City and Beach Patrol representatives “unlock the ocean” for summer 2014 on May 23 in Ocean City, NJ>The following is Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian’s weekly update to citizens, posted on Friday, May 23. Dear Friends:Today at noon I was joined by members of City Council, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Ocean City Beach Patrol and the Beach Patrol alumni to officially “Unlock the Ocean” for the 2014 season. The ceremony was followed by the always entertaining “Business Persons Plunge.”Yesterday we learned that Ocean City was voted New Jersey’s #1 Beach in the 2014 New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Coastal Research Center contest. In addition to Best Beach, Ocean City won first place in the categories for Best Destination for Family Vacation, Day Trip and Ecotourism. This is the first time in the history of the contest that one town has swept first place in all of the categories.I would like to thank the city team, City Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Development Commission for working in partnership to promote Ocean City. The results of this contest speak volumes about how people love Ocean City.I would like to thank the City’s team members who have worked hard to have us ready for the summer season. This was a real challenge this year to catch up on time lost during the past winter’s inclement weather.For your family Memorial Day Weekend might mean a trip to the beach or boardwalk, some downtown shopping, or a barbecue. There’s time for all of this and more.However, I hope you will take the time to join us at Veteran’s Memorial Park at 11:00 am Monday to reflect on what this holiday is really all about. I will again have the honor to join the members of our local VFW and American Legion Posts for this annual event in remembrance of those who gave their lives so that future generations of Americans might live in freedom.I hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend in America’s Greatest Family Resort!Warm regards,Jay A. GillianMayor
By Mike IsbellUniversity of Georgia”But it’s a caterpillar,” my daughter Jordan said as we lookedover the muscadine vine in our yard. “And it’s cute.”Cute, my foot.That caterpillar was a tomato hornworm. It can eat my muscadinevine faster than my friend Willie can eat a pot of turnip greens.And it’s got plenty of help — Japanese beetles. They’re munchingaway on my vine and the little developing fruit, too.I’m killing every one of them.Earlier in the season, as the vine began to put on new leaves, Ibattled a horde of small, leaf-eating caterpillars called Easterngrape-leaf skeletonizers and hundreds of sap-sucking aphids.Protecting grapesBut I got rid of all those little pests. Now if I can keep theseinsects at bay, I should have a good crop of muscadines.Insects are among the oldest, most numerous and most successfulanimals on earth. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 specieslive in North America. In your backyard and mine there areprobably 1,000 insect species at any time.It’s lucky for us that only 3 percent of all insects are pests.Those 3 percent can cause trouble enough, sometimes reachingastonishing proportions. Some bite us, sting us and act asdisease vectors. Some destroy stored foods and other products.And some eat our crops, like my muscadines.Insects eat their food in a variety of ways. Some are chewingbugs like the tomato hornworms and Japanese beetles I’m dealingwith now. Another group, which includes aphids, feed on growingplants by piercing the plant tissue and sucking sap from thecells.Inside jobA third group feeds from inside the plant. How do they get there?Well, their mamas can put them in there, where they hatch — orthey can hatch first and then eat their way inside.Sounds like a Stephen King monster movie to me.Thankfully, not all insects are bad.Some aid in the production of fruits, seeds, vegetables andflowers by pollinating the blossoms.Parasitic and predator insects destroy the ones that harm ourcrops, while other insects destroy various weeds the same waysome injure crop plants.Insects improve the physical condition and fertility of our soilsby burrowing throughout the surface layer.And just think what this place would be like if insects didn’tact as scavengers and devour the bodies of dead animals andplants. And what if they didn’t bury carcasses and dung?But that’s another story. For now, I’m getting rid of tomatohornworms and those darned Japanese beetles.(Mike Isbell is the Heard County Extension Coordinator withthe University of Georgia College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences.)
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Indianapolis, In. — With the individual tax filing deadline less than a month away (April 15, to be exact), the Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) is reminding Hoosiers there is still time to file for free with the Indiana free file (INfreefile) program.The INfreefile program allows qualifying individuals with an adjusted gross income of $66,000 or less in 2018 to file both state and federal taxes electronically at no cost. INfreefile uses the same electronic question-and-answer style most vendor software customers pay to use.Authorized INfreefile vendors for this tax season include:FreeTax USAH&R BlockOLT Online TaxesTaxActTurboTaxIndividuals should access their chosen vendor directly from the INfreefile website to ensure they are accessing the no-cost option from the approved vendors online here.“Over 2 million Hoosiers qualified to use INfreefile in 2018, but less than 90,000 took advantage of this no-cost filing option,” explained DOR Commissioner Adam Krupp. “Our goal is to have as many qualifying Hoosiers as possible use the INfreefile program in 2019. We are committed to marketing this program throughout the state and making folks aware of this cost-saving opportunity.”Filing electronically with INfreefile, or other electronic services, results in faster refunds with most customers getting their refunds in as little as 14 days. Individuals who choose direct deposit may receive their refunds even faster.Customers with questions or concerns about INfreefile or individual income tax may visit DOR’s website or call DOR Customer Service at 317-232-2240, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., EST for assistance.
Pembroke Pines water safe to drink Pembroke Pines city officials hope an upcoming meeting will shed light on the health department’s position on the city’s water quality.The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the City Commission chambers at 10100 Pines Blvd.“The mayor has called this special meeting because he wants to hear directly from the Florida Department of Health in person about what their advisory means, in the most layman’s of terms, and whether or not there should be any concern,” the city manager’s office said in a statement Tuesday.The state health department took issue with a February 23 letter from the city, in which the city said the water was safe to drink.In a letter to Pembroke Pines, the health department said at the end of 2016, half of the city’s six sampling sites had higher levels of trihalomethanes than allowed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trihalomethanes form when water disinfectants, such as chlorine, react with organic material in water.One sample site remains above the limit, meaning the city is still in violation of the regulation, the health department said. A health department spokesman said the City Commission requested Wednesday’s meeting to publicly answer questions about the violations and the quality of the water.The city says the situation is not an emergency and water does not require boiling at this point, but said people who are pregnant, elderly or have a severely compromised immune system should consult a doctor before drinking the water.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers will meet in the Bahamas this week to discuss the region’s ongoing relations with the United States, and the region’s engagement with the United Kingdom after Britain leaves the European Union.The May 7-8 meeting of the of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) will be chaired by Bahamas Foreign Affairs Minister Darren A. Henfield.A statement from the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said that the meeting will also discuss CARICOM-Canada relations and cooperation with multilateral organizations including The Commonwealth, the United Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).“This meeting will underscore the synergies between Foreign Policy Coordination and Human and Social Development with the Ministers discussing CARICOM’s position on the development of an International Legally-Binding Instrument on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction,” the Secretariat said. It added that attention will also be given to issues relating to reducing CARICOM’s vulnerability to disaster risks and the effects of climate change, resilience financing and sustainable debt management.Health related issues including the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis in September, and matters concerning the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are also on the agenda.The ministers will discuss a proposal by St. Vincent and the Grenadines regarding the negotiations for a new agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group and the European Union to replace the Cotonou Agreement that expires in 2020.The Secretariat said that the meeting will also discuss the region’s participation in the upcoming meetings of the G7 and G20 group of countries as well as the various border issues within the 15-member grouping.