Club officers elected
At a recent meeting of the Palm Bay Democratic Club, new officers and board of directors were elected for two-year terms of office for 2013 and 2014.
New officers include William Rettinger, president; Ray Myers, vice president; Tom Shea, secretary; and Cynthia Moore, treasurer. The board of directors is: Dudley Cawley, Jim Gaidry, Beth McMillen, Mary Pryor and Judy Wargo.
The Democratic Club meets monthly. Prospective members are encouraged to visit www.facebook.com/#!/PalmBayDems for more information.
Contact president Bill Rettinger at (321) 914-2502 or at email@example.com.
Graduation and dropout rates released
The Florida Department of Education has released the 2011-12 graduation and dropout rates, and Brevard Public Schools' students are much more likely to stay in school and earn a diploma than their counterparts in almost all other Florida public schools.
According to the Federal Uniform Graduation Rate, BPS' graduation rate, at 85.20 percent, remains among the highest in the state (for) 2011-12. The state of Florida graduation rate for 2011-12 was 74.5 percent.
Brevard has the fourth-highest graduation rate in the state, behind Nassau, St. Johns and Gilchrist counties.
Since 2007-08, BPS' graduation rate has risen from 75.90-85.20 percent.
Further evidence that Brevard students are remaining in school can also be seen in the district's dropout rate. BPS' dropout rate is .6 percent, down from .7 percent in 2010-11.
The dropout rate is the percentage of ninth- through 12th-grade dropouts compared to the ninth- through 12th-grade total, year-long membership. The state of Florida dropout rate for 2011-12 was 1.90 percent.
Women's tennis schedule announced
Head women's tennis coach Bill Macom has announced Florida Tech's upcoming 2013 schedule.
The 18th-ranked Panthers will open the season on Feb. 2 with four consecutive home games, all against nationally ranked opponents.
Florida Tech will face 14 preseason nationally ranked teams in its 20-match season. Seven of those competitors reside in the Sunshine State Conference, with all of them ranking in the top 26 - eight including the Panthers. FIT will also face the likes of 12 nationally ranked singles players and six ranked doubles teams.
FIT opens the season with conference foe and No. 5 Barry University on Feb. 2 at the Fee Avenue Courts at noon. The Buccaneers enter the season with the No. 9, No. 19 and No. 50 ranked singles players in Division II. The Panthers' own Kristina Huba, who is ranked No. 4, after finishing third at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Small College Nationals this fall, defeated all three of Barry's top singles players on her way to FIT's first-ever ITA South Region Singles Championship.
The Panthers will then host No. 27 Palm Beach Atlantic (2/8), No. 16 Nova Southeastern (2/10) and No. 26 Tampa (2/15) in their opening four-game homestand.
FIT will close out the month of February on the road at Eckerd (2/17), No. 12 Saint Leo (2/18), against No. 46 Chestnut Hill in Tampa and at No. 39 Flagler (2/28). Seven of the eight opponents the Panthers will face in February are preseason nationally ranked.
For more information, visit www.floridatechsports.com/wtennis/roster/ or call (321) 674-7484.
Beach festival was success
On Dec. 1, a tradition was born with the resounding success of the first Ocean Reef Beach Festival in Satellite Beach.
Pelican Beach Park was filled with 57 exhibits and vendors, ranging from eminent coastal scientists to displays of coastal art from local senior citizens and just about everything in between.
The estimated 2,000 attendees experienced a mix of education, live music, great art, conservation, activities, demonstrations and clinics in a fun, relaxed and festive atmosphere.
There were a group of volunteers that made the event run smoothly. Positive feedback from attendees and vendors almost always mentioned the volunteers as one of the key factors in their enjoyment of the day.
Already there is increased awareness of the dynamic, living coast and the Space Coast reef as a result of the ORBFEST.
Primary sponsors of the event were: Pure Ocean TV, Anglers for Conservation and Surfrider Foundation's Sebastian Inlet Chapter.
For more information, visit www.anglersforconservation.org, call (321) 750-3374 or donate to: Anglers For Conservation, P.O. Box 372423, Satellite Beach, FL, 32937.
High-resolution field maps generated from moon
Twin NASA probes orbiting the moon have generated the highest resolution gravity field map of any celestial body.
The new map, created by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission, is allowing scientists to learn about the moon's internal structure and composition in detail.
Data from the two washing machine-size spacecraft also will provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved.
The gravity field map reveals an abundance of features never before seen in detail, such as tectonic structures, volcanic landforms, basin rings, crater central peaks and numerous simple, bowl-shaped craters.
Data also show the moon's gravity field is unlike that of any terrestrial planet in the solar system.
For more information, visit www.nasa.gov.
New satellite reveals planet at night
Scientists have unveiled an unprecedented new look of the planet at night.
A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.
Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can observe the planet fully illuminated by the sun. With a new sensor onboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite launched last year, scientists now can observe Earth's atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours.
For more information, visit www.nasa.gov or www.noah.gov.
Oceanside Charter Chapter of the American Business Women's Association is offering a $2,000 scholarship to a deserving area student.
Each year, local chapters of ABWA provide Stephen Bufton memorial scholarships to female students who will be attending accredited United States colleges, universities and community/vocational schools.
Applicants must be citizens of the United States, residents of Brevard County and attending college in August 2013 with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
Eligible women interested in applying for the scholarship should contact Anita Carbone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications can be found at www.sbmef.org. and must be completed by March 29.
Money raised for homeless animals
Bright House Networks 26th Space Coast State Fair raised more than $7,100 for homeless animals at the Central Brevard Humane Society.
The fair was held from Nov. 8-18 on the grounds of Space Coast Stadium in Viera. Thousands of people attended the 11-day event.
Proceeds will go to help pay for food, shelter and medical care for thousands of homeless animals at the Humane Society in Cocoa.
For more information, contact the Central Brevard Humane Society at (321) 636-3343 or visit www.crittersavers.com.
Wood bat baseball league to start
A Brevard County winter wood bat baseball division will start Sunday, Jan. 22 and run through March 15. The team fee is $1,285 payable to Brevard County Parks & Recreation.
For more information, contact Troy Cox, recreation coordinator-athletics, Brevard County Parks & Recreation South Area, 1515 Sarno Road; building A. Melbourne, call (321) 255-4400, fax (321) 255-4422 or email email@example.com or visit www.brevardcounty.us/south.
Deadline approaches for admission to academy
The Brevard Community College's basic law enforcement academy at the Institute of Public Safety is scheduled to start on Feb. 25.
Those wishing to be considered for admission to the academy must complete all eligibility testing and screening requirements by Jan. 24.
For more information, contact Nann Dragonette at (321) 433-5638 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping teens safe on road
The Brevard County Sheriff's Office has partnered with Brevard County State Farm insurance agents supporting the "Celebrate My Drive" initiative to keep teens safe on the road.
State Farm has awarded the sheriff's office a $2,500 grant associated with the campaign, in support of the sheriff's office teen driver education and safety programs.
The Brevard County Sheriff's Office offers the teen driver challenge, Brevard STOPPED and sheriff's driving simulators to local teens to promote driver education, awareness and hands-on driver training.
Throughout Florida, State Farm has funded more than $50,000 in similar grants.
Additional information about the sheriff's office teen driving programs can be obtained at www.BrevardSheriff.com (click teen driving programs) or by email at TeenDriver@bcso.us.
Mission awarded grant
Brevard Rescue Mission, which provides transitional housing and support services for homeless women with children, was recently awarded a $3,500 grant from the Margaret Binz Foundation.
The funding will be used to support the "A Fresh Start "project, which will supply all paper and hygiene supplies, toiletries, cleaning supplies, basic first aid necessities and over-the-counter medications for six months, for families participating in the program.
Brevard Rescue Mission is privately funded by donations from individuals, civic organizations, foundations, churches and area businesses.
The mission provides housing, education, transportation, counseling, medical care, parent training, household budgeting, tutoring, job training, food and clothing and case-manager support services.
Call (321) 480-9100 or visit www.BrevardRescueMission.org for more information.
'King,' 'queen' crowned
A basset hound owned by Debbie Wood of Port St. Lucie was chosen king of the park and his queen was Darla, a chihuahua owned by Suzanne Leichtling of Cape Canaveral, at the Central Brevard Humane Society's 10th annual Paws in the Park at the Wickham Park Main Pavilion in Melbourne.
Several hundred people attended the event.
Other awards presented were pet/companion look-alike," awarded to Callie Lou, a border collie/Australian shepherd mix, owned by Cindy Derouen of Cocoa.
Best pet trick went to Sadie, an Australian shepherd, owned by Becky Street of Indialantic. Panzer, a Rottweiler, owned by Ellen and Del Fox of Cocoa, was the winner of the "Jingle Bell Rock" costume contest.
This fun, interactive pet fundraiser included a pooch parade dog walk around the pavilion area, educational and rescue group booths, animal-related vendors and pet contests.
Event sponsors included: Hometown News, AT&T The Real Yellow Pages, Florida Today, Southeastern Honda, Animal Emergency & Critical Care Center of Brevard, Ash Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, Beach Animal Hospital, BJ's Wholesale Club, VeinCare of Brevard and sthorpe.com.
For more information, contact the Central Brevard Humane Society at (321) 636-3343 or visit www.crittersavers.com.
Register for technology programs
Brevard Community College is opening registration for three new technology programs as BCC expands areas of study in rapidly expanding job fields.
The programs are cyber security, engineering technology support specialist and 911 public safety telecommunications operator.
The cyber security and engineering technology support specialist programs will be offered for the first time in the 2013 spring term, which begins Jan. 14. The 911 operator program will be launched in February. Students can earn an associate in science degree in cyber security, which includes coursework leading to preparation for the following industry credentials: CompTIA A+; CompTIA network+; CompTIA security+; Cisco certified networking associate; Cisco certified network associate security and Microsoft office systems bundle.
The engineering technology support specialist is a 20-credit hour certificate program that can lead to an associate of science degree in engineering technology.
The program allows graduates to work in areas such as engineering design, manufacturing, processes and production, and testing and maintaining product quality.
The 911 public safety telecommunications operator is an eight vocational credit certificate program.
Successful completion will allow graduates to take the Florida Department of Health exam, which is required to receive a state license to serve as a 911 operator.
For more information, contact Ashley Becker, career and technical programs specialist, at (321) 433-7742 or email@example.com.
For information, contact 911 program coordinator Tonia Graham at (321) 433-5695 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next step completed to launch astronauts from home soil
NASA has announced the next step in its plan to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil, selecting three companies to conduct activities under contracts that will enable future certification of commercial spacecraft as safe to carry humans to the International Space Station.
Advances made by these companies during the first contract phase, known as the certification products contracts, will begin the process of ensuring integrated crew transportation systems will meet agency safety requirements and standards to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station from the United States, ending the agency's reliance on Russia for these transportation services.
The second phase of certification will result in a separately competed contract.
The second, expected to begin in mid-2014, will involve a full and open competition. It will include the final development, testing and verifications necessary to allow crewed demonstration flights to the space station.
While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop these capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System, a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration.
For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew.
Alliance is accredited
The Brevard Health Alliance has been awarded a three-year term of accreditation, as a result of a recent survey conducted by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.
Included in Brevard Health Alliance's award is AAAHC medical home accreditation.
Accreditation distinguishes Brevard Health Alliance from other outpatient facilities by providing the highest quality of care to its patients as determined by the association's independent, external process of evaluation.
Ambulatory health care organizations seeking accreditation by AAAHC undergo an extensive self-assessment and on-site survey by AAAHC expert surveyors, physicians, nurses and administrators, who are actively involved in ambulatory health care.
Not all ambulatory health care organizations seek accreditation and not all that undergo the rigorous on-site survey process are granted accreditation.
Martini voted best on coast twice
The "love martini" a clear, crisp white cranberry concoction made by The Melting Pot in Viera, was the winner for the second year in a row in the Melbourne regional chamber's best martini on the Melbourne Coast competition.
The honor was bestowed on the restaurant at the recent "Martini & Mistletoe" event, sponsored by Twin Rivers Insurance and held at Rosner Chevrolet in Melbourne.
The drink also captured the title last year in people's-choice voting.
Fifteen bars and restaurants were vying for the title, which was sponsored by Florida Today.
Also competing were: Crowne Plaza Melbourne Oceanfront with the dark and fluffy marshmallow martini; Rendezvous Restaurant (Holiday Inn Viera) with the flor-ange martini; Outback Steakhouse with the gingerbread martini; The Broken Barrel Tavern with mint chocolate chip;" Atlantic Blue Beach Bar (Hilton Melbourne Beach) with lemon frost; Uno Chicago Grill with the skinny blood orange cosmo; The Dock at River Rocks Restaurant with Santa's sunburn; Island Pasta & Calilou Tapas Bar with naughty and nice; Lafitte's (Hilton Melbourne Rialto) with Rudolph's red nose; Neptune's Bar and Grill with the Greek goddess; Runaway Country Music Festival/ Grills Riverside Seafood Restaurant with Runaway's just a kiss; Longhorn Steakhouse with the goldrush" martini and Victory Casino Cruise Lines with Kirby's blue martini.
Best-decorated bar honors went to Lafitte's at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto.
About 300 attendees voted for their favorites at the event, which ran from 6-9 p.m. Winning bars each got a $250 cash prize and the best martini winner was given a plaque to display acknowledging their win.
The event featured a buffet, dessert bar and live DJ. Ashes Cigar Tavern offered a special smoking area, and discounted rides home were provided by Hollywood Limousine and Taxi.
College rowing coach, team recognized
Florida Tech head coach Jim Granger received the Joy of Sculling's College Coaches award for the 2012 season at the organization's annual conference recently.
University of Virginia head coach Frank Biller presented the award to the Panthers' sixth-year coach in front of approximately 300 coaches.
Coach Biller, who has more than 20 years of rowing experience, won the award last season.
Under Coach Granger's guidance, FIT's men's varsity eight has won the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship three times. When the Panthers hoisted the trophy in 2009, it marked the first time they had won the event in 17 years.
Their success has carried over to the prestigious Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta. In the last three seasons, the varsity eight has raced to two second-place finishes and a third-place finish.
Last season, FIT came in second by a mere 34-hundredths of a second to defending champion University of Michigan.
The Panthers were invited to compete in the world- renowned Henley Royal Regatta for the first time since 1996, following the 2010 Dad Vail Regatta.
On the historic River Thames, they went up against the likes of Cambridge University and Yale University.
FIT will begin its spring schedule in March.
For more information, call (321) 674-8250.
General inducted into alumni society, writes book
Lt. Gen. Clarence McKnight, retired U.S. Army general, was inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Society at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Penn., on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
The award rendered to graduates of the War College for their work following military service, was for his work in civilian education centering on the use of computer technology in the classroom.
General McKnight became a prominent leader in digitalization during his military service and carried that knowledge into education.
His military career spanning the Korean Conflict to Desert Storm is chronicled in his forthcoming book "From Pigeons to Tweets."
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and the University of Michigan Graduate School of Engineering, Gen. McKnight is also a Distinguished Graduate of West Point who rose to command the Army's Signal Corps and introduced computer directed warfare during Desert Storm. He concluded his career as Director of Command, Control and Communications Systems for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington D.C.
Gen. McKnight is a native of Memphis, Tenn., and currently resides in the Capital District.
His book, "From Pigeons to Tweets," will be published by the History Publishing Company on Jan. 14.
For more information, contact Don Bracken, History Publishing Company LLC, at email@example.com.
Agency named in 'best place to work' survey
NASA was named the best place to work in the federal government, among large agencies in a survey recently released by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization.
This ranking, which reflects NASA's highest results since the index was developed, makes clear that the agency's workforce is focused on carrying out the nation's new and ambitious space program.
The rankings are based on responses from nearly 700,000 federal workers. The Best Places to Work rankings are based on data from the Office of Personnel Management's annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, conducted from April through June 2012 and additional survey data from nine agencies, plus the Intelligence Community.
This is the seventh edition of the Best Places to Work rankings since the first in 2003.
NASA's Stennis Space Center was ranked second in the sub-agency component category.
For more about NASA, visit http://www.nasa.gov.
Congressman appointed to space committee
Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) has been appointed to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee which has jurisdiction over NASA, space exploration, aerospace, energy research and development and marine research.
Congressman Posey's newly redrawn Congressional District 8 now includes the Kennedy Space Center and is home to the many of the nation's leading aerospace firms and research facilities.
As a young man, Bill Posey worked on the nation's Apollo Space Program until being laid-off with thousands of other space workers, following the successful Moon landing in 1969.
Having lived much of his childhood and all of his adult life in Brevard County, he has remained an active leader in space policy for many years, serving as a member of the Florida Space Authority Board of Supervisors, the Florida Commercial Space Finance Corporation and as a member of the Board of Directors for Space Florida.
In Congress, Posey has worked across the aisle to introduce legislation to strengthen America's space program. He was the lead sponsor of the American Space Access Act, a bipartisan bill to close the space gap between the Shuttle and Constellation program, the REAL Space Act, bipartisan legislation directing NASA to plan a return to the Moon, and the Race for Space Act, which passed the House last May.
Congressman Posey is also a prime co-sponsor of the Space Leadership Preservation Act, legislation to create a longer term for the NASA administrator to insulate the agency from political changes and to ensure that our nation's long-term space programs have the continuity that is needed to see them through to completion.
For more information, call (202) 225-3671 or visit www.posey.house.gov.
Fly in a vintage plane
The Valiant Air Command has announced that one of its most venerable warbirds is now flying in the local area; the C-47 "TiCo Belle." From the Normandy invasion to Cherbourg, to Arnhem, to Bastogne, to the Berlin Airlift and more, this aircraft was there, more than 65 years ago.
Now, you can experience all this history as a special and unique present for yourself, or someone you love.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or to get on a reserve list to schedule a flight schedule.
When the Tico Belle flies, with you aboard - complete with Normandy invasion identification stripes - you will be able to look out and truly imagine what it must have been like on that fateful June 6, 1944, a day when the freedom of a world hung in the balance as she made her way in the pre-dawn darkness towards the beaches of Normandy; part of the largest aerial invasion armada the world has ever seen.
The Valiant Air Command Museum is located at the Space Coast Regional Airport at 6600 Tico Road, in Titusville.
For more information, visit www.vacwarbirds.org or call (321) 268-1941.
Order sea oats today
It is time again to pre-purchase sea oats for dune planting, through the annual sea oats sale, offered by Brevard County's Natural Resources Management Office and Keep Brevard Beautiful Inc.
Liner size sea oats are for sale in trays of 96 for $48, while supplies last.
Quantities may be limited this year, so order early. Sea oats must be ordered and paid for by Friday, Feb. 1, and will be available for pickup on Saturday, Feb. 9.
Sea oats are native to Brevard's coastal communities and stabilize sand quickly by developing an extensive root and rhizome system that holds onto sand and slows erosion. Sea oats also have the ability to build dunes, as the grassy foliage and tall seed plumes trap windblown sand, which builds up at the plant base and stimulates the plants to grow taller.
The dunes that are formed are an important feature of our coastal ecosystem, as they provide habitat for wildlife and protect upland property during wind and storm events.
For more information, call Paula Berntson at (321) 633-2016, Ext. 52431, email email@example.com or visit http://ww3.brevardcounty.us/natres/documents/2013_sea_oats_info_and_order_form.pdf.
Speech contests planned
Can your high school daughter or son talk for 4-6 minutes? Would they like the chance to earn more than $4,000 in cash?
The National Management Association is sponsoring the American Enterprise Speech Contest.
The first level of competition is February through March, and the second level is in April.
Any student in Brevard County in grades ninth-12th is eligible to participate.
The primary purpose of the contest is to promote and strengthen leadership skills in our leaders of tomorrow, by involving youth in research, writing and delivering a speech on that subject.
Also, the contest enhances the development of communication skills that are vital to those entering the workforce. The financial rewards are an additional boost to the winning students to achieving their dreams.
Four different chapter contests will be conducted in February through March. Students can only compete in one.
Winners of those competitions will complete at the council level in April.
The winner of that competition will win a trip to compete in the east area competition sometime in May or June.
The winner of the area contest will win a trip to compete in the national contest in September.
Those interested in competing must start eligibility process by Jan. 25.
Contest rules and information can be found at http://nma1.org/Speech_Contest/Speech_Contest.html.
For more information or to get applications to start eligibility, contact Violet Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (321) 853-5550.
Lieutenant graduates from national academy
Palm Bay Police Lt. Steve Bland has successfully completed an intensive 10-week session of specialized training at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
Lt. Bland becomes the ninth member of the Palm Bay Police Department to graduate from the elite training course that is only offered to the world's top law enforcement officers by invitation only.
Lt. Bland was part of the 251st session of the academy.
As an FBI National Academy graduate, he enters into a select group made up of less than one percent of the nation's law enforcement officers. They were hand-picked by their departments and, along with about 250 other officers, completed the 10-week course, which began on Sept. 30, at the FBI training facility.
Lt. Bland is a 16-year veteran of the department. During his tenure, he has served in patrol, investigations, field training officer, youth services and special investigations.
He is currently assigned as a lieutenant supervising the Special Victims Unit, Youth Services, Major Case Unit, Special Investigations Unit, Crime Scene Unit and also serves as watch commander and SWAT commander.
Florida Tech president and chief executive officer Anthony J. Catanese presented degrees to a total of 19 student-athletes recently at the fall undergraduate and graduate ceremonies at the Clemente Center.
The graduates represented 12 of the university's 21 sports.
A list of the 19 Panthers can be found below.
Founded at the dawn of the Space Race in 1958, Florida Tech is the only independent, technological university in the Southeast. The university has been named a Barron's Guide "Best Buy" in College Education, designated a Tier One Best National University in U.S. News & World Report, and is one of just nine schools in Florida lauded by the 2012 Fiske Guide to Colleges and recognized by Bloomberg Businessweek as the best college for return on investment in Florida.
Fall 2012 graduates:
Baseball: K.C. Clabough, business administration; Chris Fox, business administration*
Men's basketball: DeMario Robinson, business administration
Women's basketball: Katie Kingfield, business administration
Women's cross country/track & field: Brittany Reinard, premedical biology
Women's rowing: Guinevere Shaw, space sciences with a concentration in solar, earth and planetary sciences
Men's soccer: Robbie Russell, marine biology
Women's soccer: Carly Hunt, biology with a concentration in conservation biology and ecology: Christine Ragona, marketing
Softball: Brianna Barth, business administration*; Natalie Beach, accounting; Lauren Cole, psychology; Emily Densem, business administration*; Sarah Oram, business administration*
Men's tennis: Jorge Abarca Montero, mechanical engineering; Kermit Strachan, computer engineering
Men's track & field: Lyndon Lamott, applied aviation safety*
Women's track & field: Candace Lord, systems engineering*
Volleyball: Angie Lassman, meteorology
An (*) indicates a master's degree.
For more information, call (321) 674-8250.
Holiday presents and gift cards for food items, gas
Employees at the Brevard Public School's Educational Services Facilities completed its "Giving from the Heart" campaign.
Twenty-six families, with more than 60 children, were given holiday presents and food and gas gift cards.
More than $6,000 was raised through internal fundraisers, department ice-cream socials, bake sales, jewelry sales and a silent auction.
Some families also received toys and clothing.
The mission of the campaign is to make the holidays a little brighter for some who might be struggling to make ends meet.
For more information, contact Ginny Gleason at (321) 633-1000, Ext. 389.
Wood storks no longer in danger
Wood storks in the Southeastern United States no longer face imminent danger of extinction.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to upgrade the status of the United States breeding population of wood storks from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The proposal follows a comprehensive review, conducted by service biologists, of the best available scientific and commercial information about the species' status.
The wood stork is the only true species of stork nesting in the United States.
Since its original ESA listing as endangered in 1984, the U.S. breeding population has shown substantial improvement in the numbers of nesting pairs as a whole and the expansion of its breeding range.
The proposed reclassification would not change any conservation or protection measures for the wood stork under the ESA. Rather it would recognize the stork's ongoing recovery and the positive impact that collaborative conservation efforts over the last two decades have had on breeding populations
With a continuing trend, the species could become suitable for de-listing from the ESA.
Therefore, addressing the threats associated with habitat loss, including the protection of natural wetlands through partnerships and the focused management of public lands, remains a conservation priority for the Service.
To ensure its final decision reflects the best available information, the service is soliciting comments from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, Tribal governments, the scientific community, industry and any other interested parties.
Of particular interest is information and comments concerning the historical and current status and distribution of the wood stork, its biology and ecology and ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat.
Anyone wishing to submit information regarding the wood stork throughout its Southeast U.S. breeding range may do so via one of the following methods once the rule has published:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments for Docket FWS-R4-ES 2011-0020.
U.S. mail or hand delivery:
Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4 ES-2011-0020
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 222;
Arlington, Va. 22203.
Satellite arrives at space center
NASA's newest tracking and data relay satellite, known as TDRS-K, arrived recently at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in preparation for a Tuesday, Jan. 29 launch.
TDRS-K arrived aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 from the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems assembly facility in El Segundo, Calif.
For almost 30 years, the TDRS spacecraft have provided a reliable communications network for NASA, serving numerous national and international space missions.
The TDRS fleet is a space-based communication system used to provide tracking, telemetry, command and high bandwidth data return services. The satellites provide in-flight communications with spacecraft operating in low-Earth orbit. It has been 10 years since NASA's last TDRS launch.
TDRS-K will launch to geo-stationary orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket.
The spacecraft is the first of three next-generation satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA by expanding the lifespan of the fleet
The launch of TDRS-L is scheduled for 2014 and TDRS-M in 2015.
NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch management. United Launch Alliance provides the Atlas V rocket launch service.
To join the online conversation about TDRS on Twitter, follow the hashtag #TDRS.
To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/connect.
For more information about TDRS, visit http://tdrs.gsfc.nasa.gov/.
School teams receive awards
Palm Bay High School's PiraTech Robotics teams participated in the second annual Central Florida VEX Qualifier Robotics Competitions held in Leesburg on Dec. 15.
Team 508P comprised of Palm Bay High engineering students Nick Peters, Brian Guettler, Sandy Le and Troy St. Louis, won the top (highest honor) Excellence in Engineering Award, which was the only award at the event to qualify for the national (in Omaha, Neb.) and World Championships (in Anaheim Ca).
This prestigious award is for robotic design, autonomous control, engineering drawings, engineering notebook, competitiveness in qualification (second of 40 teams) and finals rounds, and how they presented themselves being judged by engineers in a formal interview and presentation.
Team 508Z members, Cody Jones, Bree Crisafulli and Jashal Patel, won the VEX Build award for a robust robotic design of their holonomic drive system, which ran virtually flawless and was a high scoring robot in the qualification matches.
They ranked sixth out of 40 teams and into the finals rounds.
The three Palm Bay robots competing ran in a total of approximately 30 two-minute rounds, with a 15-second autonomous, with all three robots performing in each match nearly perfectly with 10 motors on each robot, missing no matches.
The teams wish to send special thanks to its sponsors (Harris Corp, AT&T, The Able Trust, Northrop Grumman, Advanced Magnetic Labs, Health FIRST, Brevard Schools and Gov't Connections) and the mentors who help practice with students presentations, teach programming, design, help tweak their robots, drive to events and chaperone in hotels.
For more information, please contact Matt Conroy at (321) 952-5900 or email@example.com.
Rescue mission receives funds
Brevard Rescue Mission, which provides transitional housing and support services for homeless women with children, recently received $3,500 in cash and supplies from the Suntree Ladies Golf Association.
Funding will be used to support program services for the families.
Brevard Rescue Mission is privately funded by donations from individuals, civic organizations, foundations, churches and area businesses. Donated funds provide housing, education, transportation, counseling, medical care, parent training, household budgeting, tutoring, job training, food and clothing and case-manager support services.
Call (321) 480-9100 or visit www.BrevardRescueMission.org for more information.
Kids club visit, sing for residents
On Sunday, Dec. 16, Knucklebones Creative Kids Club delighted senior residents of the West Melbourne Health and Rehabilitation Center with Christmas songs.
Looking like Christmas elves, club members also presented the residents with Christmas cards created by them especially for the event.
Knucklebones Creative Kids Club was designed to open a child's vision of his/her world artistically. Club members explore Brevard County by attending various venues, such as the Brevard Zoo, museums, parks, sporting events, nonprofit organizations and more.
In turn, the children create art (in an artist workshop) based on what they have experienced.
This artwork will is placed on the Knucklebones web site.
Knucklebone's mission is to offer its members the opportunity to explore, participate and create in activities, field trips and classes.
Pictures from these KCKC adventures can be seen at www.knucklebonescreativekidsclub.com. The site also features artwork created by club members, showcasing their unique talents.
Visit the website for additional information or plan to attend one of the weekly meet-and-greet sessions scheduled for the first and third Wednesday evenings of the month at 6 p.m. at McDonalds, located at the intersection of San Filippo and Malabar roads, in Palm Bay.
Seeing under the surface of the skin
MIMA Dermatology has announced that it is incorporating the groundbreaking MelaFind device into its practice, the first in Brevard County and northeast Florida.
MelaFind, developed by medical device company MELA Sciences, is a first-of-its-kind technology that is used during a skin exam to help dermatologists see under the skin's surface.
The device collects information from 2.5 millimeters deep into the skin painlessly and non-invasively using computer vision technology.
MelaFind's safety and effectiveness were proven in the largest clinical trial in melanoma detection ever conducted. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved MelaFind for use in the United States.
For more information on MelaFind, visit www.melafind.com, email anita.saluja@Mima.com or call (321) 757-5141.
Student survey in progress
All Brevard Public School students in grades 3-12 will be taking an anonymous computer-based survey during January to find out what the children think about Brevard Public Schools.
The survey questions focus on curriculum, instruction, bullying and school safety.
There will be no personally identifiable information in the survey, according to BPS.
If you have questions or wish to see a copy of the survey, contact the school.
The results of the survey will help the school to better serve all Brevard Public School students.
- For Hometown News