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Glades Electric Cooperative

M AY 2017

Gayle Iverson reacts with uncontrolled emotion as her husband, Rueben, holds the winning ticket for a 2007 Ford F150 extended cab pickup at the 72nd Annual Membership Meeting March 18 at Moore Haven Middle-High School. See page 4 for details.

May is Electrical Safety Month PAGE 8    Showing Appreciation to Legislators PAGE 28 n

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Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Members acknowledge that $3.96, plus actual postage, is the cost to publish 12 issues a year of Florida Currents (USPS8300). Published by Ruralite Services Inc., 5605 NE Elam Young Pkwy., Hillsboro, OR 97124—a not-for-profit Oregon cooperative corporation—the magazine serves the communications needs of consumer-owned electric utilities in Florida. Preferred Periodicals postage paid at Hillsboro, OR 97123 and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Please send address corrections to 5605 NE Elam Young Pkwy., Hillsboro, OR 97124. HOW TO CONTACT FLORIDA CURRENTS

Have a problem receiving your edition of Florida Currents? Utility members should contact the local utility office listed on the back cover. Nonmembers should contact Ruralite Services, 5605 NE Elam Young Pkwy., Hillsboro, OR 97124; (503) 718-3717; email Subscription services: Nonmember subscriptions $12 (U.S.) per year; $25 (foreign) per year. Prepayment required. Allow 4 to 8 weeks for first issue. Be sure to identify which local edition you want to receive. Order online at Extra copies: $2 each, prepayment required. Supply is limited. Identify edition, month and year. Contact Ruralite Services. Reprint permission: Direct all requests to Ruralite Services. MANUSCRIPTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

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May 2017 Vol. 6, No. 7

Reconnecting to the Land 12

Agribusinesses welcome visitors young and old to experience a slice of their life. Also In This Issue Side Roads 10 In the Kitchen 16 Great Picture Hunt 18

Travel Journal 20 Festival Roundup 22 Parting Shot 30

Your utility pages: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 25, 26, 28, 29, 32

M AY 2 0 1 7


Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Back to Where It Began Annual Membership Meeting returns to the town where GEC was formed

Glades Electric Cooperative’s 72nd Annual Membership Meeting took us back to where it all began! A short distance from the steps of the Moore Haven Courthouse where the first organizational meeting was held, the 2017 event convened in the new Moore Haven Middle-High School. Employees and Trustees were excited to help Glades County Schools show off their beautiful new facility. Members were greeted by employees happy to assist them with parking and give them rides to the front door in golf carts. After being greeted personThe annual meeting attracted people of all ages. ally by CEO Jeff Brewington, members participate in setting policies and decision-making registered and voted on three Trustee through election of district trustees. Each year, positions. one-third of the board of trustees are elected, or reMany exhibitors were on site, including First Bank, Seminole Electric, Meter Treater, Florida Rural elected, to serve three-year terms. Candidates are nominated by committee or petition from the memElectric Credit Union, GRESCO, The Davey Tree Expert Co. and the Glades Electric Charitable Trust. bership, and are voted on at the annual meeting. Although the many prizes given away at the end The board of trustees establishes the policies by of the meeting are always a big draw for members, which the cooperative conducts business. the annual meeting features a number of important Members re-elected all three incumbents: Ladd aspects that keep GEC running smoothly. Bass, District 5, Venus and Hicoria; James Aul, District 7, Lorida; and Angela Hodges, District 9, The second cooperative principle, Democratic Okeechobee. Member Control, ensures members actively As the meeting began, Brewington recognized several guests from Seminole Electric Cooperative: General Manager/CEO Lisa Johnson, Vice President of Member Services and External Affairs Trudy Novak, Manager of Communications and Energy Policy Ryan Hart, Communications Strategist Leigh Holmes and Member Services Specialist Cindy Walker. Representing the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. was Regional Vice President John Kimsey. Florida Rural Electric Credit Union was represented by Vice President Paula Tuten. Brewington introduced the Board of Trustees and Glades Electric Charitable Trust Board volunteers. He also saluted all of the veterans in attendance who served in the military. GEC is proud to support not only these veterans, but their families who stood behind them and made sacrifices as the veterans protected our freedom. Glades Electric Cooperative CEO Jeff Brewington addresses members at the 72nd Annual Membership Meeting at Moore Haven Middle-High School on March 18. Board President Jack Coxe welcomed all members


M AY 2 0 1 7

Gayle Iverson reacts with shock as her husband, Rueben, raises the winning ticket for the grand prize at Glades Electric Cooperative’s 72nd Annual Membership Meeting in March. They drove home a 2007 Ford F150 extended cab pickup.

and guests with a review of the cooperative’s accomplishments this past year. “GEC is always focused on exceptional service through continuous improvement,” he said. The cooperative has worked on its revamped rights-of-way, animal protection and pole inspection-replacement programs. Coxe also noted how significant upgrades to the Lake Port and Nine Mile transmission lines improved outage numbers. Improvements were made throughout GEC’s service territory, resulting in fewer outages. Overall, outages per member fell 44 percent, and the time to restore outages fell 31 percent. During Hurricane Matthew, only 12 outage calls were received the night of the storm. Coxe noted the importance of making these system improvements while also reducing members’ overall cost of service. Another milestone for the cooperative in 2016 was

the refund to members of $1.4 million through capital credits. The cooperative still increased member equity to 32.42 percent in 2016, which means a similar capital credit refund is expected in 2017. Coxe concluded his remarks by reviewing the Glades Electric Charitable Trust and Glades Electric Education Foundations. Both programs are funded independently and do not impact members’ bills, but do positively impact the community. The Glades Electric Charitable Trust is funded by members who voluntarily participate in Operation Round Up. For a small amount of change each month, the trust helped neighbor families with $31,810 in 2016. Members can learn more about

Brewington visits with members gathered for the annual meeting.

Continues on page 6 M AY 2 0 1 7


Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Back to Where It Began Continues from page 5

Operation Round Up or increase their contribution through Round Up Plus by contacting a GEC office. The Glades Electric Education Foundation is funded by abandoned or donated capital credit refunds. Each year, eight $4,000 scholarships are provided to students of cooperative members. Since its inception, $353,000 has been awarded to graduating high school seniors. Coxe turned the podium over to Brewington, who invited 2016 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour contest winner Kathryn Knipper from Lake Placid High School to the stage. In June 2016, Knipper represented GEC in Washington, D.C., where she joined high school students from across the nation to learn about rural electrification and legislative processes, tour monuments and museums, and meet with local legislators. Knipper reviewed how the week left a lasting impression. Her visit to the Newseum is inspiring her to pursue a communications degree. Following Knipper’s presentation, Seminole Electric’s Johnson discussed how GEC’s power supplier recently diversified its energy mix to include solar. She outlined the opening of Seminole’s 2.2-megawatt solar facility, which will benefit GEC members and work as a training tool as Seminole Electric continues to explore renewable resources. Brewington continued the meeting by recognizing the loss of two members of the cooperative family this past year. Betty Coxe, wife of Board President Jack Coxe, passed on September 10, 2016, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Brewington said Jack’s devotion and care for Betty was a beautiful love story, and her presence is missed. Janice Henderson, wife A pair of youngsters check out the drone display of past Trustee Russell manned by Mike Sminney from GRESCO as GEC trustees look on. Henderson, lost her fight to 6

M AY 2 0 1 7

Candace Ferguson won a Vivitar drone in a door-prize drawing.

cancer January 3, 2017. Russell and Janice were an inspiration to the community, having been married 60 years. Returning to official business, Brewington talked about the emergence of residential solar systems and encouraged members to fully investigate all claims by companies that sell these products. He cited examples in other states of homeowners whose investment in solar panels prevented them from being able to sell their home due to long-term contracts. “You are our members and neighbors, and we want you to get the best,” he said, noting his assistant, Margaret Ellerbee, is available to review homebased solar systems, contracts and safety requirements with members to ensure the deal works well for them. She can be reached at (863) 531-5004 or Brewington discussed upcoming system improvements in 2017, including a fully integrated system that will improve the way GEC handles member accounts and provides service. The conversion will be a long process with beneficial results for members. However, updates will require members’ assistance—specifically for those using automatic payment methods. During this time of political transition, Brewington drew attention to the important relationship GEC has with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Its political action committee—Action Committee for Rural Electrification— helps finance battles important to rural communities. Brewington said Cooperative Owners for Political Action offers cooperative members the opportunity to be part of ACRE. He encouraged

�YES! I want to help keep the voice of rural electric cooperatives heard in the political process by participating in ACRE Co-op Owners for Political Action® .

Monthly Bill Addition 0 REGULAR:$2.08 PER MONTH ($25/YEAR) 0 CENTURY CLUB:$8.33 PER MONTH ($100/YEAR) 0 VICE PRESIDENT'S CLUB:$20.83 {$250/YEAR)* 0 PRESIDENT'S CLUB:$41.66 PER MONTH ($500/YEAR)* 0 OTHER$_______

One-Time Contribution 0 REGULAR:$25 0 CENTURY CLUB: $100 0 VICE PRESIDENT'S CLUB:$250* 0 PRESIDENT'S CLUB: $500* 0 OTHER$_______

I affirm that my contribution has been made with non-corporate funds:

NA ME: ____________________ ADDRESS: ____________________ CIT Y: ________STATE: ______ZIP:_____ C OOPERATIVE: ____________________ EMAIL: _______________________ SIGNATURE: ____________________

GEC employee Tim Lowman, right, walks down the long corridor at Moore Haven Middle-High School with his brother, Dustin, and his niece, Braylee, at the GEC annual meeting.

members to consider supporting COPA. “By banding together, rural electric members can become a formidable force and make a difference in the direction the country heads,” he said. Brewington was available after the business meeting to meet individually with members who had questions for him. Members were ready for the final portion of the meeting. Almost 100 prizes were given away, including TVs, gift cards, an Android tablet, cookbooks and plants. All members present—including GEC employees who are members—were eligible to win prizes. Rylee Patterson, a Moore Haven seventh grader, came to the stage and helped with the prize drawing. As excited members waved winning tickets in the air, anticipation grew for the grand prize drawing: a 2007 Ford F150 extended cab pickup. Gayle and Rueben Iverson were this year’s winners. It is our sincere hope members enjoyed attending the annual meeting as much as the trustees, management and employees enjoyed hosting the event. It is truly our honor to be “Neighbors Working for Neighbors.” n

*Federal Election Law requires the following information for contributions exceeding $200:

EM PLOYER: _____________________ OCCUPATION:___________________ Contributions to the NRECA Action Committee for Rural Electrification® (ACRE®) are not tax deductible. Contributions to ACRE are voluntary and will be used for political purposes. You have the right to refuse to contribute without reprisal. Any contribution guidelines presented are merely suggestions. You are free to contribute more or less than the suggested amounts, or not at all. NRECA will not favor or disadvantage anyone by reason of the amount contributed or a decision not to contribute.

Ryan Hart, manager of communications and energy policy for Seminole Electric Cooperative, talks with Glades Electric members about the value of supporting Cooperative Owners for Political Action. See form above and page 32 for more information. M AY 2 0 1 7


Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Operation Round Up Monthly Report Almost 70 percent of Glades Electric Cooperative members participate in Operation Round Up, which helps people in GEC’s service area who have exhausted normal avenues of financial assistance. Sign up today, and your electric bill will be rounded up to the nearest dollar. The extra is placed in the fund for deserving individuals and organizations. As of April 7, your Charitable Trust Board of Directors has approved $987,633.01 in disbursements. These funds have provided assistance with food, emergency lodging, disaster relief and specific

emergency needs for 608 individuals and/or families and 140 community organizations. The trust does not fund utility bills (electric, phone, water and gas) or budgets of organizations. Organizations in counties served may apply for funding for a specific need or project. The Charitable Trust Board of Directors meets monthly to review applications for funding. n If you know of people who need and deserve assistance and live within our service area, encourage or help them to complete an application. Applications can be picked up at each of our three offices: Moore Haven, Lake Placid and Okeechobee.

Take Your Giving to the Next Level Glades Electric Cooperative members may increase their charitable giving by participating in Operation Round Up Plus. By opting into this program, members may choose to add to their normal roundup amount, adding whatever amount they choose ($1 minimum). Individual donations also are accepted at any time. Stop by your local GEC office or call (863) 946-6200 to participate in Operation Round Up Plus.

May is Electrical Safety Month In May, electric cooperatives across the country promote safety awareness to coincide with National Electrical Safety Month. Every year, thousands of accidents occur due to shock hazards. Glades Electric Cooperative is committed to educating the public about potential electrical dangers in the home. Many home fires occur when electrical equipment is outdated or improperly used. In 2015, 1,345,500 fires were reported in the U.S.—a 3.4 percent increase from 2014, according to the National Fire Protection Association. “It is critical the public understands their home’s electrical system and the safety concerns associated with the latest residential technologies before bringing them into their homes,” says Glades Electric CEO Jeff Brewington. “With newer technologies— such as solar panels, electric vehicles and more electrical gadgets in the home—people need to be well educated and make sure to have an electrical system that is compatible with the increased load.” Through electrical safety awareness and education, we can all play a part in preventing electrical hazards and injuries in the future. n 8

M AY 2 0 1 7

Charitable Trust Board of Directors Jack Wilson District 1 Moore Haven Beverly Eaves District 2 Hendry County Kelly Brantley District 3 Ortona/Palmdale Dori Evans District 4 Lakeport Lori Thompson District 5 Venus/Hicora Lee Andrus District 6 Highlands Park Elsa Miller District 7 Lorida David McCadam District 8 Lake Josephine Paula Byars District 9 Okeechobee The Charitable Trust Board of Directors will meet at 1 p.m. May 25 in the Lake Placid office.


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Side Roads

Discoveries Off the Beaten Path

Digging Up Support for Sustainable Living Earthworms help entrepreneur turn dirt into dollars By Marcy Chapman

Postcards From Florida

Lake Weohyakapka

e Kern

enis Photo by D

This photo was taken at sunset while fishing on Lake Weohyakapka, about 10 miles east of Lake Wales. The name is derived from the Creek language, likely meaning “walking on water.” 10

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Sean Moore, owner of Green Leaf Worm Farm in Port Charlotte, has transitioned from a Merchant Marine to a merchant of green with his homegrown business producing worm tea, worm castings—undigested material, soil and bacteria deposited by worms—and microgreens. With an eco-friendly approach to sustainability, Sean has turned dirt into dollars with natural products for recycling and food. He practices vermicomposting—a process rooted in employing nature’s first rototillers, the earthworm. “Earthworms—free help for gardeners—are the building blocks to every living thing, including us,” Sean says. “Without earthworms, the planet would look like the moon, barren with no sign of life.” Fossil records show earthworm-like creatures have been around at least half-a-billion years. They survived the ice age that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. “Worms till the soil and put nutrients back into the earth,” Sean says. “Their fertile castings both protect and boost growth. This is how man was able to stay on a piece of property for a lifetime.” Sean is literally digging up support for sustainable living

as he talks to schools and community organizations. “It’s all about education relating to what we are putting into our bodies,” he says. “People often don’t realize what they are eating. The children are our future, and we have to teach them what their grandfathers already know. Our food comes from the earth, not a supermarket.” It was not sustainability that called to a young Sean, but water and boats. A native Floridian, Sean grew up on Longboat Key and Little Gasparilla Island. His father was the editor and owner of The Islander newspaper on Anna Maria Island. His mother taught English. Throughout his high school years, Sean worked on shrimp and mullet boats and barges. He changed course when he teamed up with a friend—a machinist returning from the Army—who decided to build stilt houses on the islands. They fabricated the necessary pile-driver from free discards. “We had to be resourceful,” Sean says. “My buddy taught me to weld. We stuck a castoff engine on top of a derelict 48-foot Ford Army truck bed and got the business going.” Eventually, Sean yearned to work on the water again. He went to maritime school in Piney Point, Maryland, training in the engine room and then on the deck. Soon, he

Earthworm Facts There are 6,000 known species worldwide. XX They have no eyes. XX They breathe through their skin, which exudes a fluid that makes it easier to move through underground burrows. XX Each has both male and female sex organs. XX Most can lose segments from their head and grow them back. XX South African worms can grow 22 feet long. XX They have survived seven mass extinctions. XX

was sailing the waters around Germany, France and England. At one point, he worked on a 900-foot container ship as it journeyed to Africa. After four years of seafaring, Sean was ready to be closer to home. A job on tugboats offered a change of venue. However, at age 38, serious heart problems left Sean’s seafaring career shipwrecked. Reinventing his life became the challenge. A friend from California who was in the vermicomposting business inspired Sean to try making worm tea—a natural pesticide and fungicide miracle brew successfully

Protection From the Sun

Sean Moore grows earthworms and harvests their castings, selling nutrient-rich tea and other products, opposite page. He also is expanding into microgreens.

used on the greens of golf courses there. In 2009, Sean started Green Leaf Worm Farm—a oneperson operation. He began growing the worms in a few plastic tubs and taking his worm products to every farmers market in the area. As the worms turned, Sean’s fortune improved. His first batch of tea was brewed using an aerator in a 5-gallon bucket of rainwater. Today, an 1,100-gallon cistern provides rainwater collection, and the worm tea is

brewed 80 gallons at a time. Initially, the worms were grown in peat moss. That soon changed to a natural, organic mix of mushroom compost, potting soil and cow manure. The unique venture Sean began on his porch and carport has expanded to a 600-square-foot building and relies on a machine to separate the worms from their castings. Using his earlier salvaging skills, Sean built a 7-foot tubular rocket ship-styled harvester from recycled junk. The worms are sifted down

Skin protection products emerged in the 1930s and 1940s, and have their origins in several nations, including Australia, France and the United States— specifically, Florida. Little Miss Coppertone and her frisky French chemist and avid dog became an icon for the brand. sailor Eugene Schueller, Photo by William Mitchell/ClipartFest founder of L’Oreal, experienced unpleasant sunburn when he was out on the water. Employees of his cosmetics laboratories created an oil that prevented burning when out in the sun and allowed tanning. By 1936, people were able to buy the product, “Ambre Solaire,” at stores in France. Benjamin Green came into the picture in 1944, when he served as an airman in World War II. Green used red veterinary petrolatum, or “red vet pet,” as a physical barrier from the sun to prevent ultraviolet rays from hitting his skin. His objective was to help American soldiers who were spending so much time in the South Pacific sun. After the war, Green—a Miami pharmacist—worked in his kitchen to develop a more pleasing formulation, blending cocoa butter and coconut oil with the red vet pet and adding a touch of jasmine. He tested his creation on his bald head. The combination became Coppertone suntan lotion. Promotion of the product stressed the concept of helping beachgoers get flawless tans without burning, no matter how fair their complexion. n

on one side and the castings fall beneath. The harvester processes 300 pounds of castings an hour, taking the place of two men. Sean has turned over the job of selling his worm products at outdoor markets to other vendors, focusing more on his educational efforts and his new enterprise: growing microgreens—tiny edible greens harvested when they have their first leaves. He sells them to restaurants and individuals. “Microgreens are a notable source of nutrients, providing

five to 10 times the nutrients of the full new-grown plant,” Sean says. “As with vermicomposting, nothing goes to waste. Greens are grown in my worm castings, and I feed the leftover greens to my worms. Thus, the cycle renews.” Sean continues to dig up support for green living as he shares his hope for the future. “My dream is to expand to a 5-acre farm where I can teach sustainable living and green practices,” he says. Of course, he would take along his little rototillers. n M AY 2 0 1 7


Roger Elliott is sandwiched by R.C. Lipscomb Elementary teachers Katie Strength, left, and Betsy Eggart. Photo courtesy of Katie Strength

RECONNECTING Florida agribusinesses welcome visitors young and old to experience a slice of their life By Lori Russell

In rural Molino, Florida, retired University of Florida extension agent Roger Elliott provides a healthy home for horses, sheep, pigs, goats, guineas and peafowl at Green Cedars Farm. The farmer with a master’s degree in education welcomes families and more than 2,200 schoolchildren each year to his 30 acres to show them how it is done. A growing number of Americans are choosing rural landscapes and activities as an alternative to the country’s more expected tourist hot spots. According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, the number of farms providing agritourism—a combination of agriculture and tourism—and related 12

M AY 2 0 1 7

recreational services increased by 42 percent from 23,350 to 33,161 between 2007 and 2012. The number of Florida farms offering recreational experiences more than doubled during that same time, from 281 to 724. Katie Strength, who teaches first grade at R.C. Lipscomb Elementary School in Pensacola, says Green Cedars is her students’ favorite field trip. “So many of our students have lots of virtual experiences, but much less handson time outside and with nature,” she says. “They have read about farms and watched them on TV, but this is a new experience for almost all. “Mr. Elliott always tells the children that when you have experiences outside, you remember them for a long time. We learn how you can look at a chicken and tell what color egg it will lay. He shares about his dogs and how they are trained to work around the farm. We study animal classification, composting, recycling, how plants grow and much more.” The kids also enjoy a hayride, and

“We encourage people who buy our products to come out to see how we farm, and to understand what we feed and how we feed.” —Roger Elliott, Green Cedars Farm

there are plenty of animals to hold—from chicks and rabbits to lambs and piglets. Roger—who sells his meat, raw milk and eggs at farmers markets—also invites his customers to drop by the farm for a feeding-time tour. “There has been a big increase in interest in where food comes from in the past five years,” he says. “We encourage people who buy our products to come out to see how we farm, and to understand what we feed and how we feed.”

Roger leads educational farm tours for more than 2,200 schoolchildren a year at Green Cedars Farm in Molino. Photo by Michael Newman

TO THE LAND Diversifying With Tourism The great thing about agritourism is that it draws from every cross section of society, says Melissa Hunt, marketing representative at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “Whether it’s a u-pick farm that makes for a fun family outing or special events like civic gatherings and charitable fundraisers on family farms or ranches, Floridians and visitors yearn to reconnect with the land,” she says. “And with such diverse options, there’s really something for everyone.” A Florida law passed last year gives local governments legal guidance on the growing industry and makes it easier for agricultural businesses to incorporate tourism. “When a business can diversify its product offerings, they don’t necessarily have to rely on one product for sales and success,” says Melissa. “The biggest trend we’ve seen in Florida last year was the number of u-pick farms opening up throughout the state. Some are single

crop open only for a short season, while others have several crops and are open year-round. “With the 2016 legislation settling in the law books, I think that in addition to u-picks, we may start to see more onfarm wedding locations open up.” In regions of the U.S. with deep agricultural roots, agritourism has been around for generations, says Martha Glass, founder of the National Agritourism Professionals Association. “In the late ’50s to early ’60s, that meant picking out a pumpkin at a pumpkin patch or cutting down a Christmas tree at a u-pick site,” Martha says. “Visitors to a peach or apple orchard took a bucket, picked and went home. During their visit, they hoped to see some machinery or buildings that looked like what they had on a farm where they grew up.” By the early 2000s, nostalgia for the family farm experience became a driving force for many active, healthy grandparents who brought their grandchildren. “That generation remembered going

to grandma’s farm for a family reunion,” says Martha. “They wanted to take their children and grandchildren to show them where their food came from and what it was like to live on the farm.” In the aftermath of 9/11, patriotism and nostalgia swelled across the country. “We cared very much about our farms, and we realized that we were in danger of losing that way of life,” Martha says. Expanding the Experience From animals to crops, farmers realized they had something city people wanted to see. Christmas tree farms expanded to include cut trees and a farm store with ornaments. A farm produce stand on the side of the road became an enclosed store with a front porch and rocking chair. Little country towns that surround these farms saw visitors coming into their downtowns to eat at restaurants and buy gas. According to Martha, about 80 percent of agritourism farms in the U.S. today M AY 2 0 1 7


have some type of activity—from hayrides to harvest festivals, u-pick produce to vineyard tours, horses to hens. Farm-to-fork—also called farm-totable—dinners feature meals with fresh, local ingredients, often in the settings where they are grown. Diners can tour a farm and talk with the people who made the products and prepared their meal. Farm weddings also are popular. From rustic to lavish, outdoor or under cover, there are plenty of options for couples looking to get married with their boots on. For those looking to enjoy life on the land for more than a few hours, farm stays provide creative and unique lodging. Accommodations range from a room in a farmer’s home or converted farm building to a guest house or campsite. Some hosts welcome help with chores or offer classes in cooking, photography or cheese making. Dude ranches offer another option for individuals and families looking to experience the rural lifestyle. At a working dude ranch, daily chores and activities— including cattle and horse drives—are determined by the needs of the livestock. Horseback riding and other outdoor activities are the focus at dude ranches, while larger resort dude ranches offer diverse activities and facilities in addition to riding. Attracting Guests At Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo, an hour south of Orlando in Polk County, guests enjoy horseback trail riding, swimming, golf, trap and skeet shooting, hayrides, cookouts and a fullservice marina. The largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi, Westgate also hosts the longest-running Saturday night championship rodeo in the country with trick riding, bull riding, calf roping and barrel racing in a 1,200-seat arena. On the edge of Ocala National Forest, Griffin Ranch welcomes guests to the classic old Florida ranch life. Families and couples can take a trail ride, canoe or kayak down the Oklawaha River, or relax in a rocking chair on the deck. Happy Acres Ranch in Dunnellon is a 14

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Who needs sand when there is corn to play in? A youngster enjoys the corn barn at the Smith Family Ranch CornFusion Maze and Fall Festival. Photo by Donna Smith

40-acre working horse ranch that offers trail rides, lessons, guest cottages and RV parking. For a hands-on working ranch experience, head to Crescent J Ranch within Forever Florida—a 4,700-acre wildlife preserve in St. Cloud. Play cowboy for a day with a riding lesson on a Florida cow pony, then head off to help rotate the herds or check fences. More experienced riders can take turns cutting, sorting and running down strays at the rawhide roundup. Overnight trips include a three-hour wilderness trail ride to and from a remote campsite complete with tent, campfire and a steak dinner under the stars. Sharing the Life At the Smith Family Ranch outside of Lakeland, 25 acres of fun happen during October. The 640-acre working cattle ranch hosts a family fall festival featuring an 8-acre corn maze, narrated hayrides through cattle pastures, games and activities for the kids, and rides on Big Allis, the monster tractor. Weekend evenings, guests gear up with paintball equipment and ammo for the Zombie Farm Paintball Hayride. After using their land for a cow-calf operation and sod farm for nearly 25 years, Ted and Donna Smith and their family decided to add tourism to their

list of targeted offerings in 2009. “People come out here (for the festival) in the morning and stay all day,” Donna says. “They can just let their kids go because it is safe and there is plenty to do.” Cody Allen of Lakeland was raised about a mile from the Smith ranch, and has visited the fall festival since it opened in 2010. “I want to show my kids this is the lifestyle I grew up with,” he says. “It is part of my history.” His children love the hayride and the corn barn—a sandbox-like structure filled with corn kernels. “The kids get to experience how the cattle industry works, they feed the cows, they see them up close,” Cody says. “It gets them outside and having fun.” While Donna says people come for the activities, she looks for every chance to teach people about her family’s land and lifestyle on the edge of the Green Swamp—central Florida’s aquifer. She hosts groups for tours, and the family has added a venue for weddings and other events. “One of the main reasons we got into tourism is to educate people,” she says. “So many people in cities don’t know where their groceries come from. It does people good to come out and see that the cattle aren’t mistreated and they have grass to eat. They are very well taken care of.” n

Exploring Far Afield: Tips for Rural Visits By Lori Russell

Looking for some country fun? Plenty of online resources are available to plan a rural getaway without getting your hands dirty. For an overview, begin with state tourism websites. You can find them by searching by state name. At, and, search for agritourism attractions by location and activity, or try one of the suggested trip itineraries. Connect with regional visitor associations within a state to find exceptional food and farm experiences in the area. A quick internet search by location and activity will yield everything from u-pick operations to wedding site venues, corn mazes to pumpkin patches. Most farms and ranches have websites with information about their activities, hours and rates. Check out the local chamber of commerce or social media sites such as Facebook for current blossom, foliage and fruit availability dates in addition to seasonal events or festivals. On small farms, the person who leads a tour may also tend the plants and feed the animals, so call ahead to arrange a visit—especially when traveling with a large group. The U.S. Farm Stay Association provides a list of working farms and ranches with lodging at Accommodations and activities vary by location. Some cater to adults, and others welcome families. Go to the farm or ranch’s website or call directly to find out what a typical day and stay is like. Rooms or cabins for rent in a variety of rural locales can be found on (vacation rentals by owner) and When choosing a dude ranch vacation, the size, location, accommodations and activities matter. A stay at a ranch with 10 guests differs from one with 100 people. Location determines the riding environment—from mountain trails to open pasture to desert. Is a swimming pool, TV or internet access important? Choose accordingly. The Dude Ranchers’ Association (www. maintains a list of more than 100 all-inclusive working, traditional and resort dude ranches in the U.S., with offerings for riders of all ages and experience. Before packing up and heading out on an adventure, remember that farms and ranches often are in remote locations where access to gas stations and ATMs is limited. Public transportation or ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft are rare or nonexistent. Cell service and GPS signals can be erratic. Fill up the gas tank and bring written directions and a map when traveling to a rural location. Function trumps fashion when visiting rural landscapes. Washable clothing and comfortable, close-toed shoes are the dress code for most activities. Safety is an important consideration on a farm or ranch, especially when traveling with young children or someone with a

Above, pumpkin patches, hayrides and fall festivals are popular outings for many families in October. Top, rural settings let visitors slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures. Photos by Lori Russell

physical limitation. Depending on the tour or activity, ask about accessible pathways and instructions about livestock, landscape, equipment, and other hazards on and around the property. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to find out about agritourism opportunities. When visiting a business, ask about other attractions in the area. Rural business owners work together to promote tourism in their communities. They can recommend new attractions before they are on the map, or lesspublicized places that are worth a visit. Most importantly, slow down and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the rural lifestyle. After all, it is why you came. n M AY 2 0 1 7


In the  Kitchen

Recipes That Satisfy

Dig in to Creamy Cheesecake Blueberry Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Nonstick cooking spray 30 vanilla cream-filled cookies 1/4 cup butter, melted 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened 3/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup sour cream 1/3 cup Key lime juice 1 tablespoon Key lime zest 1/4 cup flour 3 eggs Green gel food coloring, optional 21-ounce can blueberry pie filling, divided 8 ounces whipped topping, thawed Key lime slices, optional

Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of oven. Fill halfway with water. Heat oven to 325 F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil, and spray with nonstick spray. Using a food processor, pulse cookies until crumbly. Stir together crumbs and butter. Press evenly into the bottom of prepared pan. Beat cream cheese until creamy. Add sugar and sour cream, and beat again until smooth. Add Key lime juice, zest and flour; beat until mixed thoroughly. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat gently after each. Add green food coloring to cheesecake mixture, if desired. Spread cheesecake batter evenly over crust. Add 1 cup of blueberry pie filling over top of cheesecake. Use a butter knife to gently swirl pie filling into cheesecake. Do not let knife go through to crust. Place pan on oven rack above tray of water. Bake 45 to 48 minutes. Remove immediately and place on a wire rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until completely chilled. Cut into 24 squares and serve with whipped topping, remaining pie filling 16

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Blueberry Key Lime Cheesecake Bars are a great addition to a springtime meal. Photo courtesy of Lucky Leaf

and Key lime wedges. Recipe courtesy of Inside BruCrew Life blog

Cherry Cheesecake Lush Dessert 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs 1 cup finely chopped pecans 1 cup butter, melted 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 cup powdered sugar 16 ounces whipped topping, divided 2 small boxes cheesecake-flavored pudding 3 cups milk 21-ounce can cherry pie filling 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, pecans and butter. Press into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool. In a separate mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and 11/2 cups whipped topping. Mix until smooth; spread evenly over cooled crust. Combine cheesecake pudding mix, milk and 11/2 cups whipped topping; mix until smooth. Spread evenly in pan over cream cheese layer. Top with pie filling, remaining whipped topping and chopped pecans. Recipe courtesy of Lemon Tree Dwelling blog

Comfort Food Recipe Contest Sometimes, the best cure for what ails you is food that provides a little emotional comfort. Whether it is a dish that reminds you of your childhood, a beloved relative or a favorite destination, we want to know your “comfort food” recipe, which could be featured in our Comfort Foods Cookbook.

Cheesecake takes a more decadent turn with the addition of peanut butter and chocolate. Photo courtesy of Kauai Island Utility Cooperative

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cups 1 package devil’s food cake mix ¼ cup butter, melted ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips ½ cup peanut butter chips 16 ounces cream cheese, softened 3 eggs ¾ cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 F. Place liners in a muffin tin. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and melted butter until mixture is crumbly. Divide evenly in muffin cups. In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Bake for 20 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and cool. Courtesy of Kauai Island Utility Cooperative

Cheesecake Fruit Dip 4 ounces cream cheese 3.25-ounce vanilla pudding cup 1¾ cups whipped topping

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar 2 cups assorted fresh fruit pieces

Place cream cheese in a medium microwave-safe bowl; cover. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to soften. Add pudding; whisk until smooth. Add whipped topping and sugar; whisk together until blended. Serve dip with fruit. Dip can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to four days. Courtesy of Ready Set Eat

Bananas Foster Cheese Pie 9-inch graham cracker crust

Banana layer: 2 tablespoons butter 2½ cups sliced bananas (1/4-inch thick) ¼ cup sugar 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Cream cheese layer: 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature 6 eggs, room temperature 1 cup sugar 11/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1½ teaspoons vanilla 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

To enter, email your name, address, the name of your electric utility and up to two original recipes to recipecontest@ruralite. org with “Recipe Contest” in the subject line, or mail typed recipes to Recipe Contest, 5605 NE Elam Young Pkwy., Hillsboro, OR 97124. The deadline is Monday, May 15, 2017. Photos of the dish are welcome. Submitted photos will not be returned. Seven grand-prize winners will receive $100 and a copy of the finished cookbook. Winners will be announced Fall 2017.

Heat oven to 350 F. Banana layer: Heat butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bananas. Cook, stirring gently, until soft, about 2 minutes. Do not mash. Add sugar, lemon juice and pie spice. Cook, stirring gently, until mixture thickens, 1 to 11/2 minutes. Spread evenly in bottom of crumb crust. Cream cheese layer: Combine cream cheese, eggs, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in mixer bowl. Beat on high speed until well blended. Reduce speed to low. Beat in flour just until blended and no streaks of flour remain. Pour over banana mixture. Carefully place pie on rack in center of oven. Bake until knife inserted midway between center and edge of pie comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate, loosely covered, until firm, several hours or overnight. Optional: Garnish with sliced bananas and caramel drizzle. Courtesy of

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The Great Picture Hunt

Photo Tips from David LaBelle

Capturing a Sense of Awe I saw it at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s old city, and see it over and again at the foot of the breathtaking, 375-foottall Duomo in Florence, Italy: that awestruck gaze washing over so many stunned and humbled faces. Even when anticipated, such moments are able to capture us so completely our eyes water and our skin tingles. For just a few seconds, we are bathed in the quiet wonder of the moment. It is during these brief moments people actually experience the glory and feel the wonder, before they try to capture what is passing through their eyes. I am confident I wore a similar awestruck expression at first sight of each of my four children. However brief, this is a magical time, before the visitor awakens from their temporary trance and lifts their smartphone camera to make a record of the sight, or before they awaken and feel compelled to kiss in the shadow of the majestic site. There is a phrase used

when shooting film called the “latent image.” It is that hopeful time between the moment the shutter is pressed and negatives or prints are processed. Essentially, latent means the hidden or concealed, but existing. I have always loved that thought, that state. It might be a stunning sunrise or a spectacular sunset that stills us, wrapping around us in a reverent silence. Or it can be coming face to face with a beloved celebrity that temporarily paralyzes us so much we are afraid to breathe, lest our breath pushes away the moment. As a primarily documentary “moment” photographer, these fleeting capsules of authentic, unrehearsed emotion are what I hunger to witness and capture. I have learned during these “trance” times that if I keep my distance and move slowly, the entranced are so focused with what fills their eyes they see neither me nor my camera. While you can never plan for what you will feel when you see a breathtaking sight, you can prepare yourself to

David LaBelle is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He applies many of the lessons he learned during his magical boyhood years in rural California to photography. For more information, visit www.


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capture that sense of awe on the faces of others—especially if you have scouted the site and know where people are most likely to get their first glimpse of majesty. The wonderful thing and difficult challenge about shooting authentic human moments is there is never a do-over. You cannot ask someone do to a thing again with the same expression. There simply is never a second first time. n

Tourists gaze up at the most iconic landmark in Florence, Italy: the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, otherwise known as the Duomo. Photos by David LaBelle



Kids will spend 8 minutes decorating their little brother. How about two minutes to brush their teeth? Brushing for two minutes now can save your child from severe tooth pain later. Two minutes, twice a day. They have the time. For fun, 2-minute videos to watch while brushing, go to

©2012 Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives

Travel  Journal

Satisfying the Appetite for Wanderlust

Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre opened April 14, 1948, in Lakeland, Florida. It features two screens that usually show first-run movies seven days a week. Photo courtesy of Visit Florida/Scott Audette

Flashback! Experience Some Nostalgia In the mid-1950s and late 1960s, drive-in theaters were popular for date nights and family entertainment. Times change, and the charm of sitting in a car with a scratchy speaker hanging off a partially rolled-down window has taken a back seat to multiscreen theaters, 3-D and IMAX. You are in luck if you crave a throwback experience. A handful of towns in Florida still offer drive-in movies: •  Lakeland’s Silver Moon ( •  Ruskin Family Drive-in ( •  Ocala Drive-in (ocala •  Dade City’s Joy-Lan

Drive-in ( Many have gone digital. Instead of speakers, you can listen to the audio through your FM radio. Drive-ins often show firstrun movies at a fraction of the cost of indoor theaters. Tampa’s Fun Lan Drivein and its sister attractions in Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth (www.floridaswapshop. com) show movies, and offer swap shops, farmers or flea markets on certain days of the week. Each has multiple screens. The Fort Lauderdale location has carnival rides. Not interested in a film? Sometimes it is just fun to browse the daytime vendor

Florida native Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who specializes in travel, gardening, personality and feature writing. The avid traveler also is a photographer and accomplished sailor. Her website is


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booths. You never know what bargains you will find. Family Vacations The number of family vacations is on the rise, according to AAA, which reports travel sales in Florida are up 25 percent from 2016. Whether for a long weekend, a week or longer, more people will be taking vacations in 2017. And they will be taking more of them—three or more. That is up from one or two in previous years. Where will you head? The most popular vacations are road trips, visits to national parks, theme parks and international destinations. Cruises also registered on the survey. Say Cheese If you are getting or renewing a passport, here are some tips about your passport photo:

•  Take off your glasses. As of November, glasses cannot be worn in passport photos. •  Make sure the background is off-white or white. Avoid wearing a white shirt. •  Wear something from your normal wardrobe; head coverings or hats are not allowed unless you wear them daily for religious reasons. •  If you smile, be natural; a neutral facial expression is preferable. •  Print the photo on regular photo paper; matte or glossy is acceptable. •  The photo must be square: 2 inches by 2 inches is standard. The head size, facing forward, should be 2 to 23/8 inches from the top of the head to the chin. •  Many chain drug stores and warehouse clubs offer affordable—and properly sized—passport photos. n














Clogged, Backed—up Septic System…Can anything Restore It? Dear Darryl DEAR DARRYL: My home is about 10 years old, and so is my septic system. I have always taken pride in keeping my home and property in top shape. In fact, my neighbors and I are always kidding each other about who keeps their home and yard nicest. Lately, however, I have had a horrible smell in my yard, and also in one of my bathrooms, coming from the shower drain. My grass is muddy and all the drains in my home are very slow.

My wife is on my back to make the bathroom stop smelling and as you can imagine, my neighbors are having a field day, kidding me about the mud pit and sewage stench in my yard. It’s humiliating. I called a plumber buddy of mine, who recommended pumping (and maybe even replacing) my septic system. But at the potential cost of thousands of dollars, I hate to explore that option. I tried the store bought, so called, Septic treatments out there, and they did Nothing to clear up my problem. Is there anything on the market I can pour or flush into my system that will restore it to normal, and keep it maintained? Clogged and Smelly – West Palm , FL

DEAR CLOGGED AND SMELLY: As a reader of my column, I am sure you are aware that I have a great deal of experience in this particular field. You will be glad to know that there IS a septic solution that will solve your back-up and effectively restore your entire system from interior piping throughout the septic system and even unclog the drain field as well. SeptiCleanse® Shock and Maintenance Programs deliver your system the fast active bacteria and enzymes needed to liquefy solid waste and free the clogs causing your back-up. This fast-acting bacteria multiplies within minutes of application and is specifically designed to withstand many of today’s anti-bacterial cleaners, soaps and detergents. It comes in dissolvable plastic packs, that you just flush down your toilets. It’s so cool. Plus, they actually Guarantee that it restores ANY system, no matter how bad the problem is. SeptiCleanse® Shock and Maintenance Programs are designed to work on any septic system regardless of design or age. From modern day systems to sand mounds, and systems installed generations ago, I have personally seen SeptiCleanse unclog and restore these systems in a matter of weeks. I highly recommend that you try it before spending any money on repairs. SeptiCleanse products are available online at or you can order or learn more by calling toll free at 1-888-899-8345. If you use the promo code “FLS1”, you can get a free shock treatment, added to your order, which normally costs $169. So, make sure you use that code when you call or buy online.

ASSESSing hOuSing OpTiOnS undERSTAnding bEnEFiTS

Festival  Roundup

Things to See and Do

Include Your Upcoming Event Want to share a family-friendly event with the readers of Florida Currents? Please send details to info@florida Include the date, town, times and a way for readers to register or get more information. Please submit the item at least 60 days before the event (due to press deadline). If you own rights to a print-quality photo promoting your event— perhaps from a past year—please include it along with photo credit information. Thank you.

May 3-7, Panama City Beach 19th annual Thunder Beach Spring Motorcycle Rally Bikers, vendors and exhibitors from around the country share stories, enjoy live entertainment, shop for accessories and experience a scenic ride.; (850) 249-7627

May 5-6, Orlando National Pie Championships Amateur pie makers, professional bakers/chefs and commercial pie companies from around the country and Canada compete in the American Pie Council event at the Rosen Centre Hotel.

May 6, Siesta Key Sand Sculpture Contest Bring your pail, shovel, sunglasses and creativity to the pavilion at Siesta Key Public Beach and compete for cash prizes.; (941) 861-5000

May 7, Panama City Beach Cornhole Tournament Nivol Brewery hosts the first of four 32-team tournaments at 2 p.m. Each team is guaranteed three games. Winners of pool play advance. The entry fee is $20.; (850) 338-4578

May 10-14, Key West 22nd annual Songwriters’ Festival More than 200 artists perform in more than 50 concerts staged in intimate island settings.; (305) 304-0814

May 13, Lake Placid Highlands County Audubon Society Leave Lake Placid Tower at 8 a.m. for a 182-mile roundtrip birding expedition by car along the western coast. Bring lunch. Julie, (863) 304-8385

Photo courtesy of Smiley Honey

27th Annual Tupelo Honey Festival Taste and take home this delicacy from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Lake Alice Park in Wewahitchka. Enjoy food, arts and crafts and live music. For more information, visit or email


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May 13, Panama City Beach Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast The ultimate test of endurance starts with a 1.2-mile open water swim, followed by a 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.

May 13, Pensacola Fiesta Children’s Treasure Hunt Join Fiesta of Five Flags for a free day of treasure hunting, toys, games and fun adventures for kids and families.

May 13, Windsor 33rd annual Zucchini Festival Help support the local volunteer fire department while having fun and being entertained.; (352) 372-4875

May 13, Marathon Marathon Games Pentathlon Swimming, kayaking, standup paddling, driving frozen “golf” balls and a footrace comprise the event hosted by the Florida Keys Country Club. Up to five-person team athletes can register. Competition starts at 8 a.m. Proceeds support local nonprofits.; (305) 587-9830

May 13, Panama City Beach 4th annual Bike and Boil Charity Ride Pay $15 for a ride to benefit Crimestoppers, then enjoy free live music and a $10 low country boil. The event is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Harley Davidson of Panama City Beach.; (850) 334-0055

May 13-14, Sandestin 29th annual ArtsQuest Fine Arts and Music Festival View and buy original art from more than 200 artists, listen to live music, peruse student art and a juried show, and enjoy a kids’ area.

May 14, Lake Wales Mother’s Day Carillon Concert Bok Tower Gardens offers free admission to all moms, who can enjoy meandering garden paths and special concerts at 1 and 3 p.m.; (863) 676-1408

May 17-21, Panama City Beach 2nd annual Jeep Beach Jam Thousands of Jeep owners and enthusiasts descend on Frank Brown Park for excursions, seminars, vendor offerings, a kids’ zone, outdoor movie night, extreme obstacle course, a 5K run and concerts Friday and Saturday night. The latter features country star Craig Morgan.

May 18-21, Key Largo Original Music Festival Enjoy food, entertainment and ambiance as multiple on-the-water venues feature Nashville’s hit songwriters and musicians, as well as local entertainers. Presented by the Key Largo Merchants Association.; (305) 394-3736

May 18-21, Brooksville Orange Blossom Jamboree Sertoma Ranch hosts more than 50 bands. Tickets start at $95 for a four-day pass.

May 20, Marathon Battle in the Bay The waters off Sombrero Beach are transformed into a swift racecourse for dragon boat racing that involves 20 paddlers moving in unison. The festival—which supports local charities—is free

Photo by LWR Digital Photography Club

Tribute to Heroes Parade

The party begins at 5 p.m. and the parade begins at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at Lakewood Ranch. Thousands line up to see veterans, residents and businesses parade along Main Street honoring local heroes. All children who decorate bikes can be part of the procession as a group. Prizes are awarded for cutest, most patriotic and most creative. Judging is at 6:15 p.m. Parents or group leaders are responsible for children at all times. For more information, visit or call (941) 757-1530. to the public. Racing begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends about 2 p.m. Food, beverages, merchandise and entertainment are available shoreside.; (813) 426-3544

May 20-21, Pensacola 3rd annual Lionfish Removal & Awareness Day Help remove invasive lionfish from Florida waters beginning at 10 a.m. Headquartered at Plaza de Luna Park, the free event includes lionfish tastings, fillet demonstrations, family activities and celebrity chef cook-offs.; (850) 529-2475

May 20-21, Gulf Breeze 42nd annual Family Fishing Rodeo Weigh-ins are from 2 to 5 p.m. at Shoreline Park South for a variety of species, with prizes awarded for the top three places and a $1,000 grand prize. The entry fee is $25. Kids 9 and younger are free with an adult entry.; (850) 261-3731

May 26, Pensacola Movies in the Park Bring blankets, chairs and picnic baskets and spread out on the lawn at Hunter Amphitheater at Community Maritime Park to watch a free, family-friendly movie at 8 p.m. Concessions are available. No pets or glass containers.; (850) 436-5670

May 26-28, White Springs Florida Folk Festival Experience the traditions and savor the flavors, sights and sounds of some of the state’s oldest and newest cultural communities. Enjoy music, dance, stories, crafts and food at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.

May 26-29, Palatka Blue Crab Festival Live music, arts and crafts, carnival rides and

commercial vendors are featured, with fireworks Saturday night and a parade on Monday. Admission and parking are free.

May 27, Lake Placid Highlands County Audubon Society Leave Lake Placid at 8 a.m. to head to South Lake Howard Nature Park in Winter Haven. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. Roberta, (863) 599-0124

May 27, Ovieda 5th annual Central Florida BBQ Blowout Ten professional barbecue teams prepare a variety of dishes for sale, while backyard and professional grillers compete for prizes, and local kids sponsored by area businesses team with professional pit masters in epic cooking competitions. The event at Ovieda Mall is from 2 to 10 p.m.

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Outdoor Pursuits

Enjoying the Natural World Around Us

Six Tips for a Comfortable Bike Ride May is National Bike Month. What better excuse to get on a bike and enjoy one of Florida’s myriad biking hotspots. Follow these tips to stay comfortable and maximize the fun. • The bike frame should fit your frame. On a properly sized bicycle, you should be able to straddle it and stand flat footed, with daylight between you and the bike. Generally, there should be about 2 inches of clearance. • Match your tires to the surface you ride most. For roads and paved trails, the best options are slick or semislick tires; they cause less friction and provide a steady, more comfortable ride on smooth surfaces. Knobby tires are best for dirt, gravel and off-trail riding. • Find a seat for every backside. Just because a bike comes with a particular seat does not mean you are stuck with it forever. A new seat is easy to install. Find one that fits your contours and provides the level of comfort you desire.

Shifting a multispeed bicycle is an acquired skill. Some consider it an art. For optimal smoothness and efficiency, take your time when shifting gears. Let each speed take hold before moving to the next. Shifting too fast may lead to the chain jumping gears or disengaging altogether. Also, try to anticipate changes in speed, such as uphills, downhills and changes in road surfaces, and time your shifts accordingly. © Brian A. Jackson

• Add cush to your tush. Wider seats, cushioned pullover seat covers and gel-filled seats are popular comfort options. For example, Cloud 9 cushioned seats are popular with recreational riders. Check out the company’s offerings at • Beat the heat. You can work up a sweat on a Florida bike ride. To stay cool, wear a helmet with lots of ventilation. The key is to find one that provides good protection, as well as optimal air flow. • Just add water. Last but not leaast, always carry a full water bottle. If your bike doesn’t accommodate a water

Many of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.


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bottle, consider a hydration pack. One advantage of a hydration pack—such as a Camelbak or Platypus—is it allows you to carry more water for longer, hotter rides. The Keys to Hot Fishing Everyone knows Florida is the fishing capital of the world, and the crown jewel of Florida fishing is the Keys. That’s because there is always something in season, even during the sweltering months of summer. Spring is perhaps the best season to fish the Keys, in terms of the variety of fish in season and runs at their peak. It is optimal for tarpon, blackfin tuna, sailfish and several other species. Sweat the Salty Stuff Perspiration and saltwater are the bane of multi-tools. They promote rust and corrosion. Generally, there are two ways

to confront the problem. First, select a multi-tool that is corrosion resistant. Second, maintain it regularly. After sweaty, salty use, rinse the tool with fresh water, dry it and oil it with a light coat of machine oil. Make sure to get into the moving parts. Remove excess oil by wiping it with a dry cloth or paper towel. Special Days in May National Bike Month. May 4: Bird Day. May 16: Love a Tree Day. May 27: Sunscreen Day. Show-and-Tell Time Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to info@ 

Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Tap Into Savings With GEC’s Co-op Connections Card One way Glades Electric Cooperative looks out for you is with the Co-op Connections Card. The nationwide membership program is designed to save you money on everything from prescriptions and home goods to restaurant dining and hotel rooms. The card does not cost you anything. It is a benefit of GEC’s partnership with Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. To browse national and local offers, incentives and discounts that come with using the Co-op Connections Card, visit A search feature allows you to locate goods and services by zip code. Please support the local merchants who participate in the program. n

Church of the Month Venus United Methodist 926 County Road 731 Venus, FL 33440

It Pays to be a Member of Glades Electric Cooperative! Glades Electric Cooperative offers you three ways to earn credits on your monthly billing statements. XX

$10 Paperless Bill Credit Winners

All members enrolled in eBill and selecting paperless billing are entered into a monthly drawing. Five lucky winners automatically receive $10 credits on their billing statements. XX

$10 Automatic Draft Credit Winners

All members enrolled in automatic payments from their bank account or credit card are entered into a monthly drawing. Five lucky winners automatically receive $10 credits on their billing statements. XX

$25 Florida Currents Reader Credit Winners

All active GEC members are entered into a monthly drawing for a $25 credit on their bill. Two winners are selected each month. To claim the credit, you must call (863) 946-6200 or sign your name to this page and mail it to: Glades Electric Cooperative, P.O. Box 519, Moore Haven, FL 33471.

$10 eBill Winners* William Evans—114214-001 Carmen and Ciro Rojas—122502-001 Maryann Erson—119055-001 Gregory L. McCain—120420-001 Allen Ridenour—120242-001 * Credits appear on April billing statements

$10 Draft Winners* Danielle Maes—115827-001 John E. Barber—113954-001 Helen L. Thomas—117793-001 Sally J. Sackman—108650-001 Thomas and Terri Crutchfield—112002-001 * Credits appear on April billing statements

Glades Electric Cooperative

$25 Florida Currents Reader Winners* Kenneth and Elizabeth Kiesman—11967-001 Benjamin Leighton—113984-001 * To claim the Florida Currents Reader credit, winners must call (863) 946-6200 or sign their name to this page and mail it to the GEC office.

A P R I L 2017

Saluting Our Line Crew

National Lineman Appreciation Day is April 10. Glades Electric Cooperative values their work every day, but takes this opportunity to acknowledge their efforts. Here Brice Buckner (orange shirt) and Brian Rhymes hand supplies to Phillip Albritton, who heads up in the bucket to make repairs to a line. PHOTO BY DENISE WHITEHEAD

The Well-Connected Lineworker PAGE 4


Student Wins Trip to D.C. PAGE 7

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Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Building an Outdoor Shop or Barn? Learn how to make your structure more energy efficient By Meghaan Evans

There are many benefits to having an energy-efficient outdoor shop or barn. Aside from saving energy, an efficient outdoor building can keep the environment around your structure healthy and safe; save money on your water bill; keep your animals happier and healthier; and save you from costly structural repairs. Whether you are looking to build a new structure or make changes to an existing one, there are many ways you can make your outdoor shop or barn more energy efficient. New Builds Follow these tips to make new construction energy efficient: •  Location matters. If possible, carefully consider where you build your shop or barn. Consider drainage, sun exposure and how the building

Remembering Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice


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Whether you are building a new shop or barn, or changing an existing one, there are many ways to make it more energy efficient.

may affect your neighbors. •  Start with a sustainable design plan. The U.S. General Services Administration says that includes using environmentally preferable products; protecting and conserving water; enhancing indoor environmental quality; and optimizing operational and maintenance practices. •  If hiring a contractor, look for companies that specialize in green buildings and energy-efficient practices. •  Choose efficient building methods. Pole barns offer reliable shelter without costly excavation, concrete foundations or general site disruption. Structural Upgrades Follow these tips to make energy-efficient upgrades to an existing structure: •  Replace indoor lighting with LED bulbs. •  Ensure your structure has adequate insulation levels.

•  Choose outdoor lighting designed to be energy efficient, and install motion detectors to reduce energy consumption when not in use. •  Plant trees around your metal shed or barn. In colder climates, trees act as a windbreak. In warmer climates, they have a natural cooling effect that can reduce temperatures in your metal building 3 to 6 degrees. •  Consider adding a ceiling fan to circulate air. Typically, there is a 2-degree temperature increase for every one-foot increase in ceiling height. A ceiling fan can help keep warm air close to the ground in the winter, and circulate fresher, cooler air in the summer. This not only helps with energy costs. It helps keep the air in the building from becoming hot and stagnant, which will keep harmful bacteria from the building and insects at bay. n



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Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Showing Appreciation Electric cooperatives host annual cookout, take opportunity to interact with state legislators Glades Electric Cooperative CEO Jeff Brewington understands the importance of formally sitting down with legislators to ensure local communities are represented and our voices are heard. Throughout the year, GEC monitors legislative issues that could impact the electric industry, our members and our communities. It is GEC’s goal to make sure legislators remember the differences that make rural communities the heart of our nation. Brewington also realizes casual gatherings with legislators can sometimes end in more beneficial results than formal meetings. On March 22, GEC joined other electric cooperatives from around the state to host the annual Legislative Appreciation Cookout. This fun and relaxing event offers a more casual atmosphere to interact with state legislators, who have the opportunity to sample the finest foods rural Florida has to offer—from beef tenderloin to seafood paella. GEC employees and Trustees were excited to interact with Sen. Denise Grimsley and Rep. Byron Donalds. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam also attended the event and spent time at each table talking to cooperative representatives. A highlight of the evening was when Gov. Rick Scott arrived by motorcade. The governor spent time taking photos with attendees and circling the room to meet with representatives from each cooperative. Brewington and the employees of GEC who helped cook and serve at this year’s cookout found it to be valuable even beyond interacting with legislators. The cooperation among cooperatives to put on such an event is a rewarding experience. Employees are able to get to know employees at other cooperatives across the state and make connections that help us serve you throughout the year. n

Trustee Angela Hodges speaks with Gov. Rick Scott as Brewington listens in. 28

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Michelle Brewington serves smoked jalapeno poppers, fried gator tail and fried gator ribs at Glades Electric Cooperative’s booth.

GEC’s Paul McGehee, left, and CEO Jeff Brewington visit with state Rep. Byron Donalds.

GEC’s grill team, from left, Tim Lowman, Jack Coxe (seated), Tracy Vaugh, Roy Lumsden, Barney Goodman, Lee Henderson and John Huysman. Pedro Navarro is not pictured.

Consumer Interest Drives Co-op Solar Projects By Tracy Warren

Driven by increased interest among consumers as well as declining costs, electric cooperatives across the country are finding a multitude of ways to bring the benefits of solar to their members. America’s electric co-ops expect to double their solar capacity by the end of 2017, adding more than 480 megawatts of solar this year for a total of 872 MW nationwide, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. In a recent nationwide survey, co-ops were asked why they offer or support solar options. More than two-thirds said they were motivated by a desire to increase consumer-member satisfaction. Most cited member demand. Increased affordability played a role, with nearly half citing the decline in the cost of renewable energy as a factor in enhancing their solar energy program. Survey results show co-ops are listening to their members and care about costs. As consumer-owned utilities, electric cooperatives view solar as a consumer resource. That is why they lead the utility sector in developing community solar or shared solar—a program that enables co-op members to invest in solar farms built and operated by the cooperative. The principle of Cooperation Among Cooperatives is critical to the growth. In 2016, cooperatives announced nine joint projects involving more than 200 cooperatives. Savings from the economies of scale in large projects make the projects more affordable. Cooperatives also collaborate by sharing information and knowledge. As early solar adopters gained experience and know-how, they shared best practices. There is no one-size-fits-all program. Cooperatives are developing a variety of options—from huge arrays covering hundreds of acres to residential solar installations. Some co-ops are partnering with rooftop solar installers or doing rooftop installation for members. Others are installing solar-powered water heaters and irrigation systems. n

Cooperative solar set to skyrocket Cooperative solar capacity is projected to double in 2017. Solar Capacity (MWAC) 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0

















180 2015



Combined MWAC in 2017

YTD and Planned

NOTE: Co-op solar capacity owned or purchased under contract

Gov. Rick Scott, center, greets attendees at the annual Legislative Appreciation Cookout.

Source: NRECA Business & Technology Strategies

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Parting  Shot

Readers Share Their Special Photos

‘I Only Need Them to Read’ Riki Pope of Youngstown says this photo of her late-great dog Teddy generated interest when it sat on her desk at work. “One of my employees saw it and straight-faced and serious asked, ‘Does he always wear the glasses?’” Riki says. “The question was so unreal, I couldn’t believe she had actually asked it. Off the top of my head I came back with, ‘No, he only needs them to read.’ My husband, Jack, loved my punch line.” They had T-shirts made with the photo and comeback. n —Riki Pope, Youngstown

We always are looking for photos to feature in Parting Shot and Postcards From Florida. We pay $25 for one-time use. Please send your best shots (must be a minimum 1,000 KB file size), along with the story behind the photo and information about where it was taken. Include your name and mailing address (for payment purposes) and send to

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Offices Open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday 26733 U.S. Hwy. 27 East/P.O. Box 519 Moore Haven, FL 33471 (863) 946-6200 Fax: (863) 946-2150 214 SR 70 West Lake Placid, FL 33852 (863) 531-5000 808 N. Parrott Ave. Okeechobee, FL 34972 (863) 467-5111

Power Interruption Number Moore Haven..............................(863) 946-6200 Phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. Please have your location or account number handy when you call.

Board of Trustees John “Jack” Coxe, President, District 8 Lake Josephine, (863) 655-3056 James “Jim” Aul, Vice President, District 7 Lorida, (863) 441-0441 Shannon Hall, Secretary/Treasurer, District 4 Lakeport and Brighton, (863) 946-3242 Donnie Lundy, Trustee, District 1 Moore Haven, (863) 946-0402 Barney Goodman, Trustee, District 2 Hendry County, (561) 414-8737 Dr. John Huysman, Trustee, District 3 Ortona and Palmdale, (863) 946-2911 Ladd Bass, Trustee, District 5 Venus and Hicoria, (863) 441-2227 Lee Henderson, Trustee, District 6 Highlands Park, (863) 633-9281 Angela Hodges, Trustee, District 9 Okeechobee, (863) 801-3140 The Board’s next meeting will be at 9 a.m. May 25 at the Moore Haven headquarters office. Any changes to this schedule will be posted in the lobby of all three district offices.

Executive Staff CEO Jeff Brewington CFO Jennifer Manning CTO Jesse Wallace Chief Assistant Margaret Ellerbee Dir. of Business Development Paul McGehee Dir. of Employee Services Yvonne Bradley Dir. of Engineering Travis Turner Dir. of Operations Tracy Vaughn


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CEO’s Message

Three Great Things Happening At Glades Electric Cooperative I sure had a great time visiting with many of you at our 72nd Annual Meeting. The Moore Haven Middle-High School venue worked out so well we are making plans to hold next year’s meeting there, too. At the meeting, President Jack Coxe reported the Trustees would review a capital credit refund at its next regular board meeting. That meeting has been held, and your Board of Trustees has approved the retirement of capital credits for the years 1976 through 1982 totaling $1,575,380.93. Checks and credits will be delivered in May to members of the cooperative during those years. At the same regular board meeting, your Trustees also voted to lower rates as of April 1, 2017, and no, that was no April Fools’ Day joke. The wholesale power cost adjustment, or WPCA, was reduced 18.5 percent, moving from a $10.55 credit to your account on 1,000 kilowatt-hours to a $12.50 credit. Enjoy the savings. We will always strive to deliver you the lowest possible cost. On another positive note, our own Glades Electric Educational Foundation has selected its 2017 scholarship winners. This year, the foundation was able to award 14 scholarships to cooperative members’ students. Two scholarships totaling $4,000 each were awarded in every county the cooperative serves: Glades, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee. That is $32,000 to your students! The foundation also was able to award an additional six scholarships of $1,000 each to members’ students throughout the cooperative’s territory. A banquet to honor these deserving students will be held on Thursday, May 4, in Lake Placid. Great things happen at cooperatives. I’m blessed to be a part of them.

Jeff Brewington

Florida Currents May 2017  

Florida Currents May 2017

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