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United States Attorney’s Office
for the Northern District Of Florida
collects almost $3.7 million in FY 2023

By Libby Lastinger, Administrative Services Specialist
Assisting United States Attorney Jason R. Coody
United States Attorney’s Office │Northern District of Florida
Sent Feb. 27, 2024 at 3:08 p.m.
Published Feb. 28, 2024 at 6 a.m.
     TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA –
Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida announced on Feb. 27 that the Northern District of Florida collected $3,654,556.70 related to local criminal and civil matters in Fiscal Year 2023.
     Of this amount, $3,078,183.32 was collected in criminal actions and $576,373.38 was collected in civil actions. 

 

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     “These impressive numbers are the result of the hard work by our office’s civil and criminal divisions, and strong coordination with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners,” United States Attorney Coody said. “This office will always seek to recover every dollar possible from those who engage in illegal activities so that those funds can be restored to the federal treasury, and help victims recover from crimes perpetrated against them.”
     The United States Attorney’s Offices, along with the department’s litigating divisions, are responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims.
     The law requires defendants to pay restitution to victims of certain federal crimes who have suffered from a physical injury or a financial loss. While restitution is paid to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the department’s Crime Victims Fund, which distributes the funds collected to federal and state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.
     The Northern District of Florida’s Civil Division recovered a total of $8,337,055 in affirmative civil enforcement cases during the last fiscal year. This amount has two components. In addition to its efforts in local civil cases which led to collections totaling $576,373.38, the District’s Civil Division also joins forces with other United States Attorney’s Offices and with the Department of Justice Civil Frauds Section to address illicit conduct. The Northern District’s Civil Division recovered an additional $7,760,682 in these jointly handled cases. 
     Additionally, the Northern District of Florida’s Asset Forfeiture Unit, working with partner law enforcement agencies, forfeited $3,801,719 through criminal and civil asset forfeiture proceedings in fiscal year 2023. Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.
     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.

 


CFEC Board of Trustees
selects nominating committee

By Alison DeLoach, CFEC Communications Specialist
Published Feb. 27, 2024 at 3:45 p.m.
     CHIEFLAND --
The Board of Trustees of Central Florida Electric Cooperative Inc. met and appointed the following members as a committee for nominations: Randy Alumbaugh, William Busbee, William Goess, David Harding, Patricia Ingram, Kathryn McInnis, Steve Missildine, Kenneth W. O’Steen and Carylon Snyder.
     The committee will meet on March 7, at 5 p.m. to select nominees to represent Districts 2, 3 and 7 as Trustees of Central Florida Electric Cooperative Inc. These districts are presently represented by: Carl Roof, District 2; Tony Weeks, District 3; and Kenneth O’Steen, District 7.
     The Cooperative’s Annual Meeting is scheduled to be held on Saturday, May 4. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. and the business meeting will follow at 10 a.m.
     Please NOTICE -- The 2024 CFEC Annual Meeting of Members will be held at the Suwannee River Fair Pavilion located at 17851 N.W. 90th Ave., in the City of Fanning Springs.

 


NASA sets coverage
for SpaceX Crew-8 launch and docking

NASA
(from left) Roscosmos Cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin and NASA Astronauts Michael Barratt, Matthew Dominick, and Jeanette Epps pose for a photo during their Crew Equipment Interface Test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The goal of the training is to rehearse launch day activities and get a close look at the spacecraft that will take them to the International Space Station.
Photo By SpaceX

Story and Photo Provided By NASA and SpaceX
Published Feb. 26, 2024 at 11:30 a.m.
     KENNEDY SPACE CENTER –
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is scheduled to provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission, which is sending astronauts to the International Space Station.

     As of Feb. 25, the launch is targeted for 12:04 a.m. EST, Friday, March 1, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
     The targeted docking time is about 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 2.
     Crew arrival will be available on Kennedy’s streaming channels including YouTube and X. Coverage of launch, the postlaunch news conference, and docking will be available on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. 
     The Crew-8 launch will carry NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, as well as Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin.
     As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the mission marks the eighth crew rotation mission and the ninth human spaceflight mission for NASA to the space station supported by a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft since 2020. Endeavour is the name of this Dragon spacecraft.

 




Exploring Finances
How Can Women
Bridge The Retirement Gap?

Published Feb. 26, 2024 at 11 a.m.    
     NEWBERRY --
March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe.
 But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.
     Women’s challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these: 
     • Pay gap – It’s smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it’s still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks. 
     • Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses. 
     • Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15% of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.   
Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:
     • Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren’t deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer’s matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don’t have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don’t have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
     • Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
     • Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months’ worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.
It’s unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.

     Publisher’s Note: This article was written by Edward Jones for use by Edward Jones Financial Advisor - Sheila K. Smith and Edward Jones Financial Advisor and Ashlyn Burtle, 25349 W. Newberry Road, in Newberry. Phone 352-472-2776.

 


CDL Job Fair set for Feb. 29 in Ocala
Information Provided
By CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Feb. 20, 2024 at 2 p.m.
     OCALA –
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is partnering with Marion Technical College (MTC) to host a CDL (Commercial Driver License) Community Job Fair for those interested in careers in long-haul or local commercial truck driving. 

     The job fair is scheduled to take place Thursday, Feb. 29 from 5-7 p.m. at MTC, 1014 SW Seventh Road, in Ocala.
     There is no charge to attend but registration is recommended at bit.ly/CDLHIRED2024.
     Multiple businesses will be recruiting Class A and Class B commercial drivers, including recent graduates, to drive over-the-road as well as in and around Marion County. In addition, MTC representatives will help those interested in enhancing their CDL education find the right program to do so.
     “This is a great opportunity for anyone ready to shift their career into high gear in the transportation industry, whether they’re interested in long-haul trucking or driving more local routes that enable them to return home at the end of the day,” said Dale French, executive vice president of CareerSource CLM. 
     Participating businesses include Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, Custom Window Systems, Gill Logistics, Marion County Public Schools, McLane, Schneider.com, and Waste Pro USA.
     Job candidates interested in attending are encouraged to bring printed copies of their resume and dress appropriately.
     For fee-free employability assistance, including developing or updating résumés and sharpening interview skills, candidates may stop by any CareerSource CLM career center in Ocala, Lecanto and Chiefland; the centers are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
     
For details and to register, visit https://careersourceclm.com/event/cdl-job-fair/ or for more information about the job fair and/or CareerSource CLM’s job seeker services, call 800-434-JOBS (5627) for more information.
 


Ellie Ray’s RV Resort
set to add antenna and radio station

Radio Man
Tom Sturgeon, owner of Ellie Ray’s RV Resort, tells the Gilchrist County Commission about his plan to start a low-power radio station at the resort.

Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 20, 2024 at 9 a.m.
     TRENTON –
Tom Sturgeon, the owner of Ellie Ray’s RV Resort, told the Gilchrist County Commission on Monday afternoon (Presidents’ Day, Feb. 19) that he plans to start a low-power radio station at the resort.
     During the public participation part of the agenda, Sturgeon took his few minutes to tell the five elected county government leaders about another part of the resort’s business plan.
     After completing the Federal Communications Commission’s process, Sturgeon said he plans to erect a 100-foot tall antenna to transmit radio waves for about 10 miles out from the resort located next to the Santa Fe River. Ellie Ray’s RV Resort has a “street address” of 3349 N.W. 110th St., Branford. 
     While Brandford is in Suwannee County, the location of the resort is on the Gilchrist County side of the Santa Fe River.
     This FCC-approved radio station of the relatively near future, Sturgeon said, will be Christian-oriented. Branford, a town in Suwannee County, and Bell, a town in Gilchrist County are the municipalities where he thinks the radio station will reach when it comes to fruition.
     When it goes “live” people within that 10-mile circle out from Ellie Ray’s RV Resort will be able to turn to 99.1 on the FM dial to hear the broadcast, Sturgeon said.
      Asked how long before it goes on the air, Sturgeon said he needs to put all of the equipment together. He is anticipating the station will start in 60 days.
     As for the programming of this not-for-profit radio station, Sturgeon said he anticipates it will have worship services, educational reports on wildlife in and around the river. Somehow, Sturgeon intimated this radio station will generate money to “restore some projects on the river.”
     There will be some prerecorded parts, some live parts and some Christian music, he said.

 


Retired county employee honored
Honored
As Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby (center) presents the plaque to Terry Zimmerman for 25 years of service Gilchrist County Solid Waste Supervisor Bobby Rush watches Monday (Feb. 19).

Story and Photos
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 20, 2024 at 7:45 a.m.
All Federal Copyrights Reserved
Do No Copy and Paste to Social Media or Elsewhere
      TRENTON –
The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners late Monday afternoon (Presidents’ Day, Feb. 19) honored a retired county employee with a plaque presentation.

      Terry Zimmerman started working as a county employee in February of 1999, Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby said as he gave the plaque to Zimmerman at the front of the meeting room during the first part of the twice-monthly regular meeting of the County Commission in Trenton. The recent retiree served the residents and visitors of Gilchrist County as a public servant until he wrapped up that tour of duty at the end of January 2024.
     County Administrator Crosby said Zimmerman worked in several different jobs, even stepping in as a supervisor for some months when he was called into action for that service.
     “We appreciate that,” Crosby said, “and in the end (of that term of service), with you helping us get our trash, with our new program, over to New River. We appreciate that.”
     At the top of the plaque is an image of a semi tractor-trailer.

Honored
Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby shakes hands with Terry Zimmerman as Gilchrist County Solid Waste Supervisor Bobby Rush watches.

Honored
Gilchrist County Solid Waste Supervisor Bobby Rush shakes hands with Terry Zimmerman before a photo opportunity happens moments later on Monday afternoon.

honoroed
Providing a photo opportunity to herald the occasion of the County Commission honoring a man who served the people as a county worker for 25 years are (from left, front row) Gilchrist County Solid Waste Supervisor Bobby Rush, retiree Terry Zimmerman and his daughter Julie Cruze, and (from left, in the background) county commissioners Kendrick Thomas, Tommy Langford and Sharon Akins Langford, Commission Chairman William ‘Bill’ Martin and Commission Vice Chairman Darrell Smith.


     As he thanked Zimmerman, County Administrator Crosby referred to the solid waste disposal program, which includes Gilchrist County now using its own tractor trailers transferring compressed garbage to New River Solid Waste Association, which is located in Union County and has served as a regional landfill since 1988.
     Crosby presented the plaque, congratulated and shook hands with Zimmerman, and Gilchrist County Solid Waste Supervisor Bobby Rush congratulated and shook hands with the recent retiree, too, before those three men joined with the members of the County Commission and Zimmerman’s daughter Jamie Cruze who all were part of a photo opportunity to herald the moment by preserving it in a picture for posterity.


Coyotes become deer
Without feline friend,
man watches rocket fly

Moon landing by Odysseus
scheduled for Feb. 22

Rocket Launch Feb. 15, 2024
Click on the still PHOTO above to watch what was captured on video for viewing through clouds on a cold February morning from an undisclosed area of Levy County. The short video is very difficult to see the rocket. There are some other videos from previous launches that are better than this one for video coverage.

Column and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 15, 2024 at 2 p.m.
     LEVY COUNTY –
Change is constant.
     A hayfield becomes a planted pine crop.
     An amazing feline goes to Feral Cat Heaven.
     A mechanical issue causes a rocket launch delay.
     Clear skies become cloudier a day later.
     Coyotes give out a snort rather than a howl. Hey, that last part is not accurate.
     There are eight million stories in the naked city.
     In the next set of paragraphs there is one column and one story from a rural county. One is a first-person account of watching the sky for a rocket going toward space and then to the Moon from a ground-based launchpad 150 miles to the east of Levy County.
     The other is an edited set of information provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and SpaceX.
 
Coyotes become deer
Without feline friend, man watches rocket fly

     Having decided against leaving the relatively warm comfort to travel to an untested open field somewhere in Levy County in the very early morning of Feb. 14, an intrepid, illustrious and prolific journalist went forth into the darkness and cold on the second announced launch date and time of Feb. 15.
     This viewing was from “a new place” to watch the sky as a rocket was scheduled to launch after having been scrubbed about 24 hours earlier due to a technical issue. For people familiar with space and time, every second of every day becomes “a new place” because while there is a perception standing still, everything is moving through the space-time continuum relative to everything else that exists and moves through it in this dimension.
     Whoa Nellie. Let’s get back to the first of two “stories.”
     Somewhat known for watching rockets launched from Brevard County in Brevard County, and for watching rockets launched from Brevard County during the past decades and years via watch sites in Levy County, Jeff M. Hardison ventured into a field at an undisclosed location in Levy County to see a rocket launch planned for 1:05 a.m. on Feb. 15.
     Following, is a verbatim account of his story -- uninterrupted by quote marks and attributions such as “he said” -- which are removed for easier reading. Here goes.
     My most recent previous watch stand for rocket launches was in a hayfield immediately south of The Ink Pad in the unrecorded subdivision in Levy County known as Jemlands.
     That hayfield had become planted pines. A cat who was famous for being the cat that he was, Needles the Community Cat of Jemlands, had disappeared on Feb. 8. For the years he was alive, he somehow showed up day or night to join me in what used to be a hayfield to watch for planned and announced rocket launches.
     I know Needles went somewhere to die alone in some woods, somewhere probably near to The Ink Pad. A search with many manhours spent by at least three people did not result in finding him. That was so “Needles” of him. Appearing and disappearing, not like a Cheshire cat whose smile last vanished, but instead like Needles, the cat that he was.
     Rest in peace, old rocket-watching friend.
     I found a place in rural Levy County that was open with a view to the east. I had taken a chair, an incredibly strong flashlight, a tripod and the camera that has worked best so far in watching rockets launch from a distance.
     I am relatively certain the landowner of this undisclosed property would be fine and dandy with me taking nothing more than video from the place, and leaving nothing more than sneaker prints of a 234-pound man carrying 20 pounds of equipment.
     I set up my viewing area with about 20 minutes to go before the planned launch at 1:05 a.m. I had no device to monitor the countdown that was being broadcast from Kennedy Space Center on television and on the Internet.
     The hands of my Timex watch glowed and by pushing a button on the watch, I could light up its face to assure my own countdown machine was working, even though it was counting forward like a watch that has hands is supposed to do.
     It was dark. It was cold, probably about 47 degrees Fahrenheit. I was in an area, sitting in the cold, away from humans with at least 100 feet from the closest set of oak, pine and palm trees and thousands of feet on all three other sides of the open field surrounded by forest.
      With t-minus five minutes to go, I heard the snort of what sounded like a cow or a bull snorting. I aimed the high-powered relatively light flashlight toward the sound.
     At least five sets of animal eyes lit up in a line, all looking toward the light and not moving. They were only 200 feet away with that set of woods another 800 feet or so behind them, and too far for me to run to safety if those wild animals merged to attack me.
     That must be a pack of giant coyotes, waiting to attack a lone human who was armed only with a relatively small pocketknife. 
     I stood up from the chair and made a loud growling sound, stomped my feet and shined that bright light directly into the eyes of these giant coyotes. I thought any animal would run. They didn’t.
     I have not seen bears in Levy County yet, although I have seen many different species of reptiles, mammals and birds.
     Whatever those creatures are, they moved slowly, going to the west in a line. Then, I recognized the motion of their gait. Those glowing eyes belonged to deer grazing at night. Great, my rocket coverage was not messed up by wild doglike creatures chomping into me.
     Now, I understand the idea behind people not being allowed to shine lights on deer to shoot them in the dark. Deer don’t flee from bright lights. Those poor, furry animals. They don’t have a chance against bullets. TTheir first action is to stand still and stare into the light. Then, after a while, they move on with their nightly enterprises.
     That small herd did not seem wild. It’s as if humans are feeding them and they have become pets, only waiting to be shot over a baited field. Oh well, back to the rocket launch viewing.
     I sat down and looked to the east. I saw the red light of the distant Falcon rocket, with nine engines shooting out flame far away as that force of energy projected the machinery toward space.
     This vision was more hidden from my perspective than on some prior occasions, because while the heavens immediately above me were clear, that area of the extremely early morning sky of Feb. 15 had clouds to the east – where I looked.
     I captured a view of the spectacle on digital video to share, although what I saw in person was better than what showed up for publication.
     I picked up the chair with one hand, the tripod and camera with the other and started walking toward my escape route from the location at an undisclosed place in Levy County. 
     This column before the story is more of an homage to Needles the Cat than of my first rocket-watching event since he went to Feral Cat Heaven. He was a great cat. 
     Following this is some information to help readers know something about America’s ongoing space exploration nowadays.

Moon exploration expands
Rocket Launch
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander lifts off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:05 a.m. on Feb. 15.
Photo Provided By NASA and SpaceX

Information Provided
By NASA and SpaceX

     BREVARD COUNTY -- Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
     Intuitive Machines and SpaceX met their target time of 1:05 a.m. Eastern Standard Time earlier this morning (Thursday, Feb. 15).
     As part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative and its Artemis campaign, SpaceX launched Intuitive Machines’ first lunar lander to the Moon’s surface.
     The NASA science aboard the lander includes:
     ● Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator: A small, CubeSat-sized experiment that will demonstrate autonomous navigation that could be used by future landers, surface infrastructure, and astronauts, digitally confirming their positions on the Moon relative to other spacecraft, ground stations, or rovers on the move.
     ● Laser Retroreflector Array: A collection of eight retroreflectors that enable precision laser ranging, which is a measurement of the distance between the orbiting or landing spacecraft to the reflector on the lander. The array is a passive optical instrument and will function as a permanent location marker on the Moon for decades to come.   
     ● Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing: A Lidar-based (Light Detection and Ranging) guidance system for descent and landing. This instrument operates on the same principles of radar but uses pulses from a laser emitted through three optical telescopes. It will measure speed, direction, and altitude with high precision during descent and touchdown.   
     ● Radio Frequency Mass Gauge: A technology demonstration that measures the amount of propellant in spacecraft tanks in a low-gravity space environment. Using sensor technology, the gauge will measure the amount of cryogenic propellant in Nova-C’s fuel and oxidizer tanks, providing data that could help predict fuel usage on future missions.   
     ● Radio-wave Observations at the Lunar Surface of the Photoelectron Sheath: The instrument will observe the Moon’s surface environment in radio frequencies, to determine how natural and human-generated activity near the surface interacts with and could interfere with science conducted there.
     ● Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies: A suite of four tiny cameras to capture imagery showing how the Moon’s surface changes from interactions with the spacecraft’s engine plume during and after descent.
     Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C-class lunar lander, named Odysseus, is scheduled to land on the Moon’s South Pole region near the lunar feature known as Malapert A on Thursday, Feb. 22. This relatively flat and safe region is within the otherwise heavily cratered southern highlands on the side of the Moon visible from Earth. Landing near Malapert A will help mission planners understand how to communicate and send data back to Earth from a location where Earth is low on the lunar horizon.
     The NASA science aboard will spend approximately seven days gathering valuable scientific data about Earth’s nearest neighbor, helping pave the way for the first woman and first person of color to explore the Moon under Artemis.
    The Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative allows NASA to send science investigations and technology to the lunar surface. Under Artemis, NASA will study more of the Moon than ever before, and CLPS will demonstrate how the agency is working with commercial companies to achieve robotic lunar exploration.

 


NASA launches PACE satellite
PACE Satellite goes to space
NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 1:33 a.m. EST, Feb. 8, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Brevard County. From its orbit hundreds of miles above Earth, PACE will study microscopic life in the oceans and microscopic particles in the atmosphere to investigate key mysteries of the planet’s interconnected systems. 

Story and Photo Provided
By Faith McKie and Karen Fox
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
and
Jake Richmond
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
Published Feb. 8, 2024 at 7:30 a.m.
     CAPE CANAVERAL –
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) satellite mission to study ocean health, air quality, and the effects of a changing climate for the benefit of humanity launched successfully into orbit at 1:33 a.m. EST this morning (Thursday, Feb. 8.).

     Known as PACE, the Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, ocean Ecosystem satellite launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. NASA confirmed signal acquisition from the satellite about 5 minutes after launch, and the spacecraft is performing as expected.
      “Congratulations to the PACE team on a successful launch. With this new addition to NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, PACE will help us learn, like never before, how particles in our atmosphere and our oceans can identify key factors impacting global warming,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Missions like this are supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate agenda and helping us answer urgent questions about our changing climate.”
     From hundreds of miles above Earth, the PACE mission will study the impact of tiny, often invisible things: microscopic life in water and microscopic particles in the air.
     The satellite’s hyperspectral ocean color instrument will allow researchers to measure oceans and other waterbodies across a spectrum of ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light. This will enable scientists to track the distribution of phytoplankton and – for the first time from space – identify which communities of these organisms are present on daily, global scales. Scientists and coastal resource managers can use the data to help forecast the health of fisheries, track harmful algal blooms, and identify changes in the marine environment.
     The spacecraft also carries two polarimeter instruments, Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 and Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration. These will detect how sunlight interacts with particles in the atmosphere, giving researchers new information on atmospheric aerosols and cloud properties, as well as air quality at local, regional, and global scales.
     With the combination of the instrument and the polarimeters, PACE will provide insights into the interactions of the ocean and atmosphere, and how a changing climate affects these interactions.
      “Observations and scientific research from PACE will profoundly advance our knowledge of the ocean’s role in the climate cycle,” said Karen St. Germain, director, Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The value of PACE data skyrockets when we combine it with data and science from our Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission – ushering in a new era of ocean science. As an open-source science mission with early adopters ready to use its research and data, PACE will accelerate our understanding of the Earth system and help NASA deliver actionable science, data, and practical applications to help our coastal communities and industries address rapidly evolving challenges.”
      “It’s been an honor to work with the PACE team and witness firsthand their dedication and tenacity in overcoming challenges, including the global pandemic, to make this observatory a reality,” said Marjorie Haskell, PACE program executive at NASA Headquarters. “The passion and teamwork are matched only by the excitement of the science community for the data this new satellite will provide.”
     Earth’s oceans are responding in many ways to climate change – from sea level rise to marine heat waves to a loss of biodiversity. With PACE, researchers will be able to study climate change’s effects on phytoplankton, which play a key role in the global carbon cycle by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into their cellular material. These tiny organisms drive larger aquatic and global ecosystems that provide critical resources for food security, recreation, and the economy.
      “After 20 years of thinking about this mission, it’s exhilarating to watch it finally realized and to witness its launch. I couldn’t be prouder or more appreciative of our PACE team,” said Jeremy Werdell, PACE project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The opportunities PACE will offer are so exciting, and we’re going to be able to use these incredible technologies in ways we haven’t yet anticipated. It’s truly a mission of discovery.”
     NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, managed the launch services for the mission. The PACE mission is managed by NASA Goddard, which also built and tested the spacecraft and the ocean color instrument. The Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 was designed and built by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration was developed and built by a Dutch consortium led by Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Airbus Defence, and Space Netherlands.
     For more information on PACE, visit https://www.nasa.gov/pace.

 


$5 million grant boosts
CF’S advanced manufacturing education

Information Provided
By CF Marketing and Public Relations
Published Feb. 6, 2024 at 8 a.m.
     OCALA
 — The College of Central Florida is scheduled to receive $4,973,503 to establish a Center for Advanced Manufacturing from the Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Grant Program, which aims to enhance semiconductor-related educational programs across the state.

     The college will utilize the funding to revolutionize its technology and engineering education offerings.
     The new facility at the CF Ocala Campus will expand access to the associate in science in engineering technology program, its three specializations and related college credit certificates.
     New programs will include the rapid prototyping college credit certificate at both the Ocala and Citrus campuses, and expansion of the mechanical designer and programmer college credit certificate to the Citrus campus. This expansion will increase the number of dual enrollment students at those campuses.
     “This project represents a massive step forward in CF's strategic and ongoing efforts to offer technology programs that are expressly linked to emerging markets and high-skill, high-wage jobs,” CF President Dr. James Henningsen said. “It also helps ensure our graduates will go to work in our local manufacturing economy as technology leaders for those employers.”
     This project involves a comprehensive remodel of 17,000 gross square feet of Building 9 at the Ocala Campus.
     The renovation will create new classroom and laboratory spaces, significantly enhancing the college’s Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering Technology and CF Corporate College services.
     The entire project will cost an estimated $5 million, with approximately $4 million allocated for the renovation, $853,000 for equipment and trainers, and $15,000 for credential-related expenses.
     The grant highlights the state’s commitment to nurturing a highly skilled workforce in Florida, particularly in the semiconductor and advanced manufacturing sectors. It is scheduled to provide a total of $35 million to Florida school districts and Florida College System institutions.

 


Subdivision gets prelim. plat approval
Variance modified and approved
Land Development Code
approval delayed again

County Commission
Sitting at the dais during the Feb. 1 regular twice-monthly meeting of the Dixie County Commission are (from left) County Clerk Barbie Higginbotham, County Commissioner Daniel Wood III, Mark Hatch, Jamie Storey, Jody Stephenson, David Osteen and County Attorney Chana Watson

Story and Photos 
By Jeff M. Hardison © Feb. 2, 2024 at 5 p.m.
     CROSS CITY –
The five men on the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday morning (Feb. 1) took several actions to help residents and visitors of that county.

     During the public hearing subsection of the meeting, they unanimously approved a preliminary plat for the future Topajena Subdivision, which currently promises to include 32 new site-built homes.
     Dixie County Building Official Leon Wright said this approval allows developer John Lamb to move forward with construction documents. This proposed development now meets mandatory minimum lot sizes of at least 10,000 square-feet each, “and the roads are all correct,” Wright said.
     Dixie County Commission Chairman Jamie Storey, Commission Vice Chairman Jody Stephenson, and commissioners Mark Hatch, David Osteen and Daniel Wood III voted “yes” on the motion by Commissioner Stephenson, seconded by Commissioner Hatch, to approve this preliminary plat.

County Commission
Deputy Clerk Joannie Morse, secretary for the County Commission working on behalf of the Office of County Clerk Barbie Higginbotham. Deputy Clerk Morse takes the place of Della Rhymes, who formerly held the position but accepted employment elsewhere.

     In another matter regarding building, zoning and development in Dixie County, an applicant for a variance found the County Commission unanimously approving a modified version of what he wanted.

County Commission
Jeffrey McGuire stands in the audience and speaks to the County Commission about his request for zero setbacks, where the development code calls for a 25-foot and a 15-foot setback on front and rear parts respectively for the house construction. 

     Jeffrey and Rebecca McGuire sought a variance from building codes for a reduction of front setbacks from 25 feet down to zero feet, and a reduction of the rear setback of 15 feet down to zero feet, as well as to reduce side setbacks (east and west) from 10 feet to zero feet for new home construction.
     This house is planned to be built at 119 S.E. 218th St., in Old Town, which is in Commissioner Hatch’s district.

County Commission
Dixie County Building Official Leon Wright speaks to the County Commission during the Feb. 1 meeting.

     Building Official Wright said that any structure that is fewer than five feet from the property line changes applicable fire codes, and he always has recommended to not grant a variance that allows construction closer than five feet from an adjoining property line.
     Commissioner Hatch asked if there was any opposition to the requested variance. Wright said there was no opposition.
     After some discussion, which included McGuire explaining how he planned to position his house on the property as well as where the rain would drip from the roof of the structure, and with Wright reiterating his recommendation of going no closer than five feet to the property line, Hatch made a motion.
     Hatch moved to allow the variance, but not to zero feet and instead to be five feet for all setbacks. Commissioner Wood seconded the motion and there was a 5-0 vote of approval for that.
     Although it passed on first reading on Dec. 7, an ordinance of the Dixie County Commission, repealing and replacing its land development code was tabled again for its second reading at the Feb. 1 meeting.
     The second reading of this revised ordinance was tabled from the Dec. 21 meeting, from the Jan. 18 meeting and now from the most recent meeting.
     Building Official Wright explained why the delay was needed. Dixie County is continuing to improve its land development regulations to enjoy better odds when it must prosecute code violations in court, as well as to show property owners the extent of the rights which are within the bounds of living in a country governed by laws, where all people are equal under those laws, and there are certain responsibilities that are set to help the overall quality of life, as well as the health and welfare of all people living within the various subdivided geo-political boundaries.
     Of significance in this regard, the County Commission on Thursday approved the new Local Planning Board members to be District 1 – Gary Jones; District 2 – Chris McKenzie; District 3 – Colleen Dyals; District 4- Karen VanAernam; and District 5 – Sarah Ross.
     This board will hear requests for variances and special exceptions at the public hearings in the future as the group of volunteers comes into action then – accepting the duty to help all of the residents and visitors of the county.

 



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