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  1. Pinellas

Pinellas County announces hiring of new climate change resiliency officer

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County has hired its first ever sustainability and resiliency coordinator.

County administrator Barry Burton announced at Tuesday's County Commission meeting that Henry "Hank" Hodde, 36, would begin the job in July.

"Pinellas is steadfast in its resolve to become a resilient and sustainable community," Burton said in a news release touting Hodde's hire. "Hank will serve as a central coordinating point among all of the current programs that seek to address and respond to our region's challenges."

Hodde's work will involve lots of communication with local governments. He'll monitor municipalities' environmental policies and coordinate climate change planning, among other things.

The "resiliency" part of the job is particularly important to Hodde. The Stuart native comes to Pinellas after two and a half years at Smart Home America, an Alabama nonprofit that advocated for sturdier homes in the face of intensifying storms.

Hodde's hire makes Pinellas County the latest local government to add a dedicated sustainability officer. Clearwater, Largo, St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council also have one.

Read more: Climate change is here. Will Tampa Bay finally get ready?

Hodde said the existing infrastructure of environmental planners will help him in his new role..

"There's so much momentum right now," Hodde said.

The Planning Council's Regional Resiliency Coalition will play a key role in coordinating the efforts of all of those municipalities, Hodde said.

Hodde expects his job to come with challenges. Pinellas is a diverse, densely populated county. It may not be easy to get everybody on the same page about the environmental challenges that could lay ahead.

That's why the new sustainability manager said he's eager to start collaborating.

"Many hands make light work," Hodde said.

Contact Kirby Wilson at kwilson@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8793. Follow @kirbywtweets.

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