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The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners announced the recipients of the inaugural Fire Service Professionals of the Year awards at its meeting Sept. 23. The awards are given to honor those who go above and beyond the call of duty and provide exceptional service to the community. Pinellas County 911 telecommunicator Patrick Lavender was named Dispatcher of the Year. He routinely helps fellow communicators to dispatch units more quickly and better identify locations of those in need. Largo Fire Rescue District Chief Keith Daliendo was named Firefighter of the Year for his efforts in training new and experienced firefighters and making process improvements. Palm Harbor Fire Rescue's vehicle extrication team was honored as the Special Operations Team of the Year. The team, stationed along U.S. 19, has a long history of winning national and international awards for their work. Award winners each received a plaque and a cash award from the Pinellas Federal Credit Union.
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Kaitlyn Pamplona from the Pro Karate Center in Palm Harbor has been invited to compete with the USA national team at the World Karate Cup in Poland. She competed in the Amateur Athletic Union circuit this year and was the 2014 Florida State Champion in weapons, sparring and Kata. At the 2014 National Competition in Fort Lauderdale, Pamplona took home two gold medals, one in Kata and the other in sparring. She also won one gold medal in sparring, one silver in weapons and one silver in Kata at the 2014 Junior Olympics. Pamplona was accepted to compete with the national team based on her performance throughout the year, and will be competing in Poland this month.
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Palm Harbor celebrated Emergency Responders' Appreciation Day at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection on Sept. 14 with food trucks, live music, emergency vehicles and more. About 400 guests came to celebrate, and the North Pinellas Firefighter Charity received $500 from the church's endowment fund. The nonprofit firefighter charity was founded in 2012 and provides education and aid to the International Association of Firefighters and to victims of disaster and violence.
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Chuck Chucri, a financial professional with the Prudential Insurance Company of America's Sunshine State Agency in Clearwater, qualified to attend the company's President's Conference in Hawaii. The conference, held annually, honors top-performing employees from around the country. Chucri lives in Palm Harbor.