Tag Archives: Lt Col Jennifer Reynolds

Change of Command Ceremony ACOE ~Our River of Interests, SLR/IRL

Col. Andrew Kelly, incoming commander ACOE Jacksonville District, 2018. (ACOE)

Early in my studies of the impairment of the St Lucie River, I came across a book entitled: RIVER OF INTERESTS with its introduction by Jacksonville ACOE Col. Alfred A. Pantano Jr. In 2011, the book had just been republished, the work of Godfrey and Catton Historians. “River of Interests: Water Management in South Florida and the Everglades, 1948-2010,” is a history of the construction of the Central & South Florida Project and its unintended negative impacts on the environment, and the evolution of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). (http://141.232.10.32/docs/river_interest/031512_river_interest_2012_complete.pdf)

This incredibly well written, non-biased book became the basis of my river journey, a journey I am still on. The irony that the best book I ever read on the destruction of the St Lucie River and Everglades was  commissioned by the ACOE is a metaphor for all of us. Through our connection to our past, we have all destroyed our environment, and together we must craft its rebirth.

Over the years I have collected signatures in my River of Interests book. Signatures of many I’ve met along the way, kind of like a yearbook from middle school but one that’s carried over time. When I was invited to the Change of Command for 2018, I decided to add retiring Col.Kirk’s signature to my book and welcome the newest colonel, Andrew Kelly.

In my opinion, this ever three years “changing of the guard” is a double-edged sword. I was told years ago that this keeps fresh eyes on problems. Hmmmm? I begged to differ, noting the constant change makes it difficult to develop relationships and the advocacy community if forever catching new colonels up to speed. In any case, this is the way it works so I decided to go.

After Ed dropped me off in Jacksonville, I got up early and was concerned that somehow I had gotten the time wrong, so I called the ACOE number on the invitation to verify. When I asked if the event stared at 10:30 am or pm since the invitation did not specify, the woman on the phone laughed.” Yes mam, it is 10:30 am; we would not be meeting at 10:30 at night!”

I too laughed, and replied: “Just checking.” I was obviously nervous.

Once I got to the performing arts center there was a flood of people even though I was thirty minutes early.  I made it through security and into the dark, cool theatre. I pushed my way to the front rows asking a distinguished older gentleman if  the seat next to him was free. ” You will have to ask him,”  he calmly replied, pointing to my right.  I cleared my throat, really hoping for this seat so I did not come all this was to sit in the back. “Hello, is this seat free please?”

“Jacqui?”

“Yes.” I replied, very surprised this person  knew my name.

“It’s Andrew Geller, from the Army Corp Periodic Scientist Calls.”

“Andrew” I shouted, “it’s awesome to meet you face to face after seven years!”

So fate would have it, that I met by chance those who are very familiar with our St Lucie River, Lake Okeechobee problems,  the leaders, old and new, from the bi-weekly ACOE periodic scientists call! This in itself made the entire trip worth it.

Pictured: Kandida Bronson, Lan Do, Johnathan Jenkins, Allie Silvestri, and Andrew Geller.

The lights dimmed and the Change of Command began. As the band played, the national anthem was sung, and the colors were exchanged from Col. Kirk to Col Kelly. I realized I was taking part in something very old and symbolic and found myself getting choked up.  I thought about all those who have served our country in places like Afghanistan where Col. Kelly is coming from. Everglades restoration is a different kind war, but a war indeed. Welcome Colonel Kelly to our next chapter of River of Interests. May it be one of environmental honor.

About the Periodic Scientist Call, JTL:https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/03/06/the-acoes-periodic-scientists-call-and-the-indian-river-lagoon/

We are very fortunate that Brigadier General Diana M. Holland has asked LTC Jennifer Reynolds to stay on one more year. Otherwise she would be leaving at this time as well. This will very much assist with Col. Kelly’s transition. http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/About/Leadership/Bio-Article-View/Article/600382/lieutenant-colonel-jennifer-a-reynolds/

Talking About It! Even If They Didn’t Let Us Talk! FL Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, SLR/IRL

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Dr Wendy Graham, UF

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Committee Members: Senator Bradley, Chair; Senator Book, Vice Chair; Senators Braynon, Hukill, Hutson. Mayfield, and Stewart

Yesterday, January 11th, Florida’s Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources met in Tallahassee. The Legislative Session has not formally started, but as most things in life, the most important stuff happens ahead of time….”in committee.”

The topic was “Discussion and testimony relating to the options for reducing harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges and Everglades Restoration.”

This meeting is being held because of Senate President Joe Negrons’ proposal to buy 60,000 acres of land in the EAA south of Lake Okeechobee for a  Reservoir. file-page1.jpg

Yesterdays’ meeting was just informational, but first impressions are very important. And anything can be killed in committee.

I think the meeting went very well. “Everyone was represented:” East Coast; West Coast; Florida Bay; The Glades and agencies or organizations of those who presented. I thought it was great. Great to see people in power and those with knowledge talking about this important issue. Remember that just a few years ago, many in Tallahassee thought the Indian River Lagoon was a movie from the 50s.

Many people drove over 12 hours to speak but Chair Bradley did not allow public comment. Bullsugar, River Kidz, Glades Residents, Islamorada, Florida Bay, CaptainsForCleanWater, Stuart residents, Ft Meyers residents, Realtors, Hotel Owners, Business Owners and more…This is very disappointing, but certainly “The Powers That Be” knew everyone was there, and surely “They” are taking about it behind closed doors.  It makes an impression when the chamber is full because those politicians know that for every person there, there are hundreds, if not thousands behind him or her who did not come…The “Powers that Be” know this. And Senator Negron knows who came too. Surely he does. He appreciates this! He is motivated by this!

Having a full-house in a sub-committee room is not an everyday occurrence for these folks. Unlike our county government the State is not as practiced at this. They generally get to operate in a vacuum–Tallahassee being so far away! Not good!

Time was short and messages many, so Chair Bradley decided to cut the meeting presenters basically in half. Thus not all the presenters who came were allowed to speak either.

Those who presented were: Senate lawyer for the committee, Ashley Istler; UF’s Wendy Graham; ACOE’s Lt Col. Jennifer Reynolds; Independent, Dr Gary Goforth; and Exec. Dir of the SFWMD, Pete Antonacci .

Those moved to January 25th were: Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation; Drew Bartlett, DEP; and Ernie Barnett, EAA Landowners.

Overall takeaway?

There was a common theme: “we need more water storage everywhere. North, South, East and West and concerns about where the reservoir should first be or if it should be….

This is clearly a very exasperating experience for many. But isn’t it great that we are actually talking and learning about it. Together.

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Slide UF’s  Wendy Graham, needed water storage.

All presentations are linked here and are excellent resources:http://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Committees/2016-2018/AEN/MeetingRecords/MeetingPacket_3552.pdf

Committee meeting recorded by the Florida Channel Network:http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/11117-senate-appropriations-subcommittee-environment-natural-resources/

#SupportJoeNegron