Daniel Parker, MSP
From: Herman Hale, RN
Subject: Update - West Ocala Neighborhood PACE EH
The funds secured by the Environmental Health Division of the Marion County Health Department will be used to facilitate a community-driven initiative. This project - West Ocala Neighborhood PACE EH Project - seeks to collaboratively conduct an assessment, strategically plan and set priorities to address environmental health concerns. The goal of the project is to impact and improve the quality of life of the West Side community of the city of Ocala.
The PACE EH team in Marion County continues its forward progress in the reestablishment of the PACE Project in the neighborhood of West Ocala. On February 15th, the PACE EH Coordinator presented Neighborhood Citizens of North West Ocala the final draft of CEHAB contract, which will provide this group with grant funding. CEHAB stands for 'Community Environmental Health Advisory Board' and was created by the Florida Community Health Protection Act. After weeks of work, this contract represents the first of many joint ventures between this group and the PACE EH team.
These funds also mark a turning point in the relationship between the PACE EH team and this neighborhood group. After talking with citizens from this community, a significant paradigm shift has occurred. The roles related to this project have shifted to reflect the true philosophy of PACE and that is, PACE is assisting this community in achieving its goals, rather than leading the process. The community members have determined their needs and have established a plan to address those needs. This group plans to conduct additional testing related to the Royal Oak Charcoal plant, which operated in their neighborhood and was shut down in the spring of 2006. They also plan to conduct health fairs in their community and teach their neighbors about environmental health. A community assessment is also planned, which will allow data to be collected. It is hoped these data will identify any potential health risks related to the charcoal plant and address the concerns of the citizens around the plant. As a partner in this process, the PACE EH team will assist the efforts of these citizens, as they put their plan into action.
While the PACE EH team has decided to focus their efforts in North West Ocala, opportunities are presenting themselves and are being explored. Contact has been made with citizens in Poinciana Heights, which a sister neighborhood in South West Ocala. The PACE EH Coordinator has scheduled a presentation for March 5th at 6:30 p.m., where he will speak to this group about a possible project. The PACE EH team has also joined the table of the 'Save the Springs' project, which is a process mandated to protect the natural springs of Marion County from run off and pollution (which also provides an opportunity to apply 'Smart Growth' principles within our community).
The Marion County Health Department's PACE EH team is excited about the progress it is making and welcomes the opportunities to assist our community. While our project is not proceeding in the conventional manner, it is moving forward. We will continue our efforts to address the concerns and needs of our community and report our continued progress.
Media Coverage (.pdf files <1mb)
August 1, 2006 - Royal Oak fined for violations
May 20, 2006 - Unlikely Rebels Defeat Gritty Plant
May 19, 2006 - Company Remains Silent
May 19, 2006 - Air of Suspicion
February 21, 2006 - Pollution concerns Royal Oak neighbors
January 25, 2006 - Ocala to fund charcoal plant emission tests
January 21, 2006 - Royal Oak says no to pollution inspection
January 13, 2006 - Ocala may inspect Royal Oak site
January 5, 2006 - Marion County PACE EH Project Wins Walter Driggers Award
January 3, 2006 - Editorial: Once they are heard, they roar
December 31, 2005 - Soot sleuths: Volunteers monitor industrial plant emissions
August 24, 2005 - Coat of charcoal: Residents concerned with soot from Royal Oak
April 10, 2005 - Unkempt properties, pollution cited in west Ocala survey
August 1, 2004 - West Ocala's health to get a close look