Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young Honored
Photo/Text by Donna Malloy
(l-r) Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young is presented with the Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association award at the Barrier Islands Governmental Council, Indian Shores, by Senator Dennis Jones, for his commitment to beach restoration and shoreline protection throughout his career
Greeting all the Barrier Islands Governmental Council (Big-C) members, Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young stated that he was "proud to be of service" when he can. As chair of the House appropriations committee from 1999 thru 2005, Congressman Young, who represents District 10, managed the federal discretionary budget and was influential in Congress appropriating over $100 million in federal funding for beach restoration and shore protection in Pinellas County. District 10 includes most of Pinellas County's shoreline, including 2008's top beach in America, Caladesi Island State Park.
"Our beaches are an important part of our economy" stated Congressman Young. Holding a copy of the Clearwater Gazette in his right hand, Congressman Young praised the article provided by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association. The article stated that "a new study shows beaches are a key driver of the U.S. economy. Beach erosion is the number one concern beach tourists have about beaches. Healthy beaches mean a healthy tourist economy for this country, but the lack of investment in both our coastal infrastructure and international marketing of our coastal assets is undermining the U.S.'s position as a vacation destination around the world."
The study also concluded: "Beaches offer the federal government an incredible return on investment. For every $1 invested annually, Washington receives $320 in tax revenues from beach tourists. Conversely, however, should beaches decline, the tourism revenue they generate would also slump, having a serious impact on both state and federal coffers to the tune of billions of dollars each year.
Protection of our "sugar white sand," Congressman Young went on to say, is a key concern," along with our energy issue. American must become energy independent. Florida has the most stringent oil prevention and clean-up laws in the country."
Senator Dennis Jones presented Congressman Young with the Florida Shore & Beach Award for his efforts toward shore protection, and Nicole Elko, Director of The American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, honored Congressman Young for his recognition of "the importance of beaches as economic, environmental and recreational assets."
"I usually come home to the beach every weekend; I feel like I'm on vacation" stated Congressman Young.
Next, County Planning Director Brian Smith discussed the implementation of Chapter 312, Florida Statues, passed this past July. The state statute gives authority to every city in Florida to specify either at a traffic signal or with new signage which crosswalks cars will be required to stop for pedestrians; not yield as they have in the past.
The reason for additional pedestrian safety precautions are Florida's staggering death statistics. Although Florida is the fourth most populated state in the nation, with 18 million residents, it ranks second in pedestrian fatalities. First in pedestrian fatalities is California, but California has a population of 36 million; double that of Florida. "The big four" according to Smith, are: "In 2006, California reported 717 pedestrian deaths, Florida had 546, followed by Texas with 379, and last, New York with 312." The 546 deaths in Florida in 2006 does not include the 7,754 pedestrians injured on our streets.
Florida will become "a model for other states" continued Smith, "and is on the cutting edge." To further educate the public, drivers will be tested on Chapter 312 F.S. when they take the written portion of their Florida diver's examination.
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