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FLORIDA OCEANOGRAPHIC CELEBRATES 56 YEARS!

20 Aug FL Oceanographic Logo

Florida Oceanographic Society celebrated its fifty-sixth anniversary on July 20th. When we asked Executive Director Mark Perry to reflect on this milestone, he reminisced about his original involvement. “As a teenager, my brother Chris and I would catch sharks for the scientists working at the Society doing artificial gill and kidney research. We had to keep them alive in an above-ground pool, walk them around after surgeries and return them to the wild. These special projects fit right in with our totally aquatic lifestyle! Little did I know back then that I would eventually become the Executive Director of Florida Oceanographic and continue to be a part of the inspiring work we do."

Since Mark has been with the organization for over forty years, and dedicated so much of his life to its mission, we asked him to speak to the progress and his hopes for the future.

What are you most proud of?

“It’s hard to answer that question when you are working in something every day, day to day, until you stop and think about it. When you do, you begin to realize that there is a lot to be proud of, there is a lot that we’ve accomplished and done right, but then again there’s still a lot to do.

The biggest thing I’m proud of is that we’ve promoted the awareness within the community! I think we’ve helped to promote awareness of the importance and value of our coastal ecosystems. And I am so proud that we’ve taken that step! We do that in a lot of ways – through education in the Coastal Center, through our conservation and research areas, but also our outreach and rallies, and I think we’ve really helped to build that awareness of how important these coastal ecosystems are and how much we depend on them for our living here on this planet. I’m very proud of that and very proud of what the staff is doing. Every aspect of what the staff does is like “Wow!” They are educating people, talking to people, restoring habitats, taking care of animals… They are doing everything that builds on that awareness.”

How do you think the original 5 founders would feel about our growth over the last 56 years?

“That’s an interesting question. I knew the original founders from when I was young. I think they would be very proud of where we are and pleased with how far we’ve come. Maybe even a little overwhelmed, if you will. I look back and know those days, when we were in the original residence in Stuart off Krueger Creek, and it was a humble beginning, but it was a great beginning! I think they had a vision for the future -not quite sure what it was going to be but they knew that it could be something really great! There was a point where not much was going on and they talked about dissolving the organization and turning it into a scholarship fund. But that’s where I came in and said “No, this is going to be a great organization!” And I think they embraced that and once I became involved, they started to see what I saw, that there was the potential to re-energize and reinvigorate Florida Oceanographic Society to be more of a Center in the community. That’s when we started looking for a property to expand that vision.

So today I think that they’d look around and say 'Wow, we really got here! We really accomplished getting a new site and getting the Coastal Center going to what it is today.' I think they’d be really pleased!”

Where do you see Florida Oceanographic Society by the 60th anniversary?

“Of course, I see the opening of the Ocean EcoCenter and all the new exhibits. But it gives us the organized ability to have more visitors experience our ecosystems, Florida’s water story and all the important things around our coastal area. I’m really excited about that being the prime thing going forward!

We also have a great team in our education and research and conservation leadership. We’ll be able to see more projects inclusive of habitat restoration in our estuaries and nearshore waters, and also start looking at the impacts of coastal development. This will allow us to work with the community to restore habitats, prevent pollution and strengthen our advocacy position using science.

I see a great move forward with our outreach to the community with dark, flat and clean messaging, rallying around issues like pollution and just getting people to know us. We are still a well-kept secret.

I’m hopeful that when we reach our 60th anniversary, we see a lot more momentum moving our educational outreach into the community. Virtual learning will be part of our future, especially because of this pandemic, and we can create new programming and engage more people.

It will be great to see the new Ocean EcoCenter with new exhibits and things happening here on property. Supporting community events with the 3rd floor Ocean Deck, we’ll get to see a lot more interaction with the community. And we are in a great location – we can’t be in a better location than we are here in the Coastal Center!”

Peter and Julie Cummings Library and Robert Morgade Library

On Tuesday, August 11, the Peter and Julie Cummings Library in Palm City and the Robert Morgade Library in Stuart will partially reopen to provide computer access, printing and copying, reference services, and item pick-up. This includes Summer Reading Program prize pick-up. The magazine and newspaper racks and children’s areas will be closed until further notice.

For the health and safety of all visitors, face coverings are required, and a limited number of patrons will be admitted at a time to allow for 6-foot social distancing. The library will close midday from 12 to 2 p.m. for cleaning. The library is quarantining items and asks that all returns are put into the outside book drops.

While the reopening schedule for other library locations will be released soon, hold pick-up and
access to Wi-Fi and mobile printing continues at all Martin County Library System locations
during regular hours.

Visit www.martin.fl.us/Coronavirus, Martin County’s online resource for information related to
COVID-19. For the most up-to-date info on Martin County Library System happenings, follow us on Facebook @MartinCountyLibrarySystem.

20 Aug Bus Dev Flyer

Children’s Museum Embarks on New Project with Chef Howard and the Pleasant Plates Foundation

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In Photo 1: Darcy and Davis Plummer measure the pallets

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In Photo 2: Homeowner Allean Jenkins, Chef Howard Farro and Katie Makemson

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In Photo 3: Julia Wood Abruzzo gets to work

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In Photo 4: All of the day's participants

Mental Health Mondays Coming in August

Stuart — After being closed for months due to the COVID-19 shutdown and reopening on July 6, visitors will now have the chance to visit the Elliott Museum and House of Refuge, both located on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, for free every Monday in August as part of a new promotion called “Mental Health Mondays.”

“We will still practice a limited capacity in our buildings and adhere to all of the recommended guidelines to ensure guests' safety,” said Rob Steele, president & CEO of the Historical Society of Martin County (HSMC), which operates both museums. “We hope this new program will entice folks to come out and take their time to view some of the impressive changes and additions we’ve made during the COVID shutdown.”

Additionally, in partnership with the Jensen Beach Chamber of Commerce, the HSMC is offering complimentary general admission now through August 31 for any currently employed teacher and one guest to the Elliott Museum. Teachers must show their school district ID. The offer excludes special events, programs, lectures and any other discounts or coupons.

During the COVID-19 shutdown, the nonprofit organization’s metamorphosis shifted into high gear. The staff worked behind the scenes to redesign and reengineer The Elliott Museum to be a warm, welcoming, and flexible Community Gathering space. The new design goes well beyond the optimal utilization of more than 50,000 square feet — representing a cultural shift in the traditional role of a museum.

Changes include the creation of a new 700 square foot art gallery featuring the art and sculpture of local and touring artists. The gallery will feature four to five exhibits per year highlighting a variety of artists. There’s also a Bulldog Breed British Bikes Exhibition, featuring a private collection of 22 classic British motorcycles spanning the 1930s to the 1970s, representing famous makers. The exhibit also showcases the world class Café racers from famed English manufacturers. Plus, there’s a related exhibit of classic car and motorcycle art presenting dimensional art by Chad Periman and fine art photography by Mark Stall.

The Elliott’s iconic old-fashioned General Store also has been brought back to life with more artifacts and memorabilia from yesteryear than ever before. The exhibit includes an interactive children’s play space with an assortment of “low tech” toys. Visitors also may take advantage of seeing the collections that the Elliott Museum has become known for — the largest baseball card collection outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a massive antique car collection, many of which are part of a “Boomerang” system.

For more information, visit the Historical Society of Martin County’s website, www.hsmc-fl.com or call 772-225-1961.

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Danny Garcia’s Honor Walk Across Florida

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Marine Veteran Danny Garcia’s Honor Walk across Florida stops in Vero Beach Raising funds for Veterans and First Responder Charities.
Former U.S. Marine, retired Law Enforcement professional and ordained minister, Danny Garcia, has got his walking shoes on. Danny Garcia’s Honor Walk 2020 is raising awareness and funds for a range of veterans and first responder charities through America Salutes You, a 501c3 organization.

Go to www.americasalutesyou.org for the latest.

Danny began walking this summer, Honor Walk 2020 – “America Salutes You”. The goal of the walk is to express gratitude to veterans, military and first responders. The Honor Walk 2020 began on July 4th at The Indy Speedway where Car #0 driven by the legendary Mike Wallace and sponsored by Market Sean promoting America Salutes You.
Danny will continue his walk throughout the eastern part of the United States culminating in his visit to Nashville on Oct 29th where he will be recognized and honored at the America Salutes You benefit concert performed live to tape at The Grand Ole Opry House.
On August 1st, Danny and Jackie Garcia will be making an appearance at the Walmart Supercenter #931 at 5555 20th Street in Vero Beach Florida from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
Bob Okun, CEO of America Salutes you said, “We are thrilled and grateful that Danny Garcia and his Honor Walk will be raising funds for non-profits supporting veterans and first responders.”
About America Salutes You: America Salutes You is a 501c3 that mobilizes support and raises awareness for those who serve through broadcast concerts and music. One-hundred percent of donations go to organizations that support military, veterans and first responders with a focus on mental wellness.

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Treasure Coast Food Bank Receives $85,000 Grant from Publix

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Treasure Coast - Retailer also provided fresh milk and produce

Treasure Coast Food Bank has received $85,000 from Publix Super Markets Charities to aid its ongoing hunger relief efforts and help the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, Publix has helped Treasure Coast Food Bank significantly expand the fresh food it provides to people struggling with hunger by donating nearly 38,000 gallons of fresh milk and more than 400,000 pounds of produce.

Since April, the Florida-based grocer has purchased thousands of gallons of milk from southeastern dairy farmers and fresh produce from Florida growers, donating the food to Treasure Coast Food Bank and the other Feeding America food banks serving people in Publix markets.

“We’re extremely grateful to Publix, which has been a long-time partner and supporter of Treasure Coast Food Bank,” said Judith Cruz, President and CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank. “We’re working every day to provide food to everyone impacted by COVID-19 on the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County, and Publix is a big part of helping us do that.”

“We also appreciate that Publix has used its resources to provide milk and fresh produce during this crisis. With Publix purchasing milk and produce, not only does it benefit people needing food, but it benefits the farmers and the overall economy,” she said. “When people see that we have fresh milk for them, they’re overjoyed.”

Treasure Coast Food Bank received 416,287 pounds of produce and 37,615 gallons of fresh milk from Publix during the last four months. Those donations are continuing. The donations have helped to provide nutritious food to people across the four-county region as the need increased about 200 percent.

“Even as some people have been able to return to work, many have seen their hours cut. Others are trying to catch up on a backlog of expenses, but many are out of work completely as business cut staff or closed their doors completely,” Cruz said. “People will be recovering for years.”

Treasure Coast Food Bank has increased its drive-through Mobile Pantries and added curb-side pick-ups at its headquarters and home deliveries to people who can’t otherwise get food in efforts to reach people across the region.

In addition to distributing fresh produce, milk, meat and pantry staples, Treasure Coast Food Bank has prepared thousands of gallons of fresh-made soups in its food production kitchen from the bounty of vegetables it has received from Publix and directly from area farmers. Treasure Coast Food Bank is sharing the soup with other food banks across the state to provide ready-to-eat meals to people needing food

Out2News/Out2martincounty.com is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

Do you have something to say, an event to talk about? An event you would like to have covered? Do it here!

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Despite Pandemic More Kids Adopted in 2020

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20 July Communities Connected

St. Lucie West - With July comes the beginning of a new fiscal year for Communities Connected for Kids and the opportunity to review the successes and challenges of the past 12 months.

The number of children finding adoptive homes reached 190 - a 13.7 percent increase from the previous 12-month period and a 45 percent increase over the 2020 goal of 131.

That’s right! Even in the midst of a statewide shutdown, the good work of finding adoptive homes for children did not slow down.

In fact, Communities Connected for Kids and its adoptions provider, Children’s Home Society, exceeded the annual adoptions goal - a negotiated agreement with the Department of Children and Families - several months earlier than the July 1 deadline.

Much of that had to do with the quick and creative thinking of the local child-welfare community, which adapted many of its activities to the virtual world in an effort to keep the COVID-19 pandemic from slowing things down.

With the exception of March – the only month when all court dates were cancelled – adoptions continued to happen throughout the spring and into early summer.

More than 20 adoptions had been finalized via video conferencing by the first week of June, and another 16 – 13 virtually and three in person – were scheduled through the end of the month.

Communities Connected for Kids | 1860 SW Fountainview Blvd. , Port St. Lucie, FL 34986

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20 July Heathcote 1

Horticulturist Job Description
Heathcote Botanical Gardens is seeking a Horticulturist to be responsible for the design, installation, care and presentation of horticultural displays and garden grounds. Heathcote Botanical Gardens offers an array of themed gardens creating a seasonal, aesthetically pleasing and inspiring experience for our visitors. It showcases semi-tropical plants, including a large collection of semi-tropical bonsai, palms, and annual display gardens. We are looking for a Horticulturist with a passion for displaying and maintaining ornamental semi-tropical plants and Florida native plants at a high level of horticultural excellence. The individual will have a good eye for garden design and an ambition to design inspiring plant compositions.

This individual will have the ability to perform a full range of horticultural tasks and duties, including fine ornamental and landscape gardening. The successful candidate will have a strong work ethic, a track record of comfortably working independently and as part of a team, experience prioritizing and planning work, and the ability to lead the maintenance and evolution of garden spaces. Under the supervision of the Executive Director, the Horticulturist will be responsible for directing and mentoring part-time groundskeepers, the bonsai collection curator, contractors, volunteers, and community service participants. The individual is expected to build a strong working relationship with the St. Lucie County Master Gardener Program and the St. Lucie County UF/IFAS Extension Program. The individual will establish plans and standard operating procedures for creating and maintaining garden displays, and develop and install interpretive signs for plant material. The ideal candidate will have the ability to articulate, engage and share their expertise with staff, volunteers, donors and guests. The successful candidate must be flexible and willing to support fund-raising activities and events, and will be responsible for preparing for hurricanes and frost events.

Minimum requirements include 4 years of formal horticultural education or training and 3 years of gardening experience in a public garden, park, private estate, golf course or similar setting. The position requires the ability to perform strenuous physical work outside in the Florida weather year-round, understanding integrated pest management, and operating small equipment. The work schedule includes occasional weekend and evening work. Candidate must have a valid driver’s license and have or be willing to obtain a Florida Pesticide Applicator’s license.

St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity Dedicates Eighth New Home Built in Partnership with St. Lucie Battery & Tire

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St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity (SLHFH) is pleased to dedicate the eighth affordable home built in partnership with St. Lucie Battery & Tire (SLBT). Since 2008, SLBT has helped eight St. Lucie County families achieve homeownership through the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program (CCTCP). This program is a State of Florida funded incentive to encourage Florida businesses to make donations toward community development and housing projects for low-income persons, and to date, SLBT’s partnership with SLHFH has returned $516,930.00 in sales tax dollars to our community. With each Habitat home sponsorship, SLBT helps build a better community for all of us.

St. Lucie Habitat’s partnership with SLBT originally began as a way to teach high school students valuable construction skills. Now, with each sponsorship, dozens of SLBT team members work alongside Habitat families and volunteer over 200 hours of work on a Habitat home. Painting, landscaping, and raising walls are just a few of the skills SLBT team members bring to the construction site.

The vacant lot that this latest SLHFH/SLBT home was built on is the sixth out of seven lots donated by the City of Port St. Lucie to SLHFH for affordable housing. “We are honored by our St. Lucie Battery & Tire and City of Port St. Lucie partners,” said Melissa Winstead, SLHFH’s Development & Marketing Director. “With their help, and the help of like-minded, forward-thinking community members, our community can build back stronger and make the the lack of affordable housing a thing of the past.”

For more information about how you and your business can get involved with St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity’s work, call Melissa Winstead at 772-464-1117, ext. 103, or email Melissa@StLucieHabitat.org.

Florida Congressmen File Rail Safety Bill in Washington, DC

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Article by: Susan Mehiel - susanm@ersmd.com

Congressmen Bill Posey and Brian Mast announced today their sponsorship of new legislation dealing with pedestrian safety and the Brightline/Virgin Trains higher-speed rail system in our region. The Pedestrian Safety Study Act requires the Federal Railroad (FRA) and Federal High-way Administration (FHWA) to study the impact of All Aboard Florida’s Virgin Trains USA high speed rail project on pedestrian and motorist safety. The agencies have two years from enactment of the bill to complete the study and report to the House, Senate and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

The legislation recognizes the high number of deaths on the route and the proximity of the route to schools and playgrounds. Of the 43 Virgin Trains deaths and 31 Florida East Coast Rail (FECR) deaths since January 2018 on the corridor, 75% have been pedestrian deaths. Currently operating at speeds up to 79 mph, the project’s second phase will reach speeds up to 110 mph.

“These trains will travel at fast speeds through existing town centers and residential areas with little separating the tracks from the surrounding communities,” Congressman Posey explained. “The deaths our communities have already witnessed along this corridor clearly indicate there are safety issues, and Brightline has a long history of straight-up lying to the people of Florida…” Congressman Mast added.

As was announced by national media earlier this year, the Brightline/Virgin Trains system was the deadliest system in the U.S. per track mile in 2019. The issue of pedestrian or “trespasser” deaths, as the FRA calls them, was a concern prior to the advent of Virgin Trains with the highly dangerous FECR freight system.
In 2014, the FRA engineer who surveyed the route prior to the project start said, “Trespassing is an epidemic along this corridor.” However, much of the pedestrian gates, fencing and channeling recommended by the FRA for higher-speed rail was not installed on Phase One because the corporation wanted the cities and counties to help pay for the equipment service and maintenance.

In its report to the Florida Legislature in 2018 on Florida’s passenger rail, consultants from CPCS Transcom concluded there are “…high levels of trespassing incidents on the railroad right of way due to rail services operating in dense urban areas.” Their recommendations included special gates at crossings, fencing at key locations to deter pedestrians taking short cuts and pedestrian bridges strategically located.
As is the case with pedestrian gates recommended by the FRA, Virgin Trains management have stated the additional fencing and bridges would be too expensive to build for the Treasure and Space Coast portion. The Florida Department of Transportation has not required the safety upgrades be installed.

“We have said from the start, the 100-year-old Flagler route through the densest part of Southeast Florida is no place for trains going over 70 mph,” Susan Mehiel, spokesperson for the Alliance for Safe Trains said. “Generations of Floridians have crossed these tracks on foot to get to work, school, shops and churches. You wouldn’t put an open 70-mph highway next to a school, why would you allow a train track there?”
Two examples of schools close to the tracks are the Gifford Middle School in Indian River County and the Ascension Catholic School and Church in Brevard County. State Senator Debbie Mayfield and Rep. Tyler Sirois, Merritt Island, proposed similar legislation last session in Tallahassee. “I applaud the Congressmen for their leadership in ensuring the safety of Space Coast residents. The Pedestrian Safety Study Act will shed light on the increased dangers to pedestrians, motorists, and residents that will be forced to cross or live next to high speed rail,” Rep. Sirois commented.

Out2News/Out2martincounty.com is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

Do you have something to say, an event to talk about? An event you would like to have covered? Do it here!

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Article Courtesy - Susan Mehiel - susanm@ersmd.com

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Florida GOP Declares Victory

20 July Florida GOP Logo

LOCAL OPINION

Tallahassee – One day before trial was scheduled to start in federal court in the Northern District of Florida, a group of Democrat-aligned organizations including Priorities USA and the Dream Defenders entered into a settlement agreement with the Florida Secretary of State and the RPOF, RNC, and NRCC dismissing their lawsuit challenging Florida’s vote-by-mail laws.
The Republican Party of Florida intervened in this lawsuit in May along with the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee to help defend Florida’s laws that ensure the safety and security of vote-by-mail. Among other things, the Democrat-aligned organizations were attempting to have Florida’s ban on paid vote-by-mail ballot harvesting declared unconstitutional; to require supervisors of elections to count vote-by-mail ballots received after election day; and to require the state to provide pre-paid postage on all vote-by-mail ballots. After the Republicans defeated the Democrat-aligned organizations’ attempt at a preliminary injunction last month, the organizations decided to settle the case in order to avoid an even worse loss at trial.
RPOF Chairman Joe Gruters, said, “Floridians choosing to vote-by-mail must have confidence that their vote will be safe and secure. RPOF intervened in this lawsuit to protect Florida’s vote-by-mail safeguards that were under attack by Democrat special interests. We are glad that the Democrat-aligned organizations finally saw the light and dropped their lawsuit. We are pleased Florida’s strong laws will remain in place for 2020 when Florida reelects President Trump.”
RPOF general counsel Ben Gibson who led the legal effort for the Republican-intervenors added, “This lawsuit was an attack on Florida’s strong protections against vote-by-mail fraud. We will continue to fight any effort by the Democrats to compromise the safety and security of elections in Florida.”
The consolidated case is: Nielsen v. DeSantis Case No. 4:20-cv-236-RH and Dream Defenders v. DeSantis, Case No. 1:20-cv-67-RH.

RNC Wins Again in Florida After Democrats Dismiss Radical Case

Washington – Today, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Republican Party of Florida were granted a major victory when Priorities USA and the Democrat plaintiffs dismissed every substantive claim in Nielsen v. DeSantis, a radical lawsuit brought in Florida that among other things, sought to force Florida to count ballots that arrive after Election Day and strike down the state’s ban on ballot harvesting.

"Today’s victory is a win for Florida voters and a win for election integrity. Democrats’ assault on our elections process is not based on fact or reason, which is why they are dismissing every claim in their radical suit. The RNC will continue to step in and fight back against Democrat attempts to circumvent existing law and weaken our elections process.” – RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel

By dismissing this case with prejudice, Democrats are dropping their challenge to circumvent Florida’s ballot harvesting ban, their attempt to allow ballots to arrive after Election Day, and their claim that Florida needs to provide pre-paid postage on vote-by-mail ballots.

The weakness of their case was particularly highlighted in this deposition, where a Yale University student tried to claim he was disenfranchised by having to travel to a post office to mail back his ballot – even though there was a mailbox in front of his house or a post office six blocks from his house.
• QUESTION: "Are you aware that you can put your mail in a mailbox and the postal service will pick it up?"
• ANSWER: "No, there is nowhere to place mail anywhere near my mailbox."
• QUESTION: "Are you aware that the postal service website gives you several options which allows them to pick your mail up wherever you are?"
• ANSWER: "No."
Additionally, in another win for Republicans, the state will now have to highlight election integrity measures, including the ballot harvesting ban, in a public relations campaign.
• "Before the November 2020 General Election, the Secretary shall undertake a social media or other public relation campaign to inform voters of the three available options to vote in Florida: (1) vote-by-mail, (2) early in-person voting, and (3) in-person Election Day voting"
• "The campaign shall also highlight safeguards designed to protect the integrity of Florida elections."
You can view the order here.

Today’s election victory comes on the heels of a major win in the case, when the Clinton-appointed judge denied Democrat attorneys’ motion for preliminary injunction stating that "the plaintiffs have not shown likely success on the merits" of their case. In this denial, Judge Hinkle specifically noted that counting ballots that arrive after Election Day could leave room for vulnerabilities or fraud. Seeing the writing on the wall that they could not succeed with even a liberal judge, the Democrats folded their cards.
• By requiring receipt on or before Election Day, "This eliminates the problem of missing, unclear, or even altered postmarks, eliminates delay that can have adverse consequences, and eliminates the remote possibility that in an extremely close election—Florida has had some—a person who did not vote on or before election day can fill out and submit a ballot later."

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Out2News. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion, and are not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

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United Way Invests Over $1.87 Million to Sustain Martin County Social Services in the Wake of COVID-19

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Stuart, FL – United Way of Martin County recently announced the investment of over $1.87 million in Martin County, supporting programs and initiatives that are strengthening neighborhoods, boosting economic mobility and providing a safety net for people in need.

Made possible by generous corporate and individual donors, the investment includes $845,467 in Community Impact Grants – with funding for 44 local programs and initiatives. The investment also includes $254,974 raised to help our community recover from COVID-19 and $420,317 for community agencies as directed by donors, as well as funding for UWMC’s internal programs including its volunteer center, CHARACTER COUNTS!, the United Way Holiday Project, Tools for Success and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

“The needs of our hard-working families and the most affected in our community are more evident than ever before,” said United Way of Martin County President/CEO Carol G. Houwaart-Diez. Even before COVID-19, 44% of Martin County households were one emergency away from financial ruin, setting the stage for the unprecedented economic impact of the crisis. “Together with dozens of dedicated organizations and thousands of individuals we will continue to fight for the most vulnerable individuals and families in Martin County,” Houwaart-Diez said.

Grant recipients align with UWMC’s focus on improving health, education and financial stability, and are working to elevate people from poverty.

Among them: ARC of Martin County, Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County, Gertrude Walden Childcare Center, House of Hope, Helping People Succeed, Alzheimer’s Community Care, The Martin County School District, and dozens more. A full list is available online at www.UnitedWayMartin.org/fundedprograms.

UWMC’s Community Impact Grants are determined by a competitive, volunteer-led grantmaking process. More than 40 community volunteers participated in the first ever virtual evaluation process to ensure grants are distributed objectively and aligned with UWMC’s goals.

“United Way of Martin County has been an enduring force in changing lives and creating a positive impact in our community and together with our donors, our community partners and grant recipients, we can do even more for our community,” said Houwaart-Diez.

As one of Martin County’s largest non-government funders of health and human services, UWMC’s funding strategy includes three key elements:

In education, United Way is investing in programs that increase the quality of preschools available to our kids as well as focus on achieving grade-level reading, and provide the support necessary to see our kids through high school graduation and beyond.

For financial stability, United Way is investing in programs helping individuals and families achieve and maintain financial stability with a focus on workforce development through education, job placement and retention. The goal is to help our community earn it, keep it and save it. United Way is also supporting food and housing assistance programs.

And in the focus area of health, United Way is investing in programs that help our community members prevent trauma, make healthy choices, manage chronic disease and increase access to health care.

Those wishing to get involved by donating their time, money or voice to make Martin County a better place can do so by visiting www.unitedwaymartin.org.

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Treasure Coast Hospice Certified as a Great Place to Work

20 July TC Hospice Logo

Stuart – Great Place to Work Institute has honored Treasure Coast Hospice with certification as a Great Place to Work. The certification process considered employee surveys from across Treasure Coast Hospice’s two campuses. Great Place to Work, an independent research and consulting firm, evaluated more than 60 elements of team members’ experience on the job. These included employee pride in the organization’s community impact, belief that their work makes a difference, and feeling their work has special meaning. Rankings are based on employees’ experiences, no matter who they are or what they do in the organization.

This is the first year Treasure Coast Hospice has participated in the survey, with 83% of staff members saying that it is a great place to work compared to 59% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company.

“Treasure Coast Hospice is honored to be recognized for being a Great Place to Work,” said CEO Jackie Kendrick, CHPCA. “Our team’s commitment to service and their dedication to delivering compassionate care to this community is what sets our organization apart. Hospice work is a calling that every member of our team takes to heart, creating a dynamic, collaborative environment where our staff members have the ability to truly make a difference in the lives of those we serve.”

According to the survey’s results, 97% of employees said their “work has special meaning” and they “feel good about the ways their work contributes to the community.” In addition, Treasure Coast Hospice was chosen as a top place to work because staff enjoy a sense of pride in their accomplishments, feel welcomed upon joining, and believe they are making a difference.

“We applaud Treasure Coast Hospice for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Kung of Great Place to Work’s senior care affiliate Activated Insights. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace for high performance.”

Out2News/Out2martincounty.com is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

Do you have something to say, an event to talk about? An event you would like to have covered? Do it here!

Email your story or request to: rshall@out2martincounty.com

Out2News/Out2martincounty.com adheres to full compliance with C.O.P.P.A. (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998)

Women United Hosts Implicit Bias Training

20 June St Lucie United Way Logo

St. Lucie County – What is implicit bias? It refers to our approach or stereotypes that impact our understanding, actions, and decisions unconsciously. Due to recent events, this has become the topic of discussion, and United Way of St. Lucie County’s Women United affinity group is taking the lead on starting that conversation in our community. Women United, in partnership with Children’s Services Council of St. Lucie County, is hosting a free virtual Lunch and Learn on implicit bias with guest speaker Crystal Morris, M.S., President and CEO of One Caring Adult.

The objective is to help others learn more about personal biases to help us better serve the community. Participants will learn to understand how biases are rooted in our conception of the world and how our social location affects the feelings we have regarding racial justice. It is centered on the omnipresent threat of implicit bias that destroys our community. This training will cover, defining implicit bias, countering implicit bias, call to action, and much more.

“This isn’t a black issue or a law enforcement issue, this is an all group issue. Every human being is impacted by this; we’ve either benefited from privilege or we’ve had to carry the burden of oppression. It is going to take a collective effort to make changes and to make systemic changes,” said Morris.

Crystal Morris, who is the President and CEO of One Caring Adult, is also the Director of Indian River Services for Tykes and Teens, Inc. She has a long history of educating agencies on the effects of unconscious bias and how it impacts our everyday life.

This training will take place on Friday, July 10th from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm via Zoom Video Conference. It’s at no cost to the attendees but you are required to pre-register at www.unitedwayslc.org/women-united. The link to access the training will be provided to all attendees who register.

Out2News/Out2martincounty.com is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

Do you have something to say, an event to talk about? An event you would like to have covered? Do it here!

Email your story or request to: rshall@out2martincounty.com

Out2News/Out2martincounty.com adheres to full compliance with C.O.P.P.A. (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998)

“The Treasure Coast Newspaper & Photo Journal”

"Find Yourself by Serving Others" AmeriCorps Wants You Help wanted for Those Who Want to Help Others in Need

20 July Big Brothers Logo
20 July Big Brothers and Sister Photo

Hobe Sound - From feeding families in need to helping children learn to read, they emerged during the pandemic as a different kind of rapid responders. Now they’re recruiting a new task as the social concerns of a community in crisis continue.
So for anyone looking to rediscover their purpose, experience excitement and uplift the lives of others, Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County’s (BGCMC) AmeriCorps program has just the role for you.
The acclaimed national service organization, AmeriCorps, partnered with BGCMC in 2018 and they are now recruiting the third class of Corps members. BGCMC offers 55 spots for anyone seeking to serve the local community and gain valuable work and life experience—all while earning a biweekly living allowance, and receiving healthcare benefits, federal student-loan forbearance, and a post-service education grant.
This motto for this year BGCMC AmeriCorps class is “Find Yourself by Serving Others.”

Traditional BGCMC AmeriCorps members’ tasks of mentoring students in 10 public schools and encouraging citizenship, healthy lifestyles and academic success take on increased significance now. Schools are reportedly readying to reopen amid broad concerns from educational experts that the “COVID slide,” coupled with the summer slide, poses unprecedented learning-achievement gaps for numerous students.
Students from vulnerable communities generally face even higher risks. And Martin County’s prevalence of English-language learners compounds the challenge of bridging the achievement gap.
Fortunately, AmeriCorps counts among its local ranks individuals such as Judith Morales, who mentors students at Anderson Middle.

“AmeriCorps gives me the opportunity to give back to my community while getting the foundation necessary to implement my experiences later in life,” says Morales, who started with AmeriCorps in 2019 while completing her bachelor’s in Human Services from Indian River State College. “AmeriCorps has inculcated my distinctive abilities with a new appreciation for my country.”
Throughout the COVID crisis, BGCMC’s AmeriCorps members worked alongside BGCMC staff members and community partners in sourcing and serving nearly 100,000 meals to families and children, often working with marginalized communities even more impacted by the economic shutdown.
Right now, AmeriCorps members are providing literacy and academic help to some of the more than 102 children at Gertrude Walden Child Care Center in East Stuart.

“It gives the kids that one-on-one time they need to really hone in on the skills they’re not grasping,” says Thelma Washington, executive director at Gertrude Walden. “When you have that one-on-one time and make that connection and give examples the kids can practice, the lightbulb goes off and everyone is happy. I love them and so do the parents.”
Meanwhile, even as the school closures in March cut short their work assisting students with literacy interventions, mentoring and whole school supports in five elementary and five middle schools, they joined other BGCMC team members in helping kids online at the virtual club, Club Connect.

“At the onset the pandemic understandably struck fear in the hearts of many and the economic upheaval only increased the anxiety,” says Keith “Fletch” Fletcher, president and CEO of BGCMC. “But for many others, the overwhelming need ignited a desire to get right out there, get involved in finding those most in need of help, and get busy making a difference on their behalf.
“That’s the profile of the AmeriCorps member,” Fletcher continues, “a willingness to help however possible—and we’re all so grateful for them.”

For eligibility, AmeriCorps members must be at least 17 years old, pass a national service criminal background check, and be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or lawful permanent resident-alien. Full-timers serve 1,700 hours and part-timers perform 900 hours.
The organization calls for reliability, passion, commitment, a team-oriented spirit and a readiness to make a difference.

Benefits include:
· Biweekly living allowance
· Healthcare coverage
· Childcare benefits as needed
· Professional-development training
· Federal-student loan forbearance
· Segal Education Award upon completion

To apply, visit BGCMartin.org/AmeriCorps or email AmeriCorps@bgcmarting.org.
About the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County
For more than 29 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County has provided award-winning programs designed to guide and inspire young people ages 6-18 to learn, grow and mature in route to becoming successful adults. Each of the four clubs enjoys strong partnerships with local schools and communities. Such cohesion ensures that Boys & Girls Clubs’ programs complement and enrich the curriculum our members learn in class as well as remain attuned to the challenges and opportunities they face on a day-to-day basis. The clubs offer opportunities for fun, fitness, S.T.E.A.M. activities and certified teacher work with club members on everything from tutoring and homework help to specialized courses that prepare them for careers in a variety of trades.
Media contact: Ike Crumpler (772) 201-9996

With gratitude,

Angela M. Hoffman - Chief Advancement Officer
Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County
772-545-1255/561-632-0094 Cell
11954 SE Dixie Highway
Hobe Sound, FL 33455
ahoffman@bgcmartin.org

20 July Slow the Spread Flyer
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Addressing Youth Tobacco Sales in Martin County

Mar Quit Doc

Youth tobacco use has long been an alarming issue in Martin County, and with e-cigarette use on the rise, it is now more important than ever to address the sale of these products at local retailers. Locally, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County continue to address these issues through local surveillance in educational opportunities.

Since 2015, volunteers and task force members in Martin County have been working on a pilot project in Martin County with Counter Tools, an organization that provides technology tools, training, and technical assistance to public health practitioners and researchers who are working to enact and enforce policy, systems and environmental interventions to promote public health.Task Force members have been assessing over 150 retailers in Martin County, studying the ways they market and sell tobacco products, and more recently efforts have focused on stores that have adopted an AVC (Assurances of Voluntary Compliance) agreement with the state to adhere to higher standards when it comes to tobacco marketing towards youth at the point of sale.

Some of the issues discovered were the lack of age of sale signage from registers and indoor displays, a lack of signage on ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) products marking the age of sale and other appropriate warnings, and free samples offered at stores in violation of AVC agreements.

One of the first efforts taken was educating retailers on the definitions of their AVC agreements. Additionally, information has been provided to local decision makers to help them best address issues through monitoring, education and local legislation. One proposed change includes requiring a local tobacco retail license of all stores selling tobacco and ENDS products. This would be the first license requirement for ENDS retailers, helping to curtail the sale of these addictive products to youth.

Youth access to tobacco products and advertisements targeting youth remain one of the primary concerns of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County. Each year, tobacco companies spend over $11 billion a year to market their products, which represents $8,500 spent to recruit each of the new 1.3 million teenage smokers each year. 85% of those advertising dollars are spent directly at retail outlets.

To learn more about the Tobacco Free Partnership’s efforts to counteract tobacco marketing at retail outlets and the work of the Point of Sale Task Force, visit www.TFP-Martin.org.

Fort Pierce Woman’s Club Helps During A Time of Need

Womens Club 1

In Photo: Charlene Seaman, Ramona Rowe, Christine Johnson, Jerry Koedyker, Daniella Grandos (Scholarship Recipient) , Danielle McMiller, Michele Backus. Sherri Propis and Kim Baumgardner

Article & Photos by: MaryAnn Ketcham

Fort Pierce— Fort Pierce Woman’s Club has been feeding those in need in the Fort Pierce community every Monday and Friday since mid-March.

“The Fort Pierce Womans Club is here to serve the community any way we can. We saw a need, the community and members donated the time, food and money and we’ve been serving ever since,” said Michele Backus, President of Fort Pierce Woman’s Club.

Positive Impact

Over 6000 meals have been served since its inception. Every Monday and Friday, the Club serves over 250 meals. In addition, they have been providing snacks, pantry staples and toiletries. FPWC has even provided dog food, a highchair and a bike for a child in need. Fort Pierce Woman’s Club enables those in need in the community to stay afloat with necessities until they get back on their feet.

“The program has helped me and my kids a lot,” said Alicia, recipient, and mom of 5 children. “Not only just having hot meals, but the program has also provided me with toiletries, soap, canned goods, plenty of snacks and goodies for the kids, food for the household and the list goes on. I really and truly appreciate everything that you ladies do for my kids. It gives me so much joy to know that there are people like you all that enjoy having my boys coming. My boys love and look forward to going every Monday and Friday. It’s been about 2 months since my boys have been going and they are more excited now they can volunteer. Thanks again for all you do. It’s really a big help for me.”

A Club in Need

While FPWC has been focusing its efforts on the community over the years, its Club’s building has been falling into disrepair. Monies raised have been spent to purchase food, supplies and to give scholarships to local students.

Recent storms and a lightening strike have highlighted roof and window leaks, a need for an A/C unit, drywall repair and an electrical upgrade. Members have been busy improving the indoor and outdoor aesthetics but are unable to repair building structure items on their own and are asking for the community’s assistance.

Donations of contracting work, materials, time, or monetary donations would be greatly appreciated and would allow FPWC to continue its work, including rental of the building to members of the community.

About FPWC

Founded in 1913, Fort Pierce Woman’s Club is St Lucie County’s oldest civic organization. FPWC is a member of the Greater Federation of Women’s Club Florida and the national General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

GFWC Florida is comprised of 193 women’s clubs across the state and all are dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others in their local communities. The GFWC Florida’s motto, “In great things, Unity; In small things, Liberty; In all things, Charity.”, guides what these clubs do, including the Fort Pierce Woman’s Club.

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In Photo: Fort Pierce Woman's Club President Michele Backus with Scholarship Recipient Daniella Grandos

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In Photo: Jerry Koedyker 

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In Photo: Brothers Elijah, William and Joshlyn volunteering

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In Photo: Charlene Seaman

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In Photo: Sherri Propis

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In Photo: Ramona Rowe 

One Florida Foundation

20 June One Florida Foundation Logo
Play your Part One FL
20 June Safety Flyer
Zweben Final

Taking Photos After A Car Accident

Martin County Encourages Residents to Get on the Road to Readiness

19 July MC Commissioners logo

As we move into hurricane season, our community has already witnessed the devastating impacts that both health and natural disasters can cause. Martin County Emergency Management would like to help residents be prepared, no matter the threat. “Now is the time for our residents to plan and prepare for a disaster, and we’ve created a guide to help them. Visit our website to learn more about Emergency Management and how you can get on the road to readiness,” said Michele Jones, Martin County Emergency Management Director.

Know Your Risk. Know if you are in an evacuation zone or not, and where you can go. Go to martin.fl.us/EM and click on “Know Your Zone.”

Build a Kit. Assemble essential items to help your family in the event of an emergency. Include a face covering and hand sanitizer.

Have a Plan. Determine where you would go if asked to evacuate- travel tens of miles, not hundreds of miles. Identify your family communication plan.

Stay Informed. Go to trusted sources of information during a disaster – monitor television and radio stations, visit martin.fl.us and follow us on social media. Register for alerts -text ALERTMARTIN to 888777 or go to martin.fl.us/alertmartin.

Get Involved. Build a culture of preparedness to make Martin County a more resilient community. There are many ways to get involved so you can make a positive difference – volunteer, donate food or supplies or make a financial contribution.

More about AlertMartin
Recent upgrades to the service increase its functionality across multiple devices and carriers, allowing Martin County to make certain every emergency notification message is delivered and received as quickly as possible, in its entirety. The upgrades correct the following issues:
· Some carriers not delivering a message longer than 160 characters
· Some devices limitations in displaying long messages
· Some carriers parsing and/ or truncating messages, making them difficult to understand

Residents are now also able to register for more weather subscriptions. To update subscriptions, once you have registered
· Log into your account
· Click Edit next to “My Subscriptions”
· Check the box next to Weather, and click Save. This will register the account for the full suite of weather notifications.

Being prepared can reduce fear and increase resiliency from the impacts of disasters. Knowing what to do during an emergency and planning how you and your family will prepare, react and respond will keep you safe. We encourage you to get on the road to readiness with us! Visit martin.fl.us/EM to learn more about disaster preparedness and stay connected with Martin County on our website and on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Out2News/Out2martincounty.com is your online newspaper where you are the reporter and photographer and you report the news! Do you have something to say, an event to a talk about? An event you would like us to have covered. Email your story or request to: rshall@out2martincounty.com

20 June Keep them outside flyer
20 June Mosquito
20 June Project Lift Flyer

COVID-19 PREVENTION MESSAGING GOES MOBILE IN MARTIN 

19 Aug Fl Health Logo
20 June Prevent Spread 1

Martin County – The Florida Department of Health in Martin County is taking COVID-19 prevention messaging on the road. The Department recently rolled out a box truck wrapped in custom graphics that promote healthy habits, while traveling county roadways.

The brightly wrapped truck features reflective artwork and bi-lingual messages encouraging residents to Wash Your Hands, Stay Home When You Are Sick and Wear A Face Covering In Public. As a working delivery vehicle, the truck is on the road daily for about eight-hours, covering more than 200-miles.

“We often have to get creative with our communication, so people will pay attention to the message.” said Carol Ann Vitani, Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Martin County. “The truck is a great solution for COVID-19 prevention awareness because it provides a high-profile way to deliver a basic, yet essential public health message.”

The truck will remain in motion in and around Martin County for about a month, reminding residents about what they should do to protect themselves and their loved ones from the COVID-19 virus.

More Information on COVID-19

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, please visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), please visit the CDC COVID-19 website.

Sharing, Caring, and Repairing

19 Dec Inner Truth Project Logo
20 June Inner Truth 2

Photos Courtesy of Inner Truth Project

The staff at The Inner Truth Project is nothing if not intrepid and persistent, so despite the stringent social distancing measures in place to help keep COVID-19 at bay, Mindi Fetterman, Jessica Bright, and Hortensia Mahon, the three dynamic women who make up the support staff at The Inner Truth Project donned superhero masks and traveled from Sebastian to the Palm Beaches, from Okeechobee to Hutchinson Island delivering bags filled with tokens of love and comfort items from a variety of local businesses, institutions, and supporters of the program, which helps survivors of sexual assault.

Dropped off on survivors’ doorsteps and driveways, usually with loads of waves and air hugs, each bag was lovingly prepared with gifts and goodies donated by Indian River State College, a local jewelry designer, Guardians Credit Union, Pinder's Nursery, and books from the Children's Services Council of SLC and our lending library. Inner Truth Project survivors received makeup, snacks, cozy socks, succulents, adult coloring books, mystery novels, soap baths, and more. And while recipients loved and appreciated what was inside each delightful gift bag, The Inner Truth Project Founder and Executive Director Mindi Fetterman said, “The connection, love, and warmth we felt was truly better than anything in the bags.”

The Inner Truth Project’s Outreach Coordinator, Jessica Bright added, “We know that people are struggling with the loss of physical contact, and isolation can be incredibly scary for people with anxiety and depression. Our survivors are really missing being at the center and our groups." Traveling around the region with a show of support and love for survivors was far more than a way for the staff to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is typically filled with awareness-building and educational events; it was a way to remind survivors that they truly are never alone in their struggle.

After receiving a care package, one survivor said, “You guys are incredibly amazing. I can’t explain how comforting it is to know you are still checking in on us and the sense of relief to our hearts that during this challenging time The Inner Truth Project is supporting us with hope. It gives us a sense of security and comfort that we are not alone.”

According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, every 73 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted, but only five out of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison. Fetterman explained why traveling throughout the region to connect with survivors is so important. “Loneliness and despair are common themes for survivors at all times; however, the pandemic of COVID-19 is so similar to the pandemic of sexual violence. It is silent, widespread, and the people affected often think they are struggling alone…but we are all in this together.”

The Inner Truth Project offers a host of services, support groups, meeting, therapeutic, and healing opportunities for survivors of sexual assault and abuse throughout the Treasure Coast, and Fetterman says the organization has been able to not only reach more survivors in the area because of the COVID-19 shutdown but also to help individuals through a very challenging time, connecting survivors with mental health services, access opportunities for support and encouragement, feel connected to their bodies, be creative, and have fun, something that many survivors never expected to experience again. The organization offers weekly yoga and meditation classes, a writing workshop, art classes with objects found around the home, interviews for inspiration, parent groups, and a group for the LGBTQI community, and new and innovative things are added every week. To learn more about The Inner Truth Project or to make a donation to help ensure that services continue, call 772.200.4599 today, or visit www.innertruthproject.org.
Mindi Fetterman, The Inner Truth Project
772.200.4599
info@innertruthproject.org

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Zweben Final

Martin County Fire Rescue Gains New PIO

MC Fire Rescue

Martin County Fire Rescue is pleased to announce the addition of Bethany Alex, Public Information Officer (PIO) to the fire rescue team to coordinate and manage the distribution of information to the public, facilitate media inquiries and perform various duties as a representative of the department on behalf of the Fire Chief.

Serving more than three years in public safety and fire rescue, Alex comes from the Orange County Fire Rescue Department where she worked as a Project Administrator - Public Information Officer and Fire Planning and Research Coordinator. Through both her professional experience and service learning, Alex has a wealth of experience with internal and external communication strategies in the public and nonprofit sector.

Alex received a Master of Public Administration, with a focus on program planning and evaluation in the public safety sector, from the College of Community Innovation and Education at the University of Central Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts in political science, with a focus on nonprofit organizational leadership and leadership development, from the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Florida.

When she isn't on the clock, you'll find her enjoying a run with her Black Labrador mix, Cooper, exploring Florida's beautiful nature, spending time with her family, and making the occasional trip to Walt Disney World.

You can contact her at balex@martin.fl.us or 772-485-0014 for any fire rescue-related media relations and public information inquiries.

Neighbors Feeding Neighbors

20 May US Sugar

7 Best Image Editing Tools to Use for Your Photos

20 May Editing Tools

A picture can be priceless when it comes to storytelling. It allows us to “show” instead of “tell” and it also allows us to express ourselves differently.

I am a sucker for compelling images, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I will flip through a book with an interesting cover, read magazine articles because the photos caught my eye and clicked through to read a blog post because of the photo I see on a Facebook ad.

I can say, with conviction, that none of the images that compelled me to act in some way either by picking up a magazine or clicking through to an article, came straight from a camera without being edited in some way. Even with perfect lighting conditions, high-quality photography equipment, and cooperative subjects, a photo may still warrant an adjustment.

Every photo I post on social media or in a blog post has been edited prior to its publication. Using the proper tools have helped me manipulate an image in order to achieve the full effect. This post will introduce you to my top “go to” photography editing apps that will help you optimize an image like a rock star. Editing can only do so much. You should be starting with a photo that already has “good bones.” Some things to be mindful of are using lighting effectively, eliminating unnecessary clutter around the subject of your photo and making sure your image is in focus. This helps ensure that your rough draft prior to editing is already a strong start.
Below are several FREE options to get you started!

Snapseed,VSCO,Enlight,PS Express,Canva,Adobe Spark Post,eZy Watermark

20 May Oct 24 Events st lucie

Smoking and Increased Risk of Bacterial and Viral Infections

Mar Quit Doc

Smoking increases the risk of both bacterial and viral infections.
It has been documented that smokers incur a 2- to 4-fold increased risk of invasive pneumococcal lung disease, a disease associated with high mortality. Influenza risk is twofold higher and more severe in smokers compared with nonsmokers.In the case of tuberculosis smokers also have a twofold increased risk of contracting the infection and a 4-fold increased mortality.
The mechanism of increased susceptibility to infections in smokers is multifactorial and includes alteration of the structural and immunologic host defenses.

Structural changes: Tobacco smoke and many of its components produce structural changes in the respiratory airways. These changes include increased mucosal permeability, impairment of the mucociliary clearance, changes in pathogen adherence, disruption of the respiratory epithelium, and peribronchial inflammation and fibrosis..
Immunologic Mechanisms: Smoking weakens the function of body defense immune cells and the production of antibodies in humans and animals.

Increased risk of Coronavirus infection amongst smokers
There is still no robust evidence to suggest an increased risk of infection amongst smokers; however, analysis of deaths from coronavirus in China shows that men are more likely to die than women, something that may be related to the fact that many more Chinese men smoke than women. Among Chinese patients diagnosed with COVID-19 associated pneumonia, the odds of disease progression (including to death) were 14 times higher among people with a history of smoking compared to those who did not smoke. This was the strongest risk factor among those examined.

Use of Waterpipe and risk of infection transmission
Practice of waterpipe use
Waterpipe smoking is usually practiced in groups. The hose is passed from person to person, and the same mouthpiece is usually used by all the participants. Most smoking sessions last 45 to 60 minutes but may also continue for several hours.
Even if the pipe and mouthpiece is only used by one customer at a time, it should be noted that waterpipes and hoses are generally reused by other smoking customers at the same day It is therefore, not surprising, that waterpipe smokers are exposed to microorganisms that may be harmful to health.

How do the waterpipes get contaminated with infectious microorganisms?
The risk of transmission of infectious microbial agents through smoking waterpipes is high
If mouth pieces are not used individually the microorganisms can easily pass from mouth to mouth.
smokers often cough into hoses and moisture in tobacco smoke promotes the survival of microorganisms inside waterpipe hose.
Furthermore, the use of cold water in the water chamber for a cold airflow may facilitate the survival of viruses and bacteria.
The spread of infectious diseases could also result from the uncontrolled, manual preparation of narghile.

Evidence of Infectious Disease transmission though waterpipe
Waterpipes and mouthpieces have been implicated in an outbreak of pulmonary tuberculosis in Queensland, Australia..El-Barrawy et al. related infection with Helicobacter pylori to waterpipes smoking in Egypt. The risk of transmission of the hepatitis C virus through waterpipes smoking was also demonstrated by Habib et al. (2001). Other viruses that can be transmitted are Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex virus and respiratory virus . Fungal infections have also been reported to be waterpipes transmitted diseases when a patient with acute myeloid leukemia showed invasive infection with Aspergillus sp.
Measures were taken by some countries in view of the potential risk of COVID-19 infection though waterpipe use
Some countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region such as Iran, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have banned the use of shisha in public places such as cafes, shisha bars or restaurants to avoid COVID-19 transmission.

Recommendations
Inform the public about the high risk of infection of COVID-19 when using waterpipe.
Complete ban of the use of waterpipes in all public establishments such as cafes, bars, restaurants, etc. with no exceptions even if the mouthpiece or hose is changed with each individual use. Avoid sharing waterpipe mouthpieces even in home settings.
Ensure the enforcement of the ban with adequate fines and penalties.
Inform the public about the increased risk of COVID 19 infection in smokers versus non-smokers.
Encourage smokers to quit smoking.

Legal Considerations for Your Business During a Pandemic: Responding to COVID-19

Woodward Law Logo

In a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world and forced communities to reevaluate everything. Despite the unpredictability that has accompanied this global crisis, it is not too late to implement changes to protect you, your employees, and your business. Here are some tips and strategies to help you navigate these challenges and the ones to come.
• Participate In and Promote Social Distancing Practices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that employers “explore establish[ing] policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others.”[1] At the time of this writing, the President has discouraged gatherings of more than ten individuals. As an employer, creating a safe and healthy environment is critical for your company’s success. Thus, employers must work toward complying with the guidance provided by local and federal leaders. Be sure to maintain the cleanliness and sanitization of any facilities where your business operates. Failure to maintain safe environments could result in loss of the goodwill you have already established within your community.

• Review Contractual Obligations. Given the widespread economic impact of this pandemic and the sweeping restrictions that many businesses and individuals face, it is quite likely that various contractual obligations will be in question. Consequently, you should review your various contracts to determine (1) the extent to which the spread of COVID-19 has impacted either party’s ability to complete tasks, (2) whether the contract has provisions that address potential delays, and (3) how a party may terminate or require performance of the contract. This may specifically involve reviewing the common force majeure provision. Upon review, you may find that you need to reach out to the other party to the contract to figure out how to best proceed. Please bear in mind that termination of the contract is likely not required or even the best step to take. The country and the world as a whole are facing similar challenges, which can open up opportunities for greater collaborative problem-solving. The contracts in question may need to be revised to reflect a new joint decision made by both parties given the extenuating circumstances.

• Communicate Clear Plans and Expectations to Employees. As a business owner, you must create policies that keep your employees aligned with your stated business objectives. As a result, when you implement COVID-19-related changes, it is critical to communicate these changes as quickly and clearly as possible. This may mean hosting virtual meetings to announce any new initiatives your company decides to take. It also includes documenting these initiatives and reviewing other procedures that are more relevant during this specific crisis. With this evolving outbreak, it is important to craft plans that attempt to consider all the possible steps your business may need to take and to prepare your company for them, especially given the speed with which state and federal regulations are occuring.

• Consider Applying for Coronavirus Small Business Loans and Similar Relief. Due to the significant economic impact of COVID-19, the federal government has taken steps to make disaster relief loans more accessible to small business owners.[2] Small businesses that need financial assistance to meet obligations like utility payments and payroll may be eligible for small business loans with interest rates as low as 3.75 percent. If you are facing significant challenges in meeting certain business obligations, you should consider applying for one of these loans through the Small Business Administration. Additionally, federal and local governments are extending tax filing deadlines in response to the outbreak. Work with your team of advisors to identify the new dates and requirements.

• Review and Revise Business Plans. Finally, it is essential that you review your overall business plans. For almost everyone in the country, COVID-19 will likely impact the bottom line. As a result, you must consider innovative ways to increase income and decrease costs. You should explore other revenue streams to offset any potential losses incurred as a result of this outbreak. Additionally, this pandemic has highlighted the need for businesses to become more mobile and virtually accessible. Review your business plans to identify ways to further strengthen your digital market.