Category: Local Stories




September 8, 2014



Governor Rick Scott Appoints Twelve

to Cape Canaveral Hospital District, Brevard County

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today,Governor Rick Scott announced nine appointments and three reappointments to the Cape Canaveral Hospital District, Brevard County.

Carl Coddington, of Cocoa Beach, is an agent emeritus with Prudential Insurance. He succeeds Charles Ragland and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2015.

John Gautreaux, of Cocoa Beach, is the president of Gautreaux Consultants. He succeeds Rhonda Lee and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2017.

Eusef “Ben” Malik, of Cocoa Beach, is the vice president of the Florida Bank of Commerce. He succeeds Joseph Von Thron and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2017.

Donald Niemann Jr., of Cocoa Beach, is the director of merchandise buying for Ron Jon Surf Shop. He succeeds John Kabboord and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2017.

Walter Rose, of Cocoa Beach, is a retired attorney. He succeeds Monica Teran and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2015.

Harold Sheffield, of Cocoa Beach, is the unit manager of oversight and assessment and the United Kingdom Liaison of L3 Interstate Electronics Corp. He succeeds Ronald Bray and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2017.

Gregory Simmons, of Cocoa Beach, is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Health First. He succeeds David Ross and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2015.

Jane Vester, of Cocoa Beach, is the owner of Space Coast Dine Around & More. She succeeds Barbara Schenck and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2017.

Scott Widerman, of Cocoa Beach, is an attorney with Widerman Malek, PL. He succeeds Elena Flom and is appointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2017.

John Anderson, of Cocoa Beach, is a retired certified nurse anesthetist and advanced registered nurse practitioner. He is reappointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2015.

Russell Fischer, of Cocoa Beach, is the owner of Rusty’s Seafood & Oyster Bar. He is reappointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2015.

Judith George, of Cocoa Beach, is a retired nurse. She is reappointed for a term beginning September 8, 2014, and ending August 19, 2015.

Man with face mask

In May of 2014, we started seeing news reports of the deadly MERS virus being diagnosed in the Orlando area.  A health care worker from Saudi Arabia was visiting Orlando when he started showing symptoms of the virus.  He was hospitalized at Dr. P Phillips Hospital for several weeks before being released. 

While he was hospitalized, several Orlando residents who worked at the hospital started complaining of being ill.  Out of an abundance of caution, these residents were isolated and treated as if they had MERS.  Twenty other employees, who came into contact with the patient prior to the patient being diagnosed, have also been isolated and tested for the deadly virus.

Along with the patient in Orlando, another in Illinois was tentatively confirmed as having MERS at approximately the same time.  The man from Illinois had recently travelled through the Middle East and was thought to been infected there.  These are the first two reported MERS cases in the United States and it was widely feared that this might be the beginning of an outbreak here in the United States. 


What is MERS?

MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.  Like its name implies, it was first diagnosed in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, which is still the epicenter of the outbreak.  At this point, there is no vaccine for MERS and there is no cure.  It has been reported that approximately 30% of the people infected with MERS will die from the virus. 

Symptoms of MERS include fever, coughing and shortness of breath.  Many MERS patients also develop pneumonia, which can complicate the illness, especially in those who have other health concerns.  During the infection, the virus may harm a person’s kidneys, which can then lead to renal failure.  The only proper treatment for MERS is isolation of the patient and treatment of symptoms. 

These symptoms are similar to the flu and other respiratory illnesses and the only known way to determine if the patient has MERS is via a blood test. 

It is a virus in the same family as the common cold, although it is unknown how the virus first developed.  Many scientists speculate that it first mutated and developed in animals before being spread to humans.  Although MERS is spread from human-to-human contact, it is not an easy disease to spread and may often require prolonged contact. 

Some scientists also believe that the virus can spread from animals to people. Animals, such as camels and bats have tested positive for the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia.   It is not yet known if the virus spreads through air, water or food. 

Latest Info? 

Although initially testing positive, the Indiana MERS case was found to have been a false positive, which brings the total known cases in the US back to one.  The healthcare workers from Dr. P Phillips Hospital that were exposed to MERS were also found to be negative. 

At this point, no one in the United States is considered to have the virus.  


Recently, Orlando residents received some exciting new about a new, and green, transportation solution. Orlando Florida will be getting a brand new light-rail train system that comes packaged in a high-tech futuristic style.  This innovative version of a light rail comes complete with an electro-magnetic levitating system which helps lift the train from the tracks and propels it along to the next stop at a high rate of speed. 

Here are a few more details of this newly approved plan:

  • This train is a privately-funded venture undertaken by a company called American Maglev Technology, Inc.
  • Maglev is based in Marietta, GA, which has long been a proponent of green rail technologies
  • Maglev first proposed the solution in 2012 to the Florida Department of Transportation.
  • After careful review of the plan and the proposed benefits, the state of Florida put out a request for bid in 2013, of which Maglev was the sole bidder
  • In late May of 2014, the state of Florida approved Maglev’s plan for the rail system
  • Maglev’s next step is to gain right-of-way leases for the land around which the train will operate.  The land to be used to build the rail system is currently owned by multiple public departments, including the Florida Department of Transportation, Orange County and the city of Orlando. 
  • The train will connect the Orlando International Airport to the Orange County Convention Center, which is slightly less than a total of 15 miles.  An intermediate stop will be made at the Florida Mall and there are talks to connect to the existing SunRail system as well.
  • It is a floating magnetic train line run on an elevated track system, the very first of its kind to be built in the United States of America.
  • However, trains like this are already in place and functioning in China, South Korea and Japan
  • There is no carbon-based emissions from operating this kind of train
  • The total cost is estimated to be right around $350 million dollars
  • The cost of the project will not be underwritten or subsidized by taxpayer dollars
  • Early surveys predict that the train will carry 4.1 million riders per year in the beginning and may increase to more than six million within the first ten years
  • The fare for a one-way ticket is estimated to be $10
  • Each one way ride would take approximately 12 minutes
  • More than 100 jobs will be created
  • The current plan includes construction starting in 2014 with the train being operational by 2017
  • Future phases of the project will connect the airport and convention center to some of the local theme parks

In closing, even though the proposed version of our new train reminds us more of the Jetson’s futuristic view of the world than the classic rock view, I’ll leave you with these parting words:

Down around the corner
A half a mile from here
You see them old train runnin’
And you watch them disappear

Melbourne Florida Local Community

Melbourne Florida Local CommunityMelbourne, Florida is definitely a tourist attraction.  For anyone who lives in the cold and frozen northern section of the US, the beautiful sunny beaches alone are worth the trip.  But as beautiful as they may be, the beaches may not necessarily hold the attention of member of the family for every day that you’re here.  So – for those days that you may want to do something just a little different from the surf and sand, here are a few suggestions.

For the animal lover:  Hop on by the zoo.  The Brevard zoo has more than 120 different animal exhibits.  You can feed some of the animals and can also ride the train or take a paddleboat or kayak ride.  If you get to the rhino exhibit at the right time and provided the rhinos cooperate, you can actually get up and close and personal to a real rhino!

For the adventurer: Treetop Trek is the way to go.  They have multiple zip line courses going over wetlands and alligators where you can zip from tree top to tree top.  They also have obstacles courses, bridges and tightropes and cater to all ages and inclinations, including the younger children and those who wish to stay closer to the ground! 

Extra note:  You can purchase a zip and zoo value ticket at a discounted price, which provides admission to both Treetop Trek and the Brevard zoo and can be used over a two day span.

For the culturally inclined: Check out the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts, which is operated as a non-profit subsidiary of Eastern Florida State College.  In 1990, the King Center officially became a Florida state cultural institution.  The King center has a gleeful mixture of different types of performing art shows, including operas, jazz, dance, rock, lecture, comedy and more. 

For the sports lover:  The Space Coast Stadium, official home to the minor league baseball team Brevard County Manatees is the place to go.  Since 2005, the MLB team Washington Nationals have also used the Space Coast Stadium as its spring training home.  Tickets are available for a day of fun-filled day of baseball. 

For anyone who loves the beach:  If you want to be part of something that literally takes your breath away, head to the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. Learn more about these turtles and their unique egg-laying and nesting process.  During certain months, you may be able to take part in a sea turtle walk or nesting watch where you head to the beach and see this unique experience with your own eyes.  But – remember – no touching and no interfering!

Brevard County zoo

Brevard County zooOne of the major attractions in the Melbourne area is the Brevard County Zoo.  Opened in 1984 after the local community raised 3.5 million dollars, the zoo now houses over 600 animals in over 120 animal exhibits.  These include the Red Wolf, White Rhinoceroses, Cheetahs, Giraffes and of course – all kinds of water animals.  Not content to stay as is, the zoo continues to grow and develop.  In fact, they’ve recently made several very exciting announcements.

The brand new meerkat exhibit is now open!  This exhibit, called the Meerkat Hamlet, has lots of tunnels for these burrowing creatures.  Meerkats live in underground warrens and have a pretty complex and active social life with each other.  Kids of all ages love to watch the meerkats stand on their hind legs, scurry through their tunnels and play with each other.  In fact, the kids can now crawl through their own tunnel and watch the meerkats as they move around underground. Following a name-the-meerkat contest, the alpha male is now known as Jasper, while the alpha female is known as Kiki.  And the best news of all: Kiki is thought to be pregnant!


The zoo has upgraded their existing boardwalk and added new sections that allow up close and personal viewing into the new meerkat exhibit as well as an active termite mound.  This boardwalk is designed to be extremely durable with a natural hardwood finish. It simply makes it easier for the guests to move around and is much nicer on the eyes.

Some of the newest zoo babies include swans and capybaras.  Six Coscoroba swans were born to mom Cinderella and dad Prince Charming!  In addition, six capybara pups were born to Baily and Clancy. Capybaras are a close relative to guinea pigs, but are much larger than the average guinea pig.

The zoo celebrated its 20th anniversary during the weekend of March 15th and March 16th.  During this weekend celebration, guests enjoyed special music, a parade, animal encounters, games and crafts as well as free gifts or free admission to some lucky guests.  It is important to remember that twenty years ago, 16,000 volunteers pitched in with hammers, nails and muscle power to help build the zoo in only 16 weeks!

On a much sadder note, a giraffe named Duncan had to be euthanized in late 2013.  Although only 11 years old, he suffered from what’s known as capture myopathy – a disorder that obliterates muscle tissue.  Because this disorder is life-threatening and because Duncan was not responding to any treatment, the sad decision was made to euthanize the animal in order to relieve its suffering. 

If you’re in the area, come by and enjoy all that the Brevard Zoo has to offer!