From the Publisher - Betsy Judge, The Island Reporter


By Betsy Judge

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s a gorgeous Florida day as I sit in my office to write this portion of the paper. I chatted with hubby Joe about what to do, and he started a speech off the top of his head about how each new year is like a commencement; a time for new beginnings.

It made me think of the young people that I have recently met while working on the paper. I remember thinking as I watched the Nutcracker, with 17- year-old Olivia Parsley who we featured in the November issue, that I needed to report what an amazing production it was, and how much I enjoyed watching all of the cast from the lead dancers down to the tiniest tot during the show. It was so enjoyable, and made me realize that I personally need to expand my entertainment repertoire.

It also made me think of 16-year-old Ethan Bortnick who I chatted with via Skype for this issue. He has raised more than $40 million for charity since he first played at a fundraiser for the hospital where his brother underwent three open heart surgeries. He saw youngsters there who needed operations, but their family’s couldn’t afford it and was happy to help. Now supporting charity is a regular part of his work. He plays at the Palladium on Jan. 15, and I am working on getting tickets to the show.

As the record recycler in the state, residents of Pinellas County set the standard on new beginnings. I have been curious for some time as to why a few years ago we had bins for paper and bins for plastic and glass. At the drop-off recycling sites around the area, we had to separate glass based on color: clear, brown and green. Now we throw it all in one container. Larry Lewis took on the task and wrote about recycling as it is today. It’s called “single stream” recycling; it’s a growing trend in the county and encourages greater participation and higher amounts of materials recycled. It seems to be working.

It’s been 60 years since Long Key had its new beginning when voters passed a referendum by a very narrow margin to consolidate four towns and some unincorporated land into what was St. Petersburg Beach now shortened to St. Pete Beach. There will be events celebrating the six decades since consolidation beginning in January. Sally Yoder shares here memories of the historic vote in this issue.

Happy New Year and Happy January.