The Amy H Remley Foundation  
   
     
 

Community Education Grant

Summary: "Caves, Sinks and the Florida Aquifer" project - Southwest Florida Water Management District Community Education Grant by Purchase Order 08PO0000559 with Terms and Conditions

Amount of Grant: $5,000.00, to reimburse expenses of educational travel of adult students of the Withlacoochee Technical Institute (WTI) and costs to produce signage designed to reduce vandalism and to be placed at Dames Cave, in the Withlacoochee State Forest.

Consider the origins of the project:

  • Ms Casey and others had visited the site during the early 1980s and were able to explore the passages leading from Dames Cave. Several years later (c. 2007) she was shocked to find Dames Cave, silted up and badly littered. She was moved to try to address the situation. Involving her students would benefit their education.
  • Subsequent meetings involving Ms Casey, the WFC biologist (Werner) and the USGS (Tihanski) together proposed the notion of using educative signs to encourage behavioral change in visitors to Dames Cave to reduce the vandalism.
  • From the outset it was the clear intent for our client, the Withlacoochee Forestry Center, to participate in the program of work and to evaluate that use of signage at Dames Cave.
  • The Foundation was asked and agreed to join the work for the public good and apply their on-going research and their evolving website to aid the teaching and learning of Environmental Science.
  • Ms Casey was recipient of a District mini grant concerning water quality. The Foundation agreed to apply for the Community Education Grant and help to facilitate the work envisaged.

Ms Casey drafted the application for a Community Education Grant in the amount of $5,000 to reimburse expenses, and was the Foundation's project manager. Expenses were funded by the Amy H Remley Foundation Incorporated for the purpose of, quote (Application Item 1.):

  • "Educating the adult public about the development, function and environmental impact on karst landscape features in the Withlacoochee State Forest. Adults and high school students will visit caves to learn about flora, fauna, geology, hydrology, and purpose the caves serve in the environment and the vital role they play in water quality. This inter disciplinary project will result in development of education al signage placed at Dames Cave and information posted on a website."

These major premises of the contract were accepted by the District as evidenced in the grant awarded to us by the District, notified in their letter of January 16, 2008, and affirmed in the Purchase Order and its Terms and Conditions dated 01/04/08.

  • The role of the District under the binding contract (Term 1) was that of grantor with responsibility to review and approve project materials ex post facto (Term 10, and as written on the Purchase Order).

    Note that since the content, arrangement and appearance of any educative sign would necessarily evolve as the work and research progressed over time as understanding matured, it follows that approval or disapproval could only be given to signage assimilating input from the client, WTI students and their teacher, members of the community, and the Foundation after having been produced.

  • Moreover, no one would be capable of saying in advance whether any sign would deter vandalism behavior or not and for this reason the Disturbance Index process was put forward by the client and adapted to the caves by the community for the purpose of measuring scientifically the result of placing the sign at Dames Cave to deter vandalism.

  • Any default for cure could only be made from the required Final Report. Any attempt to do otherwise or worse still to impose any other design cannot comport with the purchase order, since the substance and how the sign would be evaluated scientifically could not possibly have been known when the purchase order was written.

  • The task of the District was to identify any default for cure and allow time for the cure.

  • Since the outstanding reimbursable activities only relate to costs of producing the signage it follows that any default for cure must relate to content, arrangement or appearance of that signage.

    Note that there is no contract term authorizing the District to dictate the form or substance of any sign developed by the community or to interfere with our active cooperation with our client.

    Note that the original intent (item 6 of the Application) for adult volunteers to place the sign in the forest was amended at an early stage as only employees or contractors of the client would be permitted by the Department of Forestry to undertake such work.

The Foundation's invoice reflects all of those costs and only those costs paid to produce the said sign and therefore is due for payment in full as no default for cure has been rendered by the District even after the passage of adequate time.

In addition to specific requirements mentioned in the application for the Community Education Grant and the consequent text of the purchase order, the community sought to embody the following in their sign panel design to enhance its effectiveness:

  • use positive language
  • employ attractive illustrative pictures complementing uses of text
  • seek to engender identity and empathy between visitor and the cave environment include the written requests of the client
  • reflect particular recommendations of the National Speleological Society and the USGS
  • refer to the complementary educational resource of the Amy H Remley Foundation Incorporated website

Concerning the reasons why the sign panel design displayed at the District meeting of 3 December, 2009, had to be rejected by the community:

  1. It did not represent the work of the members of the local community nor the staff and adult students of the Withlacoochee Technical Institute and therefore could in no way comport with the requirements of the purchase order issued by the District.
  2. The arrangement of the design did not accord with the requirements previously expressed by the parties involved including those expressed by the client and concluded in writing by them on 23 November, 2009. The sign displayed at the 3 December, 2009, did not originate with anyone engaged upon the project to which the District's contract related and was processed only the day before that meeting.
  3. The design content had no educative element conforming to the research to alleviate vandalism behavior.
  4. The picture of the children had previously been rejected by the client since parental permission for its use had not been obtained, it was falsely oriented for effect, was contrary to the recommendation of the USGS by encouraging play and possible disaffection, and was of insufficient quality for the sign as it possessed excessive pixelation.
  5. The use of a picture of the client's staff in a cave did nothing to engender identity and empathy between a visitor and the cave environment and could have the opposite effect.
  6. Features specifically required by the purchase order were omitted.
  7. The Safety section did not reflect recommendations of the National Speleological Society.
  8. The art work would not fit the encasement previously selected by the client.
  9. The design could not be referenced by the adult students to attract financial help with their on-going studies since they were excluded from participation in its creation.
  10. The design was rejected by the adult students who worked on the community's design.
  11. The design did not follow the USGS guidelines upon which the grant application was made.
  12. The pictures used in the design were not those chosen by the community and accepted by the client and did not add to the text used.
  13. The sign design did not evolve from the two signs circulated to the client and the District and accepted by them. (The client's meeting of 29 October, 2009, revealed the extent of vandalism expected which required combination of two designs into one).
  14. The very purpose of the Community Education Grant, involving a broad spectrum of community participation including visitors and local residents, was absolutely negated by using the idea of an individual coded arbitrarily in a day by a District graphics department.
  15. Although explicitly cited in the grant application, direction to the website educational resource was omitted from the design.
  16. No default for cure specific to the community's sign panel design has been made by the District as required by the purchase order.
  17. Note that at the client's meeting held on 11 January, 2010, Mr Tyberghein said to Ms Casey that the reason for his design was the need to appeal to children, which was contrary to that of the grant which was specifically given to address adults.

The project focused upon the vandalism described and illustrated by the client including the photograph exemplifying the vandalism which was used in the Final Report. The silting up of the Dames Cave complex was only considered after the on site meeting of October 29, 2009.

Eyewitness visitors to the Dames Cave in the early 1980s described the roof fall as having happened prior to that time although rocks in the Cave floor were still clear at that time, and passageways leading from the main cave were navigable by walking and stooping. Also, the USF Brinkmann/ Reeder paper referenced in the Final Report (12) records detailed descriptions and origins of formations and survey results c. 1993, also referred to the roof fall. This tends to support Final Report (9, Note 5) that the extensive degradation by silting up was the result of the reported Euclid truck transits and rain events.

Our largely unanswered representations to the District have included our e-mails of February 11, June 4 and 7, 2010, and letters of 28 June, 10 July, 15 July, 5 August, 10 August, 24 August, 8 September, and 23 September, 2010.

Fortunately, when it became clear that there was real possibility of the District defaulting the contract steps were taken to provide funds in a special bank account to protect the charity and enable the subcontractors to be paid.

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