- The Federal Communications Commission offers helpful cyber security tips to protect your business, including training employees and creating back-up copies of important data.
- The Federal Communications Commission also offers an online tool to help create a customized cyber security plan.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free web-based course about securing information in a small business.
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers downloadable resources about protecting your privacy and staying safe online.
- The National Cyber Security Alliance offers a framework for identifying and prioritizing online risk.
Led by former congressman Steve Southerland, Stand Up for North Florida
is making the case for equitable spending of state conservation dollars.
State and local leaders gathered at the state capitol today to announce the formation of Stand Up for North Florida, a coalition focused on the water and conservation needs of North and North Central Florida. Former congressman Steve Southerland, the Coalition’s chair, was joined by State Representatives Brad Drake (R-5), Jay Fant (R-15), Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Schellenberg, and members of the volunteer steering committee of Stand Up for North Florida to discuss the needs of North Florida and voice concern over Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to buy more than 60,000 acres of farmland in south Florida to build a another reservoir for water filtration. State Reps. Liz Porter (R- 10) and Stan McClain (R-23) could not be in attendance but are supportive of the effort.
“Water is one of our most precious resources, and it is vital that North and Central Florida are treated equitably when it comes to state dollars spent to protect our water,” said Southerland. “Certainly there are very real issues regarding Lake Okeechobee that need to be addressed, but we plan to work hard to make sure that taxpayer money is not spent on a plan that is scientifically questionable and that unfairly benefits South Florida over the rest of the state.”
Despite the fact that North and Central Florida are home to seventy percent of the state’s river watersheds and the vast majority of the state’s springs, which provide nearly all of the recharge to the Floridan Aquifer, 75 percent of all specific water conservation budget funds went to South Florida last year. Counties across North Florida are considering resolutions calling on the Florida Legislature to equitably provide funding for Florida water projects and not send a majority of funding to one region. The resolution has already been adopted by eight cities and counties.
“Any spending decision we make must be wise and with the taxpayers’ interests fully in mind,” said Rep. Jay Fant. “Florida is facing a tight budget over the next two to three years, and it is important that we not unfairly penalize one part of the state over another.”
“Rep. Brad Drake added: “Those of us from the Panhandle and all across North Florida are united in our belief that making sure water resources in our part of the state is not just good for us, but for the entire state. We look forward to working together to make sure Amendment 1 resources are spent in a way that protects all of us, not just South Florida.”
In 2014, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 to fund conservation projects. However, last year South Florida received 94 percent of the Amendment 1 dollars appropriated to specific water projects. The newly proposed land buy and reservoir are estimated to cost $2.4 billion. However, questions have been raised regarding whether that figure would be the true cost of the project as well as how effective the plan would be in actually addressing the issues surrounding Lake Okeechobee.
“As I’ve talked with legislators and local leaders from across North Florida, I have not found anyone eager to spend billions of dollars on a project we are not sure will work and that favors one region over another,” said Southerland. “It’s just common sense, and I believe we can count on our state leaders to come together to make sure our water resources are properly stewarded. We’re here to make sure that North Florida is part of both the conversation and the solution.”
Other volunteer steering committee members of the coalition include the following:
- Mr. David Biddle, Gilchrist County, small businessman, volunteer springs advocate, and GOP State Committeeman
- The Honorable Christine Dobkowski, Marion County, Mayor of Belleview, FL
- The Honorable Wayne Harris, Okaloosa County, former Okalooosa County Commissioner
- Mr. Rick Joyce, Lake County, CEO of Central Florida Mediators, former Co-CEO of Dixon-Ticonderoga, and former board member of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission
- Mr. Maurice Langston, Wakulla County, former undersheriff and Vice Chair of the Florida Council for Safe Communities
- The Honorable Matt Schellenberg, Duval County, Jacksonville City Council
- Mr. Jake Godbold, former Jacksonville Mayor and City Council
- The Honorable Jeb Smith, St. Johns County, St. Johns County Commission
- Mr. Mike Williams, Madison County, local businessman, former President of the Madison County Cattleman’s Association, and GOP State Committeeman
FMEA Assists with Resources Necessary to Restore Power to
Public Power Customers Affected by Severe Storms in Florida
As severe thunderstorms brought high winds, hail and significant rainfall to parts of Florida Saturday and Sunday, the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) assembled mutual aid crews from across the state to assist with power restoration in impacted areas.
Hardest hit was the City of Tallahassee, which experienced a peak outage of 30,000 municipal electric utility customers. Crews and service trucks from public power partners Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA), Ocala Electric Utility, Beaches Energy Services (Jacksonville Beach) and JEA were immediately sent to Tallahassee to assist with power restoration efforts. As of 1 p.m. today, approximately 6,300 City of Tallahassee electric utility consumers remain without power and power restoration efforts continue.
Other Florida municipal electric utilities affected by the weekend’s severe weather include:
- Ocala Electric Utility
- Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU)
- City of Leesburg
- City of New Smyrna Beach
- Town of Havana
- Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC)
- Lakeland Electric
- City of Starke
- Keys Energy Services
- City of Blountstown
- City of Lake Worth
Overall, approximately 50,600 municipal electric utility customers experienced a power outage at some point over the weekend. All have been restored with the exception of the remaining 6,300 City of Tallahassee electric utility customers (as of 1 p.m. on Monday, January 23).
As crews continue to quickly and safely restore power, it is important for residents to remember that there is still danger even after a storm has moved out of the area. Downed power lines and trees pose the most significant threats. The FMEA reminds residents of these important safety precautions:
- Never, ever touch a downed power line or go near one. Always assume the power line is live.
- Do not touch anything or anyone in contact with a fallen power line or other equipment.
- If a power line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle and call for help.
- Do not pull tree limbs off power lines. Leave those for utility crews to safely handle.
- Avoid areas with debris and downed trees. There could be live power lines hidden inside.
- Also avoid chain link fences and puddles that could have become electrified by downed power lines.
During emergency situations, members of FMEA partner through a Mutual Aid Agreement that enables member utilities to call on each other for emergency workers and supplies. Florida’s public power utilities benefit from this strong network of partners within Florida and across the country through the American Public Power Association. These dependable connections have created a reliable system where member utilities both request and offer assistance.
The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) represents the unified interests of 34 public power communities across the state, which provide electricity to more than 3 million of Florida’s residential and business consumers.