A Guided Tour of Native Florida in SCC

A Guided Tour of Native Florida in SCC

A Guided Tour of Native Florida, Right Here in SCC

By Diane M. Loeffler

On the first Tuesday of the month, without fail, John Lampkin is at the West Campus Nature Trails at 9 a.m. ready to take you on a free tour. This is your chance to see how this area once appeared and to learn from someone who is knowledgeable and enthusiastic. You certainly will not be bored!

The latter part of August was quite wet, so when I decided to take the tour on September 1, I wore boots. Figuring that mosquitoes like wet places, I put on a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt and long pants. I sprayed some bug repellant on my neck and hands and was ready to go.

Lampkin begins his tour at the canal that runs under West Del Webb. The canal is part of a system of ponds, lakes and canals Del Webb dug to drain the area for development.

Lampkin points out the non-native grasses and the native plants surrounding the canal. Three years ago, a grant for $20,000 was given to help clean out the non-native species that were taking over the canal area, since club volunteers clear out the area by hand. A combination of donations and dues from the SCC Audubon Club help fund periodic assistance from an outside service to remove invasive plants.

Entering the forested area, you will walk through the Mesic Pine Flatwoods ecosystem. You will also see the shady, closed canopy flatwoods area. There are many oak trees including one Lampkin says is, “at least 200 years old judging from the diameter of its trunk.”

There is a large area of saw palmettos. Saw palmettos are spread by rhizomes. The saw palmettos we see here could well be part of a very, very old plant. Only three percent of Florida’s longleaf pines remain, so seeing a virgin stand in our little trail area is very exciting. Lampkin says, “You can tell this is an old area because you can distinctly see four generations of longleaf pines next to each other.”

On the tour, Lampkin points out all sorts of bugs, spiders, lizards and birds. He shows you where they nest, the plants that feed them and the flowers they pollinate. Best of all, he knows the names of the plants, animals and insects.

Like me, you may see turtle eggs on a sandy mound. Lampkin shows you the wasps, bees, and butterflies feeding on flowers and laying eggs on leaves. Some of the creatures are very, very tiny. Lampkin often took photos and then enlarged them so that I could see the detail of the plants and of the life forms on them.

One of the smallest flowers was on a hatpin plant. Lampkin says, “When I first saw it, I thought, what kind of insect will pollinate that? As I observed it over the years, I found 26 species that pollinate it.” By the way, Lampkin also keeps track of all the species of bees and butterflies that make the trail area their home. Ray Webb (not a relative of Del Webb) keeps a record of all the types of birds in the trail area.

Lampkin says, “People may not realize it, but the landscape here is very harsh. Plants and animals must learn to adapt to dry springs and very wet summers. Turtles and some insects lay their eggs in the ground and must find a place higher than where the water will rise.”

In nature, areas such as this would periodically catch fire and the cycle of growth and life would begin anew.

The trails were the brainchild of Mike Raff and were originally maintained by the Hiking Club. The SCC Audubon Club took over in 2015. In 2018, the SCC Audubon Club and the Community Association won 2018 Environmental Project of the Year from the Tampa Bay Association of Environmental Professionals. Club volunteers maintain the area with help from the Community Association staff who mow the paths.

The trail is on the west side West Del Webb, north of Seton Hall Drive and south of Vincennes Drive. There is no car parking there, but you can drive your golf cart over the grass to a marked parking area under the trees. You should leave your cart there as golf carts are not allowed on the trails.

Wear closed toe shoes or boots so that you don’t trip over any roots or stumble on uneven areas. You may wish to spray some insect repellant on any uncovered skin. You can learn more about the trails at “www.sccauduboclub.com/nature-trails”. You can also learn about Florida ecosystems at “www.fnai.org”.

Visit the trail whenever you can for a peaceful walk and some time with nature. Also, consider marking “9 a.m. the first Tuesday of the month” on your calendar. You will be amazed at all there is to see when John Lampkin is your guide.

If you wish to know more about the Audubon Club, contact Mary Duncan at 813 260-3322.

 

IN THE PHOTO: 

John Lampkin conducts tours of the West Nature Trail path. Lampkin uses his experience as a musician and naturalist to make YouTube videos. He has won awards for his nature photography including one of a palmetto skipper for the American Butterfly Association’s magazine.

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed MasksBy Paula Lickfeldt Imagine being deaf or hearing impaired and using lip-reading as a way of conversing. Now imagine the onset of a pandemic that causes everyone to wear a mask over their mouth, rendering lip-reading...

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of UsBy Diane M. Loeffler Congratulations to the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. The nation has recognized what we already know, our squad is amazing! Actually, we are all amazing because we support our...

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We relive the fun of the Chamber Business Expo, indulge in a delicious sweet treat, meet some local crafters who are helping people with hearing loss, celebrate the SCC Emergency Squad’s and MOAA’s national awards, learn about...

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

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The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We tip our hat in appreciation to longtime community leader, Sam Sudman; sail across the Pacific with some SCC friends; catch up with those industrious Model Railroaders; get a taste of the good food at CC’s Grill; relive a fun...

Fall Business Expo August 28

Fall Business Expo August 28

The Sun City Area Chamber of Commerce presents their Annual Fall Business Expo, a Drive-Thru Event, on Friday, August 28, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. LocationPrince of Peace Catholic Church702 Valley Forge Blvd. in SCC Claim Your Goodie Bag!This year, Fall...

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

By Paula Lickfeldt

Imagine being deaf or hearing impaired and using lip-reading as a way of conversing. Now imagine the onset of a pandemic that causes everyone to wear a mask over their mouth, rendering lip-reading impossible.

Eloise Schwarz is the leader of the HLAA Sun City Center Chapter. Realizing that hearing impaired and deaf people needed some sort of a windowed mask, she set out to find a pattern for making windowed masks and to recruit people to help make them. A dedicated sewing team made up of Carol Zeller, team captain, and seamstresses Jan Ring, Nancy Carrier, Mary Christiano, Kathy Moore, Kathy Yeager, Pam Davis, Sally Foree, Carol Aberzik, and Eloise Schwarz all stepped forward to help.

The Clear Mask Campaign offers windowed masks for hard of hearing people and their caregivers in SCC free for the asking on a first-come, first-served basis. Donations may be made when the mask is received. The SCC Chamber of Commerce is the location where the masks can be picked up after being ordered at the chamber. The SCC Men’s Club and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay are co-sponsors of the Clear Mask Campaign in SCC. These masks take some time to make, but they allow the user to smile and to see each other’s mouths for talking. The elastic bands circle the head instead of hooking behind the ears.  This saves hearing aids and/or the implants from falling off the head when removing the mask.

 

IN THE PHOTO: (L to R) Eloise Schwarz, Sally Foree, Nancy Carrier, Jan Ring, Kathy Moore, Carol Zeller, Kathy Yeager.

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed MasksBy Paula Lickfeldt Imagine being deaf or hearing impaired and using lip-reading as a way of conversing. Now imagine the onset of a pandemic that causes everyone to wear a mask over their mouth, rendering lip-reading...

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of UsBy Diane M. Loeffler Congratulations to the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. The nation has recognized what we already know, our squad is amazing! Actually, we are all amazing because we support our...

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We relive the fun of the Chamber Business Expo, indulge in a delicious sweet treat, meet some local crafters who are helping people with hearing loss, celebrate the SCC Emergency Squad’s and MOAA’s national awards, learn about...

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

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The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We tip our hat in appreciation to longtime community leader, Sam Sudman; sail across the Pacific with some SCC friends; catch up with those industrious Model Railroaders; get a taste of the good food at CC’s Grill; relive a fun...

Fall Business Expo August 28

Fall Business Expo August 28

The Sun City Area Chamber of Commerce presents their Annual Fall Business Expo, a Drive-Thru Event, on Friday, August 28, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. LocationPrince of Peace Catholic Church702 Valley Forge Blvd. in SCC Claim Your Goodie Bag!This year, Fall...

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

By Diane M. Loeffler

Congratulations to the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. The nation has recognized what we already know, our squad is amazing! Actually, we are all amazing because we support our Squad in so many ways.

On August 12, we learned that our local Emergency Squad (Squad) was recognized nationally as “Volunteer Rescue Squad” of the year for “Outstanding Service and Professionalism.” The award was given by the professional organization representing Emergency Medical Squads, EMS WORLD. The Squad received a plaque and $1,000. The September EMS WORLD journal will have an article about the Squad.

In a recorded statement, Chief Mike Bardell said, “It is an honor to be selected for such a prestigious award. In times that we find ourselves in, you begin to wonder will it ever end. Being recognized at this time certainly makes you feel you’ve made a difference. On behalf of the over 400 volunteers, I accept and thank you for this award.”

Bardell adds, “This award is for everyone, not just the Squad. It is for the community that supports us and all of the people who went before.”

As of September 2020, the Squad has been serving area residents for 56 years.

Assistant Chief of Communications, Robin Watt, says, “We would like to thank all of our volunteers as well as our community. Without the continued support of our residents, we would not be here. But I also think the leadership of our Chief, Deputy and Assistant Chiefs, the Chief Financial Officer and Board play a large role.” She adds, “This award speaks to the community support we have gotten for so long.”

Most of the Emergency Squad volunteers are residents of Sun City Center’s Community Association and Kings Point. Others come from the community at large, Sebring, Orlando, Pasco County, Manatee County and the University of Southern Florida.

 

Who Else is Recognizing Our Squad?

A radio program in San Francisco interviewed Chief Bardell and others. The Squad was also talked about on PBS Front Line. Speaking of the volunteers, Bardell says, “I am glad they are getting the recognition they deserve.”

Over the years, our Emergency Squad has had visitors from as close as The Villages and as far away as overseas. They all want to know how the Squad operates and how to set up something similar in their communities.

 

Working with Colleges

Did you know that Hillsborough County Community College students accompany our Squad sometimes? They are students studying to be EMTs or Paramedics who are required to ride along for 36 hours. Bardell says, “These are the people who will someday care for us. From us, they learn to listen. Really listening to patients is a culture in this squad. If someone is dying, how are you going to go about caring for them and making them feel not alone? They learn by example to calm the patients and to do things like drive 5 m.p.h. over speed bumps when transporting someone with a broken hip. We teach them to be considerate. This will make them more compassionate in the future.”

 

Operating in the Time of COVID-19

Being appreciated is always a good feeling. During this time of quarantines, masks, and restrictions, many of us have had a difficult time being happy and optimistic. Receiving a national award is a real boost for the Squad at a time when we could all use some good news.

Speaking of good news, there have been no cases of COVID-19 in the Squad. The Squad continues to take the temperatures of everyone who enters the building and  to practice advanced safety precautions. Robin Watt says, “We have three people in here every day to oversee protocols to keep people and equipment safe.” These measures are monitored and overseen by Tina Drury, Deputy Chief in Charge of Operations, Shirley Bardell, Chief of Education and Medical, and Chief Mike Bardell.

Bardell says, “When the virus hit, I thought we would have to shut down. If we don’t have volunteers, we don’t exist. People still have strokes, people still fall down, would we have the volunteers we needed? By March 12, I knew we would be fine.”

Drury says, “We had some volunteers opt out and some are doing different jobs, but most volunteers are continuing as usual. If the schedule is tight for a shift, people have volunteered to come in an extra day.”

Additional volunteers are always needed. Training programs continue with all safety measures in place. Human Resources Director, Assistant Chief Chris McCann works with volunteers. She asked one trainee, “Do you feel safe?” The answer was, “Absolutely. I don’t have any fear at all.”

 

And the Story Continues

Recently a crew of 30-somethings visited our Squad for two days. The intent was to make a documentary about the Squad continuing during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Bardell says, “You should have seen the look on their faces when they saw the volunteers. They were surprised at the ages of the volunteers and the enthusiasm they saw.” One cannot help but wonder, in the end will the documentary focus more on the virus or on the great things seniors in a volunteer-based community can do?

 

Did You Know?

The average age of the 400 Emergency Squad volunteers is 72. The Emergency Squad is the only all-volunteer, all free ambulance service in the state. It doesn’t accept insurance and doesn’t use any tax money. It is completely funded by the community.

The Squad owns its building in front of the shopping strip and also the training center on South Pebble Beach Boulevard. The main building was constructed by Del Webb in 1964. Over the years, it has been expanded and updated. The training center was donated to the Squad by the former volunteer fire department.

Emergency Squad volunteers are trained and have ongoing education to keep their certification and update their knowledge. Volunteers report a feeling of camaraderie and family.

You can borrow wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive items for free.

The Squad works with other organizations to educate people about health concerns and disaster preparedness. They also offer fall prevention presentations, Stop the Bleed training, and CPR training. They work with the University of South Florida Institute for Government and Business on community needs assessments.

Squad members are active participants in emergency squad related meetings and committees both at the state and county level. Call Chris McCann at 813-634-1411 for information on how to become a part of the neighbor helping neighbor family.

The Sun City Center Emergency Squad were recognized by the county commissioners in 2016 and 2020. On June, 2013 they were recognized by the Florida Council on Aging as the top EMS agency in the state for its service to seniors. Most recently, they have won the Volunteer Rescue Squad of the Year for Outstanding Service and Professionalism.

On behalf of grateful people throughout the area, thank you, Emergency Squad Volunteers. You are the best.

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed MasksBy Paula Lickfeldt Imagine being deaf or hearing impaired and using lip-reading as a way of conversing. Now imagine the onset of a pandemic that causes everyone to wear a mask over their mouth, rendering lip-reading...

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of UsBy Diane M. Loeffler Congratulations to the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. The nation has recognized what we already know, our squad is amazing! Actually, we are all amazing because we support our...

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We relive the fun of the Chamber Business Expo, indulge in a delicious sweet treat, meet some local crafters who are helping people with hearing loss, celebrate the SCC Emergency Squad’s and MOAA’s national awards, learn about...

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo By Bob Sanchez On a warm and sunny Saturday, August 28, the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce held its “Out-of-the-Ordinary” Annual Fall Business Expo Drive Thru in the parking lot of the Prince of Peace...

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We tip our hat in appreciation to longtime community leader, Sam Sudman; sail across the Pacific with some SCC friends; catch up with those industrious Model Railroaders; get a taste of the good food at CC’s Grill; relive a fun...

Fall Business Expo August 28

Fall Business Expo August 28

The Sun City Area Chamber of Commerce presents their Annual Fall Business Expo, a Drive-Thru Event, on Friday, August 28, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. LocationPrince of Peace Catholic Church702 Valley Forge Blvd. in SCC Claim Your Goodie Bag!This year, Fall...

Thank you.

Thank you.

By E. Adam Porter, Editor

 

Out of an abundance of caution, in these challenging times, for the good of the community, we have all come together to read sentences that begin like this entirely too much over the past month or so. Let’s start over with what really needs to be said: THANK YOU.

Thank you to the phenomenal health care workers whose professional and personal lives have been turned upside down, who go to battle every day, fighting a war with, at least for now, no clear end in sight. You wield all the best weapons at your disposal: education, wisdom, wit, grace, patience, love, and an indomitable spirit. And you keep fighting even when you don’t have everything you need. We love you. All of you. 

Thank you to our law enforcement, who put their lives and health on the line to take care of us, to help the sick and the scared, those who have been victimized, while also dealing with the belligerent, the ignorant, the afflicted, and the evil. Thank you to all the first responders who show up as fast as they can when we are in the worst moments of our lives, who offer aid and comfort in our times of fear and pain. And a special “thank you” to our all-volunteer Emergency Squad and Security Patrol. Each of you is amazing.

Thank you to our military for showing all of us the meaning of duty, honor, and sacrifice. Later this month, we were scheduled to gather, as we do every year, to commemorate those who gave the last full measure of devotion in service to our country and her people. Like many things in this time, that service has been canceled. But nothing will rescind the respect and appreciation we have for those who faithfully served. 

Thank you to our teachers who routinely go far and above the call of duty to educate and protect our children. Teachers who, in these past weeks, have been asked to do even more and found a way to make it work. Parents are working, kids are confused, worried, and scared; and no one knows quite how to use the new technology. They all come to you, at all hours of the day and night. You are therapists as well as educators, and now you are web developers, video producers, and tech support. We see you, teachers. 

Thank you to the tireless volunteers who have poured their talent, time, and effort into meeting so many needs, closing so many gaps, and creating so many smiles. Making and delivering food, sewing and distributing masks, building PPE, picking up necessities, looking for opportunities and always going above and beyond. 

Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and correspondents, and readers who help build The News every month. Thank you to all the journalists out there taking risks to deliver the story. You rarely get mentioned as “essential workers,” but you’re always there. In the middle of the protests, at the hospitals, out in the community, anywhere there’s a story that needs to be told. 

Thank you to local, state, and federal decision-makers who are trying to do an impossible job, without precedent, working without a net. No matter what you do and when you do it, people will say it’s too much or too little. Right now, the big question is “when.” Like as not, it will be both “too late” and “too soon.” You know that, and you have to choose anyway. 

Thank you, business owners. When you started your business, investing all that money, blood, sweat, and tears, you probably didn’t have “Worldwide Pandemic” penciled in the margins of your business plan. And yet here we are. Some of you were forced to close. Others remained open. Nearly everyone has lost a catastrophic amount of business. Many of you have been forced to cut payroll, to lay off or furlough workers. I see you there, sitting up late, wondering how they’re doing, and how you’re going to get through this. 

This is a good spot to offer a huge THANK YOU to our advertisers. Some of you have been with The News since the beginning. Others came along later and stuck with us. Many of you have become our friends. You represent lifelong dreams, private practices, family businesses, and big corporations, the “backbone of America” and the “infrastructure we can’t live without.” To us here at The News, you represent the resources that allow us to do what we do: Deliver positive news, fun opportunities, and current events to the residents of Sun City Center & South Hillsborough County. Thank you for helping us make this happen. 

Thank You to our “essential workers.” I’m guessing, about six weeks ago, you did not realize just how “essential” you are. But we knew. We have food to eat because of you. Our family and our pets are safe and healthy thanks to the risks you are taking every day. Our homes are pest-free, our mail is in the box, our power is on, our trash is gone, and our A/C is working. It’s Florida. It’s May, and summer’s coming… There is no price that can be placed on working air conditioning. To all of you “essential” workers, listen, that word just doesn’t cover what you mean to us. 

Speaking of essential people, Thank You to our artists, musicians, writers, and entertainers who make life – especially life in quarantine – sweeter, brighter, and better. By sharing your talent and hard work, you have given us a priceless gift. Thank you for immersing us in beauty, awe, and transcendence. Thank you for entertainment, for laughs, for illustration, for understanding… for a story to share, a melody to sing, and the rhythm to dance.

Finally, thank you to everyone reading this. The opportunity to share good news is not something that comes along often in the media business. Being part of a positive community news publication is a unique blessing, and I’m grateful.

Be well. Stay safe. Thanks for reading.

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed MasksBy Paula Lickfeldt Imagine being deaf or hearing impaired and using lip-reading as a way of conversing. Now imagine the onset of a pandemic that causes everyone to wear a mask over their mouth, rendering lip-reading...

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of UsBy Diane M. Loeffler Congratulations to the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. The nation has recognized what we already know, our squad is amazing! Actually, we are all amazing because we support our...

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We relive the fun of the Chamber Business Expo, indulge in a delicious sweet treat, meet some local crafters who are helping people with hearing loss, celebrate the SCC Emergency Squad’s and MOAA’s national awards, learn about...

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo By Bob Sanchez On a warm and sunny Saturday, August 28, the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce held its “Out-of-the-Ordinary” Annual Fall Business Expo Drive Thru in the parking lot of the Prince of Peace...

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We tip our hat in appreciation to longtime community leader, Sam Sudman; sail across the Pacific with some SCC friends; catch up with those industrious Model Railroaders; get a taste of the good food at CC’s Grill; relive a fun...

Fall Business Expo August 28

Fall Business Expo August 28

The Sun City Area Chamber of Commerce presents their Annual Fall Business Expo, a Drive-Thru Event, on Friday, August 28, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. LocationPrince of Peace Catholic Church702 Valley Forge Blvd. in SCC Claim Your Goodie Bag!This year, Fall...

Life as we know it

Life as we know it

Life as we know it

By E. Adam Porter, Editor

 

One thousand feet above the Fryar Drop Zone, the sky fills with deployed canvas. The crowd below cheers. Cameras flash, and smartphones film the final jump for the U.S. Airborne class graduating on March 20, 2020. Back on terra firma, these newly-minted Airborne soldiers move into formation and march to the parade ground, where they are welcomed by enthusiastic family members eager to pin on the wings that are the emblem of this singular achievement.

Second and third generation Airborne soldiers receive priority, as their parents and grandparents who served before them come forward to bestow the physical representation of their legacy. Then, other names are called. Mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends advance in small groups to greet their soldiers and pin on their wings.

At their turn, four people step from the crowd, two adults and two small children running ahead to greet their big brother across the field. They come together, and Mom reaches up, tears in her eyes, pinning wings on her eldest boy, knowing they will have only one day together until he moves on to his next duty station, where there will be more training and, perhaps, a deployment across an ocean. Another deployment.

All across the parade field, this scene repeats. Handshakes, hugs, words of appreciation, congratulations, and pride. Little brothers and sisters fling their arms around their heroes, peppering them with questions: How does it feel to jump? What was it like up in the sky? Are you going to war? So many questions…

I stand back and watch the scene, my eyes full of pride, marveling once again at the man my eldest son has become. Poised, confident, and squared away. I blink back tears, and the scene blurs, shimmers… and disappears…

Because it never happened.

Instead, the coveted wings were passed out in an informal setting, just a few soldiers and NCOs, freshly scrubbed hands and tense expressions. All around them, life at Fort Benning was changing. And life outside the gates? Not a clue. No one had been allowed to leave for a week.

Similar scenes have played out across the United States and across the world in recent weeks. The novel coronavirus has upended and suspended life as we know it. Memories that might have been made will never be. Walls where photos might have hung will remain empty, waiting for the next opportunity to experience something timeless. People who planned a fun spring break full of relaxation and family time are in the hospital or sick at home. Others, hoping to avoid this fate are self-quarantining, trusting social media to offer some semblance of connection. Hotels are closed. Flights are canceled. Beach access has been roped off.

Clubs, groups, businesses —even entire states — have closed down all but “essential” services. Educators across the country are desperately trying to learn how to teach using technology they had never seen before yesterday, and parents are trying to figure out how to help their kids learn from home, when many of them have to return to work.

Others have no work to return to. Stores, restaurants, service businesses, and many companies, large and small, have closed their doors, or they have found some kind of accommodation to make it worthwhile to keep the doors open. Curbside service, reduced hours, online sales, and the omnipresent “social distancing.”

Life is definitely different these days. And, in that difference there is legitimate fear, understandable concern, and ample opportunity. With each day, medical professionals and infectious disease researchers are learning more about how to fight this silent, faceless menace. They have cautioned all of us to follow a few simple guidelines. Chief among these is, “Don’t panic.” Our infrastructure is sound, and no one benefits from a freaked-out populace acting as if the apocalypse is upon us.

There are strange stories coming out of Thailand, footage of “gangs” of rival monkeys fighting in the streets over a single scrap of food. The tourists who generally keep them fat and happy are gone, and the monkeys are experiencing sudden scarcity of a kind they have never seen. Similar behavior has been observed in the toilet paper aisle at American grocers. We have to be better than that. Stores are getting new shipments almost daily. There is no need to hoard. American businesses like 3M (respirators) and GE (ventilators) are ramping up the manufacturing of key medical supplies. Large retailers are offering to hire laid-off or furloughed workers, so they can get products out faster, and those people have cash to pay their bills.

If we look for it, there is good news out there, hope shining among the toxic cloud of fear, uncertainty, and disease. If we choose to take a collective breath, keep our heads, follow the simple suggestions from the CDC, and look out for each other, this will pass. Our community and this nation will likely operate differently for some time, and it will probably look different even once all this is over; but in the meantime, we all get to choose, individually and collectively, how Life in the Time of Covid-19 plays out.

Already, examples of the right way to do this are all around us. People offering to pay for strangers’ groceries, sharing essentials, and reaching out to check on friends they have not heard from in a while. Local musicians are playing impromptu concerts in their driveways. Members of groups, kept away from public facilities, are meeting virtually, laughing and sharing stories.

Step back, squint a bit, and it almost looks like life used to. Families taking walks. Playing games and sharing meals. People discovering new hobbies, dusting off old projects, and brushing up on forgotten skills. Person by person, house by house, community by community, we are all finding ways to come together and get through this. Life as we know it sure ain’t what any of us want it to be right now. The challenges and the risks are very real. All we can do is make the best of it. And maybe share a roll of toilet paper. Or two.

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed MasksBy Paula Lickfeldt Imagine being deaf or hearing impaired and using lip-reading as a way of conversing. Now imagine the onset of a pandemic that causes everyone to wear a mask over their mouth, rendering lip-reading...

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of UsBy Diane M. Loeffler Congratulations to the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. The nation has recognized what we already know, our squad is amazing! Actually, we are all amazing because we support our...

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We relive the fun of the Chamber Business Expo, indulge in a delicious sweet treat, meet some local crafters who are helping people with hearing loss, celebrate the SCC Emergency Squad’s and MOAA’s national awards, learn about...

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo By Bob Sanchez On a warm and sunny Saturday, August 28, the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce held its “Out-of-the-Ordinary” Annual Fall Business Expo Drive Thru in the parking lot of the Prince of Peace...

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We tip our hat in appreciation to longtime community leader, Sam Sudman; sail across the Pacific with some SCC friends; catch up with those industrious Model Railroaders; get a taste of the good food at CC’s Grill; relive a fun...

Fall Business Expo August 28

Fall Business Expo August 28

The Sun City Area Chamber of Commerce presents their Annual Fall Business Expo, a Drive-Thru Event, on Friday, August 28, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. LocationPrince of Peace Catholic Church702 Valley Forge Blvd. in SCC Claim Your Goodie Bag!This year, Fall...

Set Sail with Your Pups to The Bay Area Renaissance Festival

Set Sail with Your Pups to The Bay Area Renaissance Festival

Anchors aweigh! The Bay Area Renaissance Festival invites you to bring your furry friends and Pirates Best to Pirates and Pups Fest weekend, February 29 – March 1.

Piper’s Valley, the Festival’s special event area, will feature Pet Vendors and Competitions including the Pet Costume Contest and Weiner Dog Races. Local Rescues will also be set up, giving patrons a chance to find a furry friend of their very own.

Back by popular demand this year is Ultimate Air Dogs. Watch as dogs of all sizes participate in a high-flying, Dock Diving Championship.

This weekend marks the first of two Pirate Themed Weekends. Dress to impress for a chance to win prizes during the Perfect Pirate Competition or test your skill in a game of Swab the Deck.

Test your puzzle solving skills to escape the Castle in the All New Escape Room. Play Viking Games, learn about Viking Lore or watch the Viking Battles in the All New Viking Encampment. Get your picture taken in the Pit of Misery or become a Dungeon Master during Dungeons and Dragons Free Play.

Kegs N Eggs will be returning to the grounds of the Bay Area Renaissance Festival this April. The event will feature Craft Beer Tastings, Food Trucks, Live Entertainment and an Adult Egg Hunt! Search the grounds of the Bay Area Renaissance Festival for your chance at more than $75,000 in Prizes. More information is available at www.KegsnEggs.com

The Bay Area Renaissance Festival is a first-class experience whose 42nd Season began on February 15, 2020 and ends on March 29, 2020.  The Festival is open weekends and Friday March 27 from 10 am – 6 pm rain or shine.  Admission at the gate: Adults $22.95; Children 5-12 $14.95; four and under are free! Discount tickets are available at participating Circle K locations or online at www.BayAreaRenFest.com.

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed MasksBy Paula Lickfeldt Imagine being deaf or hearing impaired and using lip-reading as a way of conversing. Now imagine the onset of a pandemic that causes everyone to wear a mask over their mouth, rendering lip-reading...

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of UsBy Diane M. Loeffler Congratulations to the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. The nation has recognized what we already know, our squad is amazing! Actually, we are all amazing because we support our...

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The October 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We relive the fun of the Chamber Business Expo, indulge in a delicious sweet treat, meet some local crafters who are helping people with hearing loss, celebrate the SCC Emergency Squad’s and MOAA’s national awards, learn about...

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo

Chamber Gets Creative with Fall Business Expo By Bob Sanchez On a warm and sunny Saturday, August 28, the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce held its “Out-of-the-Ordinary” Annual Fall Business Expo Drive Thru in the parking lot of the Prince of Peace...

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The September 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We tip our hat in appreciation to longtime community leader, Sam Sudman; sail across the Pacific with some SCC friends; catch up with those industrious Model Railroaders; get a taste of the good food at CC’s Grill; relive a fun...

Fall Business Expo August 28

Fall Business Expo August 28

The Sun City Area Chamber of Commerce presents their Annual Fall Business Expo, a Drive-Thru Event, on Friday, August 28, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. LocationPrince of Peace Catholic Church702 Valley Forge Blvd. in SCC Claim Your Goodie Bag!This year, Fall...