Daniel Parker, MSP
From: Herman Hale, RN
Subject: West Ocala Neighborhood PACE EH Project
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 Marion County Health Department's PACE-EH team has had a very productive (and exciting) month. The PACE-EH Project in North West Ocala has entered a new phase. After weeks of developing an acceptable contract (a process spearheaded by the PACE-EH team), a group of concerned citizens was presented with a $5000.00 check on Thursday March 16th. This check represents the first installment of a Community Environmental Health Advisory Board (CEHAB) grant obtained by the Neighborhood Citizens of North West Ocala. The total funding, of $25,000.00, will be used for environmental testing and community education. This funding also represents a new beginning for the PACE-EH project in this neighborhood, in that, these citizens have now taken the lead to address environmental issues in their community, which creates a new role for the PACE-EH team. After previously completing the assessment and working through the initial phases of an action plan (a multi-year process), a new group of community leaders have emerged with a defined and focused vision. These leaders make it possible for the PACE-EH team to assume a role, which is support based versus leadership based.
With this changing of the guard and the paradigm shift in attitude, the Marion County Health Department's PACE-EH team will continue to be an active partner, as this community seeks to address the issues it identified through the assessment portion of the project. We will also serve as a resource for addressing new concerns, such as, those related to the placement of a salvage yard in North West Ocala. With much work still to do in this community, the PACE-EH team will now follow the new leaders of this neighborhood and provide our support as needed.
Because of the change in North West Ocala, the PACE-EH team is excited about the opportunity of beginning another project in the community of Poinciana Heights. On Monday March 5th, the PACE-EH Coordinator gave a brief presentation to the Poinciana Heights Homeowners Task Force. This sister community of North West Ocala, voiced interest in hearing about the PACE-EH process and was allowed to ask questions after the presentation. Those in attendance were concerned about a variety of environmental issues and asked if the PACE-EH team could do a preliminary assessment and share that information at their April meeting. While this preliminary data gathering will not take the place of a formal assessment process, it will allow the homeowners and the PACE team to compare notes, thus making the actual process more efficient.
At this meeting, the opportunity presented itself for the PACE-EH Coordinator (Herman Hale, RN) to gather his data in a hands on setting, by assisting community residents in the 'Mayor's Spring Clean Up'. On Saturday, March 17th, Hale joined citizens from Poinciana Heights in cleaning up their neighborhood.
In a one block radius (which represents only a small portion of this neighborhood), 2 community dump sites were discovered. These dump sites were located on unkempt vacant lots and confirm the need for a PACE-EH presence in this community. As the pictures illustrate, a neglected environment can increase the risk of adverse health issues, such as the potential dangers of West Nile virus from mosquito breeding grounds, to other societal issues related to illegal drugs.
The PACE-EH team is happy to continue its efforts with the neighborhood of North West Ocala, while at the same time expanding the process to include the community of Poinciana Heights. We welcome our new opportunities and are encouraged by the interest of our new partners.
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