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Sgt. 1st Class Corey Walker (left) and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Hosford fold a Florida flag that was presented to the 1153rd Finance Management Company to fly in Iraq. The unit will be headed to Fort McCoy, Wis., this week for additional training prior to deploying to Iraq.

Approximately 25 Soldiers from the Florida National Guard's 1153rd Finance Management Detachment were honored during a ceremony in St. Augustine, Nov. 10, 2010, prior to departing for their deployment to Iraq. The unit will provide financial assistance for Soldiers at forward operating bases near Baghdad, Iraq. For most of the Soldiers, this will be their first deployment overseas "We have a real young unit," said Sgt. 1st Class Corey Walker, the senior enlisted member of the detachment. "For a lot of people, this will be their first time going, but we're leaning on our veterans to push us through."  To prepare for the deployment, the Soldiers spent months conducting additional pre-mobilization training. The Soldiers will leave at the end of the week for additional training at Fort McCoy, Wis., prior to arriving in Iraq.

"We've gone through months of rigorous basic Soldiering training," said Walker. "We also went through extensive finance training to hone our finance skills at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin."  Family support was emphasized throughout the ceremony, with leaders at each level reassuring the families present that the Florida National Guard is committed to helping them while their Soldier is away.

"What I want you to remember is, the Florida National Guard is a family," said Lt. Col. Paul Chauncey, the commander of the 927th Combat Service Support Battalion. "We understand that it takes the strength of each and every one of you sitting out in this audience for these Soldiers to do their job."

"We recognize your sacrifice," Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw, The Adjutant General of Florida said to the families. "You are so much a part of what we do. We are there for you while your Soldier is gone. Please remember, we are only a phone call away."

At the unit level, a family support group is in place to provide support to families throughout the deployment. The group has held numerous events prior to the deployment to ensure that the families know each other and they know how to get in contact with each other if they have any issues.  The unit leadership expressed confidence in their Soldiers' training and their ability to accomplish the mission safely and effectively.

"We're real confident," said Walker. "We're sure we're going to go over there and do a good job and come back safe."

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is encouraging CEOs of 14 major retail companies to take precautions to prevent worker injuries during Black Friday and the holiday season's other major sales events. Toward that end, OSHA has sent a letter and fact sheet on "Crowd Management Safety Tips for Retailers" to the CEOs.

In 2008, a worker was trampled to death while a mob of shoppers rushed through the doors of a large store to take advantage of an after-Thanksgiving Day Black Friday sales event. The store was not using the kind of crowd management measures recommended in OSHA's fact sheet, which is available online at https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/Crowd_Control.html.

"Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years," said Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Many of these incidents can be prevented by adopting a crowd management plan, and this fact sheet provides retail employers with guidelines for avoiding injuries during the holiday shopping season."

The fact sheet provides employers with recommended elements for crowd management plans. Plans should include having trained security personnel or police officers on-site, setting up barricades or rope lines for pedestrians and crowd control well in advance of customers arriving at the store, making sure that barricades are set up so that the customers' line does not start right at the entrance of the store, having in place emergency procedures that address potential dangers, and having security personnel or customer service representatives explain approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public.

OSHA also recommends not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level and not blocking or locking exit doors.

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alligatorbattleThe entire family will enjoy the annual Alligator Festival which celebrates the early history of Columbia County, before 1859, when Alligator Town was renamed Lake City. The event take place Oct. 29 - 31 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Visitors will experience a Native American gathering with dancers, musicians, artisans and traders and a living history event including a reenactment of the September 1836 Seminole War Battle of San Felasco Hammock.  The event will feature the renowned FiddleWorks Keili Kids playing 19th Century American music; traditional Indian and Pioneer skills demonstrations; handcrafted and factory items; and food vendors as well as daily donation raffle drawings and fund raising auctions after the battle.

The park is located at 410 SE Oleno Park Road, High Springs.  From I-75 take exit #414 onto US-441 south, go about 5 miles and turn left onto SE Sprite Loop which is a frontage road. Take the first left onto Bible Camp Road and then a right into the O'Leno State Park entrance. GPS 29.54.55N x 82.34.52W. Visit alligatorfest.org for more information.

This event is free with paid park admission. For more information, call 386-454-1853.

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manatee-pictureNovember is Manatee Awareness Month, and for good reason. Florida manatees are on the move, seeking warm-water sites to spend the winter. That means boaters must be cautious and watch for Florida’s official marine mammal and for changing speed zones on waterways.

Manatees generally start traveling to warm water when the air temperature drops below 50 degrees or when the water temperature dips to 68 degrees. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) changes seasonal speed zone signs in mid-November on many waterways to accommodate manatee migration.

Boaters should scan the water near or in front of the boat, looking for swirls resembling a large footprint, a repetitive line of half-moon swirls, a mud trail, or a snout or fluke (tail) breaking the water’s surface. Kipp Frohlich, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section, said boaters can help manatees have a safe migration by staying in marked channels, wearing polarized sunglasses to improve vision, obeying posted boat speed zones, using poles, paddles or trolling motors when close to manatees, and having someone help scan the water when under way.

“If you think you see a manatee, give it plenty of room because it may not be alone,” Frohlich said. “It may have a calf or be traveling with other manatees.”

Besides slowing down and following the FWC’s recommendations, residents can help manatees survive by purchasing the manatee specialty license plate. The funds collected for these plates go directly into manatee research and conservation.

Winter (manatee-related) boat speed zone changes by county:


Brevard County: Nov. 15 - March 31

  • No-entry and motorboats-prohibited zones – North Indian River area around discharge canals of the Reliant Corp. Power Plant and Florida Power & Light’s Frontenac Power Plant.
  • Idle speed zone – West of Intracoastal Waterway in general vicinity of power plants.


Broward County: Nov. 15 - March 31

  • Idle speed Port Everglades Power Plant area, including part of the discharge canal. Portions of the South New River Canal and Dania Cut-off Canal near the Lauderdale Power Plant.
  • Slow speed Intracoastal Waterway from the Palm Beach County line through Hillsboro Inlet south to Burnham Point. (Note: Some portions are weekend-only slow speed.)


Citrus County:

  • Lower (western) portions of the Withlacoochee River and Bennetts Creek Sept. 1 - Feb. 28 – 25 mph.
  • Lower (western) portions of the Chassahowitzka River – Sept. 1 - March 31 – 25 mph.
  • Portions of Kings Bay – Sept. 1 - April 30 Idle speed or slow speed.
  • Portions of the Homosassa River between the Salt River and Trade Winds Marina and southern portion of Halls River – Oct. 1 - April 30 Slow speed.
  • All waters in the vicinity of the Florida Power Corp.’s effluent canal – Nov. 15 - April 30 Slow speed.
  • Within the Blue Waters area of the upper Homosassa River near Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park – Nov. 15 - March 31 – No entry.


Dade County: Nov. 15 - April 30

  • No entry – Portions of the Biscayne Canal, Little River and Coral Gables Canal.
  • Slow speed – Within portions of Meloy (or East) Channel and portions of the Intracoastal Waterway in Dumfoundling Bay and Biscayne Bay between Broad Causeway and Venetian Causeway.


Hillsborough County: Nov. 15 - March 31

  • No entry – Portions of the discharge canal of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach.
  • Idle speed – General vicinity of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach.


Indian River County:

  • Within Sand and Shell islands area, Channel Marker 66 south to Channel Marker 75; Indian River area from Hobert Lodge Marina to North Canal, and from Channel Marker 156 south to St. Lucie County line west of the Intracoastal Waterway Nov. 1 - April 30 Slow speed.
  • Portion of canal system adjacent to Vero Beach Power Plant – Nov. 15 - March 31 No entry.


Lee County: Nov. 15 - March 31

  • No entry – Discharge and intake canals of the Florida Power & Light Tice Power Plant.
  • Idle speed and slow speed – Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel on the Caloosahatchee River in the vicinity of the Tice Power Plant.
  • 25 mph – Portions of Estero Bay, Hurricane Bay, Hell Peckney Bay and Hendry Creek.
  • Seasonally unregulated – Cayo Costa, North Captiva, Captiva and St. James City areas.


Levy County:

§  Year-round no-entry zone - Manatee Springs State Park (manatee protection).


Palm Beach County:

§  Nov. 15 - March 31

§  Motorboats prohibited – Within general vicinity of Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Power Plant discharge canals.

§  Slow speed – Outside the main channel in the Loxahatchee River, and in the north and southwest forks of the Loxahatchee River.

§  Idle speed and slow speed zones – Look for shore-to-shore speed zone changes north and south of Peanut Island near the Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Power Plant.

§  Oct. 1 - May 31

§  25 mph – Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel between State Road 706 and Lake Worth, and south of Lake Worth to Broward County.


Sarasota County: Nov. 15 - March 15

§  No entry – Portion of Salt Creek and Warm Mineral Springs north of U.S. 41.


St. Lucie County:

§  Within Moore’s Creek – Nov. 15 - March 31 Motorboats prohibited.

§  Within Garfield Cut/Fish House Cove area – Nov. 15 - April 15 Slow speed.

§  Within Intracoastal Waterway channel between North Beach Causeway south to Channel Marker 189 and within the Shark Cut Channel in the Fort Pierce Inlet area – Nov. 15 - April 30 Slow speed.


Volusia County:

  • Portions of the Tomoka River and Spruce Creek – Sept. 1 - March 31 25 mph.
  • Oct. 15 - April 15

§  Blue Spring Run – Motorboats prohibited.

§  St. Johns River, south of Lake Beresford to Channel Marker 67 Slow speed.


Zone Definitions:

  • Idle speed (No wake) Lowest speed needed to maintain steering and make headway (speed used when docking a boat).
  • Slow speed (No excessive wake) – Fully off plane and completely settled in the water; not plowing.
  • Motorboats-prohibited zone – Entry is prohibited for any vessel being propelled or powered by machinery.
  • No entry – No vessels or other human-related activities allowed.
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