Takeaways from Tallahassee — With a boom

Blue Tally Takeaways (1)
"That's the end of a day of celebrating America and all of the reasons why we celebrate the Fourth of July in the first place.”

With a boom

Everybody has fond childhood memories, and two of Ron Book’s revolve around holidays.

First, his family made a habit of spending New Year’s Eve at the late — and very much lamented by Book — Orange Bowl Parade in Miami.

The second, however, is Independence Day, and for decades the lobbyist has celebrated with a bang — make that 4,000 of them to kick off homegrown fireworks show — along with whistles, crackles, bouquets, glitters and ominously named bangers including Corruption, Destroyer and Super Missile.

To watch some of Book’s famous home fireworks show, click on the image below:

“As a kid, my parents would load up the station wagon and we would drive to North Carolina,” Book said, recalling the genesis of his obsession with things that go boom. “Invariably we would get our fireworks fix in Georgia and North and South Carolina coming back home. Back then, almost nothing was legal in Florida, but we did it anyway.”

While his father would shoot off bottle rockets and other fireworks, they were nothing compared to what is available to today’s pyrotechnic aficionado, Book explained.

“Back then you didn’t have access to all the stuff you can shoot up today and get the oohs and the aahs, the spectacular colors that have been created over time,” he said.

To watch more fireworks, click on the image below:

When he started lobbying for what he calls “fireworks folks,” Book “brought my dad into the 21st century when he was still alive. That was a big deal to him. It likewise became a big deal to my kids.”

When he began shooting off fireworks for family and neighbors about 30 years ago, Book “used to think that 20 minutes or a half-hour was a big show,” but this year’s extravaganza exploding high in the sky over the lake near his home in Plantation — accompanied by patriotic tunes blasted out of loudspeakers — went on for nearly an hour.

And he spent most of the Fourth carefully planning out his display. No electronics or computers for Book, he personally ignites each fuse himself using a slow-burning punk stick, running from one side of the yard to the other. “When I’m done with the finale my body is drenched like I just got out of a swimming pool,” he said.

The show began and ended with rolls of 4,000 Red Devil Super Firecrackers (“One of the loudest items we offer!,” crows the TNT Fireworks website.) In between was a nonstop pyrotechnic parade that included one of his favorites, a nine-shot ominously named banger called the Earth Shaker. His breathless description goes like this: “It goes up with a boom and it explodes in the air with a boom and the colors are just extraordinary. Big purple stars and green glitters and yellow stars and yellow bouquets, and they crackle and blue and silver come out together.”

His granddaughter (one of Sen. Lauren Book’s three-year-old twins) asks for “nothing but Pink Hero,” featuring silver strobe effects in the middle of pink bursts in the sky.

Book said his firework haul this year filled three SUV’s from top to bottom, with only room for the driver. But he also admits he has enough tucked away to do a 15-minute display when there’s “something to celebrate.”

As a lobbyist, he’s celebrating the end of a Session where not much of anything happened regarding the firework industry.

“We’ve been happy with the status quo. We weren’t looking to open up the statutes,” he said, referring to those who would like to remove antiquated language from the law such as requiring purchasers of “the shoot-up stuff” to sign a paper assuring that they are firing them off to scare birds away from crops or as a warning of a malfunction at railroad crossings. “I always tell folks, in my business, opening the statutes can sometimes create way more problems than you do good.”

Book may be the only person who doesn’t get to watch the show while it’s going on. But he takes pleasure in seeing the joy it gives his family and neighbors. “I know the treat they’re getting out of it,” he said. “To me, that’s the end of a day of celebrating America and all of the reasons why we celebrate the Fourth of July in the first place.”


Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Jason Delgado and the staff of Florida Politics.

Take 5

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Richard Corcoran orders school openings — The Education Commissioner said Monday that public schools must open in August for at least five days a week. Continued closures, he said, would impede students’ education success and prevent the return of many parents to the workforce full-time. The order upended plans already moving forward in many districts, and both the Miami-Dade and Broward County school districts, the largest in Florida, said they would not adhere to the commands. But Gov. Ron DeSantis has backed Corcoran’s plan while many leaders rallied around the direction as essential.

Miami rolls back reopening — Mayor Carlos Giménez ordered that short-term rentals, dine-in restaurant service and other business must once again shut down. With the total COVID-19 cases in the county now exceeding 50,000, Giménez said the move was necessary to guarantee hospitals don’t get overwhelmed with a rising number of coronavirus infections. The closures took effect Wednesday. The Mayor initially said gyms and fitness centers would need to close down as well, but changed his position after communication with medical experts. After shutting down beaches for Independence Day weekend, Miami-Dade did reopen the beaches Tuesday as planned.

State of Emergency extended — With new cases regularly breaking daily records, DeSantis on Tuesday officially extended a state of emergency in Florida by another two months. The order originally was put in place in March, when the state had seen 14 confirmed coronavirus infections. The extension came as the state looks toward a 250,000 threshold in short order. Notably, the extension means the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville this August will take place with the emergency order still in effect. Under current rules, that means a 50% limitation of capacity for major indoor venues.

Hospitals report ICU crunch — Across Florida, an increasing number of hospitals warn that a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations means intensive care units are reaching their capacity. As of Thursday, 56 hospitals in the state reached capacity at their ICUs, and some were beginning to restrict elective surgeries again. DeSantis said some of the surges in cases and limitations on hospital capacity has come because patients have started returning to hospitals for other conditions but then been diagnosed with COVID-19 after they arrived. Regardless, he has started dispatching medical teams to hard-hit areas of the state to deal with the stress on infrastructure.

Volusia Sheriff wins fight over updates — Sheriff Mike Chitwood on Tuesday sounded alarms over the Florida Department of Health abruptly ending the practice of providing law enforcement street address level information. After taking his concerns to social media — “As this pandemic is growing, why are we giving less information?”— Chitwood’s office told Yahoo News on Thursday that it would continue to provide the information to the county.

Coronavirus numbers

Positive cases

— 240,710 FL residents (+64,992 since DAY)

— 3,441 Non-FL residents (+565 since DAY)


— 2,818 Travel related

— 70,033 Contact with a confirmed case

— 2,721 Both

— 165,138 Under investigation


— 17,602 in FL


— 4,203 in FL

Unemployment numbers

As of Thursday:

Claims submitted: 2,990,319

— Confirmed unique claims: 2,770,477 (+172,692 since July 2)

— Claims processed: 2,551,691 (+139,795 since July 2)

— Claims paid: 1,675,855 (+48,864 since July 2)

Total paid out: $9.54 billion (+$840 million since July 2)

— State money: $2,260,077,281

— Federal money: $7,279,848,094

Breaking overnight

A circuit judge rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of a Leon County ordinance that requires people to wear face masks in businesses to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Evan Power, a lobbyist who chairs the Leon County Republican Executive Committee, filed the lawsuit last month and is represented by Howey-in-the-Hills Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who is an attorney. The suit raised a series of constitutional arguments, including that the ordinance violates privacy rights.

Anthony Sabatini gets a courtroom smackdown.

However, Judge John Cooper, who announced his ruling after hearing arguments, cited evidence that face masks can help prevent the spread of the virus and said the ordinance has a “valid basis” to protect public health.

“I find that this ordinance does not violate any constitutional rights,” Cooper said.

Attorney Drew Parker, representing the county, said “context matters, and our current circumstances that we are dealing with the matter.”

“The threat of COVID-19 is real,” Parker said, “and the threat continues to evolve and spread.”

Safety first

Amid the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Florida, Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried is reminding Floridians that the Division of Consumer Services is taking reports of businesses ignoring COVID-19 ordinances.

“As Florida’s COVID-19 cases skyrocket, we must all do our part to beat this virus. We’re making our Division of Consumer Services available to help hold bad actors accountable for ignoring COVID-19 directives,” Fried said. “We have been in touch with the 40,000 licensed businesses we regulate to provide guidance on sanitization and safety procedures. But guidelines and directives only help reduce COVID-19’s spread if everyone follows the rules.

Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried says her department is taking reports of COVID-19 noncompliance.

Since March 1, FDACS has received 815 consumer complaints in relation to COVID-19 violations.

Examples of COVID-19 violations may include capacity limits in restaurants and bars, face mask requirements and closure requirements.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Florida should be critical to every consumer, resident and visitor,” said Susan McGrath, Executive Director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. “Keeping our communities safe will take everyone working together, and that includes holding accountable those who fail to follow state and local rules on public health and safety.”

Consumers can report businesses and organizations that violate local ordinances by phone at 1-800-HELP-FLA or online at FloridaConsumerHelp.com.

Robo ruling

Fried applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a law that would allow debt collectors to make robocalls to cellphones.

“This ruling is a victory for consumers who have spoken loudly that absolutely nobody wants cellphone robocalls,” Fried said. “While federal law has long prohibited most robocalls to cellphones, the Supreme Court wisely ended the exception for debt collectors. With this decision, we are hopeful that both consumer complaints and unwanted calls to Floridians will be reduced.”

The FDACS works overs 400,000 consumer complaints every year.

Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Mary Barzee Flores urges Floridians to sign up for the state’s do not call list.

Last year, took action against 16 companies for a total of $945,000 in fines for Do Not Call violations.

“While the Supreme Court has struck down important exceptions on robocalls, we strongly encourage consumers to sign up for our Florida Do Not Call List,” said Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Mary Barzee Flores, who oversees the FDACS Division of Consumer Services.

“If Florida consumers receive unwanted or illegal robocalls, including robocalls selling goods and services, they should file a complaint with us at 1-800-HELP-FLA, 1-800-FL-AYUDA in Spanish, or FloridaConsumerHelp.com. Consumers should gather as much information as possible about the call, so that we can identify and investigate those responsible.”

Credit check

Attorney General Ashley Moody this week urged Floridians to capitalize on an offer by the three national credit reporting agencies for free access to credit reports.

The free credit reports come in response to the economic hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Credit reports are vital tools in tracking consumers’ financial health and credit status,” said Moody. “With so many Americans now facing financial hardship, it is more important than ever that Floridians monitor and protect their credit.

The reports are offered by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Take advantage of free credit reports, says Ashley Moody.

Floridians have until April 2021 to take advantage of the offer.

“Consumers who are unable to make payments due to the current pandemic should immediately consult with their lenders to determine if any assistance is available,” Moody added. “Many businesses are suspending or delaying payment due dates for consumers in financial distress. Being proactive and taking quick action to work with lenders can help consumers protect their credit ratings during this crisis.”

A consumer credit report is a record of a consumer’s credit activity and payment history.

Moody encouraged all Floridians to regularly review their credit report and contact credit reporting agencies about possible inaccuracies or oversights.

The free weekly credit reports can be accessed online.

Bad app-les

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis warned Floridians this week that more than two dozen Android apps were caught stealing personal data from Google Android devices.

“While technology has improved and enhanced our everyday lives, far too often we hear of hacks or data breaches leaving us vulnerable to fraud and scams,” said Patronis. “The Federal Trade Commission ranks Florida second in the nation for fraud and ID theft reports and estimates that Florida fraud losses totaled nearly $90 million in 2019.”

In response, Patronis offered Floridians four tips to protect their financial information.

Jimmy Patronis warns Floridians of more than two dozen Android apps that steal personal data.

He encouraged residents to check their credit activity often, monitor credit reports, use caution when clicking or downloading emails or attachments and consider a credit freeze if you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft.

“Identity theft and impostor scams are the top two forms of fraud reported,” Patronis said. “It is vital that Florida consumers and businesses remain informed about data breaches and protect and monitor their accounts for fraudulent activity. If you feel you’ve fallen victim to fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”

Patronis also encouraged Floridians to utilize the free credit reports being offered by the three national credit reporting agencies. Those agencies include Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

A list of malicious Android apps can be found online.

Instagram of the Week


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Set-up for success

The Department of Education, Commissioner Corcoran and the Florida Education Foundation are honoring five school districts with $5,000 awards highlighting innovative education partnerships. Those funds are intended to enhance programs supported by local businesses.

“It takes the entire community to recover from COVID-19 and reopen our schools and I applaud these businesses and individuals for making the commitment to set our students and schools up for success,” Corcoran said. “Businesses working hand in hand with our education system will help to ensure every Florida student gets a world-class education.”

Richard Corcoran says it takes the whole community to recover from COVID-19.

Those Commissioner’s Business Recognition Awards are going to Bradford County School District and Chemours, Duval County Public Schools and Emtec Inc., A.D. Henderson University School and Builders Plus, School District of Manatee County and Anna Maria Oyster Bar, and Walton County School District and St. Joe Community Foundation. Corcoran announced the winners through a social media campaign that highlighted each partnership.

Lawtey Elementary School in Bradford County created a STEM lab because of a $30,000 grant by Chemours. Emtec gave Duval County high school students hands-on computer experience through a technology summer internship program. And Builders Plus designed, built and paved a new underwater robotics facility for FAU’s A.D. Henderson University School.

Anna Maria Oyster Bar’s owners founded the “Dive into Reading” summer program, which recruited volunteers to support Manatee County’s most academically at-risk students with reading and social-emotional learning. Meanwhile, St. Joe Community Foundation invested around $277,000 for various Walton County school programs, including the Magnet Innovation Center and books and technology for the district’s newest elementary school.

Request for release

Rep. Dianne Hart is calling on the state to release at-risk inmates as the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the prison system tops 3,000.

As of the latest weekly report from the Department of Corrections, 28 inmates but no staff have died with COVID-19. That’s among the 2,460 inmates and 722 staff members that have tested positive.

“These individuals are there to serve their time, not a death sentence due to lack of basic protection,” Hart said.

Dianne Hart is calling on the state to release at-risk inmates with underlying health conditions to protect them from COVID-19. Image via Colin Hackley. 

In April, the Tampa Democrat called on the Governor, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health to release inmates with underlying health conditions and to conduct checkups on facilities’ mitigation practices. At that time, 31 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19.

This week, she renewed that call for the benefit of inmates with heart conditions, diabetes and respiratory illnesses.

“Even if they recover, COVID-19 has been shown to have potentially lasting negative effects,” Hart said. This is not the time to stand idly by while more people are exposed and ultimately infected with this dangerous virus. We need immediate action from the leadership in this state.”

DeSantis has repeatedly rejected calls to release immunocompromised inmates, noting that other states have released dangerous people while Florida’s prison cases are a “discrete” issue. Before the June wave of COVID-19 cases across the state, the Governor had also pointed to prisons as leading hot spots outside of South Florida.


Florida this week was designated as one of the first participants for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safety Testing Initiative, or AV TEST.

The initiative was launched as an effort to improve the safety and testing transparency for automated driving systems.

“The AV TEST Initiative is a monumental step into the future of automated vehicles, and we are proud Florida is one of the first states to participate in such an important effort led by USDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault.

The Florida Department of Transportation is building SunTrax, the first state-owned autonomous vehicle testing facility.

“As Florida continues to grow, it is essential to provide a transportation system that meets the needs of our residents and visitors. Florida’s engagement in this initiative shows the continued commitment to improving safety, enhancing mobility and inspiring innovation on our state’s roadways.”

The Florida Department of Transportation is also in the process of building, SunTrax, the first state-owned vehicle testing facility.

Construction of SunTrax is expected to be completed in late 2021.

“Trucking is at the epicenter of autonomous vehicle technology,” said President and CEO of Florida Trucking Association Ken Armstrong. “We applaud USDOT for including Florida as a part of this initiative — automated driving systems can improve safety measures for everyone on the road and keep our state at the forefront of innovation.”


Soon, Floridians will be able to travel the East Coast without needing several toll transponders.

The E-ZPass Interagency Group announced this week that Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise and the State Road and Tollway Authority of Georgia are joining the E-ZPass network, bringing convenience to motorists traveling along the East Coast.

The Orlando area Central Florida Expressway Authority is already a member of the E-ZPass Group, however, the remaining Florida toll agencies and the State Road and Toll Authority in Georgia are not yet members.

Soon, Florida travelers will only need one transponder to drive up the East Coast.

“This news is very exciting, as interoperability along the East Coast has long been sought after by the traveling public. Our industry will also be thrilled that we are another step closer to achieving national interoperability of electronic toll collection systems,” said PJ Wilkins, executive director of the E-ZPass Group.

Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, which operates the SunPass system in use throughout Florida, is in the process of updating its system to bring E-ZPass statewide. It expects to be ready to roll later this year.

“We understand how confusing and frustrating it can be for our toll customers to have to keep track of the different tolling mechanisms across the nation. Under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ leadership, the Florida Department of Transportation continues to leverage technology to increase convenience and mobility for Florida’s toll customers,” said DOT Secretary Thibault.

“By enhancing Florida’s SunPass system and partnering with the E-ZPass Interagency Group, our combined customer base will effortlessly travel toll roads in 18 states.”

Stickers for sea creatures

Want to save a manatee or protect a sea turtle? There’s a decal for that.

Each July, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission introduces new manatee and sea turtle decals, which are available for a $5 donation. The waterproof decals can be placed on a vehicle or on the side of the boat, and the money generated goes toward research, rescue and management programs that help Florida’s manatees and sea turtles survive.

“Proudly displaying your manatee or sea turtle decal is a great way to raise awareness about the challenges facing these iconic Florida species,” said Ron Mezich, who leads the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section. “And even more importantly, all proceeds from the decals go directly to helping these species and conserving their habitats.”

Each July, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission introduces new manatee and sea turtle decals.

The “Observe with Care” decal shows an adult manatee and calf swimming above a bed of seagrass. In the 1960s, legendary wildlife researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau helped raise awareness about Florida manatees worldwide. Today, FWC is encouraging Floridians to continue this legacy of manatee conservation by always using caution when boating, enjoying these amazing animals from a distance, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

The “Protect Florida Sea Turtles” decal features a close-up photo of a loggerhead hatchling. There are many ways you can help protect sea turtles, including keeping the beach dark by not using lights or lit cellphones at night. Also, “clear the way at the end of the day” — when you leave the beach after a day of fun, always make sure to fill in any holes, pick up trash, and put away toys and furniture. It can make a big difference for sea turtles!

FWC also sells a back catalog of decals, dating back to 1992. The manatee and sea turtle decals can be ordered via FWC’s website.

Law scholars

The Florida Sheriffs Association this week continued its annual tradition of awarding scholarships to distinguished students who are studying toward a career in criminal justice.

Scholarships are awarded to students who are following in the footsteps of their parents, who work full time for a Florida Sheriff’s Office.

Nine of the 11 criminal justice students recognized with scholarships from the Florida Sheriffs Association.

The application process included a five-page essay on how their parents motivated them toward a career in law enforcement and a committee review from representatives of the Florida Sheriffs Association.

This year, 11 students were awarded:

—      Kaitlin Bernabe, University of Florida.

—      Chase Binkley, Florida State University.

—      Reygan Carner, University of Central Florida.

—      Matthew Daniel Coleman, Florida International University.

—      Sarah Coleman, University of Miami School of Law.

—      Cody Deloney, Indian River State College.

—      Zachary Godwin, Tallahassee Community College.

—      Isabel Huerta, University of South Florida.

—      Alyssa McDonald, University of Central Florida.

—      Joseph Mitchell, Stetson University.

—      Jessica Weatherman, University of South Florida.

The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit corporation made of the Sheriff of Florida, roughly 3,500 business leaders and 90,000 citizens throughout the state.

Founded in 1893, the FSA has “steadfastly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state’s law enforcement community.”

The FSA also funds the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and helps Sheriffs’ Offices obtain affordable training, special task forces and legislative services.

Call for decarceration

With 28 inmates dead from COVID-19 in the Florida correctional system, the Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform group is renewing its call for the state to release at-risk inmates.

The coalition says its request and similar ones have gone unanswered during the pandemic.

“It is long past time for Florida officials to stop ignoring the reality of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak in the prison system and take action to prevent further harm, including more deaths of incarcerated people and corrections staff,” said Carrie Boyd, policy counsel for SPLC Action, the advocacy arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The coalition in March sent a letter to DeSantis suggesting a decarceration plan involving retroactive sentencing reforms. The group also wants more proactive measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus to prevent cases of COVID-19 within the contained environments of prisons.

The Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform is renewing its call for the state to release at-risk inmates.

“Continued overcrowding and inadequate health care almost certainly have made this pandemic worse in Florida’s prisons and jail,” said the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida political director Kirk Bailey. “We need to get the medically frail, the elderly and those scheduled to get out soon out as quickly as possible.”

Outbreaks in prisons would eventually spread to the general public, the coalition warns. But DeSantis has classified correctional facilities as outbreaks sites with little interaction with the general public. Furthermore, he has said other states have released dangerous inmates in an attempt to lessen the blow in prisons.

“Reducing the prison population is the best answer from both a humanitarian and public health perspective to prevent more COVID-19 deaths,” Bailey said. “Is it too much to ask to release those who do not pose a danger to society and are most vulnerable to COVID-19?”

TL;DR, budget edition

Florida TaxWatch has released its annual state budget explainer giving taxpayers the TL;DR for the state’s spending plan.

The Taxpayers’ Guide to Florida’s FY2020-21 State Budget provides an overview and analysis of the spending plan that was finalized less than two weeks ago.

“As a business leader and a taxpayer, I believe it is critical for Floridians to understand where their tax dollars are going, particularly in our current unpredictable fiscal environment,” said TaxWatch Chair and former state Sen. Pat Neal.

TaxWatch calls its online Budget Hub the go-to resource for understanding the state’s expenditures. And President and CEO Dominic Calabro touted the watchdog organization as the “eyes and ears of Florida’s taxpayers.”

TaxWatch Chair and former Sen. Pat Neal believes Floridians need to know where their tax dollars are going.

“When combined with the online ‘Florida Budget Hub’ resource, taxpayers have never had the opportunity to be more informed,” said Vice-Chair and former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux. “I encourage each and every resident of our great state to keep these resources handy, and to stay on top of how our government spends their money.”

While Florida’s $92.2 billion 2020-2021 budget is the largest in state history, it is smaller per capita than the previous year’s spending plan. The budget draws $34.8 billion from general revenue, $24.6 billion from trust funds and $33 billion from federal funds.

Anesthetists awarded

Two members of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists landed a pair of prestigious awards from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists for their work as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.

Dr. Jampierre Mato was named as the 2020 Annual Clinical Instructor of the Year and Dr. Karla Maldonado received the 2020 Janice Drake CRNA Humanitarian Award.

The Clinical Instructor of the Year Award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the teaching of nurse anesthesia students in the clinical area.

The Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists awarded Dr. Karla Maldonado with the 2020 Janice Drake CRNA Humanitarian Award.

Mato is a generalist CRNA, but he excels in the specialties of orthopedic and neurosurgical anesthesia. He has helped train up more than 500 nurse anesthetists during his career.

“Excelling as a nurse anesthetist is much more than simply knowing the mechanics of anesthesia. I make it very clear to my students that, in order to be the very best, you must have broad anesthesia knowledge, a grasp of emerging trends and evidence-based practice changes, and a basic understanding of surgical principles,” he said.

The Janice Drake CRNA Humanitarian Award is presented to a CRNA who volunteers and provides anesthesia, education, and training in needy areas of the United States and overseas.

Maldonado is the assistant director of the University of South Florida’s Nurse Anesthesia Program. For the past nine years, Maldonado has traveled to San Lucas, Guatemala, to provide life-changing humanitarian surgery and anesthesia care to local residents. Through the San Lucas Foundation, she has transformed the lives of hundreds of patients in the rural town where the local clinic lacks surgical or anesthesia care.

“It’s an amazing and incredibly humbling experience to be recognized by my peers,” she said. “All the other award winners are very well known for their humanitarian efforts, so I’m quite honored.”

Next-gen tech

A $350,000 National Science Foundation grant is coming to Florida A&M University.

Physics professor Mogus Mochena, Ph.D., received the prestigious award to study extremely tiny semiconductor structures known as nanostructures, which are expected to function as components of spintronics, the next generation of electronics.

Common semiconductors such as silicon are not magnetic. They can be made magnetic by introducing dilute amounts of magnetic atoms such as iron, Mochena explained.

FAMU physics professor Mogus Mochena encourages students seeking careers in the advanced technology industry to major in applied physics.

In addition to the magnetic atoms, nonmagnetic atoms that increase the number of electrons in the semiconductor will be introduced or doped. This will add another property to the tiny structures known as plasmonics due to the collective motion of the electrons, Mochena said.

“As a result, a multifunctional nanostructure is expected will have various applications — spintronics, photonics, sensing and detecting cancer agents and many more,” he added.

The funding will also support a doctoral student and four undergraduate students majoring in applied physics with a focus on computational science.

Mochena encourages students seeking careers in the advanced technology industry to major in applied physics, and also to join the exciting research in advanced technology at FAMU Physics Department.

“We need students with physics backgrounds to work on challenging but very interesting problems,” Mochena said. “For instance, physicists work on complex problems involving biology. The current COVID-19 pandemic requires a thorough understanding of its protein structure to develop a vaccine against it,” Mochena said. “That requires a fundamental knowledge of physics, biology, and computational science.”

Tune in

It wasn’t easy to become a doctor in the 19th century. For women, it was a near-impossible feat.

But a few managed to defy the odds.

A new documentary produced by Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts filmmaker in residence Valerie Scoon explores how they managed to become doctors. And soon, “Daring Women Doctors: Physicians in the 19th Century” will come to a PBS station near you — it’s airing on more than 90% of PBS stations in the nation this month.

A new documentary from FSU film professor Valerie Scoon examines female physicians in the 19th century.

The film follows the history of 19th-century women doctors and was completed through a collaboration with Scoon’s film company, True Visions, Inc., the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts Torchlight Center Studios, the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights and local PBS affiliate WFSU.

“We are very proud of CMPA faculty member Valerie Scoon, and the students and alums who worked with her on this project,” said Reb Braddock, dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts. “It’s a great success story that demonstrates the kind of synergy and opportunity that our Torchlight Center provides, fulfilling its mission to create a bridge from education to industry.”

Scoon, who wrote and produced the film, oversees the script development of graduate and undergraduate thesis films.

“I am very excited to share the untold story of these intrepid and diverse, early women physicians,” Scoon said. “To become doctors, they had to overcome enormous obstacles.”

The film has received positive reviews from the women doctors of today, too.

“This film offers a rare, intimate portrayal of the pioneering generation of women in medicine, whose grit, perseverance and audacity opened the doors for women in medicine around the world,” said Eliza Lo Chin, executive director of the American Medical Women’s Association. “These incredible stories will empower women today, even as they seek to achieve full equity within the medical profession.”

Corona Directions


Staff Reports


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