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Mary Lynda Williams

in city hall/news/remembrance/town square
(Photo/Jarine Dotson)

At Monday night’s City Commission meeting, Commissioner Nancy Besore expressed her sorrow on the passing of former city commissioner Mary Lynda Williams, who served on the Commission from 2008 to 2012. Later, Besore shared that Ms. Williams loved serving on the Commission. Besore reflected, “Mary Lynda was very kind and encouraging to me. She taught me skills in canvassing neighborhoods in 2009, my first encounter with running for office. She was a wonderful friend to Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center. She served as liaison between the Center and the Commission during her service. She loved parades, our tree lighting, the Mayor’s Breakfast…” Besore participated in the Florida League of Cities training for Public Officials on Ms. Williams’ recommendation– another example of Williams being a mentor and role model. “It was,” Besore said, “a joy serving with her.”

Mary Lynda Williams and I had the opportunity to work together for several years when we were both Commissioners. I always admired her independent voice and desire to make decisions that were best for Safety Harbor. She was a true public servant and will be missed.

Joe Ayoub, Mayor of Safety Harbor

Janet Hooper, Executive Director of Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center and a former city commissioner, recalled Ms. Williams as “always thoughtful, kind-hearted. Always tried to do the right thing, the best thing.” Ms. Williams was a commissioner when Hooper began working at Mattie Williams and Ms. Williams was instrumental in having a community walk for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Hooper said that Ms. Williams “believed in the importance of recognizing the diversity of our community.” Hooper recalled that when she joined the Commission, Ms. Williams set an example through her dedication to her responsibilities. On being a Commissioner, Ms. Williams advised, “You show up–– you care about things going on in the community.”

By all accounts, that is exactly what Mary Lynda Williams did. Hooper said Ms. Williams attended every event. Whether through attending events, researching and working through difficult issues, making donations and bringing coupons to Mattie Williams, and, ever year until more recently, delivering food and gifts to Safety Harbor’s senior citizens for the Christmas holiday. “She was very caring and giving,” Hooper said, “She wanted to recognize everyone.”

Ms. Williams’ obituary can be found on the Dignity Memorial website. According to the site, a service will be held at 10 am on June 6 at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park. Ever dedicated to the residents of Safety Harbor, Ms. Williams asked that donations in her memory be made to Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center.

USF Archaeologists Dig Philippe Park

in news/town square
Pinellas Point: An artifact found at the site (3 cm/1 inch). (Photo/Louis Claudio)

If you have recently jogged in Philippe Park, taken an easy bike ride, or hiked up the mound, you may have noticed USF Professor of Anthropology Dr. Tom Pluckhahn and his team of student archaeologists surveying, digging and sifting through sandy dirt nearby for evidence of the Tocobaga culture that once inhabited this land.

Dr. Pluckhahn surveying area near mound. (Photo/Louis Claudio)

The word Tocobaga is familiar throughout the Tampa Bay area—from kayak tours and a disc golf course, to Cigar City’s red ale. But how many of us appreciate the history behind the name? Tocobaga was a civilization that thrived along Tampa Bay about 500 years ago. Their villages were likely scattered throughout the area, but believed to be headquartered near the mound they built in what is now Philippe Park.

When visiting the area today, it may be difficult to imagine that area was once home to a thriving civilization. Much of what is known about the Tocobaga derives from journals of Spanish missionaries and explorers who arrived in the area in the 16th century. Their short reports provide a tantalizing but severely incomplete account of what was clearly once a prosperous and intricate culture.

Over the past century, there have been several excavations of the site. Archaeologists with the Smithsonian Institution completely excavated a burial mound in the 1920s but their report of the work is only a few pages long. In the 1940s, archaeologists with the State of Florida completed small excavations in the “temple” mound and village. Despite these efforts, there is still a lot that is not known about the Tocobaga culture.

Today, the park we love for its native flora and fauna, for the beautiful Tampa Bay, and for the shaded picnic spots, offers no visual evidence of those who were here centuries ago. Except, of course, for the mound, where a powerful chief’s home once stood.

Dr. Pluckhahn hopes to discover more.

Keep Reading

Sustainable home energy

in news/town square

As we become more aware of the impact of human action on the environment, we can– and should– have conversations about sustainability. One area where people can improve environmental sustainability is home energy. Coal and gas are well-established as main energy sources and continue to be the easiest to use. But  coal and gas deplete the earth of natural resources that can never be replaced. In the process of removing parts of the earth, we are destroying trees and soil— and our water and air quality in the process. Animals and plants are destroyed. Biodiversity is affected.

Solar power

Solar energy is an option for personal and societal improvement. Getting energy from a more sustainable resource like the sun, especially in sunny Florida, seems an obvious solution for those who care about the environment. So why doesn’t everyone use it? Solar energy is one of the best options for energy production, but consumers don’t always have a choice. The reasons are multiple and sometimes personal. Maybe your roof is old, or you don’t have the money, or you are renting. Maybe you have a beautiful 200-year-old grandfather oak tree shading your entire home. Whatever the reason, sometimes solar is not plausible for many of us. But we can participate in programs that encourage power companies to increase availability of solar power.

Duke Energy has a shared energy program that allows customers to purchase “blocks” of solar energy. The fee for the blocks is added to the monthly bill and enrollees get a bit of credit “based on the fixed solar annual average avoided energy price, which is subject to change.” For information on DUke’s renewable energy program: (866) 233-2290. If solar blocks aren’t in the budget, Pinellas residents can contact Duke between 7 am and 9 pm to share support for sun power at (727) 443-2641.


Consumers can also take advantage of energy company incentives. Duke Energy offers incentives such as:

  • Duct Test and Repair
  • Attic Insulation Upgrade
  • Heat Pump Replacement
  • Energy Efficient Windows

Contact Duke Energy for specific incentives currently available.

Tips for home energy conservation

If solar panels or solar block purchase aren’t options, using the least amount of nonrenewable energy sources is important. Simple actions will lower electric bills and reduce use of limited natural resources.

  • Turn off lights when you aren’t using them.
  • Set air conditioning to 78 degrees. Or set it about five degrees cooler than the outside temperature to rid the house of the humidity.
  • If it is nice outside, turn the air conditioning off and open those windows.
  • Install solar tint on windows. This is a heat barrier, deflecting direct sunlight.
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees.
  • Be sure all windows and doors have good seals.
  • Check air conditioning for leaks. Don’t lose cold air to leaks!
  • Install an attic fan to lower the attic temperatures.
  • Add insulation to the attic to make sure cold air isn’t escaping.
  • Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full.
  • Use LED lightbulbs.
  • If your power company offers an option to buy solar energy from them, do it.

Get audited!

Duke Energy offers a home energy audit. A trained inspector will do a simple inspection, analyze your home and bill and tell you where you could cut back on your energy consumption. They will look for leaks and check attic insulation and air conditioning Ducts. They can use a thermal camera to see if the attic or any doors or walls are leaky.  They even leave you with tips and an energy efficiency kit that includes low-pressure shower heads and faucet aerators and door and window seals. If you prefer, Duke will walk you through a home energy audit online or by phone.

Each of us can, in some way, participate in sustainable energy consumption– and even save some money while helping the planet!

Transit Riders Advisory Committee

in news/town square

The Transit Riders’ Advisory Committee (TRAC) is a citizen review board of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA). The PSTA board is made up of a rotating, geographically-disbursed mixture of mayors, city and county commissioners, and transit professionals who are responsible to their home cities and to voters.

TRAC reviews decisions made by the PSTA Board. Was there logic to the decision? Was there due diligence? Was it difficult? (Always.) Do TRAC members always agree with the decisions? Not always, but they are not mayor or commissioners. TRAC members are there to ensure transparency and to advocate for transit riders. The process ensures that decisions made by PSTA live “in the sunshine.”

Serving on the committee is satisfying, often detailed-oriented work. It is good work done for good cause. Volunteers agree to ride at least twice per week to ensure they are connected to the experience of transit system consumers. They receive briefings from PSTA employees, who answer lots of often-pointed questions.

Most of all, TRAC members know there are busses full of good people who ride the many routes of PSTA every day. People go to work, to school, to the doctor, to the store and members of TRAC are their advocates.

Compensation for serving on TRAC includes coffee and cookies during meetings, a bus pass, a greater understanding of the decision-making process and the satisfaction of being a part of work for a greater good.

Duncan Kovar is one of two north Pinellas representatives on TRAC and will be sharing insights and information from his ongoing work as a public transit advocate with readers of the Safety Harbor Sun.

Safety Harbor supports Boricuas de Corazón

in news/town square
Carlos "Chino" Rolon at SHAMC.

Hurricane Maria slammed onto the island of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated U.S. territory, in September of 2017. Following the storm, many residents left Puerto Rico for the U.S. mainland. According to Science News, estimates made from Facebook data suggest that approximately one-third, about 65,400 people, came to Florida. Twenty months later, the U.S. citizens who live on the island still struggle from the impact of the storm.

Safety Harbor resident and poet Carlos “Chino” Rolon decided he had to do something. Rolon says that many of the island’s homeowners live in houses that have been in their families for generations. “They can’t prove ownership,” he said, and so can’t meet FEMA requirements for aide. Rolon noted that there are many families with children or people with disabilities who have simply not been able to get adequate help.

Rolon organized a fundraiser at the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center (SHAMC) to assist Boricuas de Corazón, a non-profit organization based in Brandon, in raising money for roofs, windows and front doors for families on the island. The original goal, Rolon said, was to raise funds for sixty homes.

On May 5th, locals and friends gathered at SHAMC to show support, raise additional funds and recognize community members and organizations who have contributed to the effort. Tampa band The Katz was on hand to provide entertainment.

Boricuas de Corazón, founded by Linda Perez Davila, also provides support for people who have settled in Florida after leaving Puerto Rico. For more information, Boricuas de Corazón can be contacted through Facebook, Facebook Messenger, or at (954) 496-1463.

Here we are

in news/town square

Welcome to the Safety Harbor Sun! We hope to become a welcome part of your world as a resident of Safety Harbor.

Our goal is to provide news and information that will assist you in making decisions as you live, work, and play in Safety Harbor. The advent of digital nearly-everything gives us a never-ending flow of information and a bazillion sources for it. In the midst of these advances, we’ve experienced loss. Journalism itself is criticized – often legitimately – as a result. We need trustworthy sources who will present useful information, who will report all of the facts as they become available, and who will be transparent.

We also need information for our daily lives. Remember the weekly section of your local paper that listed area churches and information? Remember when your local edition shared news about your child’s school – and when student reporters had an opportunity to publish their own work? Remember when the op-eds and letters to the editor were a forum for civil discussion about things that really matter?

Remember when the daily news was a part of your daily life?

Sure, we all can “google” anything. But googling doesn’t build community. It doesn’t connect you to your neighbors, their concerns, their celebrations. Our goal is to be a source and a forum – for you.

Join us.

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