neighbors speak of discontent, lawsuits, lack of respectand confusion. I decided to revive the website with the goalin mind of giving us all a chance to see what is here in thisvery special Paradise, to communicate with each other through discussions, to post our photos and memories of growing up here and overall, to build a feeling of community. The results tell the story for themselves. We went live in June of 2009, and now just twomonths later, we have had over 2,100 new people go to the site in August alone and over 13,000 total visits in 3.5 months. Our hits are well over 515,085 for that period of time,with hits representing how many pages each person went to. Our FaceBook account for the website has over 750 “friends” and is growing daily. The St. Pete Beach Today team has taken it far beyond my expectations, so I want tointroduce to you the remarkable people who are making this site happen.First, we have Woody Pelt who has worked with me for several years on producing avideo of Pass-a-Grille (see Photo Albums) and other projects. He brings humor, insightand his own visioning to the site which you can enjoy in the article on the Red Tide. It isalso because of Woody that we have the video of the baby turtle waddling to the Gulf onits’ first journey away from its nest.It was Woody, also, who had the vision of putting every business on St. Pete Beach on amap, with a link to their website and menu, and he personally went out and gathered allthe data. He also felt that every business needed to be shown, whether or not the businesscould afford to pay. And so it is. We ask businesses to contribute $110 per year as asponsor. But if they can’t (and we know things are tough right now), then they can still berepresented…just with a smaller sign. Thanks Woody for your good insights, humor anddedication to the value of this site. Mike Hebert is a master designer and developer who wewere lucky enough to get because he was waiting on datafor one of his systems integration projects. Just provessome things are meant to be. Mike brought organization,insight and management to the overall plan so we now operate in a very tight, regulated
 
system that keeps things from falling through the cracks. He has innovated page design,gotten our site to be recognizable by search engines and other technical aspects which Ididn’t even know we needed. But he did. And he has done a magnificent job of managingall of our efforts to produce a simple-to-use, yet comprehensive site. Miracles truly dohappen. Last, but certainly not least, came 23-year old Cory Chlapowski. I mether father, Van, in the alley behind the Fire station (he is a SPBfirefighter). He complimented me on the site and I said, “Yeah, well findme someone to RUN it!” His face immediately changed and he said,“Well, my daughter is looking for her first job this very day--she justgraduated from college,” and I said, “Well send her to me.” By 1 p.m. Cory was hired and we haven’t looked back since. I knew I had hit on a winner one day early on when I was sitting at the computer showing her how to do somethingcomplicated and she said, “That’s alright Cleo, I’ll figure it out.” And she did and has,again and again and again. It is Cory’s voice you hear on the phone, cordial, helpful andfull of spirit. Cory has learned the database and entered all the businesses into it, she posts all the articles, puts together the videos, answers all questions and keeps a smile onher face the whole time. It is because of Cory that I could leave for two weeks to go toSanoviv Health Institute for my annual health check up. At the current time the cost of funding the development and management of the site has been covered by private funding. It is hoped that as “supporters,” those businesses whostand to benefit the most from the site, see the benefit of their presence on the map, thatthey will pay the $110 per year for the link to their website, etc. It is only by theinvolvement of the businesses that this site will continue to grow. In the future I will share some of my travel experiences, snorkeling trips up and downPAG beach, and other things I hope you will find of interest.This is the first “Corner” we are making available to you. But others will follow. SallyYoder, who also grew up in Pass-a-Grille, will write articles about our history (Sally isDirector of the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum located on 10th avenue in PAG). 

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