Poinciana business owner laments the direction Osceola County’s school district appears to be heading in.


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Wendy Farrell runs Signature Promotions in Poinciana, where she lives.

Editor’s Note: Wendy Farrell lives in Poinciana and runs her own business, Signature Promotions, with her husband, Chris. She’s also active in the local schools and has chaired the education subcommittee for the Poinciana Area Council, a group of business owners in Poinciana who meet once at month. Farrell wrote this column after the recent decision by Osceola School Superintendent Michael Grego to retire.

Can the Osceola School District heal and move on?
The past few months have been tumultuous in the school district. We were riding on the high of all our high schools being As or Bs, of improved graduation rates and lower drop out rates … and then things came crashing down.
The real reason for Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Grego leaving is probably only known by a few; the rest of us can only speculate. I believe it’s a great loss to our school district, but he has made his decision and it was time to move on.
Then came the bombshell of Mrs. Barbara Horn’s motion to have him leave early. This motion (not on any agenda) was made toward the end of a special workshop (on
March 29), primarily about Gateway High School’s IB Program. Watching that video, it seemed to me and others that two out of five board members (Julius Melendez and Jay Wheeler) were out of the ‘loop’ as they reeled in shock. School Board member Tom Long second the motion, almost without discussion, and School Board Chair Cindy Hartig seemed to explain exactly what the motion was. It was a surreal thing to watch. I am not surprised that Mr. Melendez wanted discussion on it and what he said made total sense, but he and Mr. Wheeler lost the vote 2-3.
The word ‘distraction’ is being banded about, a lot of finger pointing is going on, there’s back door politicking, and each passing day the focus moves more away from the students and education. Things need to be addressed through proper channels. I’m all for transparency in procedures and accounting, and School Board members have the right to question staff. But there are ways of doing it without being disrespectful or questioning somebody’s integrity. There are rules and regulations that our school
district works to address, and issues can easily be resolved through proper channels. Ms. Hartig questioned the authenticity of class size amendment statistics, and the Florida Department of Education confirmed within days that no wrongdoing had been done by district staff. Nipped in the bud, done — move on. Maybe Gov. Rick Scott needs to investigate possible violations of Sunshine State Law with regard to accusations of collusion by board members before board meetings, if to do no more than prove nothing went on. You put it to bed and move on.
The hiring of a new superintendent is going to be hard unless we draw a line under all this ‘distraction.’ I look at what’s gone on with the hiring of an interim superintendent and all the confrontations and accusations at the most recent board meeting. I’m with Mr. Melendez on this, the decision on how to appoint should have been next in
‘command’, simple decision, straight forward. That person (Ms. Pace, the current assistant superintendent) holds the reigns until the permanent superintendent is recruited. It’s simple, back and white, that’s what happens in the Military and in Corporate America. It’s the best way to ensure continuity and stability in a transitional period. Yet the School Board (or three of them, anyway) chose another person, whom many may deem as an ‘odd’ choice — especially the general public at large.
Having been in this school district for 11 years, its evolution has been interesting to watch. Where we go from here will depend on how the leadership acts. School Board members need to remember that they are elected by the people, and the people need to remember that you get what you’re given if you don’t bother to vote. Our school board ‘leader’ needs to remember that if you look over your shoulder and there’s no one behind you, you are leading nothing. You need your ‘whole’ team’s support as much as
possible. But most importantly, the focus needs to get back to our kids and their education!
Can we please turn the page?

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

Tech Today: the PayPal iPhone app and a new way of doing business.


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Are traditional wallets on the way out now that Paypal and other electronic online financial services provide the equivalent of the e-wallet?

Editor’s Note: Matthew Chapman of Avalon Park is an iPhone/iPad developer and owner of Origin Technologies. In the first of a series of articles about technology trends, Matt has some thoughts to share about the new Paypal iPhone app.

So I am sure that most, if not all of you, have heard and likely used PayPal. Some of you may have started using the “bump pay” feature available in the newest version of the PayPal iPhone app. Companies are finding increasingly ways to use not only a digital method for receiving payment, but a mobile one as well. Let’s look at some of the trends.

I already mentioned PayPal, and while they were one of the first companies to join this revolution of being able to send money to your friends or pay for things on eBay, they are most certainly not the last. A company called Square (www.squareup.com) is bringing a whole new way for businesses and individuals to accept payments.
The company provides a free account and links to your bank account for daily direct deposits of monies received. The pricing for this service, which accepts credit cards, is a flat 2.75 percent per swipe. What makes the service even more interesting is that when you signup they send you a little card reader for your iPhone/iPad that plugs into your headphone jack.
The app that comes with the service also allows you to customize your available services if you use it to process business transactions. Some business owners use it as the credit card processor instead of one from a bank-based merchant device. Some banks charge different processing fees based on how many transactions or worse yet, charge the merchant more if the total price is less than $30. Square charges just the flat fee per swipe.
What else makes this service so cool? Well, you don’t have to be a company to take advantage of it. A few weeks back, some of the biggest neighborhoods in East Orlando were having their spring garage sales. If you wanted to allow your garage sale, Craigslist, or other classified customer to pay for your expensive item via credit card, you could have used Square rather than letting that sale go due to lack of cash. Several companies have come forward to embrace the swipe-to-pay as a mobile iPhone app tie in. I think that Square is well ahead of the curve on this one.
So what’s next? NFC (Near Field Communications) is a technology that allows a chip to transmit or receive information from a distance of about four inches. So far, this technology is already in a new Android phone and is rumored to be in a future iPhone. The technology has been used in Japan for years in things like vending machines. Vending machines there allow a credit card with the chip to just be waved in front of the machine to pay.
I think Apple, if they do this, will tie the chip to your iTunes account-registered card and allow users to wave the phone at a payment system and voila, paid. I can see driving thru McDonalds one day with nothing more than your phone. Touch the screen for what you want, wave your phone at the screen, get your “thanks pull around” prompt and drive around to enjoy your fries.
For questions or suggestions, contact me at Matt at matt@origintech.net.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

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A nation unwilling to exercise or eat right? Or can the trend be reversed?


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All too often, chiropractor Darren Hollander says, patients don't want to make the lifestyles choices necessary to improve their health -- including healthy eating and exercising.

ORLANDO – As a chiropractor, Dr. Darren Hollander meets these kinds of patients all the time: the ones who struggle with their weight and the multitude of health problems that come with it, but insist that combating their obesity is simply too difficult.
“It gets very frustrating,” Hollander said. “They definitely make excuses – and they believe their excuses.”
The top two excuses: time and money, or the lack of both.
“They tell me they can’t shop at the grocery store because it’s too expensive, so they can only eat fast food,” he said. Either that, or their schedule is too hectic to allocate time for the gym or for cooking a nice healthy meal, so a quick run to the fast food drive through is much easier.
Often they come to Hollander’s Orlando office wanting to know: isn’t there a pill or other form of medication they can take that makes it all go away?
If only it were that easy, Hollander added.
“Everyone wants a quick fix, and they want chiropractic to be a quick fix,” he said. “The truth is, most of the time it takes much longer.”
Hollander isn’t alone in being concerned about the lifestyle choices a growing number of Americans are adopting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics just issued a report about the declining number of Americans who exercise, and who prefer a decidedly more sluggish way of spending their leisure time. Looking at activity levels in each U.S. county between 2004 and 2008, the CDC found that southerners were the least likely to exercise, with Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee topping the list. Physically active people, the report noted, tend to live on the West Coast or the Northeast.
The CDC report was designed to raise the alarm, since the agency’s annual report on the nation’s health suggests that counties with the highest levels of physical inactivity also have the highest rates of obesity and diabetes.
Hollander said there could be a lot of reasons why people don’t exercise.
“There’s a strong emotional component to why some people exercise and some don’t,” he said. “Some people are able to live healthy lifestyles and embrace them, and some people fight them. I’ve encountered that a lot with my patients.”
But he added there’s a good reason why people in the South tend to be overweight: the widespread availability and popularity of fried foods, not to mention fast food restaurants.
The Daily Beast just reported that Orlando ranked No. 1 among the nation’s “Fast Food Capitals,” with 463 fast food restaurants, which comes out to 196 fast food establishments for every 100,000 residents here.
“In the South you have soul foods,” Hollander said. “What you’re fixing your kids is fried foods which have trans fats, which are detrimental to your health. It promotes diabetes, it promotes heart disease – it’s a health-destroying food.”
But conditions like obesity and diabetes are not hereditary, he added.
“Really, it’s a lifestyle disease,” Hollander said. “It’s never too late. Type 2 diabetes is a reversible disease. This is not a genetic disease. You are not doomed to have Type 2 diabetes. You have more control over this than you think.”
That’s a question that Peg Dunmire worries about: whether the increasing levels of physical inactivity and obesity have become social trends that can’t be reversed.
“The obesity problem is not that we don’t have enough food,” Dunmire said. “Psychologically, when you eat, it is not just about the food you put in your mouth, it is about social aspects and community aspects as well.”
The lack of exercise and bulging waistlines, she said, are “a symptom that American is breaking down as a society.”
Dunmire understands health care. She studied hospital administration at the University of Pittsburgh, then spent 25 years as a medical technologist and chief information officer. Dunmire is also the chairman of the Florida Tea Party and the host of The Lady Liberty Hour radio program, and she devotes every Thursday to talking about healthy eating.
“You can eat healthy and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it,” Dunmire said. “But it does often take a little work. And we have moved into a society where, mistakenly, people think it is easier to go out to eat, and it’s not true.”
Dunmire agreed that a shrinking number of Americans fully understand the importance of exercise and healthy eating.
“You have to exercise a half hour a day, or you will have medical problems,” she said.
And a healthy, nutritious diet isn’t complicated, either, she added.
“It is really easy and simple if you stick with healthy foods,” Dunmire said.
Dunmire said she’s disappointed that public schools have dropped home economics course that, she felt, taught some basic but helpful cooking skills that pay off in the long run for students.
“Today people honestly do not know how to buy and cook healthy,” she said. “I looked back and I asked myself, ‘How did I learn to eat healthy,’ and I remembered that I had home ec classes for several years. I learned what is good food and how to cook. I know how to read a recipe and I have the right equipment to make a healthy meal. It is almost a lost art today – and it’s killing us.”
She also laments the fact that in our busy lives, families today don’t always have the time to eat dinner together – another tradition that helped lead to healthier eating, Dunmire said,
“Today it’s all eating on the run,” Dunmire said. “One thing I insist on when my family is here is we all sit down and have a meal together.”
Still, as Hollander noted, changing your diet and looking for ways to bring some exercise into your daily routine can start reversing the health problems that overweight people face.
“No one is going to change their entire health status overnight,” he said. “It has to be something they do over time.”
To learn more about healthy eating, log on to Hollander’s Web site at OrlandoFamilyChiropractic.com.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.

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