Good for you
Before joining the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in 1990, bus driver Julio Palmer served 23 years in the Army as both a tank commander and a drill sergeant.
Palmer feels his military training, as well as his outstanding record, played a key role in earning him PSTA's Driver of the Year award for 2013.
"Letting things roll off of my back, like a car cutting me off, is essential," said Palmer, who out-performed 364 other highly trained, professional drivers to earn the agency's coveted honor. "Ensuring the safety of a busload of passengers is too important to let little things get to you."
Palmer enjoys the fact that every day is a new experience, and he likes becoming acquainted with the people who regularly ride his routes.
"There's a lot of responsibility when it comes to protecting the safety of our riders," he said. "But I wouldn't have spent my last 23 years driving a bus if I didn't enjoy it."
Palmer, who drives PSTA's new North County Connector routes, has learned that a smile and a pleasant greeting can change a person's day. He credits his mother for his healthy dose of empathy.
"She always taught me that you never know what other people are going through or what they're dealing with, so try to put yourself in their shoes before you make any judgment," he said.
Palmer's award now puts him in a position to vie for the title of Florida Driver of the Year against the best drivers from other transit agencies across the state.
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On Aug. 24, 100-year-old Charles W. Masel of Clearwater was the guest of honor at an open house at Crossroads Christian Church in Largo. He was later treated to a celebratory birthday dinner with family at Georgie Boy Restaurant.
Masel was born Aug. 24, 1913, in Fort Wayne, Ind., to Charles J. Masel, a repairman with General Electric, and Lillian E. Moore Masel, who died when he was 5 years old. A few years later, Bertha Weikert joined the family as stepmother to Masel and his brother, Dale, who lives in Somerset, Ky.
Masel graduated in 1931 from Fort Wayne's Central High School and in 1934 was part of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Idaho.
On Oct. 16, 1935, he married Florence Isabelle Baumgartner in Anderson, Ind. The couple spent 72 years together until her death in 2007.
He was employed as a draftsman tool designer and retired in 1977 from the Weatherhead Co. in Antwerp, Ohio.
Masel was a member of the Scottish Rite in Indiana until a year ago and during the 1950s served as an associate guardian with Job's Daughters, a Masonic-sponsored youth organization for girls and young women aged 10 to 20.
Since retiring, he has pursued an interest in art and wood carving and still loves to read the "funny papers."
The centenarian believes you should continue to walk as long as you can. His philosophy includes making positive use of every day God gives him and he believes people should love one another. He is a fan of the proverb, "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
He has two daughters, Donna Marlene Smith of Lake Placid and Lysbeth Noyes of Clearwater; a foster son, Michael Nitzsche of Sarasota; five grandchildren, Dennis Korn and Katharine Korn of Fort Wayne, Sarah Keesbury of New Port Richey, and Karen Starn and Deborah Wiseman, both deceased; and two great-grandsons, Reid Starn and Daniel Starn of Lafayette, Ind.
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At the completion of the spring quarter in June, Curtis Campogni of Clearwater received a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Baker College in Flint, Mich.
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