Sumter’s Sweetheart 2011…and The Winner Is…

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1st Place Sumter’s Sweetheart “Luigi” the donkeyFor the second year in a row, the tension was high waiting to see who would become “Sumter’s Sweetheart.” The standings of the top three contenders revolved endlessly till the stroke of midnight when in squeaked the last votes crowning Luigi, the three-legged miniature Sicilian donkey as the official winner for 2011.

The Humane Society/SPCA’s four week long pet contest really got revved up with online votes coming in from all over the country. With only five minutes left on the clock, little Luigi’s nationwide fan club and his proud family Linda and Ronnie Graves of Webster, came through and sent his vote count quickly past the competition. He galloped across the finish line with 901 votes. Second place was honorably earned again by Villages resident Diane Kupchak’s Domestic Shorthair cat “JB” with 701 votes, and Third place was fought hard and won by Darcy, a beloved deaf Boxer belonging to Daphne Harmon and Sandra Lee, also of Webster, with 680 votes.

“The best message we can send our community is that these animal ambassadors were all rescued from bad situations and became treasured family members” mentioned Claudia Labbe, HS/SPCA Fundraising/PR Chairperson. “Many more animals will be helped thanks to everyone who participated. We shall receive over $2800 in proceeds which will provide other animals that opportunity and we sincerely thank every person who donated to help change a life.” She also added that “the HS/SPCA of Sumter County works hard making sure that every rescued animal feels the love of being someone’s sweetheart one day. We could not have raised such interest in this fundraising event without the support of our local businesses and media.” Winners received gift cards and prizes from Whole Earth Pet Supply, PetCo, Edible Arrangements, Sumter Tire, Speckled Butterbean Restaurant, USBones.com, Bone Crazy Dog Grooming, Willy Nilly Feed & Farm Supply, Harbor Lights Restaurant, Teddy’s Inspiration Blankets and Continental Country Club. To view the contestants and videos and learn about HS/SPCA programs, visit their website at www.hsspca.org or Facebook page.

2nd Place Winner JB (aka Jail Bird) the DSH cat3rd Place Winner Darcy, the Boxer

Jason and Jinx Bright Win 5k Relay

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Jason & Jinx BrightOn Saturday, February 19th, Trinity Church in Eustis hosted the 1st Kiss Me 5k Relay. This event was a team race for couples. The ladies ran 2.5k and kissed their partners who raced their 2.5k on the same route. It was a fun and exciting event on a beautiful Saturday morning.

Jason and Jinx Bright of Tavares easily outpaced the competition for the race win. In second place was Ed and Stephanie Moler of Leesburg. Rounding out the podium spots were Shane and Shawna Sherman of Eustis.

This event was a fundraiser for Rick Copley of Eustis to represent Team USA in the off road triathlon World Championship in Spain at the end of April.

The race was sponsored by Darryl Johnson Landscaping, DG Promotions and Your Best Fitness Coach.

Spring Creek Elementary’s Robotics Team seeks Community Support for Online Contest

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altPAISLEY — Spring Creek Elementary School’s FIRST Lego League robotics team is in search of a little community support as they try to win an online contest and a $20,000 grant to patent the team’s award-winning Sign Language Communication System.

The program is called the Global Innovation Award and is sponsored by the FIRST organization and the X Prize Foundation. In its first year of competition, Spring Creek Elementary’s robotics team has garnered recognition for its research project, the Sign Language Communication System. The system would work much like a Wii or Xbox Kinect gaming system by utilizing motion detectors and sensor-laden gloves to allow a computer to translate sign language into audio that would be played out through a speaker, allowing those who do not speak sign language to communicate with the deaf and mute.

Anyone interested in voting for Spring Creek’s project should log on to http://fllinnovationaward.firstlegoleague.org/teams/techno-tribe. Click on the “Sign Language Communication System” button and then click on the green “Vote Here” button. Users can vote once a day.

“We are hoping to gain at least 2,000 votes in the next week,” said Wesley Locke, Spring Creek’s music teacher and the team’s coach. The contest is over March 4th. We need to get the word out soon so we can make the judges of the competition notice us!”


Lake County Health Department Seeks Public Health Heroes Nominations

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altEustis - The Lake County Health Department is seeking nominations for “The 2011 Hidden Heroes of Public Health” awards. The awards recognize an individual and an organization outside of the Health Department who works to improve the health and well-being of Lake County residents and are part of the Department’s efforts to bring attention to National Public Health week, celebrated April 4th – 10th.

A Public Health Hero is a person or organization who promotes public health in their daily lives. This person, organization or business embodies the following criteria:

•    Public Health efforts make a significant difference in the lives of the people served
•    Public Health efforts build on individual and community strengths and assets
•    Efforts mobilize individuals and community groups to work in collaboration/cooperation to promote health
•    Efforts are unique, innovative or fill an identified gap in a specific community, (i.e., child obesity)

“Public Health encompasses more than just the County Health Department.  This is an opportunity for an individual and an organization to be recognized for their dedication and hard work that contributes to the health of Lake County’s residents,” stated Donna Gregory, Administrator.

To nominate an individual or organization, a completed nomination form must be submitted to the Health Department by 5:00 p.m., Friday, March 18th. Nominees must have contributed to the health and well-being of Lake County residents and meet criteria outlined above.

Nomination forms may be picked up at the Lake County Health Department Administration Office located at 16140 U.S. Hwy. 441, Eustis, FL 32726 or a form may be downloaded from the Department’s web site at www.lakechd.com

For more information, please call 352-589-6424, X2264.

Leesburg High to Host Grand Opening for Family & Community Resource Center

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LEESBURG — In an effort to attract more families to participate in their students’ success at Leesburg High, the school is celebrating the grand opening of its Family & Community Resource Center on Thursday, February 24th, at 6 p.m.

Open on Mondays until 5:15 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays until 8 p.m., Leesburg High’s Family & Community Resource Center will provide a host of services to parents and students. The center will include:

•    Displays of student art work and photos of students, parents and teacher activities
•    Kids’ Corner for children of parents visiting the resource center
•    Career service resources including:
     o    Workforce Central Florida information
     o    Job applications
     o    Resume & cover letter writing
     o    Career fairs & upcoming community events
     o    Internship & apprenticeship information
     o    College & scholarship information
     o    Career major exploration assistance
     o    Career-related websites
•    Computers available for parents and students to use for research, job seeking, student scholarships, writing resumes and cover letters, and viewing school information
•    Informational displays about local community agencies and community resources available for parents, such as Lake Community Action, Early Childhood Agency, Child Care Choice Services, Food Stamps, Unemployment Services, Medicare & Insurance
•    Information on Leesburg High programs, activities, after-school offerings, STEM, extracurricular activities, sports schedules, clubs & academic services
•    A support desk staffed by instructional coaches, ESE specialists, guidance counselors and other school staff to provide information, assist, meet with parents and answer questions
•    A presentation area for guest speakers, parent training, and information sessions

“Building a positive working relationship with our families and community is essential in our school improvement process,” said Bill Miller, Principal at Leesburg High. “We are looking forward to hosting this event and hope that it leads to greater levels of communication.”

The entire community is invited to the grand opening of Leesburg High’s Family & Community Resource Center on February 24th at 6 p.m. A spaghetti dinner will be served in the school cafeteria.
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