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Gayle Mountain is named Pasco, North Pinellas Long-Term Care Ombudsman of Year

By Nova Beall, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Florida's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program honored Gayle Mountain as the Pasco and North Pinellas Council's "Ombudsman of the Year" at its monthly council meeting April 19.

Ombudsmen volunteers receive this award by demonstrating exceptional efforts, going above and beyond the call of duty, in advocating for long-term care facility residents living in nursing homes, adult family-care homes and assisted living facilities.

This marks Mountain's fourth year serving on the Pasco and North Pinellas Ombudsman Council. Her work and dedication to long-term care residents has proven to be an invaluable asset to her fellow council members.

"Gayle is a role model, not just because she is one of those rare people who call the office for more work, but also because she is willing to take on every challenge," said Pasco and North Pinellas District Manager Lynn Penley. "She has an enthusiasm and energy that is focused on helping others. When I visit one of Gayle's assigned facilities, the residents ask, 'Where is the lady with the orange shoes?' Residents recognize Gayle because she cares, takes the time to listen, and wears distinctive orange shoes that match her ombudsman shirt."

Ombudsmen volunteers from the program's 18 councils located throughout Florida protect the health, safety, welfare and rights of Florida's most vulnerable population. These advocates spend hundreds of hours working to make sure the voices of elderly residents are heard and respected.

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The efforts of local volunteers were recognized at the annual Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 11 Awards Banquet on April 13 at Dunedin Country Club.

Division Cmdr. Jim Ryder presented awards to 40 Coast Guard auxiliary members for individual achievements during 2011.

"I am especially proud of the contributions of this year's recipients since they and their fellow members have devoted more than 100,000 hours in support of the Coast Guard," Ryder said. "These members make sure that the local waters are safer for all boaters and that the Coast Guard can count on us to be "Semper Paratus" — always ready."

The "Outstanding Flotilla of the Year Award" went to the Dunedin Flotilla 11-10 for the second year in a row.

Representing the Coast Guard at the ceremony were Capt. Sheryl Dickinson, commander, Sector St. Petersburg; Cmdr. Jose Quinones, director, District 7 Auxiliary; Cmdr. Randy Hartnett, executive officer, Air Station Clearwater; Chief Warrant Officer Morgan Dudley, commanding officer, Station Sand Key; also from Station Sand Key were Chief Albert Mitchell, Petty Officer Lee Koushan and Petty Officer Greg Klampt.

• • •

Mira Rajani, a student at Dunedin Highland Middle School, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Raytheon Company that included a matching grant for her school.

The 13-year-old received the award for her multimedia presentation that illustrated the importance of math in her daily life and answered the question, "How Does Math Put the Action in Your Passion?"

Raytheon awarded $300,000 to 150 students and schools across the country as part of its MathMovesU program, an initiative designed to engage middle school students in math and science.

Mira is the daughter of Drs. Vakesh and Bijal Rajani of Palm Harbor.

• • •

The Boys and Girls Club of Tarpon Springs elected "City Officials" from their membership to participate in Boys and Girls Club Government Day on April 25 at Tarpon Springs City Hall.

After being sworn in as leaders for the day, the Boys and Girls Club officials conducted a Board of Commissioners meeting followed by a tour of City Hall and the Public Safety Facility.

This event is an annual tradition at Tarpon Springs City Hall and serves as an instructional tool for young leaders to learn more about public service.

• • •

A St. Petersburg College student has been named Florida's 2012 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar. Alistair Glover, 24, a chemistry student in the Honors College, received a $2,000 stipend with the award.

Glover served as president of the Student Government Association at the Clearwater Campus and is graduating this month. He told college officials he hopes to enroll at Harvard University but is also considering the University of Chicago or Dartmouth University. He plans to dual-major in chemistry and economics.

Recently, Glover was also named one of USA Today's 2012 All-USA Community College Academic Team winners. Glover was one of 20 winners from more than 1,700 nominees and more than 800 colleges.

Taylor Howe, an 18-year-old student at SPC's Tarpon Springs campus, was named a 2012 Coca-Cola Silver Scholar and will receive a $1,250 scholarship.

To be selected for the scholarships, both students had to make it on the Phi Theta Kappa All-Florida Academic Team. Members of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges, must demonstrate honor and service to others and maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher. The New Century Scholars program honors the top Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team nominee from each of the 50 states in the U.S.

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