(ran EO edition)
More than 20 years ago, when William Edling was still a boy trying to figure out multiplication, he used to accompany his father to the firehouse, drink in the sights and the sounds of a working rescue crew and "hang out with the guys," he remembers.
It was paradise for a kid.
He gazed up at the enormous engines and marveled at the life-saving equipment.
But he never imagined he would work at the station or _ even more unbelievable to him _ have a chance to work with his father, Capt. Bill Edling, side-by-side at fires.
"At that time it was well beyond my scope of things," Edling said. "There was so much to take in."
Nor did he imagine he would be honored as East Lake Fire & Rescue Firefighter of the Year _ twice. Once in 1991 and again Wednesday.
William Edling wasn't the only one to receive an award. Lt. Bill Walker was named Officer of the Year. Six others _ Howard Boehm, engineer/paramedic; Scott Hanney, lieutenant; Philip Nowlin, driver-engineer/paramedic; Ronald Baclawski, firefighter/paramedic; James Dalrymple, lieutenant; and Mark Teolis, driver-engineer/paramedic _ were honored for their successful resuscitation of a cardiac patient.
Walker, the Officer of the Year, was recognized for his outstanding efforts to create a child safety seat inspection program in East Lake.
Walker has worked to educate parents about vehicle safety, urged them to learn how to properly buckle up their children, organized car seat inspection clinics and written articles that have appeared in various local publications on the subject.
Still, Walker said, the honor bestowed on him at the meeting was a big surprise.
"This is my first time winning it," Walker said. "It feels good."
Walker's co-worker, Edling, felt good, too. Holding the plaque in his hands, he took a few minutes to reflect on his life.
Back when he spent time at the local firehouse, East Lake was little more than a cow pasture. The street his parents bumped along to get to his house was made of dirt.
"The big thing in high school was getting cable TV and MTV," Edling recalled with a laugh.
Edling only began to envision a career at East Lake Fire & Rescue as a senior in high school. At 19, he cemented his decision and joined the department in 1987.
Now 32, Edling lives in New Port Richey with his wife, Debra, daughter, Courtney, 2, and 1-year-old identical twin boys, Tyler and Travis.
Edling's father, who retired in the early 1990s, lives in Windmill Pointe subdivision. Although proud of his son, the elder Edling misses the action at the fire department, the younger Edling said.
To Edling, there are several advantages to working in the area in which he grew up. He has been witness to the changes. He knows the layout, the subdivisions, the streets and the buildings as well as he knows his own back yard.
But there is one disturbing disadvantage.
"Working in the district that you grew up in, you run into people you knew and work on them," Edling said. "I've had friends die. My best friend's brother, I worked on him, it was a medical (call). He died. That's my lowest point. Here you are attending his funeral."
Despite the heartache, Edling will not abandon his job.
"This is my livelihood. This is my future," he said.
TV helper and peer tutor
is Student of the Month
At only 11 years old, Kevin Nohe already has some television experience _ though close-captioned _ under his belt.
Earlier this year, he helped run the televised morning announcements at Brooker Creek Elementary School.
But that is not all Kevin has accomplished.
The fifth-grade student described as "smart and easy-going" by his teacher, Denise Heller, is a safety patrol member and a peer tutor.
"He is willing to try new things and is friendly," Heller wrote.
For those reasons, Kevin was chosen as the January Oldsmar/East Lake Rotary Club Student of the Month.
Kevin is the son of Kenneth and Cynthia Nohe of Lansbrook.
Heller related that Kevin participated on the morning announcement team each morning even though he was well aware the time commitment that took him away from class would result in additional homework.
Upbeat first-grader earns
Brooker Creek honor
A student who attends church regularly and enjoys reading to kindergarten students was tapped as the Brooker Creek Elementary School East Lake 2000 Citizen of the Month.
Steven Thompson, 7, son of David and Mary Jo Thompson of Cypress Lakes, is a student in Nancy Hart's first-grade class.
"Steven is always upbeat, always positive, always helpful to others," Hart wrote on the nomination form. "He shows leadership ability and responsibility for his own learning."
Head of sports association takes the reins again
Robin Kendall will freely admit he no longer wanted to be president of the Upper Pinellas Youth Sports Association.
He can't be blamed. The man is tired.
For years, Kendall has more than done his duty, dedicating his spare hours, volunteering for the organization. He wanted someone else to take over the helm.
After all, he does have a full-time job and a family.
But it was not meant to be.
At a Jan. 27 board-member and officer-election meeting held at George Young Memorial United Methodist Church in East Lake, there were no other nominations for Kendall's post.
Rather than do the unthinkable _ resign and leave the association high and dry _ Kendall agreed to serve another year.
Kendall will join some old friends: officers Tom Rogers, the vice president; Madge Davis, the secretary; and Lyn Rice, treasurer.
The other board members who were elected were Gene Davis, husband of Madge Davis; Patti Volker, Nick Mitrano, Glen Brown and Bill Nobles.
"He's not getting away," Kendall said of Nobles, with a laugh.
Other familiar faces will be sports organization representatives: Sue Hamilton will represent the soccer league; Tom May, baseball; and Jorge Andino, football.
Two people wanted to be elected to the board, but were not voted in.
Although Kendall will be back for another year, he was pleased about one aspect of the meeting: the positive demeanor of the folks who wanted to take a leadership position.
"The enthusiasm was shown," he said. "I think we'll make progress."
One of the projects the association would like to push through this year is the completion of the concession stand.
"That's our main objective," Kendall said. "We're having a little trouble with the permitting. Plans are being revised. It's got to be built to code, which is what we want."
He said at this point, with the snags the association has encountered, it is impossible to predict when the facility will be completed.
Church hits delays
Erecting a $30,000 steeple on top of a new George Young Memorial United Methodist Church sanctuary proved to be more difficult than the Rev. James Rosenburg could have imagined.
When the semitrailer truck hauling the steeple arrived on the church grounds early last week, Rosenburg inspected it. He was shocked to find it had been damaged in transit from Austin, Texas.
Thankfully, the damage turned out to be superficial. Apparently, a portion of the fiberglass coating had been rubbed off. It was a fairly easy fix.
There was more trouble to come Tuesday, however.
First, there was the wind.
"They didn't try to put it up," Rosenburg said. "Even at 5 to 10 miles per hour, the crane would swing. The operators for their own safety would not do it."
The wind Tuesday morning, clocked at 30 mph, was ushering in a cold front.
While the damage to the steeple was corrected on Tuesday, there was nothing _ not even prayer _ that could stop the wind.
"We ended up delaying it until Thursday just to make sure we had everything and to make sure the wind had died down," Rosenburg said.
Finally, when the wind was no longer a factor, a man-made problem cropped up.
"When they started to put it up, it just didn't fit," Rosenburg said. "They had to make an adjustment to the roof. They had to add six inches of steel to heighten it. It took all day Friday."
The workers took a thick piece of steel and welded it into place, working steadily for six to 10 hours Friday. Then they set the cupola in place.
"When you're custom-making something like this, you could be off a few inches," Rosenburg said.
What Rosenburg calls the "decorative, not functional" top must be secure because "it must withstand 130 to 140 mph winds," Rosenburg said.
The cross was supposed to be installed Saturday at the latest, barring any more problems.
Rosenburg seems to be taking the delays in stride.
As long as the cross is up by springtime, he will be satisfied.
Easter is when the sanctuary is scheduled to open its doors to the congregation.
_ We need news for this East Lake column. If you have news about East Lake organizations, churches, schools, neighborhoods or residents, please contact Eileen Schulte at the North Pinellas Times. You may call her at (727) 445-4229, fax material to her at (727) 445-4206 or mail it to the North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.