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Suwannee Valley



SVEC’s Operation Round Up program helps local schools

COLDER WEATHER How to fish during the cold months


Join us at some local events.


Suwannee Valley

CURRENTS February 2020

Michael S. McWaters Executive V.P./CEO

Suwannee Valley Currents is a monthly newsletter published by Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative, © 2020. It is distributed without charge to all consumermembers of the cooperative.

Rounding up to give back

SVEC membership comes with many benefits. In addition to receiving safe, affordable and reliable power, our consumer-members share in the ownership of the cooperative, and they get a portion of their investment returned to them in the form of capital credits. They can make their voice heard by electing trustees to represent them and by talking with the people who run their cooperative at events like the annual meeting. But as important as all of those benefits are, they would count for very little if members didn’t know their cooperative was invested in the local community. At SVEC, we are committed to making our community a better place to live, both in the service we provide and in finding new ways to give back. Last year, we launched Operation Round Up as the latest way for SVEC members to support our community. Each month, participating members’ bills were rounded up to the next dollar and the difference set aside for local schools. While each individual member’s monthly donation averaged just 49 cents, we raised more than $100,000. With that money, SVEC’s Operation Round Up Foundation approved 224 grants in the four counties we serve. Those grants helped to provide much-needed resources, such as books, lab equipment and subscriptions to online learning resources at public and accredited private and independent schools throughout the Suwannee Valley. And all of that in just the program’s first year! I am extremely impressed by and thankful for the generosity of our members. You can read more about the ways local teachers put Operation Round Up grants to use in this month’s magazine, as well as the impact those new materials have already had in the classroom. It’s just one more way SVEC is proud to support our students as they grow into the future leaders of this community. SVEC also is excited to sponsor and participate in many events that support and raise funds for local non-profit organizations which provide important services. You can read about some of the ones coming up soon on the last page of this newsletter. We hope that if you see us at an event, you’ll take a minute or two and say hello. These are just a couple of the ways SVEC works to give back to the community that created us. We were built by and operate for the people who call the Suwannee Valley home, so we will never take it for granted. This is our community, and it is a privilege to serve it each and every day. 

WE BELONG TO THOSE WE SERVE Business Office: 800-447-4509 11340 100th St. Live Oak, FL 32060 Lobby Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday Drive-thru Kiosk Open 24 Hours 24/7 Power Outage Reporting 800-752-0025 @SVEC_COOP_FL SVEC is an equal opportunity provider and employer. On the cover: Ashley Sullivan’s fifth grade students at Lafayette Elementary School are some of the many who benefited from the first year of SVEC’s Operation Round Up. See story, Page 4.

2 | February 2020

Suwannee Valley Currents

GEORGIA Jennings







In addition to a nomination, each district meeting will include an open discussion about other cooperative matters. Please plan to attend if you live in one of these districts:

Dowling Park


White Springs




8 Wellborn

Lake City







129 Mayo


It’s time for SVEC members living in Districts 1, 2 and 3 to meet and nominate a candidate to serve on the board of trustees. Each nominee will be placed on the ballot and voted upon at the Annual Meeting of the Members on Saturday, April 25.





Live Oak






75 129




Miles 10

District 1 Meeting — Thursday, March 12, 6 p.m. at the Old Deas Cabin in Jennings District 2 Meeting — Thursday, Feb. 27, 6 p.m. at the McAlpin Community Center District 3 Meeting — Thursday, March 5, 6 p.m. at the Live Oak Garden Club

SVEC CAN HELP YOU PAY FOR SCHOOL SVEC is awarding up to 10 scholarships of $1,000 to deserving high school seniors in our community. Eligible students must graduate in the spring of 2020 from a public high school, home school, private school or charter school in SVEC’s service territory. They must have a cumulative, unweighted high school GPA of at least 3.5, and they must plan to attend an accredited postsecondary or vocational education institution this fall. Students must also be a dependent of an SVEC member, but they cannot be a child or grandchild of a current SVEC employee or trustee.

For more details or to apply, visit Suwannee Valley Currents

February 2020 | 3

A PENNY SAVED Operation Round Up® adds up to big change for schools in its first year

In just its first year, Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round Up has already proven the collective difference small contributions from our individual members can make. In 2019, the cooperative collected more than $100,000 that went toward 224 grants for equipment and materials that directly benefit students in local classrooms. For Michelle Lord, vice president of the Operation Round Up board, the program is a reminder of the biblical story about the widow who dropped just two small coins in the offering box. It was the spirit in which the offering was made, not the amount, that made it significant. “SVEC members who participate in Operation Round Up recognize that many teachers pay out of their own pocket to improve the learning environment in our schools,” Lord says. “Each member contributes less than a dollar a month, but it adds up. Collectively, we can help teachers get valuable tools for teaching our kids.” While school budgets cover basic expenses, many local teachers pay for additional items for their classroom with their own money. Operation Round Up gives teachers the opportunity to purchase items that they might not otherwise be able to afford. “As a smaller school district, we don’t have as many optional funds for extra things our teachers might need,” says Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rex Mitchell. “So anytime we can receive funding from a private entity like SVEC, it allows us to use those funds as teachers need them.”


One of the biggest frustrations Wynette Sumner, a fifth grade teacher at Branford Elementary, hears from parents is that they don’t know how to help their kids with math. So, when she heard about the

Wynette Sumner, a fifth grade teacher at Brandford Elementary, uses the IXL program to help students with math.

4 | February 2020

Suwannee Valley Currents

opportunity to apply for grants through Operation Round Up, she knew it was a chance to address that problem by purchasing access to IXL, a subscriptionbased online learning site for math, language arts, science and more. “If a student gets a problem wrong, it not only tells them that but also shows them how to fix it step-by-step,” she says. “When I show it to parents, they love it because it helps them help their kids learn.” In the classroom, the site gives Sumner the flexibility to adjust the level of difficulty for each student. She can have children who are struggling work on lower-grade problems to build their way up to fifth grade math, while students who aren’t being challenged can try their hand at sixth or seventh grade problems. IXL even comes with a feature that lets her see what each student is working on in real time, making it easier to identify which students need personalized help. IXL has also proven to be an invaluable tool for making sure students retain the knowledge they gained from past units. “I’ll have them go back and do things we covered a few months ago to make sure they aren’t forgetting geometry or fractions,” Sumner says. “I see it working, and I can’t thank SVEC enough for letting us do this.”


In Jay Jolicoeur’s chemistry lab at Suwannee High School, figuring out how to conduct experiments with the available equipment could sometimes be more of a challenge than teaching the material itself. “A lot of times you wouldn’t have exactly what you needed, so you’d have to shift different pieces and parts to do labs,” he says. “You’d be using equipment for purposes it wasn’t designed for, and that doesn’t teach proper technique.” While the school district has worked hard to provide the equipment Jolicoeur has requested, Operation Round Up presented an opportunity to purchase some bigger-ticket items that might not be in the budget. He was able to buy organic glassware sets, balances, spectrophotometers and a variety of other Suwannee Valley Currents

Destiny Douglas and Kejuan Robinson work with a glass distillation setup in Jay Jolicoeur’s chemistry class.

lab equipment that allows his AP chemistry students to get the hands-on experience they need. “It opens up a number of doors for them,” Jolicoeur says. “It prepares them to score well on the AP test and gives them some experience working with good equipment. That will benefit them if they go to college and go into a science field. It’s just huge.”


Sitting in a Lafayette Elementary School faculty meeting several years ago, Ashley Sullivan realized she was losing focus due to the uncomfortable classroom seats. When she found a place to stand in the corner, she felt more attentive. “It got me thinking that I don’t sit for the stretch of time we have kids sit in hard chairs during the day,” she says. “As adults, we all have different positions or places we work better in. So do kids.” She tried an idea out with her second grade class, purchasing crates, stools, beanbag chairs and more for students to choose from. There was only one rule: If you aren’t getting your work done, you

get moved. Sullivan says the majority of her classroom behavior issues disappeared when she started using flexible seating. “Kids aren’t given a lot of choices in their day. But by giving them an option of where they could sit, as simple as it sounds, it gave them a little bit of power, and the attitude change was drastic,” she says. With Operation Round Up funds, Sullivan was able to purchase new flexible seating for her growing students, who are now in fifth grade. She also purchased a bookshelf and books that appeal to her students, igniting a new passion for reading that she hopes will build their vocabulary and serve them throughout life. “Just having that bookshelf and some new books created a lot of excitement,” Sullivan says. “It goes back to attitude, which is as important for teachers as it is for students. When you feel like you’re being supported and that someone in your community values what you’re doing, that goes a long way for adults, as well.” 

February 2020 | 5

Artisan pizza 3 cups plus 3 tablespoons lukewarm water (100 F or below) 1/3 cup olive oil 1 tablespoon granulated yeast 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt 7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

With temperatures dropping, can you handle the fish? By Jill Christoferson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission While many sing the praises of Florida’s warmer fishing months, seasoned anglers know that winter can offer great fishing opportunities for some of the state’s most sought-after species. As the temperatures drop, you’ll spot many anglers following spotted seatrout to fresher water, where the fish congregate in large schools. While this can make spotted seatrout an easy target, this species is also especially vulnerable to fatigue and exposure. So as the winter bite turns on, it’s important to use proper gear and fish-handling techniques. This ensures the best chance of survival for released fish. Read on for some tips to help you handle the fishing as the weather cools down and the action heats up.


• Barbless circle hooks — These are 90% more likely to hook a fish in the mouth, which reduces internal harm. They also decrease dehooking time, getting the fish back in the water faster and increasing its chance of survival. • Dehooking tool — This tool allows anglers to quickly release their catch while minimizing fish injuries and handling time. • Correct weight tackle — Using tackle heavy enough to land a fish quickly is important because the fish will be less exhausted and more able to avoid predators upon release. • Knotless, rubber-coated net — These nets support the weight of the fish and remove a minimal amount of the slime that protects the fish from infection.


• Avoid removing large fish from the water. If you must remove them, support their weight horizontally to prevent damage to their internal organs. • Take pictures of your catch while it is in the water. This puts less stress on the fish, and the fish will look bigger. • If a net is needed to land or control a fish, always use a knotless, rubbercoated landing net.  6 | February 2020

Combine the warm water, olive oil, yeast and salt in a 5-quart bowl — preferably a lidded, but not airtight, plastic container. Using a wooden spoon or a food processor with a dough attachment, mix in all of the flour until it is incorporated (kneading is not necessary). Cover the dough mix with a nonairtight lid. Allow it to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Do not punch it down. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours before using. It should be used within 14 days. A half-hour before you’re ready to bake, place a pizza stone in the bottom third of the oven and heat it at your oven’s highest temperature. Pull up and cut off a 1/2-pound (orange-sized) piece of dough. Using a little flour (enough so it won’t stick to your fingers), stretch and shape the dough into a ball. Sprinkle your work area with some flour. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll out and stretch the dough until it is about 1/8-inch thick and 12 inches wide. Add the toppings of your choice. Using a pizza peel, carefully slide the pizza onto the hot stone. If it isn’t sliding, sprinkle more flour or cornmeal between the pizza and the pizza peel until the pizza moves. Check for doneness after 8-10 minutes — it may take a few minutes longer — and rotate it during baking if one side is browning more than the others. Allow it to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. 

Suwannee Valley Currents

Salsa in the Streets:

IF IT’S MARCH, IT’S TIME FOR MIAMI’S CALLE OCHO FESTIVAL By Jodi Mailander Farrell, VISIT FLORIDA With a world record-setting conga line and more croquetas than you can possibly eat, the annual Calle Ocho Festival in mid-March is the ultimate Miami experience. The free block party, which stretches 20 blocks and draws up to 1 million people to the Little Havana neighborhood, is the largest Hispanic festival in the nation. It was started more than 40 years ago by a group of young Cuban Americans in a gesture of goodwill as waves of immigrants fleeing Fidel Castro’s Communist regime washed a seismic cultural shift over Miami, transforming it from a small southern enclave of retirees to an international alpha city with a decidedly Latin flair. Money raised by the event supports student scholarships and other Kiwanis Club of Little Havana activities, so you’re partying for a good cause. Today, the city cooperates by blocking off traffic on Southwest Eighth Street — Miami’s iconic “Calle Ocho” — and opening the Little Havana streets for festivalgoers to Southwest 27th Avenue. As the culminating event of the 10-day Carnaval Miami, the action-filled Calle Ocho Festival, set for March 15 this year, celebrates all things Latin. In addition to Florida’s Cuban culture, the festival highlights music, food and crafts of Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Salvadorans,

Suwannee Valley Currents

Venezuelans, Peruvians, Argentineans, Ecuadorians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Mexicans who call Miami home, accounting for 70% of the metro area’s population. Every Spanish-speaking country is represented by food, flags and live music, with radio stations, record labels and tourism boards sponsoring a dozen concert stages and their acts, ranging from marquee names like Daddy Yankee and Pitbull to telenovela stars and protégés on the cusp of delivering the next big sound. Winding through the pulsing crowds, you’ll hear reggaeton, salsa, bachata, merengue, EDM, hip-hop, rock and pop music. Jump into the throngs. The entire historic neighborhood — one of six iconic Florida ethnic enclaves — is filled with wandering street musicians, folkloric dancers and flag wavers. Latin street vendors sell everything from cigars and coffee to clothing and natural remedies. It wouldn’t be a street fair without good street grub, and one of the main attractions of Calle Ocho Festival is the food. Bite into home-cooked Latin American and Caribbean culture at the hundreds of food booths and sampling stations serving everything from meat-stuffed empanadas to cheese-filled arepas, with shots of supersweet, hot Cuban coffee in between.

Watch “El Croquetazo,” the World Championship Croqueta Eating Contest, where 30 amateur, celebrity and professional eating champs compete for cash prizes and the answer to the question, “How many crispy, fried croquetas can a human being possibly consume in 8 minutes?” The reigning response, sanctioned by Major League Eating: 158! Calle Ocho Festival is the official host of the Cuban Sandwich Smackdown competition, where rivals from Miami and Tampa battle for “The Best Cuban Sandwich.” VIP ticket holders have access to a private tasting area where they can see for themselves who has the best pork-and-cheese sandwiches and schmooze with professional chefs and the judges representing the best of the Florida Cuban Heritage Trail. The festival is family-friendly, with a four-block area designed for children. Kids can meet athletes from the Marlins, Miami Heat and other sports teams and enjoy watching magicians and clowns. There also are hands-on activities, such as coloring flags and making maracas. For more info and updated event details, go to, call the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana at 305644-8888 or email the nonprofit at info@  Photos by Visit Florida and the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana

February 2020 | 7

SVEC in the

COMMUNITY Hit the links for local Rotary Club Golf Tournaments ROTARY CLUB OF BRANFORD

When: March 7, 2020 - 8:00 a.m. Shotgun Start Where: Quail Heights Country Club, Lake City Tournament Type: Three Person Scramble $50 player entry fee includes cart, green fees, lunch and a prize. Take part in the Hole-In-One Challenge on Hole 17 to win $10,000 towards an ATV from McDuffie Sporting Goods. Various team prizes and door prizes will also be awarded.


When: March 21, 2020 - 9 a.m. Shotgun Start Where: Suwannee Country Club, Live Oak Tournament Type: Three Person Scramble $60 player entry fee includes team registration and lunch. Try your hand at Walt’s Live Oak Ford Hole-In-One Challenges: Hole 17 - Win a Ford Escape Hole 8 - Win a TV Hole 14 - Win a $500 gift card

Proceeds from both tournaments will be used to support Rotary-sponsored programs including annual Rotary scholarships. To register for a tournament, please call the Rotary Club of Branford at 386-935-1705 or 386-362-8388. For the Rotary Club of Live Oak call 386-208-4516.

START YOUR ENGINES FOR THE ANNUAL ARC LAWN MOWER RACE Please join SVEC as we once again sponsor and participate in the annual Arc North Florida Lawn Mower Race. When: Saturday, April 4, 9:30 a.m. signin, 10 a.m. race Where: John’s Lawn Equipment, Live Oak To register, call 386-362-7143

Wings Over Suwannee

Don’t miss out on the high-flying fun at the 5th Annual Wings Over Suwannee fly-in, hosted by the Live Oak Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Enjoy airplane, helicopter and huey rides, as well as static displays for aircraft, fire engines, cars and motorcycles. Food, crafts, business vendors and FAASTeam Pilot Seminars will also be available. Camping and admission to Suwannee County Airport for the event are free. When: March 28, 2020 Where: Suwannee County Airport, 13302 80th Terrace, Live Oak 8 | February 2020

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