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Glades Electric Cooperative

D E C E M B E R 2011

Queen of the Highwaymen Mary Ann Carroll is the sole female member of the Florida artist group known as the Highwaymen. Their art—such as this painting by Mary Ann of a Royal Poinciana tree—are known for their vivid colors depicting Florida’s tropical beauty. Please see the story on page 10. To purchase her work, see the contact information on page 12. PHOTO BY CLAUDIA SHEA

Glades County Hit By Tornado PAGE 4

Improving the System PAGE 28

a day on the river

romantic inns

great festivals

Gainesville is more than Football Take home memories of “Where Nature & Culture Meet� 866-778-5002

the botanical gardens

downtown dining

meeting the locals


Glades Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Glades Electric Welcomes New GM Florida Currents is published monthly by five rural electric cooperatives serving consumers throughout Florida. The publication is made possible by your friends at Glades Electric Cooperative in an effort to keep you informed of events and issues at your cooperative. Florida Currents is produced with the assistance of Ruralite Services Inc. Formed in 1954, the not-for-profit Oregon-based cooperative corporation serves the communication needs of consumer-owned electric utilities in nine states. Today, Ruralite works with 58 electric utilities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Postmaster: Please send address changes to Ruralite Services, P.O. Box 558, Forest Grove, OR 97116-0558. 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, P.O. Box 558, Forest Grove, OR 97116-0558; (503) 357-2105; email Extra copies: $2 each, pre-payment required. Supply is limited. Identify edition, month and year. Contact Ruralite Services. Reprint permission: Direct all requests to Ruralite Services. MANUSCRIPTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Please do not send unsolicited materials. If interested in writing for Florida Currents, query first. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope for writer’s guidelines. Address requests and queries to Ruralite Services. DISPLAY ADVERTISING INQUIRIES

Contact Russell Green or Brenda Somes Ruralite Services Inc. P.O. Box 558 Forest Grove, OR 97116-0558 (503) 357-2105 PRINTED IN FLORIDA

Trend Offset Printing Services 10301 Busch Drive North Jacksonville, FL 32218 © 2011 Ruralite Services Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

Hello members! I am excited to write you as the new general manager of your cooperative. Let me give you a little background so you can get to know me. The first 23 years of my life were spent in southwest Michigan. I toiled in agriculture through my youth, and was employed by the Michigan State Experimental Station while working my way through college at Western Michigan University. After earning my accounting degree, I moved to Florida to work for United States Sugar Corp. Seems I just couldn’t get farming out of my blood. More than 11 years ago, after a 19-year career at USSC, I had a yearning to work in a more service-oriented job and was blessed to find such a job as Chief Financial Officer at Glades Electric Cooperative. I would be remiss not to thank Tommy Todd for the years of experience and growth

Jeff Brewington

he has provided, preparing me for this new era at GEC. Tommy provided 15 years of leadership to your cooperative and chalked up many improvements to our system. Please read more of his story on the back of this publication. Where do we go now? We have some challenges ahead of us as our business environment has changed dramatically. In the past, the cooperative could count on a steady rate of growth each year that would cover expansion throughout all operations. Now, we face a

significant drop in sales. This new reality is going to require some belt tightening. We have started an austerity plan seeking all of the cuts we can muster, while continuing to provide you the best possible service at affordable rates. Speaking of rates, you may have noticed a steep discount in your November and December bills. I hope it was a blessing to you this holiday season; however, it was just a temporary adjustment to get our rates back on track for 2011. Our projection for 2012 shows we should start the year billing at $135.34 per 1,000 residential kilowatthours, which is actually a little less than the previous January billing rate. Rest assured we will continue to do all we can to maintain or beat that rate throughout 2012. We are prepared to make 2012 a success. I look forward to serving you. —Jeff Brewington, GM


December 2011 Vol. 1, No. 2

Queen of the Highway 10

Mary Ann Carroll is the sole female member of the renowned Florida artist group known as the Highwaymen. Also In This Issue Christmas Special 14 In the Kitchen 16 Florida Gardener 18

Festival Roundup 22 Outdoor Pursuits 24 Parting Shot 30

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



Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Glades County Hit By Tornado GEC line crews respond after high winds damage utility system and interrupt electrical service Glades Electric Cooperative line crews sprang into action to restore power to members in Glades County following an October 18 tornado. Several homes suffered extensive damage, and poles and lines were down in the affected areas. Crews quickly were dispatched to assess the extent of the damage and begin restoration efforts. Though isolated, the damage was sufficient to interrupt service to 1,969 members. In all, high winds from the tornado broke four poles, and damaged more than 1,000 feet of primary wire and 500 feet of secondary wire. Two breakers and a transformer also were damaged. The line crews worked safely and efficiently, restoring service to most members in about 3½ hours. The only exceptions were at homes damaged so severely that reconnection was unsafe. GEC thanks members for their patience during restoration efforts. We hope those who suffered damage have fully recovered, and that life is back to normal. Glades Electric stands ready to answer the call when our members need us. We are proud to be “Neighbors Working for Neighbors.” n 4


The tornado not only knocked out power, but left extensive structural damage to several homes.

Above, a tornado ripped through Glades County on October 18, taking down trees and portions of the power system, and damaging homes and property. Left, this pontoon boat was picked up and carried from several streets away before being dropped, upside down, in the canal.



Glades Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

e-Bill Helps Members’ Wallets Go Green 6


Moving toward being paperless has many benefits: from saving trees and reducing waste in landfills to helping Glade Electric members’ wallets “go green.” How? By saving the expense of printing and mailing a bill, the cooperative keeps its costs low and the savings can be passed along to members. Here is how e-billing works: When a member’s account is billed, a notification is sent via email to the member. The member can access their bill by logging into his or her profile at If the member chooses, he or she can pay the bill online. E-Bill can be coupled with GEC’s new alerts and reminders service, whereby a member can elect to receive email or text alerts regarding due and past due bills. Members also can make account/profile changes and receive payment confirmations via email and texts. Call your local GEC office and ask a representative to help you get started. 

Operation Round Up Monthly Report

Charitable Trust Board of Directors Barbara Hughes District 1 Moore Haven Beverly Eaves District 2 Hendry County Kelly Brantley District 3 Ortona/Palmdale Doris Evans District 4 Lakeport

More than 72 percent of Glades Electric Cooperative members participate in Operation Round Up. This worthwhile program 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 to the nearest dollar. The extra is placed in the fund for deserving individuals and organizations. As of October 31, your Charitable Trust Board of Directors has approved $660,685 in disbursements. These funds have provided assistance with food, emergency lodging, disaster relief

and specific emergency needs for 451 individuals and/or families and 91 community organizations. The trust does not fund utility bills (electric, phone, water and gas) or budgets of organizations. Organizations in our service counties may apply for funding for a specific need or project. The board of directors meets monthly to review applications for funding. ď Ž If you know of a needy individual who deserves some assistance and lives within our service area, please 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. Applications are considered the fourth Wednesday each month.


Credit Winners Carl and Mary Journell Charles and Madeline Kidd

No. 5562-01 No. 3096-01

Winners should call (800) 226-4024 or sign their name to this page and mail it to: Florida Currents $25 Credit Glades Electric Cooperative P.O. Box 519 Moore Haven, FL 33471

To be announced District 5 Venus/Hicora Lee Andrus District 6 Highlands Park Audrey Vickers District 7 Lorida David McCadam District 8 Lake Josephine Josephine Glenn District 9 Okeechobee

Church of the Month

First Baptist Church of Lake Josephine 111 Lake Josephine Drive Sebring, FL 33872



Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Holding the Line Against Power Theft GEC staff works to protect you from higher costs due to power thieves



Marijuana grow houses, and their illegal crop, have long been a scourge to our communities. The devastating effect on our youth, as well as the criminal activity often associated with its production and distribution, is a poison to our society. There also is a direct negative economic impact on Glades Electric members. These operations require enormous amounts of electricity to function. As huge power bills would draw unwanted attention to these illegal setups—and because the people operating them generally are unscrupulous criminals—the electricity is stolen. Intricate illegal taps, bypassed meters and even stolen transformers often are discovered when a grow house is raided by law enforcement. But grow houses are not the only source of stolen electricity. Hard economic times have led to an increase in simple power diversion to avoid having to pay for electricity. Unfortunately, this creates an even greater

hardship on honest members! Remember, these criminals are stealing your power. When any electric company fails to collect for electricity used on their lines—legally or illegally—the burden falls on the consumer. As a notfor-profit, member-owned company, the lost revenue is divided among all of our honest paying members. GEC members can rest assured we are aggressively addressing this issue. The Glades Electric Revenue Protection Team is tasked with investigating, calculating and recovering the revenue stolen by marijuana grow houses and cases of simple power diversion. But our efforts are not limited to the team. Every employee of Glades Electric is involved with identifying power thefts and helping secure restitution for the rest of the members. Due to the hard work of all the cooperative’s employees, the dollar amount of stolen power in 2011 is significantly lower than it was in 2010. Grow houses combined with simple power theft totaled nearly $204,000 in 2010. Thus far in 2011, this figure is just more than $126,000. The number of grow houses raided has fallen from a high of 20 in 2009 to five thus far in 2011. Unfortunately, the number of simple power thefts has increased from 11 in 2010 to 16 thus far in 2011. We can only assume this is due to the harsh economy. But power thieves should know they are not stealing from a nameless, faceless corporation. GEC is a cooperative, owned by our members. Every theft is borne by the balance of the membership. Power thieves literally are stealing from their neighbors! GEC pays a $500 reward to individuals providing information that directly leads to the discovery of a marijuana grow house. Please report any suspicious activity by calling (800) 226-4024. Help your cooperative keep electricity affordable by holding these thieves accountable. Power thieves be warned! Glades Electric has a zero-tolerance policy regarding diversion. If you have tampered with your meter in any way, we will find you. You are subject to arrest and will be held fully liable for every penny you stole from the honest members of GEC! n

Keep Your Holidays Happy As you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart. Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to about 200 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Two out of five Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems. Keep trees away from heat sources. That causes one-quarter of the fires. To avoid becoming a statistic: •  If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. •  If you have a live tree, choose one with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Add water daily, and get rid of the tree if it becomes dry. •  Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, not both.



Side Roads

Discoveries Off the Beaten Path

Queen of the Highway Mary Ann Carroll is the sole female member of the Florida artist group known as the Highwaymen By Claudia Shea

Dining With Eagles Eagles are a rare breed, so when you encounter one it is a memorable occasion. While driving to Myakka State Park, west of Arcadia, Florida, James David came upon some birds eating roadkill. All but one of the birds flew away as his vehicle approached. It was an American bald eagle. “He finally flew to the post next to the road and I was able to take this picture of him,” says James. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” n Photo by James David of Palmetto, Florida

Everything about legendary artist Mary Ann Carroll is bold: her courage in challenging barriers, her determination to use her God-given talents to help others, her conviction that anybody can become anything and, most notably to those who have seen her paintings, her preferred pallet in vivid colors. Some may find irony in that a woman whose chosen path is the road less traveled has the distinction of being the sole female member of a group of 26 black Florida artists known as the Highwaymen. Like her Highwaymen brethren, Mary Ann began painting breathtaking landscapes and seascapes more than 50 years ago in the segregated South. The artists, based in Fort Pierce, sold their creations along the highways, out of the trunks of their cars, because they could not get their work displayed in galleries during the 1950s and ’60s. They were not known as the Highwaymen in those days. Gallery owner Jim Fitch coined that moniker in 1995 in an article he wrote about the artists. The name stuck, and the article helped catapult the status and celebrity of the group. In 2004, all 26 Highwaymen artists— including Mary Ann—were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. The Extraordinary Journey Mary Ann’s success exemplifies the American dream. Born to Georgia sharecroppers in 1940, she now is regarded as an icon. Her serene scenes depicting Florida fauna and flora fetch thousands of dollars each. Mary Ann is the recipient of countless awards and has the distinction of having one of her paintings hanging in the White House.



Above, Mary Ann Carroll displays her wares from the back of her car. She enjoys the distinction of being the only woman among the 26 Florida artists known as the Highwaymen. Opposite page, a river scene painted by Mary Ann bears the distinctive style and colors of the Highwaymen.

Her rocky path to success was paved with perseverance. “If it hadn’t been for the stumbling stones, I wouldn’t have been able to step on the top rock,” Mary Ann says, metaphorically. Her inspirational journey began in Fort Pierce where Mary Ann’s family moved when she was a child. A teacher recognized her artistic talent early, but it was not until Mary Ann turned 18 that a chance encounter with another artist changed her life. Mary Ann spotted Harold Newton— now regarded as the first Highwayman— painting a scenic landscape under a shade tree. He soon became her mentor, and painting became her passion. “I painted a river scene just like he told me, but it looked naked to me, so Harold added two palm trees to it and from then on I just kept painting,” Mary Ann says. So did a growing number of inspired African-American artists in Fort Pierce, who embraced painting as an alternative to long hours and low pay in citrus groves and packinghouses.

The 26 members of the Highwaymen Curtis Arnett Hezekiah Baker † Al Black Ellis Buckner † George Buckner † Robert Butler Mary Ann Carroll Johnny Daniels † Willie Daniels Rodney Demps James Gibson Alfred Hair † Issac Knight Robert L. Lewis John Maynor Roy McLendon Alfonso Moran † Harold Newton † Lemuel Newton Sam Newton Livingston Roberts † Willie Reagan Carnell Smith Charles Walker Sylvester M. Wells Charles Wheeler † deceased

Stroke of Genius Members of the loosely associated group were influenced by the expansive and lucrative landscapes painted by another Fort Pierce resident—a renowned and established Caucasian artist named Albert Ernest “Beanie” Backus. He is now referred to as “the dean of Florida landscape artists.” Though Alfred Hair was his only formal student, Mary Ann says his “front door” was open to anyone who wanted to learn. “Everybody was welcomed in Mr. Backus’ house,” she says. “He cared nothing about prestige, he cared nothing about money, he cared nothing about color. He just cared about people.” Alfred also cared about people. He shared the knowledge he gained from

Albert with several other budding African-American artists. Alfred also had a keen business sense. He is credited with kicking the peddling of paintings into high gear. As the first entrepreneur of the Highwaymen, Alfred set the standard: painting quickly, loading his art into his car and hitting the highway selling his creations before the oil-based paint even dried. He sold his work door-to-door, and out of the trunk of his car. Mary Ann—a divorced mother with seven children to support—joined in, often providing transportation for artists who did not have cars. “Several of the guys were together painting and they told me they needed to make some money, but they didn’t have a car,” Mary Ann says, recalling her first

outing in the late 1950s. “I told them, ‘I’ll take you around if you show me how to sell my paintings.’ I sold two paintings that day and made $72. That’s more than a lot of people made in two weeks.” Now, more than 50 years later, Mary Ann still paints, and sometimes still sells her artwork out of the back of her car. But these days, customers come looking for her. Camaraderie and Competition James Gibson, 73, is a fourth-generation Floridian and the fourth member of the group. Like Mary Ann, he still paints, and sometimes still sells his work out of the back of his car. James credits a friendly competition with his buddy Continues on page 12 D ecember 20 1 1


Side Roads

Gator Gladiator Wrestling alligators is only one way Bob Freer interacts with the wildlife in his care By Nancy Jorgensen

James Gibson holds one of his paintings of a Royal Poinciana tree. The glass mosaic mural by Anita Prentice on the wall behind James honors him and the other 25 Highwaymen. It also features a Royal Poinciana tree because it is among the most popular images painted by this group of artists.

Queen of the Highway Continues from page 11

Alfred as his impetus for getting involved in the late 1950s. “Alfred taught me just enough to paint a painting,” James recalls with a smile. “We were always trying to one-up each other. If I sold one painting, Alfred would have to sell two.” James explains that Highwaymen art first became popular with tourists, who purchased the paintings as vibrant reminders of Florida’s tropical beauty. By the 1960s, Florida residents and businesses started buying the art— particularly landscape scenes featuring expansive skies, fiery red and orange Royal Poinciana trees and wind-blown palm trees. “In the 1960s, the thought was you’re really not a Floridian until you have a palm tree, sky, water, grass and the clouds,” James says. “That’s the way it was.” James sold his first painting for $35. His art now commands as much as $18,000. Like Mary Ann, James has paintings displayed in the White House, as well as the Florida Capitol and the 12

december 2 0 1 1

governor’s mansion. It is estimated the 26 Highwaymen collectively created and sold some 200,000 paintings. The Road Ahead Today, there are 18 surviving members of the Highwaymen. Most are in their 70s and 80s, and still paint. Though their style, materials and sales methods have evolved, the philosophy that runs like a current through members of this group remains. Members are steadfast in a core belief in which they lead by example—a belief that one should follow one’s dreams regardless of real or perceived barriers. Mary Ann, an artist and a pastor, lives by—and bestows—this creed to others. “Believe in yourself,” she says. “When people say you can’t make it, prove to yourself that you can. If you get insulted, and you go to a corner and cry, keep on walking, because the next step may be your success.” n Mary Ann Carroll can be contacted in Fort Pierce at (772) 595-3592 or James Gibson can be contacted in Fort Pierce at (772) 332-2127 or

Bob Freer fell in love with alligators when he was a kid, visiting his grandparents in the Everglades. “My father handed me a baby alligator,” he says. “It latched onto my finger and held on. I’ve been fascinated by alligators ever since.” The love affair has lasted more than five decades. Bob works at Everglades Alligator Farm south of Florida City as an animal wrangler, where he trains and supervises a crew that puts on daily alligator, snake and wildlife shows. The farm also offers airboat rides. “If you mess with alligators long enough, you will get bit,” Bob says. An audience member recently shot a video of a gator chomping down on Bob’s arm. You can see it on YouTube by searching for “Bob Freer alligator bite.” An assistant pried the gator’s mouth loose with a stick, wrapped a bandage on the wound and the show went on. Bob says the biting gator, “Godzilla,” is unusually cantankerous. “Most will only bite if they mistake you for food,” he says. “But an alligator’s mouth is extremely infectious. If people die from a wound, that’s usually why. I’ve been bit so many times that I doctor myself now.” The show does not involve much wrestling. Bob approaches the gator slowly, carefully staying behind the

Don’t try this at home! Bob Freer faces off with a cantankerous old alligator known as “Godzilla” at Everglades Alligator Farm near Florida City. In addition to more than 2,000 alligators, Bob cares for a menagerie of other wild animals, including tigers, panthers, pythons and 200 other snakes.

gator’s mouth. But the audience sees plenty of action, and the work clearly requires bravery. In another close encounter, Bob stepped into the farm’s lagoon with a large bucket of butchered chicken to feed the alligators. A gator grabbed his boot and hauled him into the water. The chicken spilled onto Bob’s chest, and other gators piled on in a feeding frenzy. Bob thrashed at the gators with a bamboo stick, with little effect. A

co-worker scared off the gators, allowing Bob to loosen his boot and escape. “I even got my boot back!” he says. You might think an alligator wrestler would have thick skin, but Bob has a soft heart. He started farming alligators in 1988, when it became legal in Florida. Soon, he also began taking in injured birds, possums and raccoons. By 1994, he formed his own nonprofit organization, Everglades Outpost. Today, he cares for all kinds of rescued animals in his spare time.

His wife, Barbara, and a small cadre of volunteers help tend to creatures such as tigers, panthers, pythons, wolves, a bear, a zebra, a lemur and a monkey—not to mention 200 snakes. Fortunately, Barbara, an Everglades native, has been supportive. “I started raising alligators with the idea of selling them for their meat and hide,” Bob says. “Barbara kept asking, ‘When are you going to sell them?’ Finally, I admitted, ‘I just can’t do it!’” Word spread about Bob’s skill with gators. When an investor purchased the alligator farm nearby, Bob became its first employee. “I wouldn’t work for him unless he agreed that no alligators would be killed for their meat or skin,” Bob says. Today, the more than 2,000 gators earn their living performing for tourists at Everglades Alligator Farm. When it comes to the animals at Everglades Outpost, a supermarket contributes vegetables and fruit. But the Outpost must buy about 600 pounds of meat each month for the cats, wolves and bear. Bob and Barbara pay for most of it. Visitors and volunteers also chip in, but the economic downturn has put a crimp on contributions. When Bob was growing up on a dairy farm in upstate New York, he often brought home injured bobcats, deer, coons and skunks. Eventually, he got a job on a game farm in the Catskill Mountains, where he gained experience working with experts who trained tigers, bears and wolves. But he couldn’t wait to take off for Florida. “Subzero temperatures in the Adirondacks versus living here in the Everglades?” he says. “It was no contest.” n For more information, visit Everglades Alligator Farm at, or call (305) 248-2628. Learn more about Everglades Outpost at

D ecember 20 1 1


The Holidays Are Coming Tips for staying out of debt this holiday season

By Cindy Cafferty



If the thought of the impending holidays haunts your dreams and plagues your every waking hour, fear not. Flush those dreams— not dollars—down the drain. All you have to do is plan ahead. “Arm yourself with information ahead of time—do your research—not just on prices, but on product quality as well,” says Edgar Dworsky, longtime consumer advocate and founder of Consumer World. “After all, getting a deal on a lousy product is no bargain.” When it comes to planning for the holidays— from buying gifts to mapping out holiday travel and everything in between—locking down a good bargain starts with a simple strategy: Start early, set a budget and remain vigilant. Clarky Davis, also known as the Debt Diva with CareOne Credit Counseling, says starting small is just as important as starting early in ensuring secured savings rather than unsecured debt. “Looking at a big fixed number I have to achieve (in budgeting) is intimidating,” explains Davis. “Try to look at saving as a small daily thing.” Her strategy for beating the budgeting blues is to put away small amounts of money early on. Setting aside just a few dollars a day, starting now, can net a lot of money by the time the holidays roll around next year. Throwing your daily loose change into a coin jar every day is another tip to building the budget bundle. Davis and Dworsky both agree it takes more than just setting aside a little dough to sweeten the holiday pot. Serious savings start with serious strategy, and they have the tips for making it a cinch.

Sites recommended by Dworsky include, which notifies shoppers of price drops in their planned purchases; and, which dial shoppers into bargains that go widely unadvertised;, which allows shoppers to check price histories of popular items; and for checking out Black Friday deals before the circulars come out. Davis also recommends and to sign up for e-mail alerts on frugal online savings. Holiday travel planning is easy with Orbitz and Travelocity, whose Web sites not only let you comparison shop on airfares and hotel rates, but also offer e-mail notifications when the travel prices you have budgeted for become available.

Savvy Surfing Whether it is preparing for the perennial Black Friday after Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza, planning a holiday trip or finding the best deals on the best products, the Internet can prove invaluable in saving both time and money.

More Money-Saving Ideas Other tips for securing holiday savings include: • Get creative. Handmade gifts are not only thoughtful, but frugal, and are a great way to bring friends and family together on fun projects, to boot. • Stay organized. Keep track of your

Spelling Out Savings Davis says to think of the letter “R” when it comes to spelling out savings: reality, responsibility and restraint. Research is a Dworsky standby. “Accepting what is really in your budget is the first step to avoid overspending,” Davis says. “Responsibility is adjusting your behavior according to what you have, not what you want, and restraint is discipline.” Budget vigilance is paramount to bagging the bargains. “Researching a product entirely—from reading professional reviews in Consumer Reports to reading consumer product reviews at places like—allows you to make smart decisions about products ahead of time, so you’re not under the gun when it’s time to buy,” adds Dworsky.

Christmas by the Numbers $976 Million The amount of sales made by Christmas tree sellers in 2010. Of that total, $253 million was sold by Oregon, making it the No. 1 state in Christmas tree production.

$27.4 Billion National retail sales by department stores in December 2009.

21 Percent Percentage of total annual sales in jewelry stores in December 2009.

$5.1 Billion Total value of toys, dolls and games imported by U.S. retailers in 2010.


purchases so you don’t buy the same thing twice, and keep track of what you paid for an item. Many local retailers offer price-matching guarantees; keep your receipts handy and your store circulars at hand. • Put down the plastic, and pick up the cash. Many major retailers, such as Kmart and Marshalls, offer layaway programs, eliminating interest fees. Check your local retailers for similar programs. • Get gift receipts. In the event a gift you purchased isn’t the right gift, a gift receipt allows the recipient to trade it in on the purchase price rather than risk settling for postholiday sale prices or items. • Avoid purchasing gift cards whenever possible. If you prefer the gift card approach,

make sure it is from a reputable retailer and that hidden charges are not fixed to the card, or choose a card that can be redeemed for practical purchases, such as movie tickets, coffee treats or groceries. • Consider new holiday traditions. A nice holiday breakfast can be just as festive as a yuletide dinner with all the trimmings, but at a fraction of the cost. What about drawing one name out of a hat rather than buying gifts for several people? Whatever your strategy, whether it is starting small to save big or surfing the Internet for the latest finds, the bargains are there for the taking—if you plan ahead. 

Number of establishments that mainly produced toys, games and kids’ vehicles in 2008.

More than 315 Million Estimated population of the United States on New Year’s Day 2012. Source: U.S. Census Bureau




In the  Kitchen Recipes That Satisfy

Gifts From the Kitchen Homemade treats sweeten the holidays and let the kids participate This year, spend a little less time in the stores and a little more time in the kitchen, baking up some holiday gifts. These tasty treats can be fun for the entire family to make together. Attach a recipe card to each gift.That way, your friends and family will know how to bake up some holiday cheer, too.

Holiday Peppermint Bark These pretty red and white candies look festive in a holiday tin lined with red or green tissue paper, or in a glass jar with a holiday ribbon tied around it. 2 cups (12-ounce package) white chocolate morsels 24 hard peppermint candies, unwrapped

Line baking sheet with wax paper. Microwave morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on 16

December 2011

medium-high for 1 minute; stir. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Place peppermint candies in a heavy-duty plastic bag. Crush candies using a rolling pin or other heavy object. While holding a strainer over the melted morsels, pour crushed candy into the strainer. Shake to release all small candy pieces; reserve larger candy pieces. Stir morsel-peppermint mixture. Spread mixture to desired thickness on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with reserved candy pieces; press in lightly. Let stand for about 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 1 pound of candy Courtesy of Nestle'

Curried Snack Mix Chewy raisins and dried cranberries are sweet surprises in a zesty mix of crunchy cereal, pretzels and cashews. 3 cups Corn Chex 3 cups Cheerios 3 cups small pretzel twists 2 cups salted cashew pieces 1 cup golden raisins 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries ½ cup butter or margarine, melted 2 tablespoons curry powder 1 tablespoon garlic salt

Heat oven to 250 F. In a 15-by-10-by-1-inch pan or large roaster, mix cereals, pretzels, cashews, raisins and cranberries. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Pour over cereal mix; stir to coat well. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until crispy and well coated with seasoning. Spread on waxed paper or cooking parchment paper to cool. Cool completely, about 10 minutes, before packaging in holiday tins or boxes.

Mix strawberries, pectin, orange peel and orange juice in a 3-quart saucepan until pectin is dissolved. Heat over high heat about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to a rolling boil. Stir in sugar. Heat again to a rolling boil, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Skim off foam. Immediately pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace, or into freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars or containers; seal. Let stand at room temperature about 24 hours, or until set. Store in the refrigerator or freezer up to 3 months.

Makes 4 cups

Courtesy of Betty

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix In A Jar Making these gift jars in quantity can be a great holiday gift project for a club, committee, family or any group. Kids, especially, enjoy the measuring, bagging and assembling. 13/4 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 11/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels 3/4 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Place flour mixture in 1-quart jar. Layer remaining ingredients in order listed above, pressing firmly after each layer. Seal with lid and decorate with fabric and ribbon. Makes 2 dozen cookies

Recipe and photo courtesy of Betty

Courtesy of Nestle'

Strawberry-Orange Spread

Recipe to Attach Preheat oven to 375 F. Beat 3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) softened butter or margarine, 1 large egg and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until blended. Add cookie mix and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional); mix well, breaking up any clumps. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Discover the art of canning. This easy spread will help you get started on a fun and cost-saving holiday gift-giving tradition. 2 10-ounce packages frozen strawberries, thawed 1 package (1¾ ounce) powdered fruit pectin 1 tablespoon grated orange peel 3½ cups sugar ½ cup orange juice

December 2011


Florida Gardening

Advice From the Front-Yard Farmer

Seeds Offer Greater Veggie Variety Like swallows arriving in Capistrano each spring, the new seed catalogs begin making their appearance on the Internet and in mailboxes between Christmas and New Year’s. Mistletoe and eggnog aside, the colorful seed catalogs really help put “happy” in the holidays for many of us in wintertime Florida, where we are daydreaming about warmer weather and our next vegetable garden. Of course, one of the keys to successful vegetable gardening in the Sunshine State is growing varieties known to do well here, using cultivars, or plant breeds, proven to withstand the challenges that come with our harsh growing environment. The cultivars should have the right stuff to not only survive here, but dependably produce crops despite the climate and added pressure from pests and disease. Fair enough. But growing the same vegetables year after year can be as dull as a bus

© Dennis Gilson

ride to Baton Rouge. So, in addition to traditional Florida cultivars, I spice things up a bit each year by including a vegetable or cultivar that is new to my garden. Some of the best-tasting, best-performing vegetables I grow come from seeds I discover in catalogs and websites. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the starter plants available at local garden centers. What a lifesaver they are when I’m too busy with life to get my seeds started on time! In fact, my garden almost always is made up of a combination of store-bought starter plants and veggies I have sown from seed.

Dennis Gilson lives and gardens in Niceville. Widely known as the Front-Yard Farmer, Dennis has successfully grown vegetables, fruits and berries in the Florida Panhandle for more than 30 years. He shares his experience and offers timely advice to Florida home vegetable growers at his website,



Growing vegetables from seed offers the home vegetable grower a wider variety of vegetables and cultivars, such as the Diva cucumbers shown here growing in northwest Florida last spring.

Seeds are available around town, but the same nationally recognized seed companies offer a much greater variety through their catalogs and websites. There are loads of other seed sources on the Internet, too. Many have noteworthy cultivars that are exclusive to them. Some of the vegetable gems I have unearthed in seed catalogs and websites are Diva cucumbers, Early White Bush Scallop squash, Rattlesnake pole beans, Flavor Sweet bush beans, O’Henry sweet potatoes and Gotta Have It sweet corn. There are many others. It is important to be extra careful when selecting seeds, though. Search out varieties described as flavorful and high yielding, and resistant to disease. If an item description doesn’t say it, don’t assume it. Also, calculate the number of days from sowing seeds to harvest. Our growing

windows in Florida are too short for many vegetables. Even knowing this, some vegetables found in catalogs can be wildly unusual and quite tempting to grow. If you have the urge and extra garden space, forget the rules and give it a go! With jolly old St. Nick preparing to make his annual reindeer ride, spring in Florida seems as far off as the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Don’t be fooled. If you fancy growing late-winter and early-spring vegetables from seed, now is the time to plan your garden, buy your seeds and, in some instances, get seeds started. Eat what you grow.  For a list of recommended vegetables for Florida, proven cultivars and planting dates, please see the Vegetable Gardening Guide at my website, FrontYardFarmer. com. You also will find more information on starting homegrown vegetables from seed and a helpful seed finder search engine.


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Travel Journal

Tips for Affordable Family Adventures

2012 Birding Festivals

January 12-16: Everglades Birding Festival in Hollywood. Features in-field workshops for advanced birding skills along with all-day birding field trips. Call (954) 805-6810 or visit January 25-30: Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival in Titusville. Explore world-renowned natural areas of Florida’s Space Coast, take part in classroom presentations and new field trips. Call (800) 460-2664 or visit March 28-31: Big “O” Birding Festival in Clewiston. This event takes place in south-central Florida on the southwest shores of Lake Okeechobee. Enjoy birding and photography tours, and a myriad of programs. Call (863) 517-2136 or visit © Nik Nikon

Call of the Wild: Bird-Watching Hot Spots The marshy waters of the Everglades attracts as many as 350 bird species. One of the best birding hot spots is Everglades National Park, a sanctuary, breeding and feeding ground for a diversity of bird species. Take a walk on the wild side along the Anhinga Trail boardwalk, a trail winding through a sawgrass marsh. Wood storks, great egrets, green herons and the namesake Anhingas are commonly seen along the trail. Corkscrew Swamp lies in the heart of the western Everglades. This 14,000-acre preserve near Naples is home

to more than 200 species of resident and migratory visitors, including the largest colony of endangered wood storks in the country. You’ll also find will roseate spoonbill, limpkin and other endangered and threatened bird species. Avian Attractions Abound In the Panhandle Located 25 miles south of Tallahassee, St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge attracts more than 300 birds species ranging from waterfowl to shorebirds, raptors to songbirds. Hawks, falcons, shorebirds and 19 species of ducks migrate

Kris Wetherbee is an author and awardwinning recipe developer. She writes about outdoor living, travel, gardening, natural health and cooking for numerous publications, including Ruralite. Visit her website at



through the refuge in fall and winter. Look for wintering waterfowl and such rarities as the Eurasian wigeon and cinnamon teal. St. George Island State Park is one of the best spring bird migration spots in the country, as masses of warblers, tanagers, buntings, vireos, grosbeaks and other neotropical birds visit the island. Bordered by miles of undeveloped beach with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Apalachicola Bay on the other, the 2,000-plusacre park features a series of hiking trails, boardwalks and observation platforms. Set Sail for Birding Thrills and Trills At the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas National Park features thousands of migrating songbirds, especially warblers and vireos. These small islands are the first dry land sighted by birds in their migration. Tropical

seabirds such as the magnificent frigatebirds are yearround attractions, though best viewing for migrating birds such as orioles, tanager and buntings is typically April through mid-May. The Dry Tortugas are accessible only by ferry, plane or boat. Hit the Bird-Watching Jackpot The 2,000-mile Great Florida Birding Trail is a network of nearly 500 sites spread throughout Florida. The selfguided highway trail is divided into four sections: Panhandle, East, West, and South. Free guide booklets contain site descriptions, directions, and maps showcasing the amazing birding opportunities. Call Mark Kiser at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (850) 488-9478 or visit for more information. 


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Festival  Roundup

Things to See and Do

November 19 through December 31 St. Augustine Nights of Lights Florida’s oldest city becomes magical with a grand holiday celebration of lights illuminating the colonial buildings, downtown parks and historic bayfront.

December 2, Marianna Christmas Parade and Winterfest Parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Winterfest will be at Madison Street Park. For more information, call (850) 718-1022; (850) 227-1223

November 25 through December 31 Pensacola Beach Season Lights Up, Islandwide Be on Pensacola Beach as the island comes to life with holiday lights. Refreshments at Pensacola Beach Visitor’s Center.

December 2-3, Panama City Lightup the Spirit of Christmas Downtown Visit downtown Panama City for a one-of-akind holiday event! Lighting of the Christmas tree in the Marina Civic Center at 5 p.m. The evening will include horsedrawn carriages, carolers and extended shopping hours. Saturday brings Christmas festivities on Harrison Avenue followed by the Christmas parade at 5 p.m.; (850) 932-1500

December 1, St. Petersburg Seventh Annual Chanukah Extravaganza Light up the night in downtown St. Petersburg with music, family fun and the lighting of our giant menorah at South Straub Park, 198 Bayshore Drive NE, 5:30p.m. to 7p.m.

December 3-4, Ruskin Ruskin Tomato and Heritage Festival Includes an oldies car show, antique tractors, plant sales, craft show, kids activities and the crowning of the tomato king and queen.

December 1, Naples Christmas Walk and Tree-Lighting Ceremony Enjoy holiday music, family fun and specials at shops along Fifth Avenue South during the 37th annual event from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; fifthavenuebid@gmail. com; Lise Sundrla, (239) 692-8436

Surfing Santa Parade Holiday floats and marching groups wind their way down Santa Rosa Island’s main street during the Pensacola Beach event December 11. Santa rides atop his red fire engine and visits with children. For details, call (850) 932-1500. Photo courtesy of Shelley Johnson, Island Times



December 3-10, Port St. Joe Christmas on the Coast Kick off the season with a parade, tree lighting, 5K Reindeer Run, Santa and festive entertainment downtown. December 4, Ft. Myers Hot Rods and Hogs Car Show See more than 105 acres of show cars and bikes and 65,000 square feet of indoor exhibitors at Florida’s largest single-day car and bike show, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lee Civic Center. Bring two canned foods for $2 off admission.

December 4, Ft. Lauderdale Hanukkah Celebration Festivities include carnival rides, vendors, and kosher foods and snacks. Kids can build a green menorah. Other areas feature choirs and dances, cooking and rabbis sharing cultural heritage. 10 a.m. to 6p.m. at Ft. Lauderdale Stadium.

December 3-4, Tampa Tough Mudder Race This is Ironman meets Burning Man with a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course to test strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. Tough Mudder has raised more than $1 million for the Wounded Warrior Project.

December 9-10, near Zephyrhills Candlelight Tours of Fort Foster Historic Fort Foster in Hillsborough River State Park brings Christmas on the Florida frontier to life from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Guests follow a lanternlit experience through the fort, encountering living history scenarios. Soldiers sing carols in the

barracks, officers entertain ladies at a fine dinner and friendly natives gather outside the fort, exchanging gifts for goods from traders and the military. That is followed by Native drumming and dance. Guests enjoy hot spiced cider and holiday cookies. Admission is a $5 donation per person ages 13 and over; 12 years and under enter free.; (813) 987-6870

December 9-11 and 16-18, Sneads Christmas Lights Show Three Rivers State Park invites you to enjoy a scenic drive between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to view the park’s light displays. Park entrance fees are waived for participants.; (850) 4829006.

December 10, Lake Placid Annual Christmas Parade “Christmas with Our Hometown Heroes” is the theme of the county’s largest Christmas parade, with floats, bands, cheerleaders, fire trucks and, of course, Santa Claus. At Main Avenue and Interlake Boulevard, 7 p.m.

December 10, Sopchoppy Christmas in Sopchoppy More than 50 arts, crafts and food vendors and live music will be in the downtown area. Santa Claus will visit from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (850) 962-4138

December 10, Key Largo Key Largo Christmas Boat Parade Enter your boat, watch from your boat or watch from land as boats parade past Blackwater Sound, mile marker 104, at 7:30 p.m.

December 10, Fanning Springs Festival of Lights and Boat Parade The all-day event includes arts and crafts, an antique car show, rubber ducky races and a lighted boat parade. Families come out to Fanning Springs State Park to “tailgate” and sit riverside to cheer on the duckies.

Photo courtesy of Orange County Parks and Recreation

34th Annual Cracker Christmas Visit Fort Christmas Park at 1300 Fort Christmas Road on December 3-4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to see pioneer demonstrations, including weaving, spinning, lace making, pioneer food, Dutch oven cooking, handmade crafts, early cow camp, antique tractors, a Civil War camp, blacksmithing, wood carving, syrup making, cane grinding and broom making. Community groups will sell swamp cabbage, gator meat, stew and biscuits. The event includes 150 craft vendors. Santa will visit each day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For details, go to December 17, Clermont Florida Half Marathon, 10K and 5K Presented by the National Training Center, the event will be staged on the paved roads and trails of Lake Louisa State Park on U.S. Highway 27, seven miles south of State Road 50.

December 31, Pensacola Pelican Drop Families can enjoy a street-party atmosphere downtown with live music, a children’s area and fireworks. A 10-foot, half-ton illuminated pelican will be dropped 100 feet at midnight.;; (850) 435-1603.

December 17, Wewahitchka Wewahitchka Christmas Parade The 5 p.m. parade will start at the corner of Highway 71 and East River Road.

December 31, Port St. Joe Celebrate Twice New Year’s Eve Ring in the New Year twice! Start in the Eastern time zone in Port St. Joe and St. Joe Beach, then travel west five minutes to Mexico Beach and celebrate again an hour later in the Central time zone. Shuttle buses run continuously.

January 1, Pensacola Beach Polar Bear Plunge The emerald waters of Santa Rosa Sound are filled with hardy souls who wade, swim and scurry to the finish line. Heaping bowls of blackeyed peas wait to warm them. Entry fee benefits the Chamber. No charge to cheer!

Connie, city of Wewahitcka, (850) 639-2605; (850) 229-7800

(850) 932-1500

Chamber of Commerce, (352) 463-9089.

December 17, Islamorada Keys Community Concert Band: Tropical Christmas A special outdoors holiday concert will be at Founders Park, mile marker 87, bayside, at 4 p.m. Chairs and blankets are recommended. (305) 853-7294.



Outdoor Pursuits

Enjoying the Natural World Around Us

Stick to The Basics Christmas shopping for outdoor enthusiasts can make your head spin. There are too many choices, and the wants and needs of the person on your list often are so specialized it is difficult to know what to buy. When in doubt, stick to the basics. Here are four gifts sure to please: • Fishing or hunting license. Most outdoorsmen need one or both of these. Make it an annual giving tradition. For those who do it all, consider the Gold Sportsman’s license, $100, which combines licenses and tags all in one. There is a $20 military version of the Gold Sportsman license for active-duty and retired military personnel. Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (850) 488-4676 or www. for more details. • Waterproof cell phone case. One of these can be a lifesaver around water. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They also vary widely in price, from $20 to $80 or more. Search online for options, reviews and advice, or talk with your local retailer. Many cases are custom fit, so

Too many choices? Ask your sportsman for a list. Tell them to be specific. They should include item, brand, model number, size, color, price and any other details to help ensure you get the correct item.

© Chris Fertnig

know the brand and model of the phone before buying. • Stormproof lighter. Any lighter can start a fire, light a stove or whip rope ends. However, these lighters can do it in the middle of a gully washer. Two popular models are the Windmill Classic, $45, or the Brunton Helios, $49. Both are available online at a significant discount from the retail price. • Multitool. It’s hard to go wrong with one of these. They are like screw drivers and pocketknives. It seems you can never have too many. They are available in two broad categories: generic and specialized. The generic, every-tool-foreverybody multitools are the most common. They include recognized brands, such as

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.



Leatherman and Gerber. Specialized multitools are designed for specific activities, such as boating, shooting or biking. They tend to be more expensive, but that is not always the case. For example, the Leatherman MUT for shooting enthusiasts sells online for $80 to $125, depending upon model and retailer, while the SKS Tom 18 for bikers retails for only $30. Waking Your Bike From Hibernation Here are a few things you should do before putting your bike back into service after an extended hiatus. Assess the overall integrity of your bike. Make sure there are no loose or broken parts. Tighten or replace as needed. Check your tires. They often go flat after sitting for long periods. Look for tread wear. Also, watch for cracks, tears or missing chunks of rubber. These are all signs a tire needs to be replaced. Clean and lubricate the chain and drive train components as needed. Don’t

forget the brake assemblies, shifters and pedals. They have moving parts that need light oil, too. Inspect brake pads for wear. Also, check to make sure they are aligned properly. When engaged, they should contact the wheel rim evenly, with the maximum amount of brake pad surface making contact with the rim. Outdoor Tidbits and Trivia • One for the record books. Friends and employees of the S.S. Spitfire Mercantile in Sandestin, Florida, came together to create the world’s biggest fishing lure. The pink, silver and black-speckled lure measures 10 feet 10 inches long and weighs 335.2 pounds. The lure is on display outside the shop. • More world records. It’s no wonder Florida holds at least 10 fishing world records. The state motto is “the fishing capital of the world.” The current records include a 1,280-pound hammerhead shark hooked in 2006 and a 680-pound Goliath grouper caught 50 years ago, in 1961. To see all of the fishing world records, go to 

Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

New Leaders Announced at GEC Glades Electric Cooperative General Manager Jeff Brewington has announced a restructuring of his senior staff and other position changes to his leadership team. Five senior staff and two director positions were filled by promoting from within, while two senior staff positions are unchanged. In addition to the general manager, the senior staff is now composed of: •  Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Manning is responsible for overseeing accounting and finance as well as serving as secretary/treasurer of GEC’s subsidiary operations. •  Member Services Manager Margaret Ellerbee is responsible for leading member services, meter specialists (reading) and metering (commercial/ industrial/special applications and testing). •  Employee Services Manager Yvonne Bradley oversees the department formerly titled human resources. The department name change dispels the connotation of employees as a commodity and accentuates the “people” aspect. Yvonne also will manage safety and the cooperative’s utility employees. •  Cooperative Services Manager Tracy Vaughn oversees purchasing, buildings and grounds, work order accounting and staking. He also will serve in a limited advisory, oversight capacity in the power supply and substation areas. •  Information Technologies Manager Bradley Hill is responsible for the cooperative’s computers and communications equipment. There is a lot on the horizon for this division as the cooperative maneuvers to take advantage of new technology. •  Business Development Manager Paul McGehee is responsible for key accounts, economic development, legislative affairs and community outreach. New Director Positions •  Director of Power Supply North John Dean will oversee the power supply

Jennifer Manning

Margaret Ellerbee

Yvonne Bradley

Tracy Vaughn

Bradley Hill

Paul McGehee

John Dean

Jim Morrissey

Pedro Navarro

group and Warehousing in the north section of GEC’s service territory, and lead the contractors for construction and rights of way. •  Director of Power Supply South Jim Morrissey will manage the southern power supply group and Warehousing, and is responsible for Fleet Operations. •  Director of Substations Pedro Navarro is responsible for the substation group and managing System Operations.

Glades Electric is excited for the opportunities and challenges our new leadership team will face. However, it takes the commitment of each and every employee at GEC to fulfill the promise to our members of providing the highest quality service possible at competitive rates. From everyone at Glades Electric, we are proud to remain “Neighbors Working for Neighbors.” n DECEMBER 2011


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from your friends at Glades Electric Cooperative




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Glades  Electric

Neighbors Working for Neighbors

Improving the System New restoration project in the Venus area is a win for service reliability and a win for the environment

Glades Electric Cooperative is putting the finishing touches on a system restoration project in the Venus area. Cooperation, communication and good timing made possible the relocation and upgrade of nearly three miles of transmission line and construction of about two miles of double circuit on Old 8. “The project is a win-win for the members of Glades Electric and the environment,” says Jody Dotson, manager of power supply. The state of Florida bought environmental easements on a large piece of land with the idea of using the area as reclaimed wetlands for the Fisheating Creek watershed. However, a GEC transmission line was routed through the proposed conservation area. For the project to move forward, the line had to be removed before the land could be turned back to wetlands—an expensive endeavor. The leadership at GEC recognized the

The pole on the left is the new stopping point for the transmission line. Poles on the right carry the new double circuit, which eliminates the need to have lines on both sides of the road. 28


many benefits of upgrading the line and relocating it to the roadway. “The improved access to our line, as well as the chance to upgrade the poles and wire to harden our system against high winds, are vital components in our System Restoration Plan,” says Dotson. “Being able to work on our lines from the edge of the road instead of having to cross pastures, navigate fences and gates, and drive through woods around low areas greatly improves our ability to locate problems and help reduce the duration of outages. “This opportunity to improve the service to our members in the Venus area, coupled with the idea of helping to preserve a beautiful and important ecosystem like the Fisheating Creek watershed by relocating 25 power poles, made this a high-priority project.” Funding such a project—especially in these trying economic times—was resolved through good communication and cooperation with the state and landowner. A mutually beneficial agreement made the project financially feasible. A major component of the agreement was the deeding at no cost to GEC of more than two acres suitable as a site for a future substation. “We are always looking ahead and planning where our system may need to be expanded to allow for growth,” says Tommy Todd, former general manager and CEO. “Securing a site for a potential future substation is a great example of the board of trustees’ understanding of the members’ potential needs.” To take advantage of the potential substation, it was decided to construct a double circuit—a highly efficient use of space whereby two distribution circuits are carried on one set of poles. The grade of poles used in that construction style are extremely sturdy and

Left, the new transmission line approaches from the north. Above, double circuit on upgraded poles eliminates the need to have lines on both sides of the road.

should help prevent outages caused by damage from high winds. GEC recently used the same construction strategy in Okeechobee County to take advantage of the recently completed Taylor Creek Substation. System restoration is crucial in GEC’s commitment to continuously improve electrical service to members. Planning and budgeting for large-scale projects is challenging, even in a strong economy. This is why your cooperative is so excited to have had this opportunity. The chance to complete a project that not only helps improve our members’ electrical service, but is a key step in an environmental conservation effort, was simply too good to pass up. Looking out for our members’ future— both in their power needs and preserving the beauty of where we live—is all part of “Neighbors Working for Neighbors.” n

The site for a potential future substation. The transmission line use to follow the fence line into the distance. The tree line at the far end of the picture is part of the land to be held in conservation. DECEMBER 2011


Parting  Shot

Readers Share Their Special Photos

Classic Reflections Riki and Jack Pope travel throughout the Florida Panhandle showing the 1971 Camaro they bought as a birthday present for Jack and the 1970 Chevelle SS clone that was Riki’s Mother’s Day present. “It got kind of boring just taking pictures of good-looking cars,” Riki says. “I developed my signature shots of classic reflections using headlights, fenders, bumpers, hub caps and just highly polished paint jobs to create unusual images.” Photo by Riki Pope, Youngstown, Florida. n We are looking for photos to feature in Parting Shot, and pay $25 for one-time use. Humorous photos are especially good. Send your best shots, along with your name, address and information about the photo, to

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Offices Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 26733 U.S. Hwy. 27 East/P.O. Box 519 Moore Haven, FL 33471 (800) 226-4024 or (863) 946-6200 Fax: (863) 946-2150 214 SR 70 West Lake Placid, FL 33852 (800) 226-4025 or (863) 531-5000 111 SW Park St. Okeechobee, FL 34974 (800) 226-4023 or (863) 467-5111

Board of Trustees

John “Jack” Coxe, President, District 8 Lake Josephine, (863) 655-3056 Shannon Hall, Vice President, District 4 Lakeport and Brighton, (863) 946-3242 Russell Henderson, Sec./Treas., District 3 Ortona and Palmdale, (863) 946-0865 Donnie Lundy, Trustee, District 1 Moore Haven, (863) 946-0402 Barney Goodman, Trustee, District 2 Hendry County, (863) 983-7324 Ladd Bass, Trustee, District 5 Venus and Hicoria, (863) 441-2227 Lee Henderson, Trustee, District 6 Highlands Park, (863) 633-9281 James “Jim” Aul, Trustee, District 7 Lorida, (863) 441-0441 Irene Lofton, Trustee, District 9 Okeechobee, (863) 467-1219 The board normally meets at 9 a.m. the fourth Thursday at one of the three co-op offices. The December board meeting will be at 9 a.m. Thursday, December 22, in the Moore Haven office. If the date or location is changed, a notice will be posted in all co-op offices.

Senior Staff

General Manager Jeff Brewington Business Development Mgr. Paul McGehee Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Manning Cooperative Services Mgr. Tracy Vaughn Employee Services Mgr. Yvonne Bradley Information Technologies Mgr. Bradley Hill Member Services Mgr. Margaret Ellerbee

Power Interruption Number

Moore Haven..............................(800) 226-4024 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.




Glades Electric CEO Retires Glades Electric Cooperative announces the retirement of L.T. “Tommy” Todd, General Manager/CEO. Todd has been at the helm since 1996, spearheading numerous initiatives that helped Glades Electric become one of the most respected cooperatives in Florida. Some of the programs he pioneered include: XX

Strategic Planning

Using an annual S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to define the year’s goals, each department is assigned specific and measurable action steps toward achieving each objective. Todd’s success with this program led to invitations to facilitate the process at other organizations. XX

L.T. “Tommy” Todd

Right-of-Way Program

Long before it was suggested by the Public Service Commission, Glades Electric implemented a three-year trim cycle on its rights of way. This helped improve the quality of electrical service by keeping tree limbs and other growth away from power lines. Todd believed a proactive approach to vegetative control—especially in an area with a 12-month growth cycle—was critical to improving members’ service. XX

Glades Electric Education Foundation

Each year, Glades offers scholarships to high school seniors whose parents are members and maintain good grades and take leadership roles in school and community organizations. These scholarships are funded completely by unclaimed capital credits and do not cost the members a penny! XX

Concern for Community

Todd’s commitment to serving the communities went well beyond providing electricity. Glades Electric maintains a philosophy of being good corporate citizens through support of many school, church and community organizations. XX

System Restoration Plan

This is Todd’s proudest achievement. Implemented in 1996, this systematic approach to the redesign, repair and reconstruction of the entire electrical distribution system has been the most significant contributor to improvements in members’ electrical service. Tommy Todd’s 15 years of service has left a positive impact on the members of the cooperative, as well as the communities in which they live. The employees of Glades Electric wish Tommy the best in his retirement.

Florida Currents December 2011  

Florida Currents December 2011

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