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It’s prime time to begin planning a revamp of county fire

It’s not exactly what the county commission needed to hear last week during its ongoing quest to slash away at spending in 2015-16, but it’s looking like we’re headed to a crisis point when it comes to county-wide fire protection. Read More »

Jogging the memories of youth

Memory is a peculiar, evasive thing. It allows you to remember certain things while blocking others. There’s probably some divine purpose in that, I’m just not sure what it is. Read More »

Letter: Lauds kindness shown husband at graduation

Dear Editor:

On May 29, 2016, our oldest grandson graduated (from BCHS). My husband suffered a major stroke in October and is wheelchair-bound with paralysis on his right side. I had also been diagnosed with shingles the day before, but we were not going to miss this wonderful event.

We got to the stadium early and the parking was atrocious. I ended up parking on U.S. 90 and pushing him to the stadium, through the sand, etc. I was frustrated and about to give up when a man came up and offered to help. This man pushed my husband through the grass and sand and on to the field. I found out later his name is Charles Ruise.

He stayed with us, while searching for someone to let us know where handicapped seating was located. A very nice school district employee (sorry, I can’t remember her name) showed us where we needed to be, which included going back through the grass and sand to get there.

That did not stop Mr. Ruise nor this sweet lady! They got a few strong men and lifted my husband and his wheelchair to where we were to go. Then, this sweet woman stayed with us until she got another school employee to get me a chair and checked on us periodically.

The kindness shown in this small county has always touched my heart and last night was no exception. It was a beautiful ceremony and we were able to watch Samuel Baker graduate!

Thank you to everyone that made this possible.

Kathleen A. Johnson

Glen St. Mary

Letter: Fruit-flavored tobacco products still out there

Dear Editor:

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, the Town Council of Glen St. Mary passed a resolution urging tobacco retailers to adopt a voluntary retail policy to prohibit and or restrict the sale and marketing of candy-flavored tobacco in Glen St. Mary. They join the City of Macclenny and Baker County as well as 245 other city and county municipalities in Florida that have passed similar resolutions.

In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration began regulating tobacco. They outlawed the sale of fruit- and candy-flavored cigarettes because the products and advertising were targeting children. However, flavored tobacco products such as cigars, cigarillos, blunts, smokeless tobacco, hookah tobacco and electronic cigarettes were not included and are not regulated by the FDA. They are not taxed as heavily as cigarettes and they are cheaper.

Many of the cigars and cigarillos are sold singly and can be bought for less than a candy bar. A variety of fruit flavors are available locally  and they are packaged in bright colors, have the same flavors as candy and they are designed to target youth. The sweet flavorings mask the taste of tobacco and the products are perceived to be less harmful while in reality they contain more nicotine than cigarettes. Many of these products are placed on counters and are within easy reach.

One out of four Baker County youths have tried flavored tobacco. The 2014 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey shows that the tobacco usage rate of Baker youth is 24.0% compared to a state rate of 9.2%. Ninety percent of tobacco users start in their teens, they become addicted and may continue use for life. Tobacco kills 88 Floridians each day and 480,000 Americans each year. It is the most preventable cause of death.

Resolutions such as this one bring to light the loophole that exists in tobacco regulation. The large number of them adopted in Florida should serve to prompt the FDA to take action. A year ago, the FDA proposed extending its authority of rule over these unregulated tobacco products but that rule has yet to become final.

If you are a parent, grandparent or guardian and were unaware of candy-flavored tobacco products, check them out. Most convenience stores have a large variety. Notice the types, the flavors, the packaging and the low prices and you will see how they can be a lure to youth.

To help protect youth from tobacco, adults are urged to join the Baker Tobacco Free Partnership. Youth between the ages of 11 – 17 can join SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) and become advocates for a tobacco free future. Call 653-5246 for more information.

Pam Jeralds

Baker Tobacco Free Partnership &

Students Working Against Tobacco

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