On Guardians’ agenda: SR 80 lighting, 2020 Census

BELLE GLADE — The Guardians of the Glades has one major legislative victory to its credit but, according to co-founder Tammy Jackson-Moore, doesn’t plan to settle back contentedly or slack off in its advocacy for residents of the region.

The organization, born during discussions over a table at the Banyan Tree Restaurant in town in 2015, has a wider-ranging mission presently. Its newest cause, she said, is to have overhead lighting installed along the long stretch of State Road 80 from Lion Country Safari, west of Wellington, all the way out to the Glades because it is a very dark and potentially quite dangerous highway at night.

She talked a little about the group’s brief history, its original mission and how the Guardians plan to try to change the local and statewide conversation about the Lake Okeechobee region generally, but especially the Glades area of Palm Beach County.

“When we started, it was about all of the conversations about buying the land and sending the water south, so we were having a discussion about what that would look like, a few pastors and myself, and we invited some other pastors to lunch one day along with (Belle Glade) Mayor Steve Wilson, and just started talking about it.” Ms. Jackson-Moore explained.

Argument still hasn’t ceased
They concluded that, “if they are successful in removing these lands and taking them out of production, we would see some drastic unemployment, the economy would tank. And we formed Guardians of the Glades over a table right there at the Banyan Tree Restaurant.”

She went on: “We formed originally to push back on all that conversation. But now that we’re past that, we have to continue to watch that because there are several organizations that still want them (the state and SFWMD) to buy more land and send more water south… So our goal is to make certain that we protect not only the lands but the jobs and the community and the economy so that’s what we’re focusing on. But we’re also working very closely with our municipalities to assist them in receiving some of the things that they need or want to continue to move their cities forward.”

One of the Guardians’ main strategies in bringing the Glades communities of Belle Glade, Canal Point, Pahokee and South Bay together as one voice is disseminating up-to-date information via its social media and other outreach activities.

Ms. Jackson-Moore said their firm, united pushback on Senate Bill 10 over the past two legislative sessions has been her most memorable experience in a long career of working on charity-related causes.

Got lawmakers to redo SB 10
“One of the most rewarding was when the Guardians were able to assist in the rewriting of SB 10. Originally (the way) it was written, it dictated that the state would take those additional acres out of production, and when we formed Guardians of the Glades and started doing our outreach and legislative visits, we were influential” in getting the legislature to change that.

“They said, ‘We will build the reservoir but we will not take additional lands.’ So we champion that as one of our big wins. We were able to save the jobs of hundreds of people right here in our community,” she said.

That’s not all the legislative overhaul accomplished, Ms. Jackson-Moore noted.

“In the rewrite, it provided that a certain number of jobs had to be reserved for people in the community, and educational benefits would be provided for retraining, etc. We did get $1.5 million and we were able to provide training to people at West Tech and Palm Beach State College for changing careers. We see the benefits of that now because in addition to that, other programs have come on board at West Tech such as phlebotomy and others that they’ve implemented.”

The Guardians’ current major focuses are SR 80 corridor safety and the upcoming 2020 Census.
“We’re working with the county to see if we can get some lighting placed on SR 80 … It’s extremely dark on that road and, you know, it’s dangerous. We’ve heard of several accidents during the alligator mating season; the gators are crossing the road.

“One of the big things that the Guardians are going to be working on is the census. We are an official partner … it’s utterly important that you respond to the survey when they release them … we want to educate people that those census numbers assist our community in getting the dollars that we need to address some of the issues,” she explained.

Overall, she said, the goal is for the Glades people to speak for themselves.

“We are allowing people to tell our story, and they’re telling it wrong about our community. So we need to change that narrative and begin to tell our own story. Nobody can speak the story of the Glades better than the people of the Glades, and so we’re really, really working on that.

“That’s why you see us, the Guardians, pushing out information because we want to tell people, that’s not true, what you’re hearing about us here!”

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment